Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Knee Deep In The Mud

Begun on January 20th 1863 there was an attempt the flank Robert E Lee’s Army, by Major General Ambrose Burnside known as the Mud March.

After the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg at the end of 1862, General Burnside was desperate to get back his standing and raise the morale of the Army of the Potomac. As the Union and Confederate armies faced each other across the river, his plan was to make a surprise crossing, south of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, and to flank General Robert E Lee, while at the same time having Union Cavalry hit in Lee’s rear taking out his supply lines. Upon learning about the plan Abraham Lincoln, feeling it was to risky, told Burnside to stop. Burnside just revised his plan, simply moving the river crossing to the north of Fredericksburg at Bank’s Ford.

It was an unseasonably warm day on January 20th 1863 when the Army of the Potomac began moving. As evening fell a steady rain began and continued for two days. The troops struggled to move themselves, wagons, pontoons, and artillery through knee-deep mud. While on the other side of the river Confederate pickets watching the amusing sight put up large signs on the riverbank saying “Burnside’s Army Stuck in the Mud” and “This Way to Richmond”. General Burnside finally capitulated to his subordinates and ordered his army back into its camp across from Fredericksburg. The Mud March would mark the end of Burnside’s command. On January 26th 1863 President Lincoln brought in Major General Joseph Hooker to replace him.

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