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[295] above Fredericksburg were closely guarded by our cavalry, and the brigade of General W. H. F. Lee was stationed near Port Royal to watch the river above and below. The interval before the advance of the foe was employed in strengthening our lines, extending from the river about a mile and a half above Fredericksburg along the range of hills in the rear of the city to the Richmond railroad. As these hills were commanded by the opposite heights, in possession of General Burnside's force, earthworks were constructed on their crest at the most eligible positions for artillery. To prevent gunboats ascending the river, a battery, protected by epaulements, was placed on the bank four miles below the city. The plain of Fredericksburg is so completely commanded by the Stafford Heights that no effectual opposition could be made to the passage of the river without exposing our troops to the destructive fire of the numerous batteries on the opposite heights. At the same time, the narrowness of the Rappahannock and its winding course presented opportunities for laying down pontoon bridges at points secure from the fire of our artillery. Our position was therefore selected with a view to resisting an advance after crossing, and the river was guarded by detachments of sharpshooters to impede the laying of pontons until our army could be prepared for action.

Before dawn, on December 11th, General Burnside was in motion. About 2 A. M. he commenced preparations to throw two bridges over the Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg, and one about a mile and a quarter below, near the mouth of Deep Run. From daybreak until 4 P. M. the troops, sheltered behind the houses on the river bank, repelled his repeated efforts to lay 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, he was successfully resisted until nearly noon, when, being exposed to the severe fire of the batteries on the opposite heights and a superior force of infantry on the river banks, our troops were withdrawn, and about 1 P. M. the bridge was completed. Soon afterward, one hundred fifty pieces of artillery opened a furious fire upon the city, causing our troops to retire from the river bank about 4 P. M. The enemy then crossed in boats, and proceeded rapidly to lay down the bridges. His advance into the town was bravely contested until dark when our troops were recalled, the necessary time for concentration having been gained.

Brigadier General William Barksdale, who commanded the force placed in Fredericksburg to resist the crossing, performed that service with his well-known gallantry. The enemy was prevented from

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