Fredericksburg - Marye’s Heights - December 13, 1862
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Marye's Heights - December 13, 1862
American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Marye’s Heights
To support the main Union attack south of Fredericksburg, the Right Grand Division of Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner was tasked with creating a diversion against Gen. James Longstreet’s Confederates occupying Marye’s Heights west of the town. The half-mile of ground between the Confederate position and the town’s streets was open and devoid of cover. A canal ran north and south half-way across, requiring the attacking troops to form into columns to cross its three bridges. For two hours, from late morning to early afternoon, Sumner launched repeated attacks with the II Corps under Maj. Gen. Darius M. Couch. Colonel Thomas F. Meagher’s Irish Brigade pushed forward in one assault wave and coincidentally faced off at close range against the largely Irish 24th Georgia Infantry. Despite the bloodshed, Couch was unable to dislodge the Confederates. Not willing to modify his original plan, Burnside ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Center Grand Division to follow Sumner. Hooker advised against continuing the attacks but his men were pushed forward, including the V Corps under Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield. In total, seven Union divisions made 14 separate, fruitless charges against the sunken road, resulting in over 6,000 casualties.