Fredericksburg | Sunken Road Fighting | Dec 13, 1862
To support the main Union attack south of Fredericksburg at Prospect Hill and the Slaughter Pen Farm, the Right Grand Division of Gen. Edwin V. Sumner was tasked with tieing down the Confederate forces on the north end of the field. Confederate Gen. James Longstreet’s First Corps occupied a series of five hills to the west of the town collectively known as Marye’s Heights. Some 900-yards of open fields rising up from the town led to the Confederate position. After exiting the town, Federal troops would lack significant cover as the assaulted the enemy position. A millrace ran north and south half-way across, requiring the attacking troops to form into columns to cross what was left of three bridges. Near noon on December 13th, Sumner initiated repeated attacks on the Confederate lines. Utilizing a sunken road and stout stonewall, the Southern defenders beat back assault after assault. By the end of the day, elements of the Union II, III, V, and IX Corps slammed into Longstreet's line. Not one attacker touched the stonewall, and not one entered the Sunken Road. In total, seven Union divisions made 14 separate, fruitless charges against the sunken road. Nearly 1-in-3 Federal soldiers became a casualty in the Marye's Heights sector on December 13.
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