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developed as the frontier of colonial Virginia. The Virginia General
Assembly established a fort on the Rappahannock in 1676, just
below the present-day city. In 1720, the colonial assembly formed
a new county named Spotsylvania and established Fredericksburg
in 1728 as a port for the county. Fredericksburg was incorporated
as a town, with its own court, council, and mayor, in 1781, and
received its charter as an independent city in 1879.
During the American Civil War, Fredericksburg's location was important
because it was midway between Washington and Richmond. During
the battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, the town was attacked by
Union forces. A second battle was fought in and around the town
in 1863. The battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court
House were fought nearby in May 1864.
The Battle of Fredericksburg,
The Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in and around Fredericksburg,
Virginia, from December 11 to December 15, 1862, between General
Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the
Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E.
Burnside, is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles
of the American Civil War. The Union Army suffered terrible
casualties in futile frontal assaults on December 13 against
entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city,
bringing to an early end their campaign against the Confederate
capital of Richmond.
The Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American
Civil War, fought near the village of Spotsylvania Courthouse,
Virginia, from April 30 to May 6, 1863. Called Gen. Robert E.
Lee's "perfect battle" because of his risky but
successful division of his army in the presence of a much larger
enemy force, the battle pitted Union Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's
Army of the Potomac against an army half its size, Lee's Confederate
Army of Northern Virginia. Lee's audacity and Hooker's timid
performance in combat combined to result in a significant Union
defeat. The Confederate victory was tempered by the mortal wounding
of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to friendly
fire, a loss that Lee likened to "losing my right arm."
The Chancellorsville campaign began with the crossing of the
Rappahannock River by the Union army on the morning of April
27, 1863. Heavy fighting began on May 1 and did not end until
the Union forces retreated across the river on the night of
May 5 to
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes referred to
as the Battle of Spotsylvania, was the second battle in Lieut.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign of the American
Civil War. It was fought in the Rapidan-Rappahannock river area
of central Virginia, a region where more than 100,000 men on
both sides fell between 1862 and 1864. The battle was fought
from May 8 to May 21, 1864, along a trench line some four miles
long, with the Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E.
Lee making its second attempt to halt the spring offensive of
the Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Lt. Gen.
Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade. Taking place
less than a week after the bloody, inconclusive Battle of the
Wilderness, it pitted 52,000 Confederate soldiers against a
Union army numbering 100,000.
The Battle of the Wilderness
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought from May 5 to May 7, 1864,
was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia
Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate
Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties,
a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition against Lee's army
and, eventually, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia.
The battle was tactically inconclusive, as Grant disengaged
and continued his offensive.
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