frosts so keen, that the roads seemed as firm as adamant, and the teams were moved with celerity.
When we reached that portion of our line in the rear of Falmouth
, a part of the centre grand division not yet in motion, we found that the troops that were encamped in and around Falmouth
, and in fact none of those whose camps were in view of the Confederates
, had changed their position.
This expedition was evidently to be a surprise.
It was declared that though there was a show of force upon the heights behind Fredericksburg
, and apparently the same condition of things as had obtained for weeks was unchanged, yet Lee
had despatched a large force down to Port Royal
, eighteen miles below Franklin's Crossing, apprehending a Federal attack in that quarter, a feint having been made at that point.
He was not deceived by the apparent inactivity of the Federals
Here now was the bulk of Burnside
's army making for Banks
's or Kelly
's Fords above Fredericksburg
It was a splendid day, and mounted and foot made good time over the firm roads.
Auspices were favorable, and rank and file were hopeful of a successful result.
The left grand division at night was in a position back from the ford, and as near as it was practicable to have so large a force and permit the speedy and safe crossing of the river.
The corps were brought together as compactly as was possible and yet allow the unobstructed march of the brigades.
Scarcely had night arrived when a storm arose, a storm in earnest.
It was as though the heavens first frowned upon our enterprise, and then poured wrath upon it. The rain fell in torrents, dissolving the firm crust which had borne us up faithfully all day. The winds rocked the trees spitefully.
Wheels settled down into the oozing mud hours before an attempt was made to move a carriage.
Morning dawned upon a dank, wet body of men in a cheerless wilderness of trees and mud; but with the light there was bustle and activity.
The infantry were soon in column, and moved over the way with comparative ease.
At the same time, by the most strenuous efforts of men and horses, the pieces and caissons, whose wheels were imbedded by their own weight in the camp, were moved to the road to take their places in column.
Now was a desperate attempt to advance, down sank the wheels, down fell