Bobby Thompson ’14 & Terrance Pigues ’15 - Day five of our exciting tour through the Civil War battlefields on the United States East Coast lead us to the battle of Fredericksburg. This battle took place on December 11th through the 13th of the year 1862. Fredericksburg is part of the bloodiest county in all the Civil War, Spotsylvania County. This battle is primarily known for two reasons. The first is what it meant to the war. Fredericksburg was the first big victory for the Confederates giving them hope that they could win the war and march onwards to the North. The victory came at the feet of a Union mistake that opened the door for General Robert E. Lee of the South. Lee was paired with Stonewall Jackson as generals of the South; these two men are arguably the greatest generals in the war. Their opposite in this battle was generals Burnside and Hooker. The Union Army miscalculated the attack and will power of the South leading to their loss. After this Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Union troops.
This battle is also known for two historic landmarks, the Sunken Road and the Chatham House. We were given a tour of Sunken Road. Sunken Road was where the Confederate line was drawn for the battle. The location is significant because it is behind a series of stone walls, which are great for protection. This line of Confederate troops consisted of only 5,000 men, which was significantly less than the Union army. These men caused 8,000 casualties, yet only suffered 1,000 despite being so outnumbered. This site is also home to the memory of Richard Kirkland, a South Carolinian troop who helped injured men of both armies by rushing water to them. His monument as well as a picture of Sunken Road can be seen here.
Another prominent landmark at Fredericksburg is the Chatham House. The house was built by William Fitzhugh between 1768 and 1771. The significance of this home occurs because it was used as the Union headquarters during the war. It has also been the temporary home of three presidents: Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The house lies on the outskirts of Fredericksburg atop a hill, making it a great lookout spot.
Aside from the monuments and battle sites the trip has been filled with fun, enthusiasm, and laughter. It shows the typical Wabash experience, a bunch of men coming together to get stuff done. Our trip will continue with a Civil War adventure camp where we will spend the night at a camp, eat hardtack, and get fully dressed in Civil War uniforms representing the North and the South.