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150 Years Ago: Wednesday, December 3, 1862

Fredericksburg Confederate FortificationsSource: Library of Congress

Fredericksburg Confederate Fortifications
Source: Library of Congress

C.S.A. Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Corps are the last of Commanding General Robert E. Lee’s men to arrive in Fredericksburg, having marched 175 miles in 12 days. Weather conditions had been unfavorable and many of the men are without shoes, coats or blankets. Jackson meets with Lee and immediately voices his disagreement with the strategy to defend Fredericksburg. From Jackson’s point of view, it’s obvious that U.S. Commanding General Ambrose Burnside’s men will cross the Rappahannock River and the Confederates, with their firmly planted position on the high ground behind a stone wall, will easily devastate them; but nothing will be gained by it. Jackson strongly supports moving the more strategic position of North Anna, south of Fredericksburg, where a victory against the Union will be of more use to the Confederates strategically. Though Lee had originally looked at North Anna location of choice, once Burnside started placing his men across the river from Fredericksburg Lee felt his only decision was to fight him there. Lee declines Jackson’s proposal and Jackson leaves upset. His men are ordered to be the right flank of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s line; he will extend east towards Port Royal and will meet up with his former brother-in-law Major General D.H. Hill’s division. As his troops move into place, Jackson settles into a small home near Lee’s headquarters.

Corporal Elisha Hunt Rhodes with the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers writes in his journal near Stafford Court House, VA:

Yesterday we enclosed a piece of ground with a hedge of cedar and the officers of our mess pitched three new A tents inside. We made a gateway and arched it with boughs and built a green screen in front of our tents. We built beds of boughs and as darkness came on we sat down to enjoy our new homes. An orderly came in and said “The Colonel directs you that you have three day’s rations cooked and be ready to move tomorrow morning.” Well, we shall sleep on night in our new quarters, and that is worth something to us.

Colonel Frank Wheaton has been promoted to Brigadier General. We are very glad for him but sorry to have him leave our Regiment. He is a fine soldier and gentleman. We hope Lt. Col. Nelson Viall will be promoted to Colonel. The paymaster finished paying our Regiment tonight, and many thousands of dollars will be sent to Rhode Island.

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