It had been two months, since Robert E. Lee had been turned back from his first invasion of the north, at Antietam. A new Union commander General Ambrose Burnside, prepared for another march on Richmond, the Confederate capital. Burnside got the jump on Lee, but waited for pontoon bridges before crossing the Rappahanock River. He could have easily forded the river before Lee could arrive with his army.
Some of Burnside's subordinates argued over the delay, it allowed Lee to assemble is army along Mayre's Heights and the stone wall. He had almost three weeks to prepare for the Federal assault.
Days before the attack, Union troops looted Fredericksburg, while Southern defenders watched and waited behind the stone wall. The Georgia Irish Brigade, with recruits from Savannah, occupied the Confederate left flank, along the wall. Numerous Union attacks charged against these defenses at Mayre's Heights and each time they were thrown back. They were even attacked by their Irish brothers that immigrated through New York, Boston and Philadelphia. A sad day for the Irish immigrant.
At this point Lee was quoted, "It is well that war is so terrible, we might grow fond of it." This was while he and Longstreet gazed across the field and saw the damage that they had inflicted. When it was over it was the most lopsided Confederate victory of the war, Union casualties were twice that of the South.
The following day, a South Carolina Sergeant, filled canteens full of water for the enemy wounded. He could not stand their cries. Both sides fidgety, held their fire as Richard Kirkland delivered the water. From then on, he was know as 'the Angel of Mayre's Heights.' He fell at Chickamauga, 10 months later. Click below to view the battlefield today.