Battle of Fredricksberg

The Civil War

between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside.

Why was it fought?

December 11-15, 1862. Abraham Lincoln wanted a military victory to win political backing for the Emancipation Proclamation. Ambrose Burnside had a plan to move the Union army to Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, and make a direct attack on Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate Capitol. Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army had to block union advance to Richmond. The Union attacked first. The Union wanted to take control of Richmond Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy.

What was the significance of this battle ? Effects of both sides

major setback for Union troops, gave new hope to confederate states, ended the campaign against Richmond, Virginia, major Confederate victory

It was a turning point for General Lee and his army,lost a Burnside though that his union army could easily beat confederate army because the confederate army was much smaller than union army but he was wrong. Union lot of soldiers in the battle, victory gave confederate troops momentum in war. The most one-sided battle of the war.

Major events in order...

  • December 11th, 1862 am - Union engineers put pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River under fire.

  • December 12th, 1862 pm - Union army crossed river and took over the town of Fredericksburg.

  • December 13th, 1862 - Burnside launched a series of attacks on Prospect Hill and Marye’s Heights.

  • December 13, 1862 noon-2:30 - George Meade’s division, Union left flank, attacked Stonewall Jackson’s line but was moved back by a counterattack.

  • December 15th, 1862 pm - Burnside retreated and recrossed the river, ending the campaign.

Generals of both sides.


Army of the Potomac: Ambrose E. Burnside

  • Right Grand Division: Maj. Gen. Edwin V. “Bull” Sumner

  • Center Grand Division: Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker

  • Left Grand Division: Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin

  • Reserve: Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel


Army of Northern Virginia: Robert E. Lee

  • First Corps: Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

  • Second Corps: Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson

  • Reserve Artillery: Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton

  • Cavalry Division: Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

Total casualties

Union: 13,353

Confederate: 4,576

Eyewitness to American Civil War: Iron Brigade Soldier’s Wartime Letters

Thirty-one-year-old Timothy O. Webster, overseer at the Detroit House of Correction, enlisted in the Union Army in July 1862. Private Webster was assigned to Company F of the 24th Michigan Infantry, which was dispatched from Detroit to Washington, D.C., in August. His regiment was later assigned to the famed Iron Brigade. Webster’s letters to his family and friends, housed in Navarro College’s Pearce Civil War Collection, vary in tone from bitter criticism of Federal officers’ behavior to cautious optimism for the Union war effort.