Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Sacked and Gutted Town
"We marched past the court-house, —past churches, schools, bank-buildings, private houses, —all lighted for hospital purposes, and all in use, though a part of the wounded had been transferred across the river. Even the door-yards had their litter-beds, and were well filled with wounded men, and the dead were laid in rows for burial. The hospital lights and camp-fires of burned buildings, with a mixture of the lawless rioting of the demoralized stragglers, and the suffering and death in the hospitals, gave the sacked and gutted town the look of pandemonium."
—A Union officer
It started with a bombardment from 140 Union guns on the morning of December 11, 1862—two days before the battle of Fredericksburg. Whizzing shells and cannonballs ripped through buildings, tumbling walls and chimneys. Fires spread. "Nothing in war can exceed the horror of that hour," wrote a Mississippi soldier. Most civilians had fled; those who remained huddled in basements. Federal infantry forced a river crossing and close fightings raged through the streets until nightfall.
The high casualties and the unexpected
As troops looted the town, a Union officer wrote: "Our troops... stole or destroyed everything they could lay their hands on.... Beautiful pictures, books, jewelry, ladies dresses, silverware and all kinds of household furniture. Every house was completely riddled.... I never felt so much disgusted with the war as I did that day."
Between the shelling and the looting, few buildings in Fredericksburg escaped damage. These shell ravaged homes stood at the intersection of Hanover and George Streets.
Erected by Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Office.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia, Fredericksburg: Timeless. series list. A significant day of the year for for this entry is December 11.
Location. 38° 18.134′ N, 77° 27.591′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Princess Anne Street (Business U.S. 17) and George Street, on the left when traveling south on Princess Anne Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 817 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. War Comes to Fredericksburg (here, next to this marker); The Court House (here, next to this marker); A Vast Hospital (here, next to this marker); Gen. Stonewall Jackson (a few steps from this marker); 1910 (a few steps from this marker); In Memory of Clara Barton (within shouting distance of this marker); Corporation Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); National Bank of Fredericksburg (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 12, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 128 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.