Stonewall Arrives in Fredericksburg to Disagreeable Plans

December 2, 1862 (Tuesday)

Fredericksburg, 1862

Stonewall Jackson and his men had, for the past two weeks, endured one of the harshest marches of the war thus far. They suffered all sorts of weather (except for the warm, pleasant kind) and many were without shoes, blankets or heavy coats. But at last, they had arrived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, uniting with the rest of General Robert E. Lee’s army, under James Longstreet.

After a parlay with Lee, Jackson was in a noticeably foul mood. He had no desire at all to defend Fredericksburg. Like Lee, he believed that the Union Army of the Potomac, under Ambrose Burnside, would attempt a crossing and meet a horrible end. The problem was what happened after.

“We will whip the enemy but gain no fruits of victory,” said Jackson to D.H. Hill. He had stressed to Lee that the North Anna defense was the best. There would be no time or practical way to follow up the attack, especially with the Federal guns looming across the river. Lee himself had, at one time, agreed. When Burnside began his move towards Fredericksburg, Lee didn’t believe that his smaller Confederate army could stop the Union troops from crossing the Rappahannock River, and began to move most of Longstreet’s Corps to the North Anna.

After Burnside stopped, however, Lee moved the North Anna troops to Fredericksburg. Jackson, whose Corps was in the Shenandoah Valley while all this was going on, arrived a week after Longstreet was settled in.

The house and outbuilding that Jackson refused as his headquarters. Before too long, he would spend his last couple weeks in the latter.

Jackson’s North Anna urgings had been overruled. Meetings like this were mostly kept secret, so later speculation emerged as to whether Lee personally objected or Richmond forbade it. Either way, Jackson was cross at Lee. But it was Lee who was calling the shots. He understood that no follow up would really be necessary. Simply by stopping Burnside’s attack, his Confederate army would be victorious.

He placed Jackson’s men on the Confederate right. For the time being, they would be spread out, with D.H. Hill’s Division twenty miles away at Port Royal. While his troops were falling into line, Jackson stayed in a house near to Lee’s, overlooking the town.

Soon, Jackson would move his headquarters to Fairfield, the sprawling farm owned by the Chandler family at Guinea Station. He was offered use of their house, but refused. He even refused the small outbuilding located nearby, electing to stay in his tent, fairing no better than his men in the field.

Sources: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 25; Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson; The Fredericksburg Campaign by O’Reilly.

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Stonewall Arrives in Fredericksburg to Disagreeable Plans by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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