December 13, 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg

 “It can hardly be in human nature for men to show more valor or generals to manifest less judgment, than were perceptible on our side that day.”

Cincinnati Commercial in a report on the battle of Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg I think is the absolute nadir of Union fortunes in the Civil War.  After the sacking of McClellan, Major General Ambrose Burnside came up with a plan that wasn’t bad.  Burnside would take the Confederates by surprise by crossing the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg and then racing the Army of Northern Virgnia to Richmond.    Burnside arrived opposite Fredericksburg on November 17 and he had stolen a March on Lee.  Unbelievably the pontoon bridges were nowhere to be found, bungling of an almost preternatural nature being responsible for not placing them at the front of the Union advance.v Burnside sat on the river across from Fredericksburg for almost a month while Lee fortified the heights outside Fredericksburg.  The key for the success of the plan, surprise, had vanished.  Lee was present and in an immensely strong position.  It made absolutely no sense for Burnside now to cross at Fredericksburg and initiate a battle and yet that is what he did.

The Union army crossed the river on December 11-12, under heavy fire from Confederate sharpshooters, with some street fighting in Fredericksburg.

The attacks against the Confederate fortified positions outside of Fredericksburg occurred on December 13. Burnside had divided his army into three Grand Divisions.    The Center Grand Division south of Fredericksburg had 60,000 men in two corps : Major General John Reynolds I Corps and W.F. Smith’s VI Corp.  Instead of ordering an attack by the entire Grand Division, Burnside only order an attack by one division.  Franklin assigned this task to Reynolds who choose Meade’s 4500 division to make the attack, supported by Gibbon’s division.  Meade and Gibbon were facing Jackson with some 35,000 men.  Fortuitously Meade’s assault attacked a section of the Confederate line that had been accidentally left unmanned, and Meade made a breakthrough.  Confederate reserves quickly chased Meade and Gibbon back to the Union lines.  A Confederate counterattack suffered heavy casualties from the fresh troops of the rest of the Grand Division supported by Sickles’ III Corps.  Most of the Confederate casualties at Fredericksburg were from this abortive counterattack.

Battle of Fredericksburg (more…)

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The True Meaning of Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in 1965 on CBS.  I was 8 years old and I was stunned at the time by the passage of Linus quoting the Gospel of Luke in explaining the true meaning of Christmas.  Apparently CBS excutives wanted to cut this passage out, but Charles Schulz, normally a fairly non-confrontational man, was adamant that it remain in. (more…)

Published in: on December 13, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The True Meaning of Christmas  
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