J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

The Battle of Fredericksburg


The Battle of Fredericksburg took place a little over a week before Christmas, on December 11-15, 1862. The battle forced citizens of Fredericksburg out of their homes, and some had no recourse but to camp in the woods in subzero temperatures. Union forces invaded the town, looting, shelling, and burning much of it. The Yankees then marched up to Marye’s Heights, where Confederate troops were waiting for them. Because the Rebels were at an advantage, the Federals were forced to march up the hill through an open field, thus making them easy targets. Needless to say, thousands were slaughtered.

When the townsfolk were finally able to return to their homes, they found only destruction, but somehow, they managed to carry on through the terrible sadness that engulfed them. It is interesting to note that, during a lull in the battle, one soldier found the compassion to come to the aid of his enemies. His name was Sergeant Richard Kirkland, a Confederate from South Carolina. Without the protection of the white flag of truce, he braved the open field to provide water and blankets to the wounded and dying Union soldiers. Because of his bravery, the “Angel of Marye’s Heights” is immortalized with a statue at the Fredericksburg National Military Park.

Soldiers who were away from home at Christmas suffered a particular kind of homesickness, different from the usual melancholy they usually felt. Because most soldiers who fought in the Civil War were Christians, the celebration of Christmas was a very special time for them. As Victorians, they believed that Christmas should be celebrated as a happy time of year. But with all the death surrounding them, it was difficult to feel that way, especially in December 1862.

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2 thoughts on “The Battle of Fredericksburg

  1. I enjoyed your article on the Battle of Fredericksburg. So nice to hear about a compassionate soldier’s deeds (Sergeant Richard Kirkland). Also, I would like to use the drawing you have used for this article. I am writing an electronic publication for my graduate class at Shenandoah University in Virginia. My book will not be for sale. The publication will be a resource for 4th graders and teachers to use. Please let me know if it is alright to use the drawing that came in your interesting article on Dec 12, 2014 regarding the Battle of Fredericksburg.

    Thank You,

    Jennifer Milotte

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks for reading my blog! Actually, I think I found that picture online. It isn’t anything original I did or anything like that. It’s my understanding that you can use online images if you don’t make a profit from them. You might want to double check on that. I hope this helps.

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