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Chapter 5: the battle of Fredericksburg

The weather was cool and the air crisp, rendering marching more agreeable, and we jogged along in eager anticipation of something better than that which we had left. We could see nothing ahead of us, but about noon the report of cannon was heard. During the afternoon we were passed by a lot of men having in charge a balloon which was up just above the treetops They were moving rapidly toward where the sound of cannon came from. It was the first balloon we had seen, and created a good deal of comment. It was said that the balloon had been of great service to McClellan on the Peninsula, enabling him to discover the movements of the enemy's troops, and locate their position, and that of their batteries. The next day when we reached the flat near the Rappahannock, we saw the balloon again up a considerable distance and occupied by an officer who was busily engaged in scanning the hills beyond the river with a glass. The Rebels fired several shells at the balloon but they burst a good way from it, and did not disturb its occupant at all.

Off to our right there was heavy artillery firing and considerable musketry, and some also in our immediate front. The Rebel batteries answered ours occasionally but the range was evidently too great for effective work. We could see the spires of Fredericksburg and back of it a range of hills which reached from right to left as far as we could

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