Field Trip #1: Fredericksburg Battlefield
Photos by Michael Aubrecht (9/06) Information source: NPS


The Battle of Fredericksburg fought in and around Fredericksburg, VA, on December 13, 1862, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the American Civil War. The Union Army suffered terrible casualties in futile frontal assaults against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city, bringing to an early end their campaign against the Confederate capital of Richmond. The Richmond Examiner described it as a "stunning defeat to the invader, a splendid victory to the defender of the sacred soil." General Lee, normally reserved, was described by the Charleston Mercury as "jubilant, almost off-balance, and seemingly desirous of embracing everyone who calls on him." The newspaper also exclaimed that, "General Lee knows his business and the army has yet known no such word as fail." Below are some of the key spots that are located on the battlefield. For more information, visit NPS Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg Battlefield

The Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in December of 1862, marked another unsuccessful attempt by the Union army to move south against the Confederate capital at Richmond. Here, along the Sunken Road, Gen. Robert E. Lee earned his most one-sided military victory of the entire war.


Sunken Road & Stone Wall

Also known as the Telegraph Road, generations of wagons gradually wore the highway surface into the ground. The good citizens who built the stone retaining walls to keep the ground from collapsing into the roadway never imagined that their work would provide ready-made shelter for a large army.

Innis Family House

This modest country home known as the Innis House sits along the base of Marye's Heights. It is said that several Confederate sharpshooters used this building as shelter. Both the outside slats and interior walls are severely pockmarked with bullet holes from the fierce fighting that swirled around it.

Marye House / Brompton

The commander of the Fredericksburg Artillery, Edward A. Marye, lived in his family's house, visible atop the hill, before the war. Ironically, his battery was posted four miles south of here during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Now called Brompton, the house currently serves as the home of the president of Mary Washington College.


Angel of Marye's Heights

Known the "Angel of Marye's Heights," nineteen-year-old Sergeant Richard Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina left the safety of his own lines to bring relief to suffering enemies at peril to his own life. Union riflemen ceased firing as Kirkland moved from soldier to soldier on his errand of mercy. He later died at the Battle of Chickamauga.


Kirkland Monument

The monument to Sergeant Richard Kirkland, the Angel of Marye's Heights, was sculpted by Felix DeWeldon, who also produced the famous Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington. It is said that the artist crafted this monument with painstaking accuracy. He also dedicated the statue to "National Unity and the Brotherhood of Man."


Willis Hill

The Washington Artillery, posted two 3-inch rifled cannon in gunpits in front of the Willis Cemetery and beside one of the several brick structures on the crest. Their position dominated the entire city so well that artilleryman, E. Porter Alexander wrote that he "felt the elation of a certain and easy victory." The Willis family plots remain today.


U.S. National Cemetery

Fredericksburg National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 15,000 United States Americans. Most of these are soldiers who died during the Civil War, but there are nearly one hundred 20th-century veterans and a few of their spouses who are also buried here. Several monuments to northern units can also be found on the grounds.


Fifth Corps Monument

This pillar was dedicated in 1901 to commemorate the service of the Fifth Corps and was erected largely through the efforts of its commander in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Daniel Butterfield. Behind the monument are the graves of several officers, including Lt.Col. Ed Hill of the 16th Michigan, who won the Medal of Honor.

Humphrey Monument

Commanding the center of the National Cemetery, this towering sculpture commemorates the charge of Union General Andrew A. Humphreys' Division of Pennsylvania Infantry. In 1908 the State of Pennsylvania erected this monument to honor the more than one thousand soldiers who were casualties in that attack.

Meade Pyramid

In the early 20th century a pyramid shaped monument was erected along the railroad on the Fredericksburg Battlefield to mark the area of General Meade's breakthrough (the ONLY one of the battle). The purpose was to alert railroad passengers that they were passing through the hallowed grounds of the Fredericksburg Battlefield.

Jackson's Line

This modest landmark stands at the right anchor of Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's line which stretched along Prospect Hill. The nearby trail, known as Harrison's Crossing, led to the supply base for the Southern army during the Fredericksburg Campaign after the depot in town came within range of Union artillery.


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