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[368] Hooker, with his two grand divisions, down the river plain to reinforce Franklin for the great assault that he proposed to make on Jackson at 1 of the afternoon. At the same time he was ordering Sumner's troops, hesitating under the withering fire from the crest and from the foot of Marye's hill, to advance from the cover of the streets of Fredericksburg, of the embankments of the railway, and of the water-power canal, in a vain attempt to capture the batteries of the Washington artillery and of Alexander, then steadily belching destruction from the Marye hill. The broken plain between Fredericksburg and the sunken Telegraph road, with its stone fence in front and its battery-crowned ridge above, was swept by a cross-fire of heavy guns from front and from right and left.

French's division, of Sumner's corps, led the Federal advance toward Marye's heights along two of the streets of Fredericksburg. The head of these columns came into the Confederate view at about 11 o'clock. They marched across the canal bridges, then wheeled into line of battle, and with brigade front, at intervals of 200 yards, moved forward, under cover of the fire of long range guns from Stafford heights. The cannon from Marye's hill, at point-blank range, gashed them in front; those from Stanbury's hill, on the extreme Confederate left, raked them on their right; while those on Lee's hill, near the Confederate center, raked them on their left. Closing up from the death-dealing, long-range missiles, the brave Federal soldiery pressed forward toward the foot of Marye's heights, only to be met by a withering blaze of musketry from the 2,000 riflemen of Georgia and North Carolina that Gen. T. R. R. Cobb held in command, in the sunken road behind the stone fence at the foot of the heights, and by a like fierce fire from muskets behind earthworks along the face of the hill above them. In this rash assault 1,200 of these brave men fell, dead and wounded, and the living were forced to give way. Hancock's division then followed to assault, in like gallant style, which Ransom, who had succeeded Cobb, who fell in meeting the first Federal onset, met by adding another regiment to those already in position. Hancock's fierce attack, in three courageous lines of battle, was met by a Confederate yell, and by a sheeted infantry fire that was reserved until his front was but a few hundred yards

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