One of the enduring mysteries of the Battle of Fredericksburg is why the Union Army, led by Gen. George Meade, did not commit a single casualty in the battle of October 1, 1862. The battle, which killed an estimated 300 Union soldiers, was fought on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought to a disastrous conclusion.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was the last battle of the Civil War, and the last major battle fought in the Carolinas. After the Union Army’s capture of the Confederate capital of Richmond the following year, Meade ordered the Army of the Potomac to begin the retreat from the battlefield. The Confederate Army was commanded by Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Early’s army, which had a large contingent of African American troops under Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was the largest adversary of Meade’s Army of the Potomac. Early’s forces were reorganized as the Confederate States of America in 1864 to create the Confederate States of America.
On October 1, 1862, Early’s army attacked the Union Army’s positions at Fredericksburg with a force of nearly 3,000 men. Early’s army was led by General John C. Breckenridge. Breckenridge was also the commander of the Union forces at Fort Donelson.
While the Union Army was within a few hundred yards of the Confederate position at Fredericksburg, Breckenridge ordered Major General John P. Gordon’s cavalry to halt and take up defensive positions at a point approximately two miles away. Breckenridge ordered the Union cavalry to attack at dawn and break through Early’s line. The Union cavalry attacked at 6:30 a.m., and the Union infantry attacked at 7 a.m.
Like the Union Army, Early’s Army of Northern Virginia was composed primarily of African Americans. The Union Army was commanded by Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of Northern Virginia. Early was African American, and drew his troops from the state of Maryland.
Early’s army was led by Maj. Gen. John P. Gordon, who was also African American.
The Union Army’s attack was a flanking maneuver. The Union cavalry attacked from the rear, overrunning Early’s infantry in the process. Early’s cavalry charged the Union infantry, and the Union infantry was forced to retreat to the rear.
One of Early’s officers, Maj. Gen. John Logan, was killed in the initial attack. Logan was Black. The Union Army’s first casualty was Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, who was killed at Fredericksburg in the initial attack. On the second day of the battle, Maj. Gen. John G. Meigs was killed when his horse was shot. On the third day, Maj. Gen. John Buford was killed in the fight.
In the battle of Fredericksburg, General Jubal Early’s Army of Northern Virginia lost more than 1,000 men, including more than 500 killed. Early’s army lost more men than any other army in the entire war in the Battle of Fredericksburg.
The Confederate Army’s second-last casualty was Maj. Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of Northern Virginia.
The South Carolina Historical Society describes the Union Army’s overall performance in the Battle of Fredericksburg in a pamphlet, The Battle of Fredericksburg. In the pamphlet, the Southern Historical Society of South Carolina describes the Union Army’s overall performance in the Battle of Fredericksburg as lackluster.