Battle Analysis: Battle of Fredricksburg Case Study

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But Johnston rendered this plan invalid by moving the Confederate soldiers towards the same direction through land. And so, MG McClellan kept his forces in Fort Monroe. That was the time Stonewall Jackson started his campaign for the Shenandoah Valley. And this is where Johnson got injured and Robert E. Lee succeeded him (Mitchell, 1955).

4. The details of the action

a. Weather

The battle was greatly affected by the weather condition at the time. It brought down the tempo of the fight at both sides, especially when there was fog or heavy snowfall. This coupled with entangled bushes and thick terrain brought mobility to a halt at times. But even though the weather was hostile to both sides, it never stopped either side from achieving their tactical goals (Parish, 1995).

b. Observation fields of the battle

The fields of observation favored particularly the Confederate soldiers because of their defensive position. They had the great opportunity of watching their enemy at all times. So they saw when the Union forces made attempts to blockade the river through pontoons. The Confederate soldiers chose a high platform for their defense. As the Union forces forced their way through the river, the likelihood of sustaining huge casualties was imminent since they would be fighting from a lower terrain that that of their enemy. The Confederates had a better chance of firing down at them (Parish, 1995).

c. Cover and concealment

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Undoubtedly, the unique concealment and cover was to the advantage of the Confederates. With the higher elevation, the winter snows, thick vegetation, added to the panoramic view of River Rappahannock, the Confederate forces established a good fighting position. The only thing the Union forces had was the river which would only serve as a quick escape route should they need to go on a hasty defense (Parish, 1995).

d. Obstacles

Case Study on Battle Analysis: Battle of Fredricksburg Assignment

The Confederates had all the advantage in terrain. There were a range of forest-laden hills and streams which lay across the plain, and this was where the Union forces eventually attacked. General Robert E. Lee is known for exhibiting a great ability in utilizing his defensive terrain successfully. He assessed the land and all the ground features and finally took advantages of it. His defensive position took more than seven miles of the land space.

e. Key Terrain

One of the very important strategic places for the two sides is a key terrain. In wars that are fought in close range, having tactical advantage is a great assess which can result in swiftly defeating the enemy. One of the key terrains in the Battle of Fredericksburg is the Rappahannock River which is where the fight actually started. The confederate forces took up about one hundred and fifty foot ridge on the northern side of the river bank. This position is a key one and was employed in procuring supplies for the warring soldiers (Parish, 1995).

f. Avenues of Approach

Almost all the avenues of approach were being monitored by the Confederate forces since the northern side of the river bank served them so well in terms of defense. General Burnside who was the Union commander had chosen to cross the river at three different occasions. Meanwhile, Longstreet's and Jackson's corps had gone their separate ways on December 9. Burnside had a strong feeling that it was the best opportunity to for a greater number of his force to make it across the river without using up so much fire. On reaching the other side of the river, the engineer forces would not be so effective in giving assistance to the infantry forces in case of a need to breach obstacles. The engineers sustained great casualties while building three bridges which the Union forces needed for crossing (Parish, 1995).

VII. Comparative studies of the opposing forces

The Confederate and Union forces were a division of a military power that was up and coming, with which the world will reckon. This division of the nation's military into two halves brought so many problems for the two armies. To procure supplies for them as a unit of army was very difficult let alone at their division. But to the advantage of the Union, they had a greater number of the West Point Graduates. These graduates had received some sort of military indoctrination. But the Confederates had the better conditioned fighters. The southern soldiers had strong agricultural background, the use of firearms, and horsemanship. Numerically, the Union forces had greater advantage because they were attacking and had the help of engineer support. None of the sides had the chance to rehearse that great battle and that was because the bond between units was very weak. Technology did not take a prominent place in this war. But they were able to reconsolidate and replenish their supplies after each encounter and this was critical to future battle operations (Parish, 1995).

8. Description of the plans of the two sides

a. Phase I - Based on intelligent reports gathered by the Union forces, there was an untimely build-up of the pontoons, the engineer combat power, since General Burnside wanted to cross over in three places.

i. Event 1 - The order Halleck gave to Berlin near Harpers Ferry to take the pontoons to Washington was sent through mail. And it only got to the right engineer on 12 November.

ii. Event 2 - General Woodbury who commanded the engineers wired Burnside immediately the thirty-six pontoons got to Washington saying that one train would begin its journey on of 16 and 17 November, and that the General-in-Chief, Halleck, didn't really want to send another train through land (Stackpole, p 97).

iii. Event 3-17 November: Woodbury sent a message to Burnside regarding Major Spaudling's inability to get started, saying that he would start the next day.

iv. Event 4: The train finally started but was slowed down by rain and mud, though it finally floated down.

v. Event 5-21 November: There was the occasion of the arrival of half of LTG Longstreet's First Corp.

vi. Event 6-25 November: The remaining soldiers in LTG Longstreet's force arrived.

vii. Event 7-27 November: the pontoons finally showed up at the summer's headquarters, the Lacy house, which was opposite Fredericksburg. The engineer OIC gave the information later that he would be able to position two bridges across the Rappahannock without encountering any resistance.

viii. Event 8 - Jackson's corps made it to Fredericksburg and there was readiness for fight from two wings of Lee's army.

b. Phase II. The Union Army reschedules and gets ready to cross the river.

i. Event 1 - The Potomac Chief of Artillery had 147 out of 312 guns positioned at strategic intervals through Stafford Heights.

ii. Event 2-25 November: The division of Longstreet's corps commanded by MG Mc Law arrived and was told to occupy Fredericksburg. It was assigned to Barksdale's Brigade to occupy the town and establish a wall close to the river so as to attack the engineers when they start to build the bridge.

iii. Event 3 - They determined the crossing points and disseminated the information.

iv. Event 4 - The battle orders given by Burnside were meant for all commanders of all the divisions. It gave rise to so much confusion.

3. Phase III. General Burnside's instructions were executed and this kick-started the war.

i. Event1 - They had the bridges close under enemy fire. The three points at which the crossings were too be made had to receive their bridges at the same time. And the engineers were ready to execute the plan.

ii. Event 2 - Lee had confidence in the positions of defense which had been established in the north. So he thought time was ripe for him to make the tactical situation stronger in the south. Lee ordered Stuart and Jackson to attack A.P. Hill's Division from Yerby, and Taliaferro's division from Guney's Station. This extended Longstreet's line farther to the south as they prepare for a Union attack from there. It also made Longstreet's area of command far reaching.

iii. Event 3 - Even after the successful establishment of the bridgeheads, General Burnside was slow in reacting to initiate the attack and Lee had a day and two nights to prepare.

iv. Event 4 - Finally, the forces crossed the Rappahannock finally on 12 December, in the morning. There were six shaky pontoon bridges. The last two divisions of Jackson's forces were to strengthen the crossing points.

v. Event 5 - There were total confusion at the order General Burnished gave since he was hesitant over issuing orders for attack; and when he eventually did, the orders were not clear.

A division commander, MG George G. Meade, launched an attack against the Confederate forces at Prospect Hills. Jackson later counterattacked in reply to this move. The Confederates held their position of defense. The federal soldiers were not able to conquer the defensive walls of the Confederate forces. Burnished contemplated a second attack but no commander… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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