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21 Readings About the Great Battles of the Civil War #8-- The Battle of Fredericksburg

The Losers and the Winner

Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American and Confederate soldier, best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.


Joseph Hooker (November 13, 1814 – October 31, 1879) was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.


Ambrose Everett Burnside (May 23, 1824 – September 13, 1881) was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island. He served as governor and as a United States Senator. As a Union Army general in the American Civil War, he conducted successful campaigns in North Carolina and East Tennessee, as well as countering the raids of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, but suffered disastrous defeats at the Battle of Fredericksburg and Battle of the Crater

       One of the costliest defeats suffered by the Union forces in the war was at the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 13, 1862. At that time Lee had retreated from the North as a result of his defeat at Antietam. With about 78,000 men he had established himself on the high bluffs of the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg.

       The Army of the Potomac, led by Union Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, held the north bank of the river at Falmouth. There were about 120,000 men under his command. With many difficulties he transported them across the river on pontoon bridges to attack the strongly entrenched Confederates.

        After six assaults with great losses, Burnside was persuaded by his officers not to renew the attack. Two nights later, under the cover of a storm on December 15, the discouraged remainder of the Union army was brought back to Falmouth.

       The Union army had lost 12,653 men, while the Confederate loss was 5,309 men. As a result of his tragic defeat, Burnside was replaced a week later by Gen. Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker.

       The gloom that this disaster brought to the people in the North was changed to rejoicing a few weeks later. Then news came of the Union victory in the battle of Murfreesboro, or Stones River, Tenn., fought from December 31 to January 2.

        At Murfreesboro the Confederate forces under Gen. Braxton Bragg were repulsed by the Union army under Gen. William S. Rosecrans. This victory opened the way for the Union advance to Chattanooga and finally to "Atlanta and the sea."

From Wikepedia at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_VicksburgBattle of Fredericksburg
Part of the American Civil War
Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec 13, 1862.png

The Battle of Fredericksburg by Kurz and Allison.

Date December 11–15, 1862
Location Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg, Virginia
Result Confederate victory
 United States (Union)    CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Ambrose E. Burnside   Robert E. Lee
Units involved
Army of the Potomac   Army of Northern Virginia
approx. 114,000 engaged   approx. 72,500 engaged
Casualties and losses


(1,284 killed
 9,600 wounded
 1,769 captured/missing)


(608 killed
 4,116 wounded
 653 captured/missing)

A Letter from Fredericksburg    

Robert E. Lee's Letter to his Wife

December 25, 1862
Robert E. Lee

The following is a letter from Robert E. Lee to his wife following the Confederate victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Excerpt from a letter written December 25, 1862.

...I will commence this holy day by writing to you.  My heart is filled with gratitude to Almighty God for His unspeakable mercies with which He has blessed us in this day, for those He has granted us from the beginning of life, and particularly for those He has vouchsafed us during the past year.  What should have become of us without His crowning help and protection?  Oh, if our people would only recognise it and cease from vain self-boasting and adulation, how strong would be my belief in final success and happiness to our country!  But what a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbours, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!  I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. Our army was never in such good health and condition since I have been attached to it.  I believe they share with me my disappointment that the enemy did not renew the combat on the 13th.  I was holding back all day and husbanding our strength and ammunition for the great struggle, for which I thought I was preparing.  Had I divined that was to have been his only effort, he would have had more of it.  My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

From http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/robert-e-lees-letter-to-his-1.html


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