This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 larger dimensions, called the Massaponax, leave a width of from two to three kilometres to the plain adjoining the Rappahannock. A third tributary of the latter, Deep Run, pursues its winding course, after intersecting the arc of the wooded hills, through a deep hollow. The turnpike and the railway from Aquia Creek to Richmond followed this plain in the direction of the river, after crossing from the left to the right bank over two wooden bridges, which were destroyed at the time of which we speak, and passing through a portion of the town of Fredericksburg. The roads leading to Orange Court-house and Spottsylvania Court-house, on leaving this town, ascended directly upon Marye's Heights, and soon separated, one running westward, the other southward. The heights on the left bank throughout the entire extent of the ground we have just described completely commanded the opposite bank. Consequently, as soon as Sumner had established himself there on the 17th, he found it easy to silence a Confederate battery of light artillery, which had commenced firing upon his heads of column from across the river. Fredericksburg lay below him; and with the exception of this battery and a few detachments of infantry and cavalry, no enemy was there to dispute its possession. The water in the Rappahannock was low, and the fords, although extremely difficult, were yet passable. Sumner would have desired to take advantage of this to establish himself at once on the right bank, but a formal order forbade his crossing the river. Besides, the possession of Fredericksburg was of no importance unless he had taken possession of Marye's Heights at the same time, and had the means of defending them against Lee, who would not fail to come over at once and dispute their occupancy. Without bridges he could not, in the middle of winter, place at his back a river subject to sudden freshets, and he had to wait for the remainder of the army, which had started on the 16th. Burnside, with Franklin's grand division, arrived at Falmouth on the 19th. Hooker's troops had reached the village of Hartwood on the same day; and the latter general asked permission of his chief to cross the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg, to bear to the north-west and occupy Marye's Heights. With a bridge equipage this operation would have been safe and
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.