Monday, November 26, 2012

Jackson's March to Fredericksburg

Jackson's March To Fredericksburg, marker JE-1, Madison Co. VAMadison County, VA
Marker No. JE-1

Marker Text: Stonewall Jackson, on his march from Winchester to Fredericksburg, preceding the battle of Fredericksburg, camped here, November 26, 1862.

Location: At the intersection of Business U.S. Route 29 (North Main Street) and Virginia Route 231 (Old Blue Ridge Turnpike), north of Madison, VA. Erected by the Conservation & Development Commission in 1929.

  On November 24, 1862, 150 years ago, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson's Second corps of about 25,000 men began their march to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains using Fisher's Gap within the bounds of present day Shenandoah National Park on the way to Fredericksburg. By the evening of November 26, Jackson's Army had reached this point north of Madison, VA and about 6.5 miles south of the previous camp location where a previous marker was covered yesterday is located.

Jackson's March To Fredericksburg, marker JE-1, at intersection with Routes 29 & 231, Madison, VA

In photo Route 231 is on the left traveling north and Business Route 29 is on the right looking northbound. Going north on Route 231 would take you to the site of yesterday's marker. Click any photo to enlarge.

  According to sources, it took Jackson's army four days to move over the Blue Ridge Mountains with all their men and equipment. Based on this information, only a part of Jackson's army would have camped here, while other parts of the army was camping at yesterday's location and while still others were camped at a location on the west side of the mountain.

  Once all of the army had moved over the mountains, then their rate of travel to Fredericksburg would have increased considerably. Stonewall Jackson's army arrived at Lee's headquarters on November 29 and his divisions were deployed to prevent Gen. Ambrose Burnside from crossing downstream from Fredericksburg.

  Earlier in November, 1862, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee anticipated that Union General Ambrose Burnside might beat him across the Rappahannock River and, in order, to protect Richmond, he would need to establish a defensible position further south along the North Anna River. When General Lee saw how slowly Burnside was moving, Lee directed all of his army further north toward Fredericksburg. By November 23, all of General Longstreet's corps had arrived and Lee placed them on the ridge known as Marye's Heights to the west of town. By November 26, General Lee realized he would need his Second Corps commanded by Jackson and sent Jackson orders to come to Fredericksburg.

Jackson's March To Fredericksburg, marker JE-1, looking toward Madison, VA at Route 29 & 231 intersection

Photo looking south on Routes 29 and 231 as they merge together going through Madison, VA.

  Of course, Jackson had already anticipated he would be needed to defend Richmond and began to move his army on November 22 from south of Winchester, VA toward Fredericksburg. One important factor in this march of the Second Corps is that Jackson wanted to attempt to convince the Union troops in the Shenandoah Valley his army was still in the valley and had not left for Richmond.

  By November 26, the head of Jackson's army had already arrived here in Madison, VA about 50 miles west of Fredericksburg, when General Robert E. Lee sent orders to Jackson to come to Fredericksburg. It makes me wonder where did they send the orders for Jackson. Did they send them to Winchester, somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley or did he get to Fredericksburg by the time he realized Lee had sent for him. Or did Lee already have knowledge that Jackson was on his way.

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