If you visit Fredericksburg battlefield today, you’ll find some areas wonderfully preserved and the landscape relatively unscathed. But other parts of the battleground are now heavily paved, abounding with homes and shopping centers. Walking from the old historic district of the town toward Maryes Heights and the Sunken Road is now accomplished on sidewalks which run in front of neat houses beside paved roads. The lay of the land can still be seen if the battlefielder pays close attention, making the walk certainly worth the time. It can take a little imagination to try understand the open ground and what it would have looked like on that chilly day (December 13, 1862) when Union troops attacked Prospect Hill and Maryes Heights.
Fortunately, archives have preserved detailed maps and Civil War era photographs. These sources – combined with details from primary sources – help us gain a better idea of what happened when the current housing community land was the cross fire zone of the Confederate artillery posted on Maryes Heights.
Sometimes it can be helpful and insightful to examine the old sketches and photographs. With that thought in mind, I turned on some reflective music and started examining sketches by war correspondents and illustrators that are preserved and digitized by Library of Congress.Here are some of the sketches of First Battle of Fredericksburg from the paper pads and pencils of Edwin Forbes, Alfred Waud, and others.