previous next


The bloody carnage was over, the plan of Burnside had ended in failure, and thousands of patriotic and brave men, blindly obedient to their country's command, were the toll exacted from the Union army. Burnside, wild with anguish at what he had done, walking the floor of his tent, exclaimed, “Oh, those men — those men over there,” pointing to the battlefield, “I am thinking of them all the time.” In his report of the battle to Washington, Burnside gave reasons for the issue, and in a manly way took the responsibility upon himself, and most highly commended his officers and men. He said, “For the failure in the attack I am responsible, as the extreme gallantry, courage, and endurance shown by them [officers and men] were never excelled.”

President Lincoln's verdict in regard to this battle is adverse to the almost unanimous opinion of the historians. In his reply, December 22d, to General Burnside's report of the battle, he says, “Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error, nor the failure other than an accident.” Burnside, at his own request, was relieved of the command of the Army of the Potomac, however, on January 25, 1863, and was succeeded by General Hooker. The Union loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 12,653, and the Confederates lost 5,377.

After the battle the wounded lay on the field in their agony exposed to the freezing cold for forty-eight hours before arrangements were effected to care for them. Many were burned to death by the long, dead grass becoming ignited by cannon fire. The scene witnessed by the army of those screaming, agonizing, dying comrades was dreadful and heartrending. Burnside's plan had been to renew the battle, but the overwhelming opinion of the other officers prevailed. The order was withdrawn and the defeated Union army slipped away under the cover of darkness on December 15th, and encamped in safety across the river. The battle of Fredericks-burg had passed into history.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: