Sunday, August 16, 2009

Trail Plaques, Animated Maps and Film: Breaking the Rebel's Right Flank at Fredericksburg

The site of the Meade's Pennsylvania Reserve Division breakthrough of the Confederate right flank commanded by Jackson at Fredericksburg is now open with an interpreted walking trail. The 1.75-mile "Slaughter Pen Farm" trail takes visitors over some of the bloodiest ground on the Dec. 13, 1862, battlefield. This assault over mostly open ground was supposed to be the main Union attack that day, with the now more famous assault on Marye's Heights to follow. More than 9,000 Federal and Confederate casualties were sustained on this ground south of Marye's Heights, giving the area its name. The property was acquired recently by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT). Though recently and generically labelled "The Slaughter Pen" the farm fields are still part of a working farm.

The entrance to the property is located just off Route 2 south of Fredericksburg, 11232 Tidewater Trail, Fredericksburg VA 22408. The Civil War Preservation Trust asks that groups of more than five register at the Fredericksburg National Park visitor center or with CWPT (800-298-7878) and to use caution since this site is still an operating farm.

Here are the highly illustrated trail plagues. Here is the link for the animated maps. The units move according to the battle clock.
Frank O'Reilly's ten minute orientation film is here. He presents the notion that Confederate authors emphasize the Stonewall beneath Marye's Heights where losses were 1 to 8 against the Federals. O'Reilly reminds the audience that the losses on this farm were 1 to 1, something the Southern authors wish to ignore. It was at this farm that Lee was gazing when he said to Longsteet, "It is well that war is so terrible otherwise we would grow to fond of it." Best results come with George Rable's Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! or Frank O'Reilly's The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock nearby and open.

Image Source: The Assault of Meade's Pennsylvania Reserves is from

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