Lincoln Takes Charge

His shrewd handling of the Radical Republican bid for power at the end of 1862 established him as the unquestioned leader of the Union

The North sustained its most tragic single defeat in the Civil War on December 13, 1862, when waves of blue infantry under General Ambrose E. Burnside, in assault after assault, were flung back from the heights behind Fredericksburg, Virginia. The total battle casualties of the Union Army reached nearly thirteen thousand; never were men left in bloody windrows by a more senseless and futile operation. As the news and casualty lists fell upon the Union, the press, politicians, and public burst out in clamorous denunciation of the Administration.