Fredericksburg Trip

March 2008

 

 

Friday:

Forty-one people attended this year's trip to Fredericksburg.

 

 

 

Ellwood, a home which was historic even before the war, was where Stonewall Jackson's amputated arm was buried.  The next year, it became a Union headquarters during the Wilderness Campaign.

 

 

Ellwood is undergoing restoration.


Chancellorsville Battlefield:

 

The group visited the site of the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson.


The bus passed Massaponax Church, a headquarters during the Spotsylvania Campaign.

 


 

Guinea Station:

Stonewall Jackson was brought to the railhead at Guinea Station after his wounding.  The plan was for Jackson to be sent him south on the railroad when his condition allowed. 

 

Jackson was kept in a plantation's office building.  The office is the only building that survives.

 

 

Our guide, Frank O'Reilly, is the historian who discovered that Jackson was sick when he was wounded.  Otherwise he might have survived the ordeal.

 

The room where Jackson died is recreated as it would have looked at the time.

 


Park Ranger Stacy Humphrey was Friday's speaker.  She spoke on the Washington Artillery.



 

Saturday:

 

Chatham:

 

Frank pointed out that, artwork to the contrary, it didn't actually snow.  Veterans remembered it as being colder than it actually was.

 

 

 

 

Union troops crossed the Rappahannock below Chatham on a pontoon bridge.  Delays in the pontoon train's arrival delayed Burnside's crossing, allowing Lee to move his army to Fredericksburg, blocking an easy Union advance on Richmond.  When the Federals did cross, sharpshooters of Barksdale's brigade made it a slow and costly operation.

 

This is the view from the Confederate side of the river.  Because of the slope here, the Confederates fell back into town when the bridging advanced far enough that it was no longer possible to depress their weapons low enough.

 

The telegraph was used not just in the campaign, but during the battle itself.


 

Slaughter Pen Farm:

Union troops crossed the river on a broad front in three locations.  William Franklin, the Union commander on Burnside's left, misunderstood his orders to advance and sent just two divisions forward to attack Stonewall Jackson's position head-on.  His orders, as Burnside envisioned them, were actually to flank, or turn, the Confederate position.  The main road here was the jumping off point of Gibbon's division.  Meade's division also attacked from this road, but further down the road on the left of the photo through the industrial park.  Both divisions advanced toward Jackson's men defending the wooded heights in the distance.

 

Meade's division advanced in the industrial park on the left.  Advancing through the modern farm, Gibbon's men found the drainage ditch here quite an obstacle.  Continuing toward the heights, they crossed some slightly higher ground then were met by heavy fire from Lane's brigade.  The fighting here was severe enough that veterans named the area "the slaughter pen".  Recently advertised as prime industrial real estate, this important battlefield land is being saved by the Civil War Preservation Trust with generous donations from its members.  The Roanoke Civil War Round Table has proudly supported the CWPT for many years.  

 

This is the higher ground near the railroad.  Confederate troops defended from behind the railroad on the left.


 

Prospect Hill:

Jackson's artillery here on Prospect Hill dueled with Federal guns and enfiladed advancing Union infantry.  The pyramid in the distance (see detail below) marks the left flank of Meade's attacking division.  Meade penetrated the Confederate line through a swamp, but he was repulsed.  The Union attack on Jackson's flank had failed.

 

Round Table members tend to behave themselves.  Not everyone else does.  Climbing on monuments is naughty.

 

 


 

Lunch can be eaten almost anywhere.  But this is no war - Lays potato chips and soft drink beats hardtack anytime. 


 

Marye's Heights:

Had Franklin succeeded, Lee would have been forced to weaken or abandon his strong position at Marye's Heights on his left.  Burnside's plan had already failed.  Thinking that Franklin would continue an attack, however, Burnside ordered an attack on Marye's Heights.  The attack failed, but it was followed by many more.  None came close to succeeding, and casualties piled up in front of the Confederate position at the Sunken Road.

 

 

A national cemetery now sits atop the heights.  During the battle, Confederate guns fired from the heights into the attacking Union infantry.  At the foot of the heights, Confederate infantry protected by a stone wall fired across a gentle slope into the attacking Union troops.

 

 

Our guide, Frank O'Reilly, has ties to a local university.  According to our own Clive Rice, he also has good taste in jackets.

 

 

John Graham points out a bullet hole on the CONFEDERATE side of the Ennis House.  Southern troops in the Sunken Road were subjected to friendly fire from their rear, not just enemy fire from their front.

 

This panorama from the Sunken Road gives a good idea of the terrain - a gentle slope in front of the Sunken Road and relatively steep heights behind it. 

 


Saturday Evening - Kristopher White of the Park Service talks about the Second Battle of Fredericksburg - part of the Chancellorsville Campaign.

 


 

Sunday:

 

Stratford Hall and the Trip Back:

 

 

This is Stratford Hall, where Robert E Lee spent his earliest years.  Robert's father, 'Light Horse' Harry Lee, a Revolutionary War hero and former governor, lost the family fortune with bad investments.

 

 

 

A veteran of the Peninsula and Shiloh Campaigns, JB Cruise was our driver.  Once again JB brought us off the field of battle with no casualties.

 


Photos courtesy of Clive Rice, Cranston Williams, Tom Moser, Stephen Warren, and the invisible man - John Hamill.


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