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[104] his flank, and drew upon the gallant Pelham a heavy fire, which he sustained unflinchingly for about two hours. In the mean time the enemy was fiercely encountered by General A. P. Hill's division, forming Gen. Jackson's right, and, after an obstinate combat, repulsed. During this attack, which was protracted and hotly contested, two of Gen. Hill's brigades were driven back upon our second line.

Gen. Early, with part of his division, being ordered to his support, drove the enemy back from the point of woods he had seized, and pursued him into the plain, until arrested by his artillery. The right of the enemy's column extending beyond Hill's front, encountered the right of Gen. Hood, of Longstreet's corps. The enemy took possession of a small copse in front of Hood, but were quickly dispossessed and repulsed with loss.

During the attack on our right the enemy was crossing troops over his bridges at Fredericksburgh, and massing them in front of Longstreet's line. Soon after his repulse on our right, he commenced a series of attacks on our left, with a view of obtaining possession of the heights immediately overlooking the town. These repeated attacks were repulsed in gallant style by the Washington artillery, under Colonel Walton, and a portion of McLaw's division, which occupied these heights.

The last assault was made after dark, when Col. Alexander's battalion had relieved the Washington artillery, (whose ammunition had been exhausted,) and ended the contest for the day. The enemy was supported in his attacks by the fire of strong batteries of artillery on the right bank of the river, as well as by his numerous heavy batteries on the Stafford heights.

Our loss during the operations, since the movements of the enemy began, amounts to about eighteen hundred killed and wounded. Among the former I regret to report the death of the patriotic soldier and statesman, Brigadier-General Thomas R. R. Cobb, who fell upon our left; and among the latter that brave soldier and accomplished gentlemen, Brig.-General Maxcy Gregg, who was very seriously, and, it is feared, mortally wounded during the attack on our right.

The enemy to-day has been apparently engaged in caring for his wounded and burying his dead. His troops are visible in their first position in line of battle, but, with the exception of some desultory cannonading and firing between skirmishers, he has not attempted to renew the attack. About five hundred and fifty prisoners were taken during the engagement, but the full extent of his loss is unknown.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General. Chas. Marshall, Major and A. D. C.


Richmond Enquirer account

battle-field, December 18, 1862.
This morning the sun struggled up through the obscuring mists which overhung the landscape, but his rays were for an hour or two intercepted by some ashen clouds slowly drifting overhead. Every thing was still as on a mild December morning. Scarcely a breath of air wafted the falling leaves or stirred the fringes of the pine. The fog and smoke thoroughly mingled through the night and shrouded hill and plain in a grayish dim cloud.

As this began to rise, about eight o'clock, the roar of the enemy's artillery woke the stillness of the scene, and signaled the coming great battle. Hastening to the front, I obtained a bird's-eye view of the battle-field.

The observer, who ascends on the heights that rise abruptly from the suburbs on the western side of Fredericksburgh and casts his eye to the south-west, sees stretching before him a level plain to where the Rappahannock, making a broad curve with the rising hills on the north bank, forms the horizon. The plain is about six miles long, with a mean breadth of two and a half miles. On the right the plain is scalloped by spurs of hills, gradually sloping down into the bottom land, at intervals of about a mile, clothed with (lark pines and leafless oaks. On the left, where the Rappahannock sweeps along, hid by its high banks, a succession of hills rise much more abruptly than on the right, the face of the hills bare or clothed with straggling pines, and summits crowned with dense timber. These hill-sides are white with the enemy's tents and trains, and from the crests his batteries bristle in countless profusion as far as the eye can reach.

Now let us cast our eye again down the broad stretch of bottom-land, and note what a bird's-eye view affords. First is the town of Fredericksburgh, some of the ruins still sending up wreaths of pale blue smoke; but the town is not so much demolished as some excited imaginations may have supposed, and hardly enough to attract the attention of the casual observer. Then the plain is seen, seemingly lowest in the middle, but actually nearly level. A few long narrow groves of leafless oaks break the monotony, and here and there some clumps of cedar are seen. The fields, containing on an average a hundred trees, are separated by wood, stones, and ditches, the latter indicated by lines of low hedge. The enemy's line occupies the left of this plain, and in some places their columns, which the casual observer from this point would take to be dark clumps of cedar, spot far out into the fields. In the centre of their line, near the river, on rising ground, is posted a battery of twenty-one heavy guns — there may be more — but these only are distinguishable by the eye.

Just in the rear of these, so far as one is able to judge by the long line of ambulances which disappear on the opposite bank of the river and emerge near by, a pontoon-bridge spans the river, a single bridge I am told. This battery forms a prominent part of the picture, especially when it fires regularly by sections, sending its shells across the plains and into the rising hills on the right. A short distance above this battery — that is, next to the observer — a narrow grove of oaks extend diagonally into the plain, half a mile perhaps,


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