Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fredericksburg 150

The terrible Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, peaked on December 13, 1862 -- 150 years ago. Resulting casualties, including the buildup and immediate aftermath: 18,000 killed, wounded and missing out of some 185,000 men engaged, with the assaulting Union troops losing more than twice as many as their Confederate counterparts.

Over the years, I've covered much of the battleground on foot and by car, with groups large and small. It's an eerie hallowed ground, despite modern sights and noises. 

When I worked transcribing manuscripts at the Southern Historical Collection in Chapel Hill more than twenty years ago now, I came across a remarkable letter nervously scrawled in pencil by a Confederate soldier positioned at the Sunken Road and Wall, where he helped repulse Union frontal assaults. It was barely legible but quite visceral, giving me the chills. This letter, more than anything else before or since, brought home the reality of Fredericksburg from the perspective of an eyewitness combatant.

Today's Rune: Gateway.


Erik Donald France said...

The letter is in this collection:

"Processed by: Erik D. France, March 1991

Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser, January 2002

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, October 2010"

pattinase (abbott) said...

Was there a few years ago. A lovely city.