After meeting one week earlier with pro-Union Kentuckians and acknowledging that he “would rather die than take back a word of the Proclamation of Freedom” an ever increasingly depressed Abraham Lincoln on Monday, November 24, 1862 wrote his friend and fellow abolitionist Carl Schurz, admitting “I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not.”
On Saturday, November 22, 1862, Federal General Edwin Sumner, no doubt conveying Burnside’s decision, informed the city government of Fredericksburg, Virginia that Union forces would not bombard Fredericksburg despite the ultimatum of the prior day “so long as no hostile demonstration is made from the town.” That is to say, as long as Confederate forces occupying the city and surrounding hills did not fire on Union forces then Fredericksburg would not be harmed.
Friday, November 21, 1862, Union General Ambrose Burnside called upon the city government of Fredericksburg, Virginia to surrender or else risk bombardment. Burnside gave civil authorities sixteen hours to remove any *sick or wounded, women, children, and the aged.
Both sides continued to prepare for the next great confrontation in the eastern theatre of war, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. On Thursday, November 20, 1862, General Robert E. Lee arrived at Fredericksburg, while General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps at Winchester was preparing to move toward Fredericksburg.
On Wednesday, November 19, 1862, Confederate forces of General James Longstreet assumed defensive positions on the heights above the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia. On Marye’s Heights and several other hills which dominated the area, Longstreet immediately began to concentrate his artillery so as to defend Fredericksburg from a possible Union assault.
On Tuesday, November 18, 1862, Union General Edwin Sumner’s Right Grand Division of the restructured Army of the Potomac arrived at Falmouth on the bluffs across the Rappahannock* River from Fredericksburg, Virginia.
A major conflict seemed inevitable as both Union and Confederate forces moved toward Fredericksburg. In other news, President Jefferson Davis, after the hasty resignation of George Randolph, appointed Major General Gustavus W. Smith temporary Secretary of War for the Confederate States of America.
The appointment of Ambrose Burnside seemed to be a good choice. He was handsome and, at six feet in height, big in build. His large face was surrounded by heavy whiskers or “sideburns,” in a play on his name. He seemed dashing and brave, and he was. He also seemed to be very intelligent, but he was not.
On Thursday, November 13, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln reluctantly charged Attorney General Edward Bates with enforcement of the Federal Confiscation Act.
Congress in 1861 and 1862 passed laws permitting the Union government to seize all the real and personal property of anyone taking up arms against the government, anyone aiding the rebellion directly, or anyone offering aid or comfort to the rebellion.
On November 14, 1862, anxious to satisfy Lincoln, Army of the Potomac commander General Ambrose Burnside submitted a plan for driving on Richmond.
Burnside proposed reorganizing his command into three grand divisions: the Right Grand Division under General Edwin Sumner, the Center Grand Division under General Joseph Hooker, and the Left Grand Division under General William Franklin.