On May 3, 1863, Brigadier General John Gibbon advanced his division into this area in support of Federal attacks on Marye's Heights. Union troops rushed forward to cross this canal and assault the hills in front of you, but the Confederates had removed the bridge decking. As the Northerners frantically tried to find and lay down new boards, Confederate artillery opened fire from the high ground and Southern infantry filed into position.Panel design by Jackson Foster, The l.D. Entity
Gibbon's opportunity to seize the heights had passed, but the Federals had caused the Confederates to overextend their line. Southern artillery directed to this area was not available where needed elsewhere and Union columns broke through at Sunken Road, Hanover Street, and William Street (one mile south of here). The Federals redeployed and followed the victorious columns to the west, toward Salem Church.
Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment took part in his brigade's advance to the canal. While his unit sought shelter near Fall Hill Road (behind you), shrapnel from an artillery round took off his heel, his third wound of the war. Holmes would serve on the United States Supreme Court from 1902-1932.
Brigadier General John Gibbon was a solid ﬁghter from the Regular Army. Born
in Philadelphia, but raised in North Carolina, he remained loyal to the Union while his three brothers took up arms for the Confederacy. After the war, in 1876, Gibbon would lead the column that buried George Armstrong Custer and his troopers at the Little Big Horn River.
On May 3, 1863, while the main armies were ﬁghting at Chancellorsville, the Federal Sixth Corps confronted a Confederate division in the second battle of Fredericksburg. That morning, Gibbon maneuvered his force to cross this canal (1), but the Confederates responded by repositioning cannons from William Street (2) and from Fall Hill (3). A Federal assault punched through the weakened Confederate line at William Street (4), while additional columns overran Marye's Heights (5) with the help of an enveloping assault (6). This map is oriented to the direction you are facing and also shows the modern road network.