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[570] adopt a different course from that pursued by McClellan. He, therefore, considered himself bound to attack Lee wherever he found him. It required a fortnight to prepare his army. He had determined to cross the Rappahannock at Skinner's Neck, as this point, situated at a distance of twenty kilometres below Falmouth, afforded great facilities for such an operation, and enabled the Federals to avoid the formidable positions of Marye's Heights, which commanded the suburbs of Fredericksburg.

These preparations, however, had not escaped Lee. The entrance of a few Federal gun-boats into the waters of the Lower Rappahannock had attracted his attention, and he had made such disposition of his army as to avoid being turned in that direction. D. H. Hill's division had arrived in the early part of December from the valley of Virginia, where it had remained until then; it was sent to Port Royal, where it exchanged a few cannon-shots with the Union vessels. The remainder of Jackson's corps, of which it now formed a part, was ranged en echelon along a line of considerable length, so as to be able to support the former or to assist Longstreet, as circumstances might require. Ewell's division was at Buckner's Neck, in the vicinity of the Rappahannock; that of A. P. Hill on his left, at Yerby's plantation, near the Massaponax, and Taliaferro in the rear, at Guiney's Station, on the Richmond Railroad. This station had become the principal depot and centre of supplies for the army. At last everything was ready to resist Burnside if he should cross the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg. It is true that the heights on the left bank, known by the name of Stafford Heights, commanded its course; but if the crossing of the river could not be seriously disputed with the Federals, such a reception could be prepared for them on the right bank, a little beyond, as would make them pay dear for this first advantage. During the last three weeks the engineer officers attached to Longstreet's corps had time to fortify his positions, which were formidable in themselves without the aid of art.

Marye's Heights, which command Fredericksburg at the southwest, form two tiers of terraces. The highest, which is the most remote from the town, terminates on one side on the borders of the Rappahannock, at a point called Taylor's Hill, about twentyfive

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