1861 Ball's Bluff Flag








"The Forlorn Hope"


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Painting by Thure de Thulstrup of the River Crossing on Dec. 11, 1862. Image courtesy of the Home of the American Civil War.

The legendary suicidal charge of the 20th Massachusetts through the streets of Fredericksburg , Virginia on December 11, 1862 took the life of this web developer's great great uncle, Cpl . Anton Steffens.  The charge was the subject of a well-known poem, a recent full-length article and was cited in the greatest Memorial Day speech ever given.  Now America's leading historical artist, Don Troiani, has immortalized the charge in his work entitled ,"Fire on Caroline Street". Read the material below, especially the letter from Lt. Henry Ropes to his brother, to learn more about what happened that day.

  • Link to image of historical artist Don Troiani's work, "Fire On Caroline Street"

  • Recent article: Richard F. Miller and Robert F. Mooney, "Across the River and Into the Streets: The 20th Massachusetts Infantry and the Street Fight for Fredericksburg" (Civil War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War, Vol. 4, No. 4)

  • "One of the greatest accomplishments I ever witnessed"--Capt. David Beem, 14th Indiana Infantry

  • "General Sumner complimented the regiment (after the battle), telling Capt. Macy that it was a noble regiment...I firmly believe that if the 20th had not held their ground as they did, everything in their rear would have been driven back to the pontoon bridge"--Surgeon Nathan Hayward, 20th Mass.

  • "A useless slaughter of gallant men"--- link to account by A.W. Greeley, 19th Mass., who witnessed the street fighting.

Engineers unsuccessfully attempt to construct the pontoon bridge before the troops crossed over by boat


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