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[382]

The battle of Fredericksburg.

Paper no. 1.

By General E. P. Alexander.

Crossing the river and occupying the town.

On the 15th of November General Burnside put his columns in motion towards Fredericksburg, and on the same day General Lee ordered Lewis's Battery and a Mississippi regiment of infantry, which had been guarding railroad bridges near Richmond, to reinforce the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Ball, which was in observation at that point. This force reached Fredericksburg on the 17th, a short while before the arrival at Falmouth of the head of the Federal column under Major-General Sumner, and a small artillery duel occurred between Lewis's Battery and a Federal rifle battery, under a Captain Petitt, the latter having decidedly the best of it, as Lewis carried but four very inferior guns. Much credit was claimed at the time for this small Confederate force for preventing the crossing of the Rappahannock by the Federals, but, however impudent its intentions may have been, this claim cannot be admitted, for Sumner had positive orders from Burnside not to cross; and these orders were reiterated that night, on Sumner's asking permission to go over and take Lewis's guns. Meanwhile, information being received from the calvary of the appearance of Federal gunboats and transports at Acquia Creek, and of large wagon trains moving from Catlett's Station towards Falmouth, on the 17th General Lee ordered General Longstreet to march rapidly to Fredericksburg with McLaws's and Ransom's Divisions of Infantry, accompanied by their battalion of artillery, W. H. F. Lee's Brigade of Calvary, and Lane's rifle battery from the Reserve Artillery. At the same time General Stuart was ordered to force a crossing of the Rappahannock at Warrenton Springs, and discover the enemy's movements. This being gallantly done, the calvary advanced as far as Warrenton, and found that Burnside's base had been changed to Acquia Creek, and his whole army was on the march towards Falmouth. On receipt of this information, on the 19th the remainder of Longstreet's corps and the Reserve Artillery was put in motion for Frederickburg, via Raccoon and Morton's Fords, and Jackson's Corps was ordered from the Valley to concentrate at Orange C. H.

On the 20th Burnside's entire army was concentrated opposite Fredericksburg, and on the same day McLaws's and Ransom's Divisions under

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