It’s time for another Christmas post! Well, not exactly a Christmas post…its time for me to post another history post. And in keeping with my series, I found a battle close to Christmas. And it really makes me think of Christmas time. Plus, I have a few excerpts from my book, Our Heritage to Save! One from Fredericksburg and one from a Christmas scene! So keep reading to find those!
Smack Dab in the Middle of Things. Fredericksburg was located right in the middle of Washington D.C. and Richmond, the capital cities of the warring countries. This alone made it an iconic town that both parties would want control of. The Battle of Fredericksburg would determine who would have it.
We Will All Cross Together. General Winfield Scott Hancock saw the chance of a battle before it happened. He wanted to take part of the army across to secure the town before Lee and Jackson arrived. Gen. A. Burnside, the General of the Army of the Potomac, disagreed and insisted that they all cross over together. His insistence proved fatal for the Union Army.
A Chicken Couldn’t Live on That Field. Alexander Porter, Lee’s artillery expert, told this to Lee prior to the battle. He had his cannons set up just right, there was a stonewall for the Southern troops to fight behind and the Federals would have to cross open ground to get to the wall. No sir, a chicken couldn’t live on that field once the shots were fired.
Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! This was the cry of the Union soldiers as they taunted the Confederates retreating from Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. But why did they remind their counterparts of a battle the federals had so miserably lost? Well, perhaps they were trying to tell the Confederates that they should have learned from the federals’ mistake at Fredericksburg. They charged at the Confederates across an open field not once, not twice, but thirteen times. Thankfully, the South did learn something from their mistakes…they only charged the federals once.
It is Well. It was following this battle that General Lee said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” It’s easy to see his meaning. Campaign strategy can be fun, planning the battle movements and counterattacks. The horror of it comes when you remember, this isn’t a game. This is an event that will leave men dead.
Faugh A Ballagh!* At this battle, one of the famous clashes happened when the Southern Irish of Georgia clashed with the Northern Irish Brigade of New York met at the stonewall outside of Fredericksburg. The two knew they were more than likely firing on their family as the shots were exchanged. The conflict ended in a federal retreat. Instead of continuing to fire at the retreating enemy, the Southern Irish cheered their comrades, hardly a dry eye among them. *An Irish War Cry “Clear the Way!”
Counting the Casualties. The Federal forces suffered a staggering 12,653 casualties, broken down into 1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, and 1,769 captured or missing. The Confederacy suffered 5,377 losses: 608 killed, 4,116 wounded, 653 captured or missing. Sadly, before the war was over, these numbers would seem like nothing.
Answering the Cry. Sgt. Richard Kirkland, Confederate Army, couldn’t bear to listen to the cries of the dying federal and Confederate soldiers on the field, so after pestering his officers, he was allowed to carry water to them, to ease there suffering. He has been dubbed the “Angel of Marye’s Heights” and is much loved by both the North and the South.
The Color of the Coat Doesn’t Matter. Clara Barton had set up a hospital in the nearby Lacy House. When she heard someone say a Confederate soldier should be taken out of the house, she refused to listen to another word of it. A patient was a patient, no matter his coat color.
Looted and Burned. Most of the Homes in Fredericksburg were spoiled by the federal troops during their short stay in town. Many homes were damaged by cannon shot and fire, while others were looted for anything of value by drunken bluecoats. Appalled, some federal officers tried to rein in their men, but it took some doing to restore order. This is what the townspeople and Confederate Army had to return to; rebuilding and restoration.
And now for some snippets!
From Our Heritage to Save-- Chapter 30: War is So Terrible
Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate right flank were viciously attacked by the Union troops. Stonewall’s men waited until the Federals were almost on top of them to start firing.
Richard, commanding his unit, fired along with the others. He watched as the guns were fired and tried to push away the reality that men and boys, wearing blue and gray, were dying all around him. Souls forever gone to eternity.
He glanced to his right and saw David Bowers acting as a field doctor, patching the men up and sending them back into the fight. Titus Mallory stood nearby, loading his gun once more and preparing to fire. How odd it was that Titus, who had taught Richard so much, was now a sergeant under Richard’s command!
