Battle of Fredericksburg
Virginia's many rivers were strategic points in the Civil War. Thousands of men had to cross them at a time, whether by boat or pontoon bridge, or, in shallower places, on foot. Major rivers slowed down--or, in the case of flood, could block movement entirely. Generals placed their supply depots on rivers, and gunboats patrolled the waters, blasting artillery positions as well as enemy strongholds in large plantation houses.
In Mark Nesbitt's Rebel Rivers, readers are treated to an easy-to-follow guide to river sites and their Civil War history. Rebel Rivers, published by Stackpole Books, is available to check out from the library. The author is also the creator of the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours® and the Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours.
This excerpt is used with the author/copyright holder's permission.
Excerpt from War So Terrible: A Popular History of the Battle of Fredericksburg, by Donald C. Pfanz, (pp. 44-46)
Donald C. Pfanz is staff historian with Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is also the author of Abraham Lincoln at City Point and Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life. This chapter is reprinted on CRRL's history site with his permission.
“The Sacking of Fredericksburg”
By the time the fighting ended on Dec. 11, Fredericksburg was desolate. Fighting in the streets combined with a bombardment by more than 180 cannons had left the venerable old town shattered and ruins. Those citizens who had not fled Fredericksburg had seen their homes riddled with bullets, shot and shell.
One hundred and forty-seven years ago, lines of blue advanced on a hillside near the outskirts of Fredericksburg. Those heights were manned by gray-uniformed soldiers, powerfully well-armed and rather surprised that the Union commander should send wave after wave of troops into their maelstrom of cannon and rifle fire. What followed was a slaughter about which Confederate General Robert E. Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible...we should grow too fond of it."
When some Yankee looters tried to supplement their rations with stocks from Fredericksburg homes and businesses in December of 1862, they bit off more than they could chew.
December 14th, 1862
In Fredericksburg, Va.