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Today in Georgia History
is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.

December 13

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Battle of Fredericksburg

December 13, 1862 - Virginia
The defeat of Robert E. Lee at Antietam in September 1862 was a huge blow to Confederate morale. Confederates badly needed a boost and they got it at Fredericksburg, Virginia thanks to U.S General Ambrose Burnside.

Burnside led his 120,000 men across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in order to advance on the Confederate capital at Richmond. But Lee and his army of 78,000 dug in on the high ground behind Fredericksburg and waited for the attack.

The result was carnage. Burnside ordered 16 suicidal frontal assaults against Confederates dug in behind a stone wall. Among the Confederates waiting for them were three generals from Georgia: Thomas Cobb, Lafayette McLaws, and James Longstreet. It was Longstreet’s men including Division Commander McLaws and Brigade Commander Tom Cobb, who repulsed those frontal assaults. Longstreet and McLaws survived, but Cobb was killed. There were 12,000 U.S. casualties vs. 5,000 for the Confederates.

Confederate morale soared, Burnside lost his command, and Richmond was farther away than ever for the U.S., thanks in part to three Georgians at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, Today in Georgia History.

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