but a few hundred yards wide.
These fearless fighters, under the protection of the heavy walls of old colonial warehouses, shops and dwellings of brick and stone that fringed the south bank of the river, shot down repeated advances of the Federal
pontoon builders, and frustrated nine successive attempts to lay the bridges, until the Federal
commander, exasperated by the delay, turned loose his batteries upon the devoted town, and, amid flame and smoke and the fierce contention of sharpshooters, succeeded in crossing a body of infantry, which forced back Barksdale
's men from the river and enabled him to lay his pontoons and commence the crossing of his army, but not until darkness had come.
's brave riflemen, by their tenacious contention, had snatched a day from the victory-anticipating Burnside
Under cover of the darkness of the night of the 11th and of the dense winter fog of the next morning,45,500 infantrymen and 16 guns, under Franklin
, crossed the pontoon bridges at Deep run
, below Fredericksburg
, and spread themselves a few miles along the line of the railway to Richmond
running through the broad bottom lands south of the Rappahannock
; while Sumner
led 31,000 into Fredericksburg
by the upper pontoon.
As the day of December 12th advanced and the fog lifted, and Lee
looked out from the high hill in the center of his position, which he had chosen for his headquarters, and saw this great host stretching for miles in his front, and to his right, in brave battle array, he knew at once that Burnside
had adopted the perilous plan of a direct attack, which he had already made preparations to meet by the construction of a military road and the throwing up of protecting intrenchments for his artillery as well as his infantry.
He promptly directed Jackson
to concentrate his men on the right of the army and take command of the right wing. Capt. J. P. Smith
, of Jackson
's staff, rode, late in the day, 18 miles, to D. H. Hill
's headquarters, down the river, and by marching over the same 18 miles that night, that capable commander brought his men into position, on Jackson
's right, by dawn of the 13th; and by so doing before Burnside
was ready to begin his assault, Lee
was ready to receive it.
Not aware of the fleet-footedness of Jackson
's men, and supposing from the information he had gathered by aerial reconnoissances, with balloons, that a large portion of