Famous Boxers manuscript  [ca. 1830s]
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Fredericksburg During the Civil War (16 pages) is a typed account of Union soldier's experiences during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Second Battle of Fredericksburg, and Battle of Salem Church. The account begins with a description of the area around Fredericksburg, Virginia, and brief remarks about its strategic importance. The bulk of the document consists of the author's reminiscences about his experiences between December 1862 and May 1863. While crossing the Rappahannock River toward Fredericksburg, he saw a large number of playing cards discarded by soldiers who did not want to seem morally compromised in the event of their death. He described the large number of casualties between Union and Confederate lines during the Battle of Fredericksburg and recalled a heroic Confederate sergeant who took water to the wounded despite the risk of being shot; both sides ceased to fire while he tended to the wounded. After retreating to winter quarters, the author and his tent-mate built a log hut and participated in General Ambrose Burnside's aborted "Mud March" in January 1863.

The narrative resumes in May 1863, when the author's regiment joined the "disastrous" Chancellorsville campaign under General Joseph Hooker. The VI Corps approached Fredericksburg on May 1, 1863, and then engaged Confederate forces. Though the author exchanged fire with Confederate soldiers, he was unsure whether he had been directly responsible for any deaths. He discussed the capture of the Washington Battery, noted the death of a college classmate during the battle, and wondered whether the victory had justified the large number of casualties. As the Union Army continued to move toward Chancellorsville, the author became involved in the Battle of Salem Church, which he recounted in the present tense, listing multiple marching orders and providing accounts of several specific soldiers. The essay ends with the author locating his disjointed regiment and retreating back toward a previous encampment at White Oak Church.

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