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[84] three grand divisions, under Generals Sumner, Hooker, and Franklin, commanding the right, center, and left, and moved his troops from Warrenton to Falmouth. A delay of some two weeks was due to the failure of arrival of the pontoons. In a council of war held on the night of December 10th the officers under Burnside expressed themselves almost unanimously as opposed to the plan of battle, but Burnside disregarded their views and determined to carry out his original plans immediately. After some delay and desultory fighting for two days, the crossing of the army was effected by the morning of December 13th. By this time General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederates, had his army concentrated and entrenched on the hills surrounding the town. In their efforts to place their bridges the Federals were seriously hindered by the firing of the Confederate sharpshooters--“hornets that were stinging the Army of the Potomac into a frenzy.” The Confederate fire continued until silenced by a heavy bombardment of the city from the Federal guns, when the crossing of the army into Fredericksburg was completed without further interference.

The forces of Lee were in battle array about the town. Their line stretched for five miles along the range of hills which spread in crescent shape around the lowland where the city lay, surrounding it on all sides save the east, where the river flowed. The strongest Confederate position was on the slopes of the lowest hill of the range, Marye's Heights, which rose in the rear of the town. Along the foot of this hill there was a stone wall, about four feet in height, bounding the eastern side of the Telegraph road, which at this point runs north and south, being depressed a few feet below the surface of the stone wall, thus forming a breastwork for the Confederate troops. Behind it a strong force was concealed, while higher up, in several ranks, the main army was massed, stretching along the line of hills. The right wing, consisting of thirty thousand troops on an elevation near Hamilton's Crossing

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