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 come out of Fredericksburg. The canal, prolonged by a deep ditch, and then the wall adjoining the road, and finally the entrenchments which crowned the crest, gave him a triple line of defences. The middle range was protected by its position in the rear of the two wings, and was also fortified by several works. The one on the right was almost as formidable as the first; for its defenders, being concealed among the woods and able to move about unperceived by their adversaries, were admirably posted for observing the latter at a distance in the plain, and crushing them with the fire of their artillery so soon as they should cross the railway track to climb the acclivities which rose to the margin of the wood. In the wood itself the chances would have been more equal, but the knowledge of the roads which traversed it was a great advantage to its defenders. This long line was entirely occupied by Longstreet's corps; Hood, from the elevation on the right, communicated with A. P. Hill at Yerby; Pickett and Ransom occupied the middle range; McLaws and Anderson were encamped in the rear of Marye's Hill and Cemetery Hill, ready to occupy the redoubts planted on the heights with all their artillery; the first named had a brigade in Fredericksburg; the posts of the Second extended along the line of the Rappahannock as far as Bank's Ford. Two cannon-shots were to announce the crossing of the river by the Federals, and at this alarm signal the whole Confederate army was to be under arms. This army, whose supplies were easily obtained through the railroad which connected it directly with Richmond, was then in a better condition for fighting than it had been on the borders of the Potomac or the Shenandoah, or even at Culpepper. A large number of soldiers, who had been taken sick or slightly wounded during the summer, had again joined it, and its ranks were likewise swelled up by the draft, so that it now numbered from eighty to ninety thousand men.1 This was about twenty thousand men less than the Federals had—a difference largely compensated for by the necessity imposed upon the latter of taking the offensive in a country where all the positions can be easily defended.
1 See the state of the situation in the Appendix.
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