Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Sunken Road, Stone Wall and the Innis House

A little about the Battle of Fredericksburg:
The Union army’s main assault against Stonewall Jackson produced initial success and held the promise of destroying the Confederate right, but lack of reinforcements and Jackson’s powerful counterattack stymied the effort. Both sides suffered heavy losses (totaling 9,000 in killed, wounded and missing) with no real change in the strategic situation.

In the meantime, Burnside’s “diversion” against veteran Confederate soldiers behind a stone wall produced a similar number of casualties but most of these were suffered by the Union troops.  Wave after wave of Federal soldiers marched forth to take the heights, but each was met with devastating rifle and artillery fire from the nearly impregnable Confederate positions. Confederate artillerist Edward Porter Alexander’s earlier claim that “a chicken could not live on that field” proved to be entirely prophetic this bloody day.

As darkness fell on a battlefield strewn with dead and wounded, it was abundantly clear that a signal Confederate victory was at hand.  The Army of the Potomac had suffered nearly 13,300 casualties, nearly two-thirds of them in front of Mayre’s Heights.  By comparison, Lee’s army had suffered some 4,500 losses.  Robert E. Lee, watching the great Confederate victory unfolding from his hilltop command post exclaimed, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

This is the Innis House. It was badly damaged in the battle. The two pictures below show the actual bullet holes from the battle. More on the house:
The Innis House was lived in until the 1970 when the National Park Service purchased the property for $36,600. After the house was sold to the park, restoration work returned the house to its 1862 appearance. Work crews removed modern layers of wood and wall paper revealing 52 bullet and shell holes, with some bullets still lodged in the structure.

The Innis House is one of only two remaining wartime homes owned by the National Park Service on the Fredericksburg Battlefield.

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