Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Fredericksburg City Dock
Contesting the Crossing
Confederate troops under the command of Gen. William Barksdale were awake and alert hereon the morning of December 11, 1862, waiting anxiously for the sun to rise. On the river, unseen in the inky blackness but clearly audible in the night’s stillness, Union engineers were constructing a pontoon bridge that would enable Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s Army of the Potomac to cross the Rappahannock River and seize Fredericksburg. Barksdale’s task was to delay the Union crossing long enough for the rest of the Confederate army to take position on the heights behind the town, one mile ahead of you.
As the sun rose, Barksdale’s men could vaguely discern the shadowy figures of the Union engineers, now just a few dozen yards from the Confederate shore. Shots broke down the silence – first one or two, then hundreds. Engineers fell dead on the bridge or dashed to the safety of the opposite shore. Union cannon replied to the Confederate fire with a savage but largely ineffective bombardment of the town. Time and again, engineers dashed out to complete the bridge only to be driven back by sharpshooters concealed behind walls and in houses
For ten hours the fighting continued. About 4 p.m., soldiers from New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts rowed across the river under fire and pushed the Confederates back from the water’s edge, The engineers completed the bridges, and the next day more than 30,000 Union soldiers poured across. But Barksdale’s stubborn stand had bought Gen. Robert E. Lee the time he needed to assemble his army on the hills behind the town. The stage was set for a slaughter at Fredericksburg.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is December 11, 1862.
Location. 38° 17.791′ N, 77° 27.218′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker is on Sophia Street south of Frederick Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 101 Sophia Street, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Fredericksburg City Dock (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Fredericksburg City Dock (here, next to this marker); Washington's Boyhood Home (here, next to this marker); Rocky Lane (a few steps from this marker); No OutletThe Slave Ship Othello (within shouting distance of this marker); The Middle Passage (within shouting distance of this marker); George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm (within shouting distance of this marker); Fredericksburg's Wharves and Harbor (within shouting distance of this marker); Irish Brigade (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 5, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,109 times since then and 29 times this year. Last updated on June 10, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on June 5, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. 4. submitted on February 2, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 5. submitted on July 26, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 6. submitted on June 5, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. 7. submitted on July 26, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.