Last night my Number One Sweetie came home from New Orleans. Overall, he enjoyed his trip and his conference. And though he didn't care for Bourbon Street or gumbo, he did enjoy having Bananas Foster in the restaurant where they were invented; said they were the best Bs.F. he ever ate.
This morning I went up to my mother's place to meet Daniel, who had brought me my niece Elizabeth for the weekend. She's going to turn 10 on June 2. Daniel is going to take his older daughter, Madison, to a volleyball tournament at Penn State. Lizzie didn't want to go; she becomes bored with so many volleyball games.
We had lunch with Mom and then departed.
On our way home, I told Elizabeth all about the Battle of Fredericksburg and then asked whether she might share my interest in stopping by the Fredericksburg Battlefield, and she said yes. So we did.
General Lee rushed his army to the defense, situating heavy artillery along the ridge line and infantry behind the stone wall. As one confederate put it, "Not even a chicken could have lived on that field" once the Rebels opened fire, The Rebs had 10 days in which to reinforce their position and dig in, because due to someone's horrendous mistake, that's how long it took for the Union pontoons to arrive, allowing the Northerners to construct from them a bridge over the river. This they did under heavy fire and with high casualties.
Then Gen. Burnside ordered the first attack. Predictably enough, the Union soldiers were mowed down. Burnside ordered a second attack, with the same result, and a third, and a fourth and a fifth. Men were dying at the rate of 1,000 per hour. My reference book I'm pretty sure said there were 14 such doomed assaults in all, but the film we watched said 18. Burnside's junior officers had to talk him out of ordering more the next day.
President Lincoln, when he heard of this insantiy, fired Gen. Burnside.
I thought the battlefield itself was disappointing. The open field has largely disappeared from new construction; we never located the ditch; and Marye's Heights were not nearly as high as I had imagined. Elizabeth showed more interest than I did. She wanted to stop and read the plaques and to walk through the cemetery, and in general, to see the whole thing, whereas I would've been happy to walk half as far.
Afterward, back in the car, I said, "Well, that hill wasn't even high enough to make me out of breath when I got to the top of it. Well, maybe just a little bit. Were you even out of breath at all?"
And dear, sweet, wonderful Lizzie replied: "I was maybe a little out of breath, but not enough to get the tears out."