's evacuation of Maryland
after the battle on Antietam Creek
occurred on Sept. 19-20, 1862.
rested a few days on the Virginia
side of the Potomac
, and then marched leisurely up the Shenandoah Valley.
did not pursue, but, after twice calling for reinforcements, he declared his intention to stand where he was, on the defensive, and “attack the enemy should he attempt to recross into Maryland
The government and the loyal people, impatient of delay, demanded an immediate advance.
On Oct. 6 the President
to “cross the Potomac
and give battle to the enemy, or drive him South.
Your army must now move,” he said, “while the roads are good.”
Twenty-four days were spent in correspondence before the order was obeyed, McClellan
complaining of a lack of men and supplies to make it prudent to move forward.
At length, when October had nearly passed by and Lee
's army was thoroughly rested and reorganized, and communications with Richmond
were re-established, the Army of the Potomac began to cross the river (Oct. 26), 100,000 strong.
were led on the east side of the Blue Ridge
, but failed to strike the retreating Confederates over the mountain in flank or to get ahead of them; and Lee
's troops over the Blue Ridge
to Culpeper Court-house, between the Army of the Potomac and Richmond
, ready to dispute the advance of the Nationals.
Quick and energetic movements were now necessary to sever and defeat, in detail, Lee
On Nov. 5 McClellan
was relieved of command, and General Burnside
was put in his place.
A sense of responsibility made the latter commander exceedingly cautious.
Before he moved he endeavored to get his 120,000 men well in hand.
was made his base of supplies, and he moved the army towards Fredericksburg
on Nov. 10.
led the movement down the left bank of the Rappahannock
By the 20th a greater portion of Burnside
's forces were opposite Fredericksburg
, and their cannon com-
Map of battle of Fredericksburg.|
manded the town.
demanded the surrender of the city (Nov. 21). It was refused.
The bridges had been destroyed.
A greater portion of the inhabitants now fled, and the town was occupied by Confederate troops.
's army, 80,000 strong, was upon and near the Heights of Fredericksburg
by the close of November, and had planted strong batteries there.
The army lay in a semicircle around Fredericksburg
, each wing resting upon the Rappahannock
, its right at Port Royal
and its left 6 miles above the city.
Pontoons for the construction of bridges across the Rappahannock
were not received by Burnside
until the first week in December.
Then 60,000 National troops under Sumner
lay in front of Fredericksburg
, with 150 cannon, commanded by General Hunt
The corps of Franklin
, about 40,000 strong, was encamped about 2 miles below.
On the morning of Dec. 11 the engineers went quietly to work to construct five pontoon bridges for the passage of the National
Sharp-shooters assailed the engineers.
The heavy ordnance of the Nationals on Stafford Heights
opened upon the town, set it on fire, and drove out many troops.
The sharp-shooters remained.
They were dislodged by a party that crossed the river in boats, the bridges were rebuilt, and by the evening of the 12th a greater portion of the National
army occupied Fredericksburg
, and on the morning of the 13th made a simultaneous assault all along the line.
The Confederates, with 300 cannon, were well posted on the heights and ready for action.
The battle was begun by a part of Franklin
's corps, Meade
's division, supported by Gibbon
's, with Doubleday
's in reserve.
soon silenced a Confederate battery, but very soon a terrible
storm of shells and canister-shot, at near range, fell upon him. He pressed on, and three of the assailing batteries were withdrawn.
's advance line, under A. P. Hill
, was driven back, and 200 men made prisoners, with several battleflags as trophies.
still pressed on, when a fierce assault by Early
compelled him to fall back.
, who came up, was repulsed, and the shattered forces fled in confusion; but the pursuers were checked by General Birney
's division of Stoneman
could not advance, for Stuart
's cavalry, on Lee
's right, strongly menaced the Union
, with reinforcements, pushed back the Confederate
right to the Massaponax
, where the contest continued until dark.
's corps had occupied the city, with Wilcox
's between his and Franklin
's. At noon Couch
attacked the Confederate
front with great vigor.
's brigade, of French
's division, led, Hancock
was posted on Marye's Hill, just back of the town.
Upon his troops the Nationals fell heavily, while missiles from the Confederate
cannon made great lanes through their ranks.
After a brief struggle, French was thrown back, shattered and broken, nearly one-half of his command disabled.
advanced, and his brigades fought most vigorously.
In fifteen minutes, Hancock
, also, was driven back.
Of 5,000 veterans whom he led into action, 2,013 had fallen, and yet the struggle was maintained.
's division came to the aid of French and Hancock
; so, also, did those of Sturgis
crossed the river with three divisions.
He was so satisfied with the hopelessness of any further attacks upon the strong position of the Confederates
, that he begged Burnside
He would not yield.
sent 4,000 men in the track of French
, and Howard
, to attack with bayonets only.
These were hurled back by terrific volleys of rifleballs, leaving 1,700 of their number prostrate on the field.
Night soon closed the awful conflict, when the Army of the Potomac had 15,000 less of effective men than it had the day before.
, intent on achieving a victory, proposed to send his old corps, the 9th, against the fatal barrier (a stone wall) on Marye's Hill, but Sumner
dissuaded him, and, on the 14th and 15th, his troops were
withdrawn to the north side of the Rappahanneck, with all his guns, taking up his pontoon bridges.
Then the Confederates