YOUR TOWN:  Caroline | Culpeper | King George | Fredericksburg | Orange | Spotsylvania | Stafford | Westmoreland     TODAY: 04.19.2014 | 

Andrew A. Humphreys

Humphrey's Third Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, made the last major assault against Sunken Road during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

He led his division through the human debris of the previous attacks. Some of Humphrey's soldiers shook off well-meaning hands that clutched at them to prevent their advance.

As Humphrey's men moved forward, Confederate batteries replaced their lines with fresh soldiers. The Union brigade cheered and continued on. As they did, Confederate artillery raked them.

"[We] gave them our choicest varieties," one Rebel gunner recalled., canister and shrapnel, just as fast as we could put it in."

Humphrey's troops melted away.

-The National Park Service and The American Heritage of New History of The Civil War contributed to this report.

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The following is excerpted from "The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America's Greatest Battle" by Larry Tagg:

Lt. Cavada of the general's staff recalled that just before he took his troops up to the Stone Wall at Fredericksburg, Humphreys had bowed to his staff in his courtly way, "and in the blandest manner remarked, 'Young gentlemen, I intend to lead this assault; I presume, of course, you will wish to ride with me?'"

Since it was put like that, the staff had done so, and five of the seven officers were knocked off their horses.

After his men had taken as much as they could stand in front of the Stone Wall on Marye's Heights, the next brigade coming up the hill saw Humphreys sitting his horse all alone, looking out across the plain, bullets cutting the air all around him. Something about the way the general was taking it pleased them, and they sent up a cheer.

Humphreys looked over, surprised, waved his cap to them with a grim smile, and then went riding off into the twilight. In this way Humphreys had turned his first division's dislike of him into admiration for his heroic leadership, and he would do the same with his new division at Gettysburg.