, 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
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
The turnpike to Fredericksburg
crosses the plain half a mile from the river, and between it and the heights extends the railroad.
'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
, 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
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