The Fredericksburg Campaign

Decision on the Rappahannock

Edited by Gary W. Gallagher

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 25 illus., 6 maps

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5895-0
    Published: February 2008
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8777-6
    Published: November 2000

Military Campaigns of the Civil War

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"It is well this is so terrible! We should grow too fond of it," said General Robert E. Lee as he watched his troops repulse the Union attack at Fredericksburg on 13 December 1863.

This collection of seven original essays by leading Civil War historians reinterprets the bloody Fredericksburg campaign and places it within a broader social and political context. By analyzing the battle's antecedents as well as its aftermath, the contributors challenge some long-held assumptions about the engagement and clarify our picture of the war as a whole.

The book begins with revisionist assessments of the leadership of Ambrose Burnside and Robert E. Lee and a portrait of the conduct and attitudes of one group of northern troops who participated in the failed assaults at Marye's Heights. Subsequent essays examine how both armies reacted to the battle and how the northern and southern homefronts responded to news of the carnage at Frederickburg. A final chapter explores the impact of the battle on the residents of the Fredericksburg area and assesses changing Union attitudes about the treatment of Confederate civilians.

The contributors are William Marvel, Alan T. Nolan, Carol Reardon, Gary W. Gallagher, A. Wilson Greene, George C. Rable, and William A. Blair.

About the Author

Gary W. Gallagher is John L. Nau III Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author or editor of numerous books, including Lee and His Army in Confederate History and The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (both from the University of North Carolina Press).
For more information about Gary W. Gallagher, visit the Author Page.


"Overall, the essays are lively, interesting, and challenging, in the long tradition of historical revisionism. Civil War enthusiasts will no doubt be stimulated by the debate over whether Burnside was inept, betrayed, disobeyed, or done in by the weather. Lee watchers will be captivated over whether defense or offense was the real Lee."--H-CivWar

"[A] fine collection of essays. . . . This is a book well worth reading."--Blue and Gray

"The new perspectives contained in this volume are almost all fresh and provocative and based upon admirable scholarship. No study of the war in the Eastern Theater will be complete without this volume."--Civil War Regiments

"Each of the pieces is well researched and well written, and the authors have presented their theses clearly. Well-drawn maps assist the reader in following the battle events. . . . Gallagher's book will be fun for Civil War scholars and enthusiasts. The authors have presented clearly written essays packed with ideas."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"Sometimes controversial, always stimulating, The Fredericksburg Campaign is a 'cutting-edge' volume that will enlighten and please students of the Civil War. Indeed, one can hardly wait for Gallagher's next book."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Collectively, the excellent essays challenge old assumptions about the campaign, introduce aspects of the battle and its aftermath that have received scant attention, and view military events within the framework of broader social and political issues. The fact that no fewer than three of the essays focus on civilians rather than soldiers suggests the freshness of this new approach to campaign history."--Newsletter of the Society of Civil War Historians