From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battle of Fredericksburg

When did the federals begin to act?

On December 11, 1862, thousands of men of the Army of the Potomac crossed the pontoon bridges over the Rappahannock. They came under artillery fire that cost dozens of lives, but they kept coming.

Lee, from his vantage point on the southeastern Confederate flank, could do little because it was James Longstreet’s position that was about to be attacked. One Confederate regiment held the town of Fredericksburg for hours, thereby allowing Lee and Longstreet to make their final arrangements. By the time the Federals took the town, the men were angry and exhausted; some of the worst rape and pillage of the entire war followed. That some of the townspeople had aided in the Confederate defense was given as the excuse, but in reality the men on both sides of the conflict had nearly reached their breaking points.


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