From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battle of Fredericksburg

Why did Burnside wait so long before commencing his attack?

Burnside was unfortunate both in the weather and in his own uncertain command. An excellent commander of men, able to inspire as well as confide, he had many fine qualities, but was not the right person to command so large a force. Where McClellan erred on the side of caution, Burnside tended to err on the side of desperate action. Another trouble Burnside faced was that he had absolutely no benefit of surprise.

The Confederates, from their side, could detect every move that the Northern men made, and it was plainly obvious they meant to cross the river. Whether they would come directly at and through the town of Fredericksburg remained unknown, however.


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