Slaughter Pen Farm - Fredericksburg, VA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member DougK
N 38° 15.865 W 077° 26.476
18S E 286419 N 4237972
Quick Description: The area is known as the "Slaughter Pen Farm" because the soldiers advanced with little or no cover against strongly positioned Confederates on high ground (Prospect Hill) and sustained heavy casualties.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 4/17/2011 11:50:36 PM
Waymark Code: WMB85T
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 10

Long Description:
The area is known as the "Slaughter Pen Farm" because the soldiers advanced with little or no cover against strongly positioned Confederates on high ground (Prospect Hill) and sustained heavy casualties. This was supposed to be the main Union attack that day, followed by the (now) more famous assault at Marye's Heights.

Today Slaughter Pen Farm contains a 1.75-mile walking trail with interpretive signs covers the site of an 8,000-man Union attack south of Fredericksburg Dec. 13, 1862, battle there.

From the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust website:

On December 13, 1862, the Union army broke across the ground, assaulting the Confederates, who were positioned along a string of low hills south of the town. Over the course of a very long day, the Union sustained approximately 5,000 casualties. Thousands of Confederate casualties also attest to the hard struggle, which at times involved hand-to-hand fighting. Five Medals of Honor would eventually be awarded for individual acts of heroism during the desperate action.

When people think of the Fredericksburg battlefield, they usually envision the futile Union attacks against Marye’s Heights, which were halted by impenetrable Confederate musketry delivered from behind the stone wall along the Sunken Road. The area south of Fredericksburg, however, is where the battle truly hung in the balance. Federal assault columns actually broke through the Confederate lines on this other field. The terrain of the Slaughter Pen has remained exceptionally intact and a visitor walking through the site today can readily understand what occurred there. The old roads, ditches, and the sometimes subtle contours of the ground allow historic interpretation with great accuracy. Frank O’Reilly, author of the definitive study The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock, has stated that this ground is absolutely critical to understanding the battle. He writes: “The Slaughter Pen is the very heart and soul of the Fredericksburg Battlefield. Without it, nothing makes sense. This is the point where the battle was won and lost on December 13, 1862.”

Slaughter Pen connects many different components of the Fredericksburg battlefield. Its eastern edge abuts the old Richmond Stage Road, where the Federal attackers initially formed up. Its western edge runs along an active railway, which was also in existence in 1862. On the other side of the tracks lies the location of the Confederate line, within the boundaries of the National Park. To the north of the Park’s boundary, however, CVBT has saved an additional area of land, known as Latimer’s Knoll, through the creation of an easement. The area along the tracks is indeed blood soaked ground where the combat became hand-to-hand. To the south of this land is an area where another Union attack moved forward, but was eventually repulsed. The Slaughter Pen effectively ties these various sites together, and will dramatically restore the integrity of the Fredericksburg battlefield.

Type of site: Battlefield

11232 Tidewater Trail
Fredericksburg, VA USA

Phone Number: 800-298-7878

Admission Charged: No Charge

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
just off Route 2 south of Fredericksburg

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