This Week in the American Civil War: December 10-16, 1862

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

( and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)


Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday December 10, 1862

Major General Ambrose Burnside increased his activities at Falmouth, Virginia, indicating an attack on Fredericksburg was imminent. Confederate forces seized Plymouth, North Carolina, defeating a Federal garrison.

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill creating the state of West Virginia. The measure granting secession of western Virginia from Virginia and creating a state had previously passed the U.S. Senate on July 14.

A skirmish occurred at Desert Station, Louisiana.

Thursday December 11, 1862

On this foggy December morning, Major General Ambrose Burnside’s troops began constructing five pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg. Sharpshooters from a Confederate brigade under William Barksdale drove the builders away time after time. In midmorning, Federal guns on the east side of the river opened on the city, but the sharpshooters remained. By noon, after the first two bridges were laid down, a four-regiment Federal force crossed in boats, drove out the Confederates, and allowed the remaining three bridges to be successfully completed. By nightfall, Major General William B. Franklin’s troops began crossing and a division of Major General Edwin V. Sumner’s II Corps occupied the city.

Friday December 12, 1862

Both the Federal Right and Left Grand Divisions continued crossing the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg and the flat ground to the southeast. As night came, it was obvious that Major General Ambrose Burnside would attack the city the next day.

The Federal ironclad gunboat Cairo, operating on the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg, struck a mine and sank. The crew escaped. The vessel remained underwater for over a century before it was raised and restored. It is currently on display at the Vicksburg National Military Park. 

Saturday December 13, 1862


As the fog rose in midmorning from the plain southeast of Fredericksburg, Federal troops under Major General Ambrose Burnside drove towards the hills defended by Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s II Corps. Brigadier General George G. Meade’s I Corps took advantage of the only gap in Jackson’s lines and advanced the furthest. However, lack of support from the other corps resulted in high casualties. For this action, Meade was promoted to Major General with a date of rank of November 29.

Of the 114,000 Federal troops deployed in the engagement, 1,284 were killed; 9,600 wounded and 1,769 missing for an aggregate loss of 12,653. The Confederates had a strength of 72,500 and lost 595 killed; 4,061 wounded and 653 missing for a total loss of 5,309. The result of the battle gave control of the City of Fredericksburg to the Federals, while Marye’s Heights, overlooking the city, remained in Confederate control.

Sunday December 14, 1862

     The aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg caused a great deal of consternation in the North, though little rejoicing in the South. Major General Ambrose Burnside ordered the attack renewed, but was persuaded by other officers to not make the attempt. During the night, the Army of the Potomac withdrew across the Rappahannock River to Stafford Heights on the river’s eastern bank.

A skirmish was fought at Waterford, Virginia; and Confederates attacked a Federal forage train on the Franklin River near Nashville, Tennessee.

Monday December 15, 1862

Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his force of 2,500 men crossed the Tennessee River at Clifton, Tennessee, with the intent of aiding Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s forces defending Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Federal Major General Benjamin Butler gave his farewell to his command and the citizens of New Orleans. The New Orleans people were thankful to see his departure.

Tuesday December 16, 1862

The Army of the Potomac crouched on Stafford Heights overlooking the Rappahannock River, still disheartened about the Battle of Fredericksburg. At New Orleans, Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks assumed command of the Federal Department of the Gulf, replacing Major General Benjamin Butler, who was relieved.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 10-16, 1862 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On guard duty at Cunningham’s Ford on the Cumberland River.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Snelling, Minnesota until January 16, 1863.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Duty at White’s Station and Memphis, Tennessee until February 24, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies B, C and D remained in Minnesota and Dakota Territory on garrison duty. The remaining companies were on Major General Ulysses Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign until January 1863.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Glencoe, Forest City and Kingston until February 1863.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Mankato and other points in Minnesota until June 1863.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in various frontier Minnesota communities until June 1863.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Regiment on detached service for garrison duty at various outposts in frontier Minnesota until June 1863.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Organized at St. Cloud, St. Peter and Fort Snelling for frontier duty against Indians until June 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On scout duty at Eddyville, Kentucky.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On Major General Ulysses Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign near Vicksburg, Mississippi until January 1863.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 26, 1862.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

About civilwarweek

Member - Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, Civil War reenactor and historian since 1993, holds Bachelor's Degree in History from Concordia University-St. Paul, currently pursuing Master's Degree in History at St. Cloud State University and is author of the forthcoming book, "Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man's Journey through the Civil War."
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