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McClellan failed to pursue Lee’s army vigorously following the Battle of Antietam. It would be his last display of hesitancy. On November 7, 1862, Lincoln replaced him with Ambrose Burnside, who quickly organized his army and marched rapidly to the Rappahannock River opposite Fredericksburg. But by the time he was ready to force crossing, Lee had been able to deploy his army of about 70,000 in strong positions on the heights above Fredericksburg.
Sumner crossed at Fredericksburg and deployed two corps on the edges of the town. Franklin crossed river a mile downstream with two additional corps and assaulted Jackson’s forces, but was thrown back. North of Fredericksburg, the situation was to be even more desperate for the federal soldiers. At midday, Burnside ordered Sumner to attack against Longstreet’s soldiers on Marye’s Heights. The troops had to advance across open ground in the face of withering fire. It was one of the Union army’s worst defeats of the war.
The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.
December 13, 1862
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. The combat, between the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee, was part of the Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city. It is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the war, with Union casualties more than twice as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates. A visitor to the battlefield described the battle to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a "butchery".
Introduction to Wikipedia Article
Wikipedia: Battle of Fredericksburg