At the base of Marye’s Heights which is just one mile west from the town of Fredericksburg is the renmants of Sunken Road. Sunken road was a roadway that travelers and traders alike for generations prior to the Civil War used to visit and leave Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862 it was the defensive position held by the Confederacy against Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac. The road around Fredericksburg was buttressed and reinforced by a stone wall that gave the Confederates magnificent protection against a frontal assault. On this day, Georgians made up the majority of Confederates positioned at the wall.
Little of the original wall remains from the battle, the majority of the wall that is present today was rebuilt during the Great Depression. The portion that does remain however, can be seen in the photograph attached to this post. From the vantage point of the photograph Confederates at the wall would be facing east towards Fredericksburg. At the time, Confederates would be starring at roughly 1,000 yds. of open terrain. The Union army occupied Fredericksburg on December 11th and 12th. Both sides knew exactly what would be coming…
Fredericksburg was located essentially in a natural ampitheatre, Marye’s Heights to the west of town and Stafford Heights just over the river to the east of town. After Confederate pickets engaged Union forces in some house to house fighting in Fredericksburg, violating a direct order which called for them to only scout the Union position these same pickets fell back west of town to Marye’s Heights and the Union moved into an abandoned Fredericksburg.
For two nights Confederate forces on Marye’s Heights and behind the wall at Sunken Road listened in great acoustic clarity to the Union army destroying their Confederate town. For two nights they seethed with anger.
December 13th was a crisp, cool and sunny day. 9 Union divisions, roughly 30,000 men headed west out of Fredericksburg to the Confederate position at Sunken Raod and Marye’s Heights. Wave after wave walked into a slaughter. The Confederates were able to vent their rage. The casualties were staggering. The Conferderate position was too much for the Union and the Battle of Fredericksburg became one of the most convincing Confederate victories of the entire war.