(1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Eastern Theater)
Larry Purtell
Little Meadows PA USA
Posts: 1481
Joined: 2004
December 21, 1862
12/21/2021 9:07:00 AM
From the New York Daily Herald. December 21, 1862

"My goal is to live forever. So far, so good.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5538
Joined: 2004
December 21, 1862
12/21/2021 11:16:41 AM
The role of the artillery in the battle makes this an unusual - perhaps unique - engagement.

We learn from citations of wound numbers that - according to one account - 89% of all wounds recorded in the war were caused by rifle/musket fire.

Reading the accounts of Fredericksburg conveys a very different impression.

Longstreet, writing of the repulse of the yankees in his sector at the foot of Marye's Heights, made this comment : Our musketry alone killed and wounded at least 5000 ; and these, with the slaughter by the artillery, left over 7000 killed and wounded in front of Marye's Hill.

We have already seen in one of Larry's newspaper cuttings that a single Union shell killed or wounded 28 rebels in the cannonade of the 11th of December, and there is a detailed account from the pen of Seargt. H.N. Chitty from Co.K. 18th Regt., N.C.T. ( what does the "T" stand for, by the way?) which lists all killed and wounded from his company, with details of three killed and thirty wounded. Half of the wounded are severe cases, and the rest are slight. Of the former, some are obviously mortally stricken. It appears that many of them - probably the majority - are victims of artillery fire.

On the southern sector of the battlefield, where the fighting was more even, the South Carolinians of Gregg's Brigade counted 41 killed and 295 wounded : the large majority being wounds from shell.

The brigade's historian wrote The proportion of killed to wounded , in this battle, will help to correct a very common error, in the army as well as out of it, viz., that shell wounds are more lethal than those from small arms.

This is difficult to reconcile with evidence from other battles - Gettysburg especially . I think it's attributable to the fact that the men at Fredericksburg were shelled when they were under cover, or lying down : at Gettysburg, the infantry were cut down by close range artillery fire when they were in the open, with far more fatal results. Canister blasted infantry and shells hit men who were very exposed.

Lee certainly opined that artillery caused the more severe wounds.

Regards, Phil

"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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