Class Notes

General Ambrose Burnside is often considered one of the worst generals in the Civil War and for good reason. When he was put in command of the Army of the Potomac, he actually developed a brilliant plan, which if successful might have allowed him to take Richmond. In December, while the armies were camping, he left enough men behind to trick Lee and took the majority of his army southeast to the town of Fredericksburg. The plan was to have pontoon boats with bridges waiting so that his men could cross over the river and slip in behind Lee before Lee knew that he even left. Burnside pulled it off, but when he got to Fredericksburg the boats had not yet arrived. He had to wait weeks for the boats and in the meantime Lee’s army had arrived and took up their most fortified position of the war. Burnsides plan was sound. What hurt him was that he could not come up with a plan B, so when the bridges were built, he continued to follow his original plan but instead of moving on to Richmond he sent his men into a bloodbath at Fredericksburg.

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