The American Civil War had started in 1861. The war started because of the strong disagreements between the southern states and the northern states. The southern states wanted individual states to have more powers and supported slavery.
The northern states wanted the federal government to have more powers and were against slavery. When Abraham Lincoln was elected as President, the southern states didn’t agree with his anti-slavery policies. These differences ultimately led to a war between the two sides.
Virginia was one of the most important states for the Confederacy and the main Confederate army was stationed in Virginia. The Union army, under General Burnside, decided to attack the important city of Fredericksburg. General Burnside originally planned that he would rapidly move to the city and take the Confederate forces by surprise.
But the Union army had to cross the Rappahannock River in order to reach Fredericksburg and all the bridges on the river had been destroyed. So they couldn’t attack as planned and their delay in crossing the river allowed the Confederate army to reach a spot near to the city and occupy a strong position.
The battle took place in Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg, Virginia. It took place from December 11, 1862 to December 15, 1862.
The Union army was led by General Ambrose E. Burnside. He commanded a Union army of around 120,000 men. His army was called the Army of the Potomac.
The Confederate army was led by General Robert E. Lee. He commanded a Confederate army of around 75,000 men. His army was called the Army of Northern Virginia.
After much delay, the Union army started to cross the Rappahannock River on December 11, 1862. By this time, the Confederate army was already ready on the other side of the river. They fired at the Union army while it crossed the river. Once the Union army had crossed the river, it entered the city of Fredericksburg where fighting continued between the Union and Confederate soldiers.
The Confederate army had dug into defensive positions on a hill near the city and the Union army needed to take control of these hills in order to defeat the Confederate army. So the Union army launched one attack after another on the hills but these attacks were all repulsed. After heavy losses, the Union army was forced to retreat.
The battle was a decisive victory for the Confederacy and a major defeat for the Union. The Union army suffered around 12,500 casualties while the Confederate army suffered 4,200 casualties. This defeat was a serious blow to the Union and many people in the northern states started wondering if the Union could win the war at all. President Abraham Lincoln also came under a lot of criticism and pressure. The South, on the other hand, realized that even with smaller armies, it could defeat larger Union armies.