previous next
[94] with Jackson, and Stuart's cavalry and horse artillery, on the east; the sublimely bold, but humanly hopeless and cruelly fruitless assault of the Federal right and centre upon the heights behind Fredericksburg, held by Longstreet's corps.

Of the latter, where a division went into the fight 6,000 strong, and at night its general could count but 1,500; where desperate valor, never surpassed on any field, made its six frantic dashes against an almost impregnable position; where 6,000 men fell before a fatal stone-wall,—history has already spoken with a sense of the hopeless inadequacy of descriptive language. Concerning the former, in which the contestants fought upon more nearly equal terms, we venture with no little trepidation to pen a line.

The heights behind Fredericksburg, which at that place are perhaps one third of a mile from the river, take below the town a gradually southeastern course farther and farther from the river, having to the east of the town, between them and the river, an extended plain, perhaps six miles long, and in width, from the river bank to their base, varying from half a mile to two miles. The heights themselves diminish in elevation toward the southeast, finally losing themselves in a low region called Massaponax Valley. These heights were thickly wooded, and upon them were the Confederate batteries. On the Confederate right was Early, with Walker's artillery in front and Stuart's cavalry and horse artillery on his right. On the left and nearer to Fredericksburg was A. P. Hill, and behind him D. H. Hill in reserve. The turnpike to Fredericksburg crosses the plain half a mile from the river, and between it and the heights extends the railroad.

Confronting Early and Stuart was Reynold's corps, with the Pennsylvania Reserves on the extreme left. Opposed to A. P. Hill was the Sixth Corps, with Brooks's division on the right, with the batteries of Williston, Hexamer, Walcott, and McCartney, the last named being supported by the Fifth Maine Infantry.

The plan of the attack as determined on the previous night, 12th, was for Franklin with his force and a part of Hooker's to make the attack in force on the left, while Gen. Sumner's attack upon the heights behind the town was to depend upon Franklin's success. A misinterpretation of instructions received by Gen. Franklin on the morning of the 13th, however, it is said, led that general to conclude that the commander in chief had altered

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (4)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
J. E. B. Stuart (3)
A. P. Hill (2)
W. B. Franklin (2)
Early (2)
E. B. Williston (1)
Ira Walker (1)
Walcott (1)
Sumner (1)
Reynold (1)
William H. McCartney (1)
Longstreet (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
Joe Hooker (1)
D. H. Hill (1)
Hexamer (1)
W. T. H. Brooks (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
13th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: