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The battle of Fredericksburg.

Paper no. 2--(conclusion.)

By General E. P. Alexander.
Saturday, the 13th, at length dawned through the heavy mist, and the Confederate army stood to its arms gazing into the muffled valley, and listening for the well-known sounds which would tell where the first blow was to be given and taken. For some time there was nothing to indicate the enemy's intentions; but at length there came faintly through the fog, confused words of command, among which, “Forward to guide centre,” could be distinguished, and it was evident that lines of battle were being formed on the Federal left. During the night, the concentration of the Confederates had been completed by the arrival of D. H. Hill's and Early's divisions, the former from Port Royal, and the latter from Skenker's mill. On the evening of the 12th, General Burnside had ordered that the attack should be made in force by Franklin's grand division on the Confederate right at Hamilton's crossing, and General Lee seems to have anticipated such action, as he concentrated in that immediate vicinity the whole of Jackson's corps. On the morning of the 13th, however, as Franklin was preparing to put his whole force in the blow he was about to strike, the orders were modified by rather vague directions from Burnside to send “One division, at least, to seize, if possible, the heights near Hamilton's crossing, taking care to support it well and keep its line of retreat open,” and to hold the rest of his command “in position for a rapid movement down the Richmond road.” 1 General Sumner, who had previously been ordered to await the success of Franklin's attack, before moving upon the positions in his front, was this morning ordered to “form a column of a division for the purpose of pushing in the direction of the Telegraph and Plank roads, for the purpose of seizing the heights in the rear of the town,” and “to hold another division in readiness to support this movement.”

Franklin designated for his attack Meade's division, supported by Gibbons on its right and Doubbleday's in reserve, making the whole of the first corps, and when, at 10 A. M., the melting of the fog exposed the plain to view, three long lines of battle and clouds of skirmishers were visible, already moving slowly across the plain, while his numerous batteries opened a tremendous fire upon the Confederate lines. For

1 Swinton. Army of the Potomac, p. 245.

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