It was a splendid scene when the fog lifted December 13, 1862, and revealed on the plains of Fredericksburg
, in martial array, Burnside
's army of 100,000 men and 200 guns confronting the hills crowned with the batteries and bayonets of the Army of Northern Virginia.
That day Early
was put in the most difficult position that ever tests the soldier's metal.
's grand division threw itself upon the Confederate
left and was dashed to pieces against the lines of Marye's Hill.
's grand division was now launched against our right held by Jackson
's Corps, and Early
was just executing orders from Jackson
to hold his division in readiness to move to our right flank, then being threatened.
But there came galloping to him the adjutant of Walker
's Artillery Battalion with the startling information that the enemy had made ‘an awful gulf’ between Archer
's and Lane
's Brigades on our front, and unless immediate assistance came our artillery would be captured.
In this emergency Early
assumed the responsibility of disregarding Jackson
's orders, and instantly advanced to the rescue amidst the shouts of the Confederates
: ‘Here comes old Jubal, he'll straighten that fence.’
And he did straighten it, driving the enemy far out on the plain, and having the satisfaction of presently receiving Jackson
's orders to do just what he had done.
Early commanded the right wing of Lee
's army during the battle of Chancellorsville
, while Lee
with less than half of his numbers.
With his division of four brigades and Barksdale
's Brigade, and the reserve artillery, all told less than 10,000 men. Early held a line four miles long against three corps at
first, then against two, and at last had it out with Sedgwick
The latter, by a sudden rush in the afternoon, captured Marye's Hill, but at dawn next day Early
straightened that fence, and later joined in the assault at Salem Church, which led to the discomfiture and retreat of the enemy.
On the 15th of June, 1863, Lee
telegraphed from his headquarters ‘A dispatch from Ewell
dated 5 A. M. to-day states that Early
's Division stormed the enemy's works at Winchester
, capturing their cannon, etc., with little loss on our side.’
This is the brief summary of the flank movement and brilliant assault suggested and executed by Early
, and of the splendid victory that sent Milroy
routed to Harper's Ferry
and cleared the path for our northern march.