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[513] the Wilderness. On the 9th, it followed the other corps to Spottsylvania and took position on Ewell's right, except Mahone's division (formerly Anderson's), which was formed on the left of Field, overlooking the Po. The day was taken as a much-needed day of rest by the Federals, in which we cheerfully acquiesced. The sharpshooting, however, was active upon both sides. One of our sharpshooters killed Gen. Sedgwick at a range of about 700 yards from the pine thicket on the Brock road. He was succeeded by Wright in the command of the 6th corps.

The day was largely devoted to improving our breastworks, an art in which we were much behind our adversaries. Our equipment with intrenching tools was always far below our requirements, and in emergencies the men habitually loosened the ground with bayonets, and scooped it up with tin cups. The line was laid out generally by those who built it. The Federals had a large force, perhaps 2500 men, of engineer troops and heavy artillery regiments, habitually employed in building and improving their intrenchments under the direction of engineer officers. They were more valuable than an equal number of regular troops, and should be a part of the equipment of every army.

Sheridan, on the 8th, had been ordered to concentrate his cavalry, move against Stuart, and then upon our communications, and when his supplies were exhausted, to proceed to the James River, renew his supplies, and return to the army.

Burnside's corps arrived on the 9th by the Fredericksburg road and began intrenching opposite Hill, whose lines covered the court-house on our right. He had encountered some dismounted cavalry whom he mistook for a brigade of Longstreet's infantry, and so reported it to Grant. This misled Grant into the belief that Lee was moving in the direction of Fredericksburg, and he ordered Hancock immediately to cross the Po, move down it and recross by the Shady Grove road, thus turning our left flank. Hancock at once put three divisions to cross simultaneously at three different points. The farthest up-stream met a stubborn resistance from dismounted cavalry, but it was presently driven off by those who had crossed below, where the second effort had met little resistance, and the third none.

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