The men in blue soon fell back to regroup. When they did, they pressed hard to break the line. A hail of bullets showered the area. When Richard realized that the Yanks had managed to divide two Confederate brigades in half, he raised his gun and began fighting harder than he had realized was possible. “Come on, Boys! Remember your families,” he shouted. Then their camp verses came to mind. “32:7-8!” he shouted.
The cry was taken up by the others. “32:7-8!”
“More with us than with them!”
“…With us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles!”
“Be strong and courageous!” The Confederates soon filled the gap again and drove the soldiers back.
Richard looked up and saw a soldier trying to drag David off the field. A mini battle erupted as members of the 32:7 Company rushed to defend their doctor friend. It wasn’t easy going, for the Federal had friends as well. But they managed to escape without major injuries, just a few cuts and bruises.
Richard’s adrenaline was up. Those invaders had tried to take one of his men; they had already taken *removed, because Spoilers XD* and he was determined they weren’t going to take anyone else. Woe unto those who dared mess with the 32:7 Company!
From Chapter 32: Christmas Surprises
Philip, Drew and Charles stood in the hall, waiting to surprise their families. “Philip, you go into the parlor first, and see how long it takes for them to notice you’re there,” Drew whispered. Philip grinned and stepped into the room, leaning against the door frame.
It didn’t take long. Michael, looking rather glum, was listlessly glancing around the room. He gave a start when he saw Philip. Then realizing who it was, he jumped to his feet. Those nearest him saw the action and turned to see what he was looking at.
Jennifer gave a cry of delight and hurried forward to hug her big brother. He hugged her tight, lifting her off her feet. She soon had to make way for her sister-in-law though. The whole family was eager to greet their loved one and Philip loved the attention.
“Boy, why didn’t you tell us you were coming home for Christmas?” Robert Rains asked his son. “We had no idea!”
Philip relished hearing his father’s voice again. “Wasn’t time to tell you! I only found out a few days ago! I came as soon as I could.”
“Oh, Charles!” his mother called out at that moment as the next soldier entered the room. She soon had her oldest son in her embrace. “My boy, oh!” More hugs, kisses and greetings ensued.
“What happened to your hand?” Nana asked in alarm.
Charlie grinned, “Just a sprain, Nana, and nearly healed.”
Dixie watched the reunions with a pain in her heart. She wanted to see Richard and Seth so bad. And they still hadn’t heard the outcome of Fredericksburg. Were they sitting behind bars at this very minute while everyone was making over Philip and Charles like they were heroes?
Tears welled in her eyes. She briskly, but inconspicuously made her way to the hall. She didn’t want to ruin the occasion with her self-pity and anxiety.
Once in the hall, with the door shut, Dixie allowed the tears to flow. Her shoulders shook, and her breath came in quiet, sobbing gasps.
She jumped as a hand touched her shoulder. She swiped at her eyes and turned around. Drew. She gave way to her tears once more. He stooped down and pulled his cousin into a gentle embrace, allowing her to cry on his shoulder.
He patted her and said, “It’s alright, Dixie. You’ll see them again soon. This war will end before long. Maybe you’ll feel better when I tell you that we lost Fredericksburg. Richard and Seth are probably in the town right now, helping clean up the mess.”
She nodded. It did help. Her brothers probably were safe. That thought helped a lot. She pulled back after a moment and wiped at her eyes again. Drew handed her a kerchief. “I left mine in the parlor,” Dixie said as she dried her eyes.
Drew smiled. “That’s alright. I would be honored if you’d help me make my grand entrance,” he said, offering his arm.
Dixie tried to muster a smile and said, “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not. I’d feel like...like a traitor to Richard and Seth.”
Drew nodded. “I understand.” He opened the door and then stepped into the realm of excitement. Drew was swamped by his six younger siblings. He nearly disappeared from sight as they all tried to hug him at once, regardless of age.
Dixie slipped back in, at last able to watch the reunions without tears threatening her. But even though Drew’s words had comforted her, she wondered if anyone else were remembering her brothers were in this war too. Were they missed by the cousins?
Constance Angelica gave Dixie a vindictive look. She certainly wasn’t missing Richard and Seth. Jennifer slipped up next to Dixie. “It would be perfect if the boys were here. That and getting the news that the war was over. A perfect Christmas gift!”
Dixie smiled. “Yes. A perfect Christmas gift indeed!”
That's it for now!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.