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 Union re-enactors attack Trench Hill on Saturday as hundreds of Confederate troops fire on them during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
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Date published: 12/9/2012


No photographer captured the carnage of the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.

This time around, 150 years later, thousands of spectators left with photos of the action and aftermath.

One was Kathy Boyer, of Philadelphia. In period garb, with a hoop skirt, she held up a pink iPad to snap a picture of Confederate re-enactors gathering Saturday afternoon on Trench Hill above Sunken Road.

Boyer and her husband, Dan, a big believer in states' rights, joined the 44th Georgia Infantry Regiment re-enactment unit in August.

"It's a monumental occasion," Boyer, who brought her two children, a full picnic basket and her Southern hospitality, said of the battle's sesquicentennial. "It's not going to happen again."

Thousands of people--many from distant states and foreign nations--filled Fredericksburg's streets all day long.

In the morning, as fog along the Rappahannock burned off (just as it did on the day of the Dec. 13, 1862, battle), people lined up to watch hundreds of Union troops cross the river into the city.

Meeting fierce resistance from Confederate Brig. Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippians, the re-enactors fought their way through town, street by street and house by house, clearing snipers and sharpshooters who bought precious time for other Confederate defenders.

But when the men in blue finally reached Marye's Heights, they suffered one of their worst drubbings of the Civil War.

That's exactly why Douglas Ferrell wanted to watch this particular battle.

"It's one of the ones where the South wins, which makes it a little better," said Ferrell, a Maryland native who has lived in Brazil for 40 years.

In the morning hours, a few Yankees marching into downtown stopped by a road barricade at Frederick and Sophia streets to empty their boots, which were full of water from having crossed the Rappahannock--and having to wade the final stretch at City Dock.

"It felt like I was standing in a bucket," said Dick Watters, a re-enactor with the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, part of the Irish Brigade.

Wringing out his socks, he said the floating bridge built by Virginia Army National Guard engineers was about 8 feet short of the bank. The tide was lower than planners anticipated, dropping the bridge.

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