Fredericksburg Quiz Answers

1. The absence of what important military equipment forced Union Commander Major General Ambrose Burnside to delay his crossing of the Rappahannock River?

  •  Ammunition trains
  •  Food rations
  •  Pontoon bridges
  •  Telegraph wires
  •  Hospital Equipment

Answer: Pontoon Bridges.  Due to a series of mislaid orders, pontoon bridges necessary for bridging the Rappahannock failed to reach the Army of the Potomac in a timely fashion, thereby allowing General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia ample time to occupy the town and fortify the heights beyond it.

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William Barksdale's headquarters during the December 11 fighting in Fredericksburg. (Photo by Rob Shenk)
2. Brig. Gen. William Barksdale’s Brigade tenaciously held onto the town of Fredericksburg, giving Lee time to consolidate his position.  From which state did the majority of Barksdale’s forces hale?

  •  Alabama
  •  Arkansas
  •  Mississippi
  •  Tennessee
  •  All of the above

Answer: Mississippi.  Barksdale's Brigade consisted of the 13th, 17th, 18th, and 21st Mississippi regiments.

To see more photos of the Fredericksburg battlefield, check out our Fredericksburg Photo Gallery.

3. On the afternoon of December 11, the 20th Massachusetts was called upon to clear the city streets of resistance, and deadly and dangerous task that exacted a fearsome toll on the Bay-Staters.  What was the nickname later given to this brave regiment?

  •  The Cambridge Guard
  •  The Gallant 20th
  •  The Bay State Street Brawlers
  •  The Harvard Regiment.
  •  The Tammany Regiment

Answer:  The Harvard Regiment.  Owing to Harvard education of most of the regiment’s officers—including four of its commanders—after the war the 20th Massachusetts became known as the Harvard Regiment.  Among these elite were future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and two descendants of Paul Revere.  Their blue-blood pedigree, however, did nothing to soften their edge in battle.  Their gallant charge through the streets of Fredericksburg of Confederates would cost them dearly.

4. After a harrowing fight on December 11, many Union soldiers expected to resume the conflict the following morning.  When no attack orders were given, how did Union troops occupying Fredericksburg spend December 12, 1862?

  •  Most troops spent the day drilling and preparing to make the attack everyone knew would be ordered the next day.
  •  A vast majority of Union soldiers participated in looting and other wonton destruction of the abandoned Rebel city.
  •  Officers organized work parties to go about repairing the damage done by the previous day’s bombardment
  •  Troops occupying the western edge of the town constructed earthworks in anticipation of a Confederate attempt to retake the town.
  •  Special details formed to escort non-combatants from the devastated town.

Answer: A vast majority of Union soldiers participated in looting and other wonton destruction of the abandoned Rebel city.  While Union forces filed into the town in anticipation of the next phase of the battle, soldiers—often joined by their officers—began to raid or destroy abandoned stores and homes in Fredericksburg.  Food, liquor and even personal property were taken by soldiers as retribution for the rebellion and the war.

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Maj. John Pelham
5. With a single cannon, Confederate artillerist John Pelham created great confusion on the Union left flank and delayed their assault on December 13, 1862.  What sobriquet did his actions here and elsewhere earn him?

  •  Pelham the Superb
  •  The Indefatigable Pelham
  •  The Gallant Pelham
  •  Pelham the Fearless
  •  Fighting John Pelham

Answer: The Gallant Pelham.  As early as the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, cavalry chief Jeb Stuart was referring to his premier artillerist as “The Gallant Pelham” for is bravery.  At Fredericksburg Pelham's daring prompted Gen. Lee to remark "it is glorious to see such courage in one so young." 

6. What nickname was given to Prospect Hill by Confederate soldiers who fought there?

  •  Dead Man’s Hill
  •  Dead Horse Hill
  •  No Prospect Hill
  •  Hopeless Heights
  •  Hamburger Hill

Answer: Dead Horse Hill.  Union artillery rounds overshooting Confederate positions on Prospect Hill inadvertently landed among horses placed on the reverse slope of the hill.  The magnificent carnage in horseflesh led men to call the place “Dead Horse Hill.”

7. Though a frequent source of frustration for Stonewall Jackson, this Second Corps division commander sensed impending disaster on the Confederate right and rushed his troops to stop the Federal breakthrough:

  •  A. P. Hill
  •  D. H. Hill
  •  Lafayette McLaws
  •  Jubal Early
  •  William Taliaferro

Answer: Jubal Early.  Though his alleged drunkenness had raised Jackson’s ire just a month earlier, Jubal Early played a pivotal role in blocking the Federal breakthrough on the Confederate right, stopping  what would turn out to be the Yankees’ best opportunity to win the battle.

8. During the great struggle for the Slaughter Pen Farm, Union Brig. Gen.  John Gibbon’s division faced off against James H. Lane’s brigade.  Within that Confederate brigade were three of Gibbon’s brothers.  From which state did much of Lane’s brigade, and Gibbon’s brothers hail from?

