Alternative Outcome Analysis: The Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg is remembered as the Confederate Army’s most one-sided victory in its campaign against the Union Forces of the North. It was the first battle to occur shortly after President Abraham Lincoln had delivered his “Emancipation Proclamation” and the President was hard pressed for a victory to bolster public support for it. It would be remembered as the first major campaign for the newly appointed General of the Army of the Potomac. General Ambrose E. Burnside was given command of the Union Army due to an increased frustration President Abraham Lincoln was experiencing with his predecessor. However, General Burnside’s inexperience would cost him dearly on the battlefield. Historical data and battlefield analysis reports show what led to the Unions defeat at Fredericksburg. An alternative outcome was possible had General Burnside implemented all of the intelligence assets at his disposal.
In the early fall of 1862, General George McClellan fresh off his victory against General Robert E. Lee’s forces at Antietam, was being pressured by the President to continue his push towards the Confederate capital of Richmond. He was more concerned with reinvigorating Union morale and its strength following a “rapid marching and hard fighting campaign.” (Runals, 2012) Despite the dwindling morale of the Confederate Army and its low numbers, General McClellan allowed General Lee to move his forces back to Virginia to regroup. This caused General McClellan to be relieved by the President on November 6th and replaced with General Ambrose E. Burnside. General Burnside would quickly employ sweeping changes to not only the focus of the Un...
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...nd was initially surprised by the Union’s movement. However, once he realized the Union Army was stalled north of the Rappahannock, he dispatched Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s First Corps. This 40,000-man force advanced from Culpeper to Fredericksburg, where they took up position behind Marye’s Heights, west of town. (Mackowski & White, 2012)
Describe the Action:
The terrain and its features heavily favored the defending Confederate Army. General Lee’s emplacement of his forces on high ground gave him the advantage of observation on the Union force as well as clear fields of fire on the opposing army. This allowed General Lee to spot the divergent force as they attempted to move across the river. The winter snowfall and range of wooded hills and streams provided ample cover and concealment to General Lee’s forces. The Union Forces had to cross the span of the
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