Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Second Time's The Charm
Confederate Major General Jubal Anderson Early’s division was left to hold Fredericksburg, when General Robert E Lee marched the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia to Chancellorsville. Union Major General John Sedgwick’s VI Corps moved into the area on May 3rd 1863. Sedgwick moved slowly, as the memory of fighting on this ground in Dec 1862 was fresh. Early’s men were defending Marye’s Height along a reserve artillery and one division from Barkdale’s Brigade, strong out in a thin line north and south of the Heights.
Sedgwick moved through Fredericksburg below the Heights, engaging in artillery fire through out most of the morning. Around noon Sedgwick sent ten Union regiments against the Confederate defenses on the Heights. The lead unit in this assault was the 5th Wisconsin, their Colonel told his men, “When the signal forward is given you will advance at double-quick. You will not fire a gun, and you will not stop until you get the order to halt. You will never get that order.” The 5th charged forward with the other regiments following. The Union troops stalled for a time when they hit a concentrated fire from the Confederates behind a four foot high stonewall. Some of the Union soldiers on the right found a way around the stone wall flanking the Confederate left, placing them under an enfilading fire. Charging with bayonets fixed the Union troops captured several Confederate guns, and forced them to withdraw to the west and southeast of Fredericksburg. Sedgwick captured Marye’s Heights.