This weekend marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. It was during this battle that Burnside’s Union forces faced defeat at the hands of General Lee’s Confederates, who were entrenched on Marye’s Heights. The Yankees were literally mowed down, and during the course of the bitter cold night, suffered tremendously, their cries and moans echoing in the still December air to the distraught ears of the Rebels.
One remarkable soldier laid his life on the line to assist the poor soldiers he was fighting against. This is a profound gesture, because the Union soldiers had pillaged the town upon their arrival, driving the remaining citizens into the woods to fend for themselves. Private Richard Rowland Kirkland, only nineteen years old, ventured out onto the battlefield to offer fallen Yankees sips of water from his canteen. Because of his bravery, he is forever known as “The Angel of Marye’s Heights.” He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga.
The battlefield has been honorably preserved, as has a house that survived the midst of battle and still has bullet hole pock mark scars to prove it. In two of my novels, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, the battle is described in detail. Once the fighting ceased, Northern Lights became visible in the winter sky. This was extremely unusual, as they are normally not seen that far south. The Confederates took it as a sign from God that he approved of their victory.