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Chapter 17: preparations about Fredericksburg.

On the afternoon of the 19th, after leaving Lawton's brigade at Boteler's Ford, I marched with the three other brigades on the road towards Martinsburg, about six miles from Shepherdstown, and bivouacked.

During the night the enemy had succeeded in crossing the Potomac and capturing four of General Pendleton's guns near Shepherdstown, and on the morning of the 20th I was ordered to move back to Boteler's Ford. On arriving near there, by order of General Jackson, my three brigades were formed in line of battle in rear of General A. P. Hill's division which had preceded me, and were moving against the force of the enemy which had crossed over to the south bank. My three brigades were posted in pieces of woods on each side of the road leading towards the ford, and remained there within range of the enemy's guns on the opposite side until late in the afternoon. In the meantime Hill's division advanced, under a heavy fire of artillery from across the river, and drove the enemy's infantry on the southern bank pell-mell into the river, inflicting upon him a very severe punishment for his rashness in undertaking to pursue us and making him pay very dearly for the guns he had taken. One officer in my command, Captain Frazier of the 15th Alabama Regiment,--the only regimental commander in Trimble's brigade who had not been killed or wounded at Sharpsburg,--was severely wounded by a shell, which was all the damage I sustained.

Late in the afternoon, I was ordered to move back, and that night we marched to the vicinity of the Opequon not far above its mouth. We remained at this position until the 24th, when we moved across the Opequon to the Williamsport pike, and on the next day to the vicinity of Martinsburg. On the 27th, General Jackson's whole [163] command was moved to Bunker Hill on the road from Martinsburg to Winchester, and went into camp in that vicinity. By this time our baggage wagons, which had been sent from Manassas to the valley, when we moved into Maryland, had reached us.

We were now able to obtain supplies of flour, by threshing wheat, of which there was a good supply in the valley, and having it ground. While our camps were located at Bunker Hill, Jackson's command destroyed the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from North Mountain to within five miles of Harper's Ferry, which latter place had been re-occupied by the enemy. More than twenty miles of the road was thus destroyed, and it was done effectively. The Winchester & Potomac Railroad was also destroyed to within a short distance of the Ferry. Previous t6 this there was a slight engagement between the Stonewall brigade of Jackson's division and a small force of the enemy on the railroad near Kearneysville, but the enemy did not make a serious effort to molest us, either while we were engaged in destroying the railroad or subsequently.

The Army of Northern Virginia was now organized into two regular corps of four divisions each, General Longstreet being assigned to the command of the first corps, and General Jackson to the command of the second corps, both with the rank of Lieutenant General. D. H Hill's division was attached to the second corps, and two divisions were formed out of Longstreet's, D. R. Jones' and Hood's divisions, under the command of Generals Pickett and Hood respectively, they having been promoted. The first corps consisted of the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, Pickett and Hood, and the second corps of the divisions of Ewell, D. H. Hill, A. P. Hill, and Jackson (EWell's division being under my command and Jackson's under J. R. Jones).

For some time the second corps remained camped near Bunker Hill, and the first corps was camped in the vicinity of Winchester.

McClellan in the meantime had concentrated the [164] main body of his army on the north bank of the Potomac near Harper's Ferry, and was engaged in preparing for a new campaign into Virginia, while Maryland and Bolivar Heights were very strongly fortified by him.

A short time after the middle of October, General Stuart, with a portion of his cavalry, made a successful expedition through Maryland and Pennsylvania to the rear of and around McClellan's army.

Towards the last of October McClellan began to move across the Potomac on the east side of the Blue Ridge, with a view to another approach to Richmond. His army had been largely recruited, and superbly equipped. The army of General Lee had been considerably increased by the return of stragglers and convalescents, but it continued to be indifferently supplied with clothing and shoes, of which articles there was a great deficiency.

