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 houses of Fredericksburg, he moved forward in strong columns to seize Marye's and Willis's Hills. All his batteries on the Stafford Heights directed their fire upon the positions occupied by our artillery, with a view to silencing it and covering the movement of the infantry. Without replying to this furious cannonade, our batteries poured a rapid and destructive fire into the dense lines of the infantry as they advanced to the attack, frequently breaking their ranks and forcing them to retreat to the shelter of the houses. Six times did he, notwithstanding the havoc inflicted by our batteries, press on with great determination to within one hundred yards of the foot of the hill; here, encountering the deadly fire of our infantry, his columns were broken, and fled in confusion to the town. The last assault was made shortly before dark. This effort met the fate of those that preceded it, and when night closed in his shattered masses had disappeared in the town, leaving the field covered with his dead and wounded. During the night our lines were strengthened by the construction of earthworks at exposed points, and preparations were made to receive the enemy on the next day. The 14th passed, however, without a renewal of the attack. The hostile batteries on both sides of the river played upon our lines at intervals, our own firing but little. On the 15th General Burnside still retained his position, apparently ready for battle, but the day passed as the preceding. On the morning of the 16th, however, it was discovered that he had availed himself of the darkness of the night and the prevalence of a violent storm of wind and rain to recross the river. The town was immediately reoccupied, and our positions on the river bank resumed. In the engagement we captured more than 900 prisoners and 9,000 stand of arms. A large quantity of ammunition was found in Fredericksburg. On our side 458 were killed and 3,743 wounded; total, 4,201. The loss of the enemy was 1,152 killed, 9,101 wounded, and 3,234 missing; total, 13,771. General Burnside testified before the Committee on the Conduct of the War that he ‘had about 100,000 men on the south side of the river, and every single man of them was under artillery-fire, and about half of them were. at different times formed in columns of attack.’1 Less than 20,000 Confederate troops were actively engaged. This number composed about one-fourth of the army under General Lee. The returns of the Army of Northern Virginia show that on December 10,
1 ‘Report of Committee on the Conduct of the War,’ Part I, p. 656.
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