Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock

Article excerpt

The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock, by Francis Augustin O'Reilly.

No modern scholar of the Civil War had studied the military aspects of the Fredericksburg campaign in rigorous detail until Francis O'Reilly, and his book will certainly stand as the definitive study of that campaign for some time. O'Reilly argues that earlier views oversimplify both the campaign and the costly battle of December 13, 1862, which pitted against one another the two largest armies ever assembled in the war. In many unprecedented ways the fighting in the Fredericksburg campaign has more in common with modern warfare than with other Civil War battles, most of which unfolded in woods and fields: Fredericksburg was the first American city subjected to systematic bombardment; the first city in North America in which armies engaged in street fighting; and the site of the first river-crossing under fire. O'Reilly also shows that Ambrose Burnside, the Union general usually scapegoated for the disastrous charges against the stone wall on Marye's Heights, should not bear all the blame for failure. …

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