Union Forces Are Utterly Defeated At Fredericksburg

Today on December 13, 1862, Union forces are decisively beaten after their disastrous attack at the Battle of Fredericksburg.

The Battle of Fredericksburg was one of the first major conflicts during the initial phases of the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln recently appointed General Ambrose Burnside as the commander of the Potomac Army. Lincoln became increasingly frustrated with the incumbent General McClellan after he failed to make any significant inroads into enemy territory. The Union government was eager to launch another attack against the Confederate’s defensive positions. Burnside severely doubted his qualifications to lead the army, but reluctantly accepted the promotion nonetheless. He hastily advanced a large force into the heart of Virginia to pursue his enemy.

The Confederate Army was under the leadership of General Robert E. Lee who recently positioned himself on a heavily fortified hill near Fredericksburg. Lee was undoubtedly the more esteemed and competent military man. He was confident that his forces held an impregnable position overlooking the town. All he needed to do was wait for the enemy to approach. Military strategists suggest it should have been obvious that any frontal assault against Lee would have been foolish. Nevertheless, Burnside ordered his soldiers to charge up the hill and attack the Confederate position head-on. His order quickly proved to be a monumental mistake. The defenders handily repulsed wave after wave of assaults. Many were slaughter by heavy artillery fire while attempting to retreat.

The Union army incurred more than 6,000 casualties in less than two hours. The Battle of Fredericksburg turned out to be one of the most lopsided victories of the entire civil war. Burnside benefited from having more soldiers, better equipment, and more supplies, but was ultimately let down by poor strategy. He was quickly replaced following the battle, as they were desperate to find a man capable of measuring up to Lee. Three weeks later, Lincoln gained a much needed morale boost after winning the Battle of Stones River.

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