good points, and as the country behind the Rappahannock
was able to supply some subsistence which would otherwise be lost, it was decided to give battle at Fredericksburg
, against Jackson
's pontoons arrived on Nov. 25.
By this time a few earthworks showed upon the Confederate
hills, and led him to delay, and to reconnoitre the river for a flank movement.
the country was hilly and wooded.
The river was narrow, and there were several fords.
These features would have made a crossing easy to accomplish by a surprise.
Below the town the river widened, and the country opened.
adopted that flank for his movement, and began his preparations to cross at Skinker
's Neck, 12 miles below Fredericksburg
, where the river was over 1000 feet wide.
discovered his preparations, and as Jackson
's corps had arrived from the Valley
about Nov. 29, it was moved to the right, and observed the river as far as Port Royal
, 18 miles below.
had not left Winchester
until Nov. 22, five days after Sumner
's arrival at Falmouth
His troops had marched 150 miles in 10 days, but Lee
had both presumed largely on Burnside
's want of enterprise in allowing, for even a few days, 150 miles to separate the two corps.
had given no express orders to Jackson
, but as late as Nov. 19, had written him to remain in the Valley
as long as his presence embarrassed the enemy, but to keep in view that the two corps must be united in order to give battle.
The Federal army was supplied with balloons.
had used them on the Peninsula
, but during Pope
's campaign, and in Md.
, they had not been seen, although the open character of the country would have often exposed and embarrassed the most important movements of the Confederates
, had balloonists been on the lookout.
Now, the balloons reconnoitring the country about Skinker
's Neck, discovered Jackson
's camps, and Burnside
knew that his designs were disclosed.
The discovery suggested an alternate piece of strategy.
If he could cross at Fredericksburg
, and rapidly push a force around Lee
's right at Hamilton's Crossing
, he might interpose between the forces about Skinker
's Neck and those in front of Fredericksburg