Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Historical Background

Lincoln and other Northern politicians wanted General George B. McClellan to follow up the narrow Union victory at Antietam with another, more substantial victory over General Robert E. Lee's army. When McClellan failed to set his army in motion, Lincoln replaced him with General Ambrose Burnside.

Burnside knew he had two choices: strike off for the fertile Shenandoah Valley, and disrupt Lee's food supplies and supply routes, or cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Virginia and set off towards Richmond. Because a move towards Fredericksburg would keep the bulk of the Union Army between Lee and Washington, D.C., Burnside chose to set off in that direction.

Results of the Battle

CSA- 78,000 troops available for battle
608 men killed in action or mortally wounded
4,116 men wounded
653 men captured or missing in action
5,377 casualties total (7% of total troops engaged)

USA- 117,000 troops available for battle
1,284 men killed in action or mortally wounded
9,600 men wounded
1,769 men captured or missing in action
12,653 casualties total (11% of total troops engaged)

The Battle of Fredericksburg was a clear statistical victory for the CSA, although General Lee regretted not being able to more greatly hinder his opponent's retreat across the Rappahannock River. It was also a clear strategic and tactical triumph for General Lee, whose placement of artillery and infantry made it well-nigh impossible for Burnside to actually take those positions. But it didn't end Union attempts to move towards Richmond- those would resume with a vengeance in the spring of 1863.


HG—History, Geography, & Travel Room (Central Library)
ST—Stacks (Central Library)

Books about the Fredericksburg Campaign and Battle

Catton, Bruce. Glory Road: The Bloody Route from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg. London: White Lion Publishers, 1977. ST-973.74

Cullen, Joseph P. The Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House, Where a Hundred Thousand Fell. Washington: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 1966. ST-973.73

Fredericksburg. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1997. ST-973.733

Goolrick, William K. Rebels Resurgent: Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville. Alexandria, Va: Time-Life Books, 1985. ST-973.733

Henderson, G F. R. The Campaign of Fredericksburg, Nov-Dec., 1862: A Tactical Study for Officers. London: Chatham, Gale & Polden, 1891. ST-973.73

Mackowski, Chris, and Kristopher D. White. Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg. S.l.: s.n., 2012. HG-973.733

Stackpole, Edward J. Drama on the Rappahannock: the Fredericksburg Campaign. Harrisburg, Pa: Military Publishing Co., 1957. ST-973.73

Sutherland, Daniel E. Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville: The Dare Mark Campaign. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. ST-973.733

Whan, Vorin E. Fiasco at Fredericksburg. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1961. ST-973.73

Wren, James, and John M. Priest. From New Bern to Fredericksburg: Captain James Wren's Diary : B Company, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, February 20, 1862-December 17, 1862. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Pub. Co, 1990. ST-973.748

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