On May 3, 1863, it took three tries, but the Union broke through Early's 7-mile long front at Fredericksburg and mounted the stone wall at Marye's Heights. At 130 feet high and one-half mile long, Marye's Heights was a natural fortification that the Confederates used to their advantage during the First Battle of Fredericksburg. This time, though, the Confederates were overtaken by Sedgwick's Union corps, and they retreated southwest toward Richmond. The Union division then headed for Chancellorsville to join the Army of the Potomac but were driven off by Confederates holding Salem Church. Early re-took Marye's Heights the following morning as the Federals retreated.

Visiting the Fredericksburg II Battlefield

Your best bet to tour The Second Battle of Fredericksburg is to start at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park Visitor Center and pick up a copy of the Sunken Road Walking Trail brochure. This easy, scenic walk takes you along the Sunken Road, which was then the main road between Fredericksburg and Richmond, and the stone retaining wall of Marye's Heights. The interpretive signs describe actions that took place during the First Battle of Fredericksburg, but this is still the area where the second battle took place as Early defended the Heights a second time against Union battery. The trail makes a loop and goes up along the top of the Heights past Confederate artillery and views of the spires of downtown of Fredericksburg and passes through Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

Visit National Park Service for battle details and information about the preservation of this battlefield.

Pictured at the top: Closed to further burials in the 1940s, Fredericksburg National Cemetery sits atop Marye's Heights and is the final resting place of 15,000 Union soldiers, most of whom are unidentified and served at Fredericksburg, Mine Run and North Anna. Marye's Heights was the setting for the decimation of Union troops the previous December during the First Battle of Fredericksburg as Lee held the Heights and Union troops made numerous deadly yet futile assaults on the stone wall that shielded Confederate trenches.

Historical Photo

Fredericksburg Marye's Heights 1862'

St. Mary's [i.e. Marye's] Heights, Fredericksburg, captured by Sedgwick, 1862. (Library of Congress)