This landscape, now changed by commercial and residential development, once swarmed with Union soldiers. Forty thousand Northern troops, led by General William B. Franklin, having crossed the Rappahannock River, massed here on the plain south of Fredericksburg. A like number of soldiers, led by General Edwin V. Sumner, occupied the town itself.
Franklin and Sumner had the same objective: drive the Confederate army from its stronghold on the heights west of the river. Franklin would attack the right end of the Confederate line at Prospect Hill, one-half mile to your left-front, while Sumner attacked the left end of the enemy line at Marye's Heights, in rear of Fredericksburg. Franklin deployed his troops one-quarter mile ahead of you. At 10 a.m., December 13, 1862, as he was making final arrangements for the assault, the sound of cannon fire broke the silence. Franklin himself was under attack!