by Greg Mayer
I met this pale wraith of a cat in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the same trip that I visited the National Museum of Natural History.
It’s spectral appearance seemed appropriate, because it was sleeping atop the stone wall along the infamous Sunken Road of the Battle of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, in a series of massed assaults, 30,000 Union troops attempted to cross 400 yards of open space in order to reach the Confederate infantry entrenched behind the wall on which the cat lay. None made it. To the cat’s right, 8,000 Union soldiers fell, dead or wounded; a lesser number of Confederates fell behind the wall (right side of the photo). It was upon seeing this slaughter that Robert E. Lee remarked, “It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.”