The Stone Wall at Fredericksburg
The Stone Wall is the location of some of the most courageous and bloodiest fighting during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Confederates held the high ground and over looked the long stretch of open ground that the Union would have to move across. The Stone Wall protects what has been come to be known as “The Sunken Road”. General McLaws CSA had 2000 men on the wall and had 7000 in return on the crest and behind the hill, he also had artillery support on top of the hill that covered the Unions approach step by step. It was General Hancock’s men from the Union that charged to the Stone Wall. This entry can be used in conjunction with the other entry of the battle entitled "The Battle of Fredericksburg." The fighting at the stone wall was dramatized in the 2003 film, Gods and Generals.
Backstory and Context
The fighting started with fixed bayonets on the morning of December 13, the land is similar to what Picketts charge was in fact the Unions battle cry during that was “remember Fredericksburg”. The Union had to cross small canals on a narrow bridge and realign into lines of battle before marching up the land, the land was muddy and slick. As soon as they stepped out from behind the small bluff used to align they were under constant fire from the Confederates batteries on Maryse heights under the command of Lt. Col. Edward Porter Alexander. The first charge was cut down around 125 yards from the stone wall, some soldiers did make it closer but were cut down before they could breach the wall.
The Union charged 6 times on the day of December 13 all met the same fate as the first, death and carnage and failure. After each repulse of the Union attack General Longstreet reinforced his lines behind the stone wall when at the peak of the battle had 6000 men behind the wall. During the battle there also was fighting between two Irish Brigades, one was Confederates and the other was Union, when the Confederates saw the battle flag of the Irish Brigade from the Union shouts of “Oh God, what a pity, here comes Meaghers fellows”.General Longstreet at the end of the day of fighting described what he had seen. He talked about the carnage that laid at the foot of Maryse Heights and guessed that 5000 men laid at the stone wall alone along with another 2000 killed by the artillery marching to the wall. The next day when the Union withdrew they piled the bodies up sometimes three high, and he later wrote that the Union deserved that hill if bravery and courage entitled soldiers to victory.