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Chapter 22: crossing the river at Fredericksburg.

The bridge, half completed, stretched out into the river, while the pontoons lined the bank. The artillery on the hill above and to the rear kept throwing shells over the city and now and then one could be seen making its way into the side or roof of a house. Once or twice a terrible shriek was heard, as though a woman had been hit or was bewailing the loss of husband or lover. The poor cow was seen to fall. Flames and smoke burst from many buildings in various parts of the city. The crackling of flames and the crashing of falling walls sometimes broke the monotony of the cannonade, the echoes of which beat up against the Falmouth bluff, rolled back beyond the town and then from the distant hills once more swelled over as though the heavens were rent asunder.

The instant the batteries ceased firing, the men of the Seventh Michigan and the Nineteenth Massachusetts took to the boats, twenty in each, and poled across the river under a heavy musketry fire from the enemy.

Crack! Crack! Crack! from a hundred lurking places went the rebel shots at the brave fellows, who, stooping low in the boats, sought to avoid the fire. The murderous work was well done. Lustily the men pushed on the poles, however, and presently, having passed the middle of the stream, the boats and their gallant freight came under the cover of the opposite banks.

Two companies of the Seventh Michigan were the first to make a landing as they had used the boats which were nearest to the end of the uncompleted bridge. They were led by Lieut. Col. Baxter who was struck by a shell as he climbed the bank on the Fredericksburg side. As the men appeared above the bank, the rebels emerged from cellar, rifle pit and stone wall, like so many rats and by the hundreds scampered off up the

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Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
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Samuel Baxter (1)
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