The 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg

December 8-9, 2007
Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia

Background: On November 7, 1862, as an early snowfall covered on the Union camps near Warrenton, VA, Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside received news that he would replace George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. A week later, the Federals began their march toward Fredericksburg, establishing camps on Stafford Heights and along the Rappahannock at Falmouth. On November 18-19th, Longstreet departed Culpeper for Fredericksburg, and established camp on the heights west of town; Jackson arrived on December 1-3, and deployed downriver from Fredericksburg. Burnside formulated attack plans in early December, including use of pontoon boats to cross the river and occupy the town.

At dawn on December 11, Union engineers began constructing the pontoon bridges. Facing resistance from Barksdale's Mississippians, they sent over several units to clear the town of the remaining Confederates. The city was also bombarded by artillery, which ignited several fires and destroyed much of the town. On December 12 the Union Army crossed the bridges and formed up on the river bank.

Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, now commanding the Army of the Potomac, threw the right Grand Division of his army against Lee’s entrenched positions on Marye’s Heights, hoping to draw Confederate troops away from his main attack by the Union left. Burnside ordered his divisions to attack one brigade at a time, to draw out the assault and to pull ever greater numbers of Southern troops from his main objective.

The men of the Irish Brigade were the fourth brigade ordered to attack the stone wall at the base of Marye’s Heights. The brigade would attack this day without most of its green regimental flags, the New York regiments having sent their flags north for repair or replacement after heavy combat use; only the 28th Massachusetts would carry its Irish colors into battle on this terrible day. To replace the missing flags, each member of the brigade attached a sprig of green boxwood to his hat, demonstrating his pride in Ireland and in the Brigade.

To reach the Southern position, the Irish Brigade had to cross a gently sloping, open plain, and came under constant fire during their approach. Pressing forward under murderous fire, the Brigade came within 30 yards of the wall before it was cut to pieces and halted in its tracks. After the battle, many of the bodies found closest to the wall bore the small sprigs of boxwood still tucked neatly into their forage caps.

THANK YOU: THANKS TO ALL OF THOSE WHO PARTICIPATED. Together, we had the opportunity for the first time to recreate the attack of the Irish Brigade on the actual ground of Marye's Heights. The Federal reenactors represented the five regiments of Meagher's famed brigade: The 69th New York, the 88th New York, the 28th Massachusetts, the 63rd New York and the 116th Pennsylvania. Confederates portrayed  the regiments that fought under Kershaw and Cobb, several ranks deep, behind the stone wall at the base of the heights. It was a grand experience that required a lot of coordination, on both sides of the wall.

"Irish Brigade" Yahoo Group for Federals: If you are interested keeping in the loop about the Irish Brigade and the 145th events, please join our Yahoo Group.
Click here to join Irishbrigade145
Click to join Irishbrigade145

Questions: Confederate and civilians may send questions to Federals should send questions to

In Partnership with:

47th Virginia, Co. I 

"The Stafford Guard"

28th Massachusetts, Co B

Special Thanks to:
• Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc.
Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development
Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania National Military Park

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Information about the Fredericksburg National Military Park.
City of Fredericksburg Visitors Center
Fredericksburg Area Tourism. Serving the City of Fredericksburg and Counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford
Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc.
To preserve, protect and revitalize the distinctive historic environment of the Fredericksburg area. We accomplish this through education, advocacy, and financial support.