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[268]

Those of us who had not emerged from the cut had no idea what the cause was, but soon the word was passed along: ‘Put on your breeches, quick.’ Between the two rivers there is an elevated plateau, about fifteen acres in extent, which rises some ten feet above the surrounding surface.

It was almost square. On the plateau stood a little village, the most picturesque place the writer remembers ever to have seen. Around the bluff of the little village there was a plank fence, along which the entire population stood, waiting to see Jackson's foot cavalry pass. Therefore, when the head of the column came in view of the people, the boys fled in disorder.

We finally arrived at Rapidan and crossed the river. I think it was the 15th of November. After reaching the south bank the brigade halted in a scrubby woods, and stood on the roadside while a brigade of cavalry passed. The Mississippians indulged in every species of exasperating criticisms, and declared there were no Yankees ahead, otherwise the cavalry would not be marching to the front.

The men were in a laughing mood, notwithstanding sleet was falling and the ground was covered with snow.

After the troopers had gone, we resumed the march. While watching the cavalry pass our clothing was freezing. It may seem strange how men endured the cold, but they did. The march was kept up almost constantly until we reached Fredericksburg, where Barksdale's Brigade went into camp along the edge of a woods, but were not allowed to build fires. It was a desperate night. The. ground was covered with snow to a depth of several inches and the trees with sleet. Very few men had blankets, and the boys huddled together in piles to prevent freezing.

A few days after reaching Fredericksburg, Barksdale's Brigade moved into the city and picketed the river from a little place called Falmouth to a point below, where Deep Run creek empties into the Rappahannock. The Federal army was camped on the opposite shore.

It has been said that ‘Military history is the repository of inspirations and of genius, and also of excessive follies.’ It may also be said, therefore, that it would be difficult for a commander to commit a blunder which cannot be matched by precedent.

What General Burnside expected to accomplish by taking up position opposite Fredericksburg we do not know, but certainly he did not anticipate such a result as followed. It may be that he expected

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