  •  Georgia
  •  Virginia
  •  Maryland
  •  North Carolina
  •  Tennessee

Answer: North Carolina.  Originally born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Gibbon’s family relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina when the boy was 11.  A West Pointer, John Gibbon cast his lot with the Union.  His brothers, on the other hand, chose to defend their adopted home state. 

To learn more about John Gibbon's role in the battle of Fredericksburg, check out this video with historian Frank O'Reilly »

9. Upon witnessing the terrible carnage his army had inflicted on the Yankees, Robert E. Lee said to General James Longstreet, “It is well that war is so terrible, or…”

  •  “…it would endure forever.”
  •  “…we would grow too fond of it.”
  •  “…we would never recognize its folly.”
  •  “…we would make too much sport of it.”

Answer: "...we would grow too fond of it."  Intensely saddened by the Federal losses at Prospect Hill, Lee lamented “it is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow too fond of it.” 

10. General James Longstreet’s Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia successfully defended Marye’s Heights with help from which feature of the battlefield?

  •  The Stone Wall along the Sunken Road
  •  The Fairgrounds Fence
  •  The Mill Race  (a mill race that crossed in front of the Union advance)
  •  The Unfinished Section of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad.
  •  All of the above.

Answer: All of the above.  While the Stone Wall along the Sunken Road provided vital protection for Longstreet’s troops, other obstacles disrupted the Union assaults and caused great confusion among the attackers.  Struggling amidst these impediments, Union troops were easy targets for the relatively safe Confederates.

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Wartime view of the approach to Marye's Heights (National Archives)
11. Future Confederate Chief of Artillery E. P. Alexander said of his guns on Marye’s heights that “a ______ could not live on that field when we open on it.”

  •  Dog
  •  Yankee
  •  Cat
  •  Mouse
  •  Chicken

Answer: Chicken.  When asked about the strength of his position, Alexander reportedly told General Longstreet that “a chicken could not live on that field when we open on it.”

12. For their assault on Marye’s Heights men from the Irish Brigade did which of the following as a display of their heritage

  •  Pinned four-leaf clovers to their overcoats
  •  Attached sprigs of Virginia boxwood to their caps
  •  Wore distinctive green trousers
  •  Carried the Irish national flag into battle
  •  All of the above

Answer: Attached sprigs of Virginia boxwood to their caps.  As his men formed for their charge on the Sunken Road, General Thomas Meagher issued each of his men a sprig of green boxwood with which to adorn his cap as a symbol of the unit's Irish heritage.  Ever known for its performance in battle, the brigade reportedly advanced farther than any other Union troops on that part of the field and it is said that the Federal troops found closest to the Stone Wall wore boxwood in their caps. 

13. Ironically, though the stone wall provided substantial protection for the Confederates defending Marye’s Heights, the officer responsible for placing troops in the Sunken Road was one of only a handful of high-ranking casualties on the Confederate left.  Who was he?

  •  Thomas R. R. Cobb
  •  William Barksdale
  •  Paul J. Semmes
  •  William Starke
  •  Maxcy Gregg

Answer: Thomas R. R. Cobb.  Newly promoted Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb, a Georgia politician, was convinced of the effectiveness of his position at the stone wall that he reportedly proclaimed “if they wait for me to fall back, they will wait a long time.”  Cobb, however, was struck in the thigh by a piece of shrapnel and eventually succumbed to his wound. 

14. After the dismal failure of Union attacks against Marye’s Heights, what was Burnside’s initial plan for the morning of December 14th?

  •  In the pre-dawn hours of December 14th, Union troops in front of Marye’s Heights were to march around the Confederate left flank and attack it at dawn. 
  •  Burnside would personally lead his old command, the Ninth Corps, in another desperate assault against Marye’s Heights.
  •  Burnside’s left wing would demonstrate against the Confederate positions on Prospect Hill while the battered troops in front of the heights retreated across the river.
  •   Knowing that the battle was lost, Burnside ordered a general retreat to begin at sunrise.

Answer: Burnside would personally lead his old command, the Ninth Corps, in another desperate assault against Marye’s Heights.  In spite of catastrophic losses, Burnside believed an early morning assault would overrun the Confederate stronghold in the Sunken Road.  Burnside would personally lead the charge which would be carried out by the Ninth Corps, with the Fifth Corps in support.  Fortunately, the orders were never carried out.

15. The Civil War Preservation Trust is an active participant in preservation activities in the Fredericksburg Area.  In 2006, CWPT acquired which part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield?

  •  “The Swale” in front of Marye’s Heights
  •  The Slaughter Pen Farm
  •  Stafford Heights
  •  Prospect Hill
  •  Chatham

Answer: The Slaughter Pen Farm.  In the costliest private preservation effort in America’s history, the Civil War Preservation Trust acquired 208 acres of hallowed ground on the southern end of the Fredericksburg battlefield, preserving the most important part of the battlefield for future generations.

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View of the land preserved by CWPT at the Slaughter Pen Farm









Learn more about how you can help protect the Fredericksburg battlefield and Save the Slaughter Pen Farm »

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