Had the demon of destruction held an orgie in the town, had all the imps of hell been called together and turned loose upon the city, it could scarcely have been more blasted, ruined and desecrated than when left by the Yankee army."
—A correspondent of the Charleston Courier, December 16, 1862
It started with shelling from 140 Union guns on the morning of December 11, 1862—two days before the Battle of Fredericksburg. Whizzing shell fragments, tumbling bricks, and raging fires engulfed the town. "Nothing in war can exceed the horror of that hour," wrote one Mississippian. Most civilians fled; those who remained huddled in basements.
Then came Union soldiers?thousands of them. While awaiting orders to attack Marye's Heights, they looted homes and ransacked businesses. By battle's end, one of Virginia's oldest cities was a shambles.
Between the shelling and the looting, few buildings in Fredericksburg escaped damage. These shell-ravaged homes stood at the intersection of Hanover and George Street.
(Caption for picture in lower right) "Our troopstole [or destroyed] everything they could lay their hands on?Beautiful pictures, books, jewelry, ladies dresses, silverware, and all kinds of household furniture. Every house was completely riddled. ?I never felt so much disgusted with the war as I did that day."
—Lt. Tully McCrea, U.S. Artillery, December 1862