Showing posts with label Battle of Fredericksburg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Battle of Fredericksburg. Show all posts

Monday, November 19, 2012

New and Noteworthy---NPS Rangers Offer Illustrated Walking Tour of Battle of Fredericksburg, 1862

Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 2012, Chris Mackowski and Kristopher White, 171 illustrations, 168 pp., $12.95.
"They melted like snow on the ground, one officer said—wave after wave of Federal soldiers charging uphill across an open muddy plain. Confederates, fortified behind a stone wall along a sunken road, poured a hail of lead into them as they charged . . . and faltered . . . and died. “I had never before seen fighting like that, nothing approaching it in terrible uproar and destruction,” said one eyewitness to the slaughter. “It is only murder now.”

The battle of Fredericksburg is usually remembered as the most lopsided Union defeat of the Civil War. It is sometimes called “Burnside’s folly,” after Union commander Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside who led the Army of the Potomac to ruin along the banks of the Rappahannock River. But the battle remains one of the most misunderstood and misremembered engagements of the war. Burnside started with a well-conceived plan and had every reason to expect victory. How did it go so terribly wrong?  Authors Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White have worked for years along Fredericksburg’s Sunken Road and Stone Wall, and they’ve escorted thousands of visitors across the battlefield.

Simply Murder not only recounts Fredericksburg’s tragic story of slaughter, but includes invaluable information about the battlefield itself and the insights they’ve learned from years of walking the ground. Simply Murder can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s living room or as a guide on the battlefield itself. It is also the first release in the new “Emerging Civil War Series,” which offers compelling and easy-to-read overviews of some of the Civil War’s mostimportant battles and issues.

Release date is December 3, 2012.

About the Authors:

Chris Mackowski is a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York, and also works with the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, which includes

the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania battlefields.
Kristopher D. White is a historian for the Penn-Trafford Recreation Board and a continuing
education instructor for the Community College of Allegheny County near Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. He served for five years as a staff military historian at Fredericksburg &
Spotsylvania National Military Park, and is a former Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. Longtime friends, Mackowski and White have co-authored several books and numerous articles for various Civil War magazines. They also co-founded the blog Emerging Civil War, which can be read at:
Text Source:  Savas-Beatie Publishing

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Fate of War: Fredericksburg, 1862, Duane Schultz, Westholme Publishing, endnotes, bibliography, index, 306 pp., 35 illustrations, 4 maps, 2011, $28.00.

The Battle of Fredericksburg [December 1863] is often reduced to the gallantry of the Federal assaults on the stonewall at the foot of Marye's Heights. Recently through, the work of scholars including National Park rangers have provided a more detailed research on both the entire battlefield and the city of Fredericksburg. Duane Schultz's The Fate of War: Fredericksburg 1862 provides an entry point to other stories of the battlefield and the town.

Schultz offers human interest stories to propel his account forward. The Fate of War's Prologue provides an example. Near the stonewall Sgt. Thomas Plunkett's are torn from his body by an exploding shell and in the battle damaged tow Clara Barton offers aid  aid to soldiers. Newspaper correspondent Murat Halstead writes to the Cincinnati Commercial a story of soldiers' valor.  Succinct biographies are used throughout establish the background to the battle and to propel the story through the winter of 1863.  The motivations, passions, and emotions of the soldiers and civilians are reveal in their letters, diaries, and memoirs. Bibliographic notes are not numbered but organized by chapters and pages.  Westholme Publishing often takes care with its books' spines and binding. The Fate of War is no exception. The book is comfortable to hold and the pages fall open easily. The Fate of War is accessible to high school students and readers in general. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Preservation News----Lacy House of Chatham Manor on Stafford Heights At Fredericksburg Needs Friends

Chatham May Get 'Friends' Group, Clint Schemmer, Fredericksburg.Com, September 26, 2011.

Lynda Baer admits she fell in love with Chatham at first sight. The beauty of the estate's physical setting, the elegance of its great house and the fascinating tales from the 18th-century home's long history worked their magic on her, starting years ago.

Now, the Fredericksburg woman wants to help ensure others who visit Chatham Manor for the first time can have that sort of magical moment, and feel a connection with the place. Tomorrow evening, Baer and other longtime area residents are inviting people to the Stafford County historic site to toss around ideas and organize a group to help the National Park Service care for the old plantation--the only home in America to have hosted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. "It's a 'witness building' built before the American Revolution. That's amazing to me; just think about all of the people who have walked across its floors," Baer said.

"The Park Service and volunteers do a great job in interpreting it and keeping it open to the public. But these days, Chatham needs a little more TLC. It needs more money." That's where a Friends of Chatham group could be vital, she believes. A private, tax-deductible entity could fund costly and out-of-the-ordinary repairs, upgrade exhibits and finance special programs, Baer said. "I got to thinking, 'Wouldn't it be fun to start a nonprofit friends group to raise money and give the buildings and grounds a real shot in the arm?'"

That was more than a year ago. The thought took Baer to Mount Rushmore and a national conference where she met people from across the country who are doing all sorts of things to support national parks in their communities. Back home, she roamed all of the Fredericksburg-area Civil War battlefields, talked to friends and neighbors, and consulted local history-minded groups about the work they do. A few weeks ago, Baer and five others--Jane Conner of Stafford, Charlie McDaniel of Fredericksburg, Jim Padgett of Stafford, Sara Poore of Stafford and Scott Walker of Fredericksburg--wrote history-minded people proposing such a group. Tomorrow's meeting starts at 7 p.m.; everyone is welcome. Baer made clear that a new group, should it be established, would have a mission quite different from other local organizations such as the Chatham volunteers, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield or Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. Pure and simple, it would be focused on fundraising.