As soon as McClellan's movement was ascertained, Jackson's corps was moved towards the Shenandoah, occupying positions between Charlestown and Berryville, and one division of Longstreet's corps was sent across the Blue Ridge to watch the enemy. When the enemy began to move eastwardly from the mountain, the whole of Longstreet's corps moved across the ridge for the purpose of intercepting his march. D. H. Hill's division of Jackson's corps was subsequently moved across the ridge to watch the enemy's movements. A. P. Hill's division had been put in position near Berryville, covering the Shenandoah, at Snicker's or Castleman's Ferry, where it had an engagement with a body of the enemy that had crossed the ridge as McClellan was moving on. Ewell's division (under my command) was at first posted on A. P. Hill's left, near a church, while Jackson's division was on the Berryville and Charlestown pike in my rear, but as the enemy's covered our front I moved above, first to Millwood, and then to Stone Bridge, near White Post, and Jackson's division moved to the vicinity of the Occoquon between the positions of the other divisions and Winchester. [165]

After the enemy had left the vicinity of the Blue Ridge, D. H. Hill's division recrossed the ridge and moved up on the east side of the Shenandoah to the vicinity of Front Royal. While my camp was at Stone Bridge, my division destroyed the Manassas Gap Railroad from Front Royal to Piedmont on the east side of the Blue Ridge, a distance of twenty miles, and D. H. Hill's division destroyed it from Front Royal to Strasburg.

In the meantime McClellan's army had been concentrated in the vicinity of Warrenton, and McClellan had been succeeded in the command by Burnside. Longstreet had previously taken position at or near Culpeper Court-House.

About the 15th of November Burnside began the movement of his army towards the lower Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg. When this movement was discovered Longstreet's corps was moved towards Fredericksburg to dispute the enemy's crossing, and orders were sent to General Jackson to move his corps across the Blue Ridge. This movement of the latter corps began about the 20th of November, and we moved up the valley to New Market and then across Massanutten Mountain, the Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge to the vicinity of Madison Court-House. The weather had now become quite cool, and our daily marches were long and rapid, and very trying to the men. On this march I saw a number of our men without shoes, and with bleeding feet wrapped with rags. We remained in the vicinity of Madison Court-House for two or three days, and it was here that General Jackson wore, for the first time, a new regulation coat with the wreath, and a hat, and his appearance in them caused no little remark and amusement among the men. His dress hitherto had been a rusty grey coat, intended for a colonel, and a little dingy cloth cap which lay flat on his head, or rather forehead.

From Madison Court-House we moved past Orange [166] Court-House and along the plank road to the vicinity of Fredericksburg, arriving there on the 1st of December.

Longstreet's corps was found guarding the Rappahannock against Burnside's army which had concentrated on the opposite bank. My division was moved to the vicinity of Guiney's depot on the R., F. & P. Railroad, as was Jackson's. After remaining here two or three days, I was ordered to move towards Port Royal to support D. H. Hill, whose division had been ordered to the vicinity of that place, to watch some gun-boats there and prevent a crossing. Port Royal is some eighteen or twenty miles below Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock. I first took position some six or eight miles from Port Royal on the road from Guiney's depot, but subsequently moved to the vicinity of Buckner's Neck on the Rappahannock a few miles above Port Royal, for the purpose of watching the river and acting in concert with General Hill. The latter, by the use of one Whitworth gun and some other artillery, had driven the enemy's gunboats from Port Royal, and in revenge they fired into the houses in the little village of Port Royal and some others below as they passed down the river.

While I was watching the river at Buckner's Neck, which is in a bend of the river, and commanded by high ground on the opposite side, so as to afford a good position for forcing a passage, the enemy hauled some timbers to a place called the Hop Yard on the northern bank, as if for the purpose of constructing a bridge at that place, but this proved a feint. Jackson's division had been left near Guiney's depot, and A. P. Hill's had been camped in rear of Hamilton's Crossing for the purpose of supporting Longstreet's right, which rested at the latter place. The different divisions of Jackson's corps were thus posted, immediately preceding the battle of Fredericksburg.

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