This Week in the Civil War - 488
On January 20, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac, tried to march on Richmond. In part, Burnside was seeking to reverse the sting of the Battle of Fredericksburg, a largely one-sided engagement in the previous month that had seen appalling Union casualties.
At Fredericksburg, Burnside had foolishly attempted to penetrate a highly fortified Confederate position. This time, Burnside hoped to lure Robert E. Lee’s forces out into the open. But Burnside’s most formidable opponent in late January was not Lee, but driving rain and mud that slowed his army’s march to a crawl. Attempts to ford a critical river ended in failure. Accepting the inevitable, Burnside marched his army home, facing Confederate taunts and sharpshooters along the way.