It’s the anniversary of Fredericksburg, that horrific and senseless battle in which Burnside sacrificed 10% of his army for nothing. I’ve read a little about the battle, but with the exception of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s recollections in the Ken Burns series, had never read a firsthand account of the fighting. Here’s one from a member of the Irish Brigade, who bore the brunt of the assault.
The Confederates were dug in on a ridge west of the city. They were behind a stone wall and sheltered by a sunken road from Union fire. They had weeks to fortify it and held it with tens of thousands of troops. While the Irish Brigade waited in the city to be called to battle, Private McCarter watched a Union division under General French move against the wall and come back “beaten crushed, demoralized.” When some of McCarter’s comrades asked a lieutenant of the Irish Brigade what was happening on the battlefield he replied: “Well boys, French is licked to beat hell… We are soon to go over the same ground and try the same job that he failed to accomplish.”