A number of 31,659 soldiers constituting the Union Forces fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Union Forces came from the Grand Division and were commanded by MG Edwin V. MG Joseph Hooker commanded Sumner from the Center Grand Division which consisted of 40,396 soldiers. MG William B. Franklin was at the helm of affairs of 46,897 soldiers from the Left Grand Division. They were supported by Engineer Corps of 1,329, Reserve Artillery of 1,121, Baynard's Calvary of 3,500, and Provost Guard of 1,096, soldiers.
The Fredericksburg battle had Confederate Forces which included the First Corps consisting of 41,294 soldiers who were commanded by LTG James Longstreet. The Second Corps had LTG Thomas J. Jackson as the commander and consisted of 38,931 soldiers. J.E.B Stuart commanded the Calvary Division of 10,701 soldiers while the Corps and Reserve Artillery had 793 soldiers ready for the fight.
b. The time of the fight
The Fredericksburg war started as a result of a historic campaign which was planned and finally executed. The fight lasted for about two months, between November and December 1862. It was fought at a time the weather was extremely cold, being a harsh season of winter.
c. The place where the battle took place
The battle took place at Fredericksburg in Virginia. This place is situated along the River Rappahannock which was in Spotsylvania. The Richmond cities and the capital of the nation are about fifty miles away from Fredericksburg.
2. Background to the Setting
a. The causes of the battle
During those days around 1860s, Fredericksburg in Virginia had grown into a community that was more or less linked up as one big family. This town was the farthest from River Rappahannock. Here, a lot of trading of imported and exported goods took place. However, the modern sailing vessels at the time were larger and, therefore, found it difficult to navigate the Rappahannock. And this greatly hindered the international trade going on in the nearby areas. But this made the inhabitants of Fredericksburg live more comfortably since the city is less congested. In terms of military relevance, the river was a channel of supplies for the soldiers so that they could keep up the fight (Parish. 1991).
b. Fredericksburg experienced a lot of changes through the war, in terms of administration. Since it is very close to Washington and Richmond, it had the ability to assist any of the nearby towns in resisting the other. The town was also a good site for a launch of an attack on the capital of the nation. In addition to this, four different battles were fought within a seventeen mile distance of Fredericksburg. The major action happened in Virginia. The Federal Army of the Potomac headed by Major General Ambrose Burnside struggled to counter-attack the Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Robert E. Lee, and finally captured Richmond. However, this was a very difficult task because the confederates took a defensive position at the west side of the town (Parish. 1991).
Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, is known as one of the most famous Presidents of America. But the civil war was one of the most difficult situations he had to manage. At that time, Abraham Lincoln was the president of the nation, and this nation was divided into two very disagreeing regions - the north and the south. And this civil war put so many more domestic issues into his hands than any other President before him had. To make matters worse, he never had any military training or experience. The president did not consider the war from the point-of-view of great historical generals. His view was to justify the cause of the Confederates. This cause could only be met if the armies in the field were productive. But this standpoint was misunderstood by most of the Union and Confederate generals (Stackpole, 1991).
The growth of the American nation at this time would not be calculated by ordinary population count, or by the measurement of their land space. The growth was a matter of the quantity and quality of canals, roads, railroads, factories and industries, new and more effective techniques of working, and the professional handling of the U.S. revenue by government agencies. One of the keys to America's development is transportation. The railroad played a big role in this. The railroad carried on the process of replacing archetypal ways communication started by canals and roads. It linked up far regions of the nation. The biggest challenge to the American society was that of questioning prevailing ideas in order to accept new ones. And these linking up of regions brought about the rapid growth that led to a huge industrial break-through (Stackpole, 1991).
This battle was planned and fought at a time that families were traditionally supposed to be together. As it so happened, the soldiers were drawn away from their families and the peace of the holiday season. The Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations were both spent by planning to launch attack through Rappahannock River from the north, or to prepare the defensive position from the south, or to clean up the intense blood-flow occasioned by the fight. After this fight, the people's morale became so very low during the Christmas period. Taking solace in religion, the soldiers mourned the death of their fellow soldiers who were gone. At home, family members were not sure if their beloved ones were still alive after the battle (Stackpole, 1991).
Some important social developments took place as result of the Fredericksburg battle. Confederate soldiers had dug a huge defensive position along River Rappahannock. The Union was able to get along under the leadership of OIC, General Burnside, and also successfully crossed the icy river. And this greatly boosted the Union's cause. It also crushed Lee's morale together with that of his forces. However, there was disarray in the Union forces eventually. Lincoln and Burnsides' critics were silenced with the win at Fredericksburg. And this changed the level of confidence of the division commanders and that of Washington's most powerful politicians (Stackpole, 1991).
The soldiers who made up the Confederate did not receive any form of conventional training. They joined the collection of forces without following any uniform standard in weapon or equipment issues. Nor did the forces see to the needs of the soldiers that would help them maintain a high level of productivity on the field of battle. Armored vehicles and other sophisticated machineries were not available at this time in history. Soldiers made use of crude and basic forms of weapons. Both warring sides would utilize different formations in a close range. And so both sides of the battle struggled to take control of the waterway so as to be able to give support to their troop through the use of water vessels (Stackpole, 1991).
4. Comparative study of military systems
The scenario here was that of a civil war. The military systems at that time were of the same quality. Both sides were of the same basic level. The quality of training is crucial and measures the level of accomplishment excepted on the field of battle. As it were, neither side was able to win the war in an outstanding manner without recording so many casualties. The soldiers were meant to employ close range tactics and marksmanship skills. In this, the Union of Forces showcased a higher level of training in tactics than the others. Nevertheless, the longer the war lasted, the greater the number of casualties that would be recorded. Again, being able to shift from one tactical position to the other, in terms of obeying commands and paying attention to control procedures, is one of the greatest discipline the two sides sought to instill in the soldiers. At that time, there was no struggle for air space, not tanks nor heavy artillery pieces, neither were there rockets and guided missiles. They used only close range weapons. They also made use of basic signs for communication. Major means of communication and control of the soldiers during battle was through yelling and written messages (Mitchell, 1955).
5. Issues that led to this battle
The two warring armies had begun to make serious preparations between 1861 and 1862, after the Bull Run battle, in order to better be ready for future battles. Both sides concentrated all their efforts on recruiting new soldiers, training them, procuring supplies, and maintaining other military activities. None of the sides was eager to carry out an offensive operation. The President, impatient in the White House, waited to see how the famous commanding officer would lead his great forces to victory (Mitchell, 1955).
In March, 1862, MG McClellan moved his troop through water to the Peninsula in Virginia, between James River and the York. The reason for this movement was to…