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[80]

Fredericksburg a photograph taken just after the battle of December, 1862 Two magnificent armies faced one another here in the middle of December, 1862. Along the ground we see spread before us on the east side of the Rappahannock — the famous Stafford Heights — the men in blue were massed in a long line of camps. In the town were scattered forces of Confederate troops, and along the river front each house was a temporary citadel; even cannon frowned from the windows. The winding river, now unbridged and at high water, separated the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee from the Army of the Potomac under Burnside. Fredericksburg, deserted by women, children, the aged, and the infirm, lay helpless before the Federal guns. But along the hill against the horizon stretched Lee's army, under able generals, in an impregnable position. Between it and the town lay open ground with a few scattered houses. Stretching across the river we can see the ruins of the bridges. For a month Burnside had waited for pontoons to enable him to cross in force. On a foggy morning after their arrival, the 11th of December, a landing was effected. The fierce fire of 147 guns from Stafford Heights played havoc among the houses. The sharpshooters that had bothered the pontoniers were driven back, and soon all the Confederate forces had gathered along the ridge a mile to the west of the town. By the 12th the Federal army had crossed and deployed for battle.

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