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Letter from Gen. Early.


To the Editors of the Enquirer:

Hamilton's Crossing, May 11, 1863.
Gentlemen:
The statements of correspondents ignorant of the real facts, or writing in the interests of particular commands, too often form the basis of newspaper comments and of public opinion in regard to military operations; and events follow so rapidly on the heels of each other that first impressions rarely give way to more correct views founded on authentic accounts. This consideration induces me to place on record a correction of one or two of the misrepresentations contained in communications to several of the Richmond papers from correspondents at Fredericksburg, in regard to the capture of Marye's Hill, on the 3d inst.

It is stated in these communications that Barksdale's brigade was left without support to defend the heights in rear of Fredericksburg, and a line of two miles in length. The fact is, that when informed at light on the morning of the 3d by Gen. Barksdale that the enemy had thrown a bridge across Fredericksburg, I immediately sent Hays's Louisiana brigade to his assistance, and Gen. Wilcox, with three regiments of his brigade, came down from above. This left only three brigades on the long and comparatively weak line from the heights in rear of Fredericksburg to the mouth of the Massaponax to confront the heavy column of the enemy on this side at the month of Deep Run, while there were two brigades and three regiments of another to defend the strong and comparatively short line in rear of and above Fredericksburg. Barksdale's brigade occupied the position which was strongest in natural and artificial defences, and was better guarded by artillery than any other. There were no reserves for any part of the line, which extended over several miles, and military men will understand the difficulties of the position. Without meaning to cast censure on Barksdale's brigade, even by implication, I will state that my division did not lose Marye's Hill, but one of my brigades (Gordon's, formerly Lawton's,) recaptured it before 9 o'clock on the next morning, and three of my brigades (Hays's, Hoke's, and Gordon's,) bore the brunt of the fight when the enemy was driven back across the river, Barksdale's brigade and Smith's, of my own division, having been left to keep the enemy in check from the direction of Fredericksburg. Having done all in my power to avert the disaster, and to arrest and retrieve it, I am willing to abide the judgement of the commanding General upon my own conduct and that of my division.

Respectfully,

J. A. Early, Maj. Gen. P. A. C. S.

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