previous next

[286] motion. About two A. M., he commenced preparations to throw two bridges over the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburgh, and one about a mile and a quarter below, near the mouth of Deep Run. Two regiments of Barksdale's brigade, McLaws's division, the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi, guarded these points, the former, assisted by the Eighth Florida, of Anderson's division, being at the upper. The rest of the brigade, with the Third Georgia regiment, also of Anderson's division, was held in reserve in the city. From daybreak until four P. M. the troops, sheltered behind the houses on the river bank, repelled the repeated efforts of the enemy to lay his bridges opposite the town, driving back his working parties and their supports, with great slaughter. At the lower point where there was no such protection, the enemy was successfully resisted until nearly noon, when, being greatly exposed to the fire of the batteries on the opposite heights, and a superior force of infantry on the river banks, our troops were withdrawn, and about one P. M. the bridge was completed. Soon afterward one hundred and fifty pieces of artillery opened a furious fire upon the city, causing our troops to retire from the river-bank about four P. M. The enemy then crossed in boats, and proceeded rapidly to lay down the bridges. His advance into the town was bravely resisted until dark, when our troops were recalled, the necessary time for concentration having been gained.

During the night and the succeeding day the enemy crossed in large numbers at and below the town, secured from material interruption by a dense fog. Our artillery could only be used with effect when the occasional clearing of the mist rendered his columns visible. His batteries, on the Stafford heights, fired at intervals upon our position. Longstreet's corps constituted our left, with Anderson's division resting upon the river, and those of McLaws, Pickett, and Hood extending to the right, in the order named. Ransom's division supported the batteries on Marye's and Willis's hills, at the foot of which Cobb's brigade, of McLaws's division, and the Twenty-fourth North-Carolina, of Ransom's brigade, were stationed, protected by a stone wall. The immediate care of this point was committed to General Ransom. The Washington artillery, under Colonel Walton, occupied the redoubts on the crest of Marye's hill, and those on the heights to the right and left, were held by part of the reserve artillery, Colonel E. P. Alexander's battalion, and the division batteries of Anderson, Ransom, and McLaws. A. P. Hill, of Jackson's corps, was posted between Hood's right and Hamilton's Crossing, on the railroad. His front line, consisting of the brigades of Pender, Lane, and Archer, occupied the edge of a wood. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, with fourteen pieces of artillery, was posted near the right, supported by the Fortieth and Thirty-fifth Virginia regiments, of Field's brigade, commanded by Colonel Brockenbrough. Lane's brigade, thrown forward in advance of the general line, held the woods, which here projected into the open ground. Thomas's brigade was stationed behind the interval between Lane and Pender, and Gregg's in rear of that, between Lane and Archer. These two brigades, with the Forty-seventh Virginia regiment and Twenty-second Virginia battalion, of Field's brigade, constituted General Hill's reserve. Early's and Taliaferro's divisions composed Jackson's second line — D. H. Hill's division his reserve. His artillery was distributed along his line in the most eligible positions so as to command the open ground in front. General Stuart, with two brigades of cavalry and his horse artillery, occupied the plain on Jackson's right, extending to Massaponax creek.

On the morning of the thirteenth, the plain on which the Federal army lay was still enveloped in fog, making it impossible to discern its operations. At an early hour the batteries on the heights of Stafford began to play upon Longstreet's position. Shortly after nine A. M., the partial rising of the mist disclosed a large force moving in line of battle against Jackson. Dense masses appeared in front of A. P. Hill, stretching far up the river, in the direction of Fredericksburgh. As they advanced, Major Pelham, of Stuart's horse artillery, who was stationed near the Port Royal road with one section, opened a rapid and well-directed enfilade fire, which arrested their progress. Four batteries immediately turned upon him, but he sustained their heavy fire with the unflinching courage that ever distinguished him. Upon his withdrawal, the enemy extended his left down the Port Royal road, and his numerous batteries opened with vigor upon Jackson's line. Eliciting no response, his infantry moved forward to seize the position occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker. The latter reserving his fire until their line had approached within less than eight hundred yards, opened upon it with such destructive effect as to cause it to waver and soon to retreat in confusion.

About one P. M., the main attack on the right began by a furious cannonade, under cover of which three compact lines of infantry advanced against Hill's front. They were received as before by our batteries, by whose fire they were momentarily checked, but soon recovering, they pressed forward, until coming within range of our infantry the contest became fierce and bloody. Archer and Lane repulsed those portions of the line immediately in front of them; but before the interval between these commands could be closed the enemy pressed through in overwhelming numbers, and turned the left of Archer and the right of Lane. Attacked in front and flank, two regiments of the former and the brigade of the latter, after a brave and obstinate resistance, gave way. Archer held his line with the First Tennessee, and with the Fifth Alabama battalion, assisted by the Forty-seventh Virginia regiment and the Twenty-second Virginia battallion, continued the struggle until the arrival of reenforcements. Thomas came gallantly to the relief of Lane, and joined by the Seventh and part of the Eighteenth North-Carolina, of that brigade, repulsed the column that had broken Lane's line,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
13th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: