The Regional Review

Volume V - Nos. 2 & 3

August-September, 1940

Longstreet Letter Acquired


More horrible than a great battle is, perhaps, the battleground immediately afterward. So it was below Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg after the fierce fighting of December 13, 1862, when General Burnside had hurled 18 Union brigades against that powerful Confederate position.

By nightfall the Federal forces counted 18,000 casualties, the Confederates 5,000. Resulsed, Burnside held his position in the town and along the Rappahannock for two more days, then recrossed the river northward.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park has just acquired by donation from Edward T. Stuart, of Philadelphia, a grim historical memento of that bloody battle. It is the original of the letter written December 16 by James Longstreet, Confederate Lieutenant General, to Major General Burnside, concerning the disposal of dead, wounded and captured Union soldiers. It reads:

Headquarters. Near Fredericksburg
December 16, 1862  

The Genl. Com'g. U. S. Forces,
Opposite Fredericksburg


I am authorized by General R. E. Lee Com'g Confederate Forces, to express his desire that you send over to the late battle grounds and collect the bodies of such officers and soldiers as may be left there.

He also desires me to express his willingness to parole and return to you, the prisoners taken since your passage of the Rappahannock.

I am Sir, very respy
Yr. most Obt. Sert.
James Longstreet
Lt. Gen. Comg

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Date: 04-Jul-2002