Historical Marker Text
Across the road to the northeast stood the Cox House, also known as the Wiatt House. In December 1862, Confederate Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws’s division used it as a hospital, and there on 13 December, Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb died from wounds received during the Battle of Fredericksburg. On 3 May 1863, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early rallied his Confederate troops at the Cox House after Union Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick drove them off Marye’s Heights. Early later retook the heights and attacked Sedgwick’s rear, while McLaws engaged him in battle near Salem Church. 
First Battle of Fredericksburg
During the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, Major General Lafayette McLaws’ division reinforced that salient opposite the town. Brigadier General Thomas R. R. Cobb’s Georgia Brigade took position in the sunken road that ran along the base of Marye’s Heights. A stone wall along the road, facing the city, provided perfect protection for the infantry entrenched in the road. The remainder of McLaws’ division extended to south of Telegraph Road (O’Reilly 103). Cobb’s brigade and artillery from above on the heights slaughtered the Federal infantry as it advanced across open ground toward the heights.
Unfortunately, a Union bombardment in the early afternoon caused a piece of shrapnel to strike Cobb (left) just above his right knee. It snapped the bone and pierced an artery. After receiving a makeshift tourniquet, he was taken to Mrs. Wiet’s house, which was in use as a division hospital, located a couple miles behind Lee’s Hill. Dr. John T. Gilmore, the chief surgeon, attended the general, trying to stop the bleeding (O’Reilly 296-97). Deep in shock, Cobb passed away about 1:00 that day (O’Reilly 323).
Second Battle of Fredericksburg
While the bulk of the Union and Confederate armies were waging battle at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, Major General Jubal A. Early (below left) remained at Fredericksburg with a force of 9,000 men, where he would face Union Major General John Sedgwick’s force of 40,000 men (Bushong 118). After initial failures, Sedgwick (right) took Marye’s Heights at about midday by sending columns of troops against the two greatly outnumbered Mississippi regiments, commanded by Brigadier General William Barksdale, that were holding Sunken Road. He took eight pieces of artillery and a significant number of Confederate prisoners (Gallagher, Chancellorsville, 45). Federals drove the left of Early’s defense line back about two miles, to defensible ground near the Cox House (Bushong 122).
Early ordered Barksdale to form a line and make a stand there. Two more brigades, with artillery, would join him (Gallagher 46). He rallied and repositioned the line by mid-afternoon (Bushong 122). In the early afternoon and after a series of correspondence between officers along the Confederate line, three brigades of McLaws set on their way from the main Confederate body to aid Early in fending off Sedgwick. McLaws joined Brigadier General Cadmus M. Wilcox’s brigade at Salem Church, four miles east of Fredericksburg.
At about 5:15 the Federals charged them; they were repulsed by the four prepared brigades. The following day, as McLaws (below) remained at Salem Church awaiting reinforcements in order to divert Federal concentration in town, Early prepared to attack Sedgwick in Fredericksburg (Freeman 625-27). One of his brigades marched prematurely, and by fortune found that neither Lee’s Hill nor Willis’s Hill, a part of Marye’s Heights, were occupied by their enemy. Therefore, Early recovered the heights with relative ease that morning (Freeman 629). At about 6:00 that evening, McLaws’s guns fired the signal and fighting began by both his reinforced line and Early’s line. That night Sedgwick withdrew his troops, and by daylight on May 5 both of his Union corps had fully retreated across the Rappahannock River (Freeman 632-35).
“Gen. John Sedgwick, USA,” Library of Congress (accessed April 8, 2008).
“Jubal A. Early,” Library of Congress (accessed April 8, 2008).
“Lafayette McLaws,” Library of Congress (accessed (April 8, 2008).
For Further Reference
Bushong, Millard K. Old Jube: A Biography of General Jubal A. Early. Boyce, VA: Carr Publishing Company, 1955.
Early, Jubal A. Report of Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, C. S. Army, Commanding Division. The Chancellorsville Campaign, April 27-May 6, 1863. http://www.civilwarhome.com/earlychancellorsville.htm (accessed April 4, 2008).
Freeman, David Southall. Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1943.
Gallagher, Gary W. Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
_____. Lee and His Army in Confederate History. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
McCash, William B. Thomas R.R. Cobb (1823-1862): The Making of a Southern Nationalist. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004.
O’Reilly, Francis Augustín. The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003.