Fredericksburg - Fighting in the Streets - December 11, 1862
American Battlefield Trust's map of the Battle of Fredericksburg's Fighting in the Streets on December 11, 1862
In the pre-dawn hours of December 11, 1862, Union engineers worked to complete the pontoon bridges across the fog-choked Rappahannock River. Suddenly, as the fog lifted, the opposite bank erupted in flame. With orders to delay the Federal river crossing, Mississippians and Floridians under Gen. William Barksdale began to pick-off the unarmed engineers. In response, Union artillery pounded the city. When hours of bombardment failed to drive Barksdale from the water’s edge, the 7th Michigan and 19th Massachusetts Infantry regiments crossed the river in pontoon boats and landed on the opposite shore in the first opposed river crossing in American warfare. Barksdale’s men withdrew from the riverfront, but they were still determined to stall the Union advance in the city of Fredericksburg itself. Columns of Yankees advanced up the narrow streets and alleys only be to cut down by Confederates hiding behind houses and in windows. Darkness and the arrival of fresh Union troops compelled Barksdale to gather his scattered troops and withdraw to the heights beyond the town, but his men had bought the Army of Northern Virginia precious time to prepare for the grand Union assault that was sure to follow.
Learn More: The Battle of Fredericksburg
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