2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
Battle of 1st Fredericksburg - Saturday, December 13, 1862
The Stone Wall / Sunken Road

The original section of the stone wall.
This section is all that remains of the original stone wall behind which the Confederates met charge after futile charge. Maj. General Lafayette McLaws, CSA, describes best what was discovered after the Federals withdrew. "The body of one man, believed to be an officer, was found within about 30 yards of the stone wall, and other single bodies were scattered at increased distances until the main mass of the dead lay thickly strewn over the ground at something over 100 yards off, and extending to the ravine, commencing at the point where our men would allow the enemy's column to approach before opening fire, and beyond which no organized body of men was able to pass." [5] Colonel Samuel Zook of Winfield Hancock's 2nd Corps walked among the bodies that night after leading one of the many failed charges. In a letter to his wife, he offered, "I never realized before what war was. I never before felt so horribly since I was born. To see men dashed to pieces by shot and torn into shreds by shells during the heat and crash of battle is bad enough God knows, but to walk alone amongst slaughtered brave in the "still small hours" of the night would make the bravest man living "blue". God grant I may never have to repeat my last night's experience." [2]

Confederate General James Longstreet would also write of the multiple Federal charges and the resulting carnage before the formidable stonewall. "A fifth time the Federals formed and charged and were repulsed. A sixth time they charged and were driven back, when night came to end the dreadful carnage, and the Federals withdrew, leaving the battle-field literally heaped with the bodies of their dead. Before the well-directed fire of Cobb's brigade, the Federals had fallen like the steady dripping of rain from the eaves of a house. Our musketry alone killed and wounded at least 5000; and these, with the slaughter by the artillery, left over 7000 killed and wounded before the foot of Marye's Hill. The dead were piled sometimes three deep, and when morning broke, the spectacle that we saw upon the battle-field was one of the most distressing I ever witnessed. The charges had been desperate and bloody, but utterly hopeless. I thought, as I saw the Federals come again and again to their death, that they deserved success if courage and daring could entitle soldiers to victory." [59]

The United States National Park Service has completed much of the work undertaken to restore the Telegraph or Sunken Road to near its 1860s condition. Now closed to vehicular traffic, it extends from Lafayette Boulevard and the base of Marye's Heights at the National Cemetery down to Kirkland Street past the Richard Kirkland monument and the original section of the stone wall. The Park Service rebuilt sections of the Stone Wall, pictured here, which now extends the length of the Sunken Road.