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.
(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."
Part of the
American Civil War
The Battle of Fredericksburg
by Kurz and Allison.
Commanders and leaders
Robert E. Lee
Army of the
Army of Northern Virginia
approx. 114,000 engaged
approx. 72,500 engaged
Casualties and losses
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
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
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