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The Battle of Fredericksburg
May 3, 1863

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Other Names: Marye’s Heights
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Campaign: Chancellorsville Campaign (April-May 1863)

Principal Commanders:
Union: Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick [US]
Confederate: Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early [CS]

Forces Engaged: Corps

Estimated Casualties: 2,000 total

Sedgwick's attack on Marye's Heights
A rare action photograph of a Union battery during Sedgwick's attack on Marye's Heights.
(This image created by Victoria Proctor, © 2003; original photograph is in the Library of Congress.)

Description: On May 1, Gen. Robert E. Lee left Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s division to hold Fredericksburg, while marching with the rest of the army to meet Hooker’s main offensive thrust at Chancellorsville.

On May 3, while Lee was driving Hooker toward the Rappahannock, the Union VI Corps under Sedgwick, reinforced by John Gibbon’s II Corps division, having crossed the Rappahannock River, assaulted the rugged Marye's Heights lines that had stopped Burnside the previous December.

Early's thin ranks repulsed two attacks. As a third formed, the lead regiment was told, "You will advance at double-quick...you will not stop until you get the order to half. You will never get that order." One end of the Confederate line gave way, the rest coming under enfilading fire, and Marye's Heights was won. The outnumbered Confederates withdrew and regrouped west and southeast of town.

The Horrors of War

Sunken Road after the battle on Marye's Heights
The Sunken Road as it looked after the battle on Marye's Heights.
(This image created by Victoria Proctor, © 2003; original photograph is in the Library of Congress.)

Sources:
National Park Service
Library of Congress
The Civil War, American Heritage (Doubleday, 1960)


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