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[371] The task imposed upon them, as upon their predecessors, was beyond the reach of human accomplishment. A thousand of Humphreys' men fell beneath the steady fire of the men of Kershaw, Ransom and Alexander, and added to the horrid harvest of death that already covered all the plain.

Hooker held Sykes' division to cover Humphreys' retreat, while he sent Griffin's division, reinforced by two brigades, up the valley of Hazel run to attempt to turn the right flank, or southern end of the sunken road and its bordering stone wall, and a fierce conflict raged for an hour, at the close of the day, all along the lines of Federal assault. Night ended the bloody conflicts of that raw winter day, which had brought only dire disaster to Burnside's right, where more than 30,000 men; from three different army corps, had been hurled against Longstreet's position, from which 7,000 Georgians and Carolinians had successively beaten them back, strewing their front with nearly 9,000 dead and wounded, while not a Federal soldier had touched the stone wall, fronting the sunken road, that they held in brave defense. When the day ended, the Confederates still held all of their positions, notwithstanding the bold and numerous assaults of the great Federal army of the Potomac. Both armies spent the cold and cheerless winter night where they had formed their lines of battle in the morning.

On the 15th, Burnside intended to renew his attacks upon Lee's positions, especially on his left; but he found all his subordinates bitterly opposed to further assaults, which must inevitably result as had the previous ones. So he abandoned all thought of further conflict and awaited a favorable opportunity for recrossing the Rappahannock, which he found during the storm of that night, leaving behind him 12,653 dead and wounded men, in attestation of their courageous fighting in obedience to his orders.

Lee's loss in this first battle of Fredericksburg was 5,309, mainly on his right, where Jackson had fought outside his slight breastworks. Fifty thousand Federals had been actively engaged in opposition to some 20,000 Confederates. Burnside's flanking movement on Lee's right had been discomfited by Jackson and Stuart, while the assaults on Lee's left, intended to relieve the pressure on Franklin's movement, had only resulted in a fearful loss of life to the Federals, with but a small one to Longstreet's

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