Chatham's volunteers put in thousands of hours each year keeping the house--the largest and stateliest in the area--open to the public. FOWB does the same at Ellwood Manor on the Wilderness battlefield, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the circa-1790 house. FOFAB supports the park's education programs and has recently partnered with it in publishing a series of snappy, richly illustrated histories of Chancellorsville, Ellwood and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. "Friends of Chatham would be super-inclusive," said Baer, who has volunteered her time at Chatham since 2005. "But all of its dollars would go to fix up Chatham and support programs there. It wouldn't duplicate what people are already doing."

The need for such a group became clear to Baer, she said, as she guided visitors through its ground-floor rooms and their historical displays. Those exhibits are the same "temporary" ones that the Park Service put in when it acquired the property as a gift from the estate of its last private owners, industrialist John Lee Pratt and his wife, Lillian.

Park Superintendent Russ Smith welcomes the idea, noting the strides that friends groups have made at places such as Ellwood, Gettysburg, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Philadelphia's revolutionary-era sites. "Ellwood is open only because the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield staffs it for visitors, takes care of its grounds, and provides other programs and services," Smith said. "Because of them, Ellwood went from being a shell of a building to being a very nice introduction to the whole Wilderness battlefield for park visitors. We're very grateful for that."

Similarly, Chatham is kept open because of its dedicated volunteers, he said. Overall, volunteers do 25 percent of the work that gets done in the park, Smith said. "People have the idea that a lot of federal agencies have unlimited resources," he said. "The National Park Service has a $10 billion backlog in unmet maintenance needs. So we really count on friends groups to help the national parks achieve their mission. Chatham has a lot of physical needs, big and small, that we would like to tackle with help from the community."

"Parks' needs outweigh their resources," Smith added. "And there is every indication the federal budget will shrink. The National Park Service, as part of the government, isn't held harmless from budget cuts." With four major battlefields, the park includes 7,342 acres spread over 145 square miles in four counties. Of its $4.5 million annual budget, 98 percent goes to keeping buildings open, maintenance, interpretations and other things, Smith said. That leaves 2 percent for everything else. "For new programs or services, we have to rely on our friends for a lot of help," he said.

Text Source: Fredericksburg.ComTop

Image Source

Middle Image Source: Trip
Bottom Image Source: Flickr

Monday, October 26, 2009

CWL--- Street Fighting in Monterrey Mexico and Fredericksburg Virginia, Part Two

The United States Army and Urban Combat in the Nineteenth Century, Jonathan A. Beall, War In History, 16:2 (2009), pp. 157-188.

In December 1862, a different approach yielded different results at Fredericksburg Virginia. Barksdale's Confederate brigade occupied the town late in November with a simple mission: delay the Federals until the Army of Northern Virginia had fully arrived. A major difference between Monterrey and Fredericksburg was that at Monterrey the river was to the rear of the defending army. At Fredericksburg the river was at its front.

The urban river scape lent itself to the defense of the city. The Rebels occupied the city's riverbank as a picket line and dug square holes that completely hid each soldier. Zigzag trenches permitted protected travel between the riverfront to the rear. Formidable barricades of earth and stone filled boxes were erected across streets from corner to corner. First, second, third floors, as well as basements and attics were occupied.

The attempt by the Federals to bridge the river was interdicted. A bombardment ensued. At approximately 3:00pm a Federal regiment assaulted Within 30 minutes of the infantry assault 30 to 40 Mississippians had been captured and a bridgehead established on the Federal right. In two hours four companies had cleared the first full block's intersection at Caroline and Hawke streets. The Federal assault was decentralized and open which gained yards while taking casualties. Unlike Monterrey there were no effort to use light artillery to clear streets with infantry support. As Federal regiments by company entered intersections heavily fire was received. A tactic of 'column by platoons' was used to continue the advance. It took another hour and a half to take another intersection. No similar attack was made from the Federal left but another bridgehead was secured there. Barksdale elected to withdraw after dark and looting by Federals accelerated.

Dissimilarities between the Monterrey and Fredericksburg assaults abound. Beall, the author, notes that American forces were more flexible in the former and less so in the later. Yet in his discussion Beall fails to note the difference in the cities' architecture which contributed to the lack of flexibility in the 1862 assault. Whereas Monterrey homes had shared walls, the buildings filled the block and shared rear courtyards, the Fredericksburg homes were free-standing, sided by alleys and had individual backyards. Monterrey assault tactics employing battering rams, hand deployed artillery shells and six shot revolvers to clear interiors were not applicable to Fredericksburg. Beall does note that Texans who were engaged in the Monterrey assault had previous urban attack experience; the Federals in 1862 had none. Beall believes that command and control was lacking in the Federal infantry assault of Fredericksburg as evidenced by the pillaging of the city after dark. This seems to CWL to be poor evidence. After dark the enemy had left the city and Federal soldiers were somewhat uncontrolled. Being uncontrolled after the enemy leaves the city does not necessary mean the Federal soldiers were uncontrolled in the face of the enemy.

Beall notes the apparent rigidity of Federal street fighting tactics but does not suggest what other tactics were possible or known. With Federal light artillery being across the river with Federal cavalry, the Federal brigade commanders had no access to it. A well planned assault by a Federal corps commander may have brought different tactics and more appropriate weapons to the street assaults. It appears to CWL that Federal regimental and brigade commanders performed adequately under minimal direction of division and corps commanders who failed to creatively respond to an unplanned and hastily arranged assault on an urban center.

Top Image: Don Troiani, Fire on Caroline Street
Bottom Image: 19th Massachusetts on Sophia Street