Chapter 18: battle of Fredericksburg.
is located on the southern bank of the Rappahannock River
at the head of tide water, and the river is navigable to that point for steamboats and small vessels.
On the northern bank, opposite, above, and below Fredericksburg
, are what are called the Stafford Heights
, which are close to the river, and completely command the southern bank.
's exact location is on a narrow strip of low land between the river and a range of hills in the rear.
These hills leaving the river opposite the small village of Falmouth
, which is a short distance above Fredericksburg
and on the northern bank, diverge from it below, and gradually declining, extend nearly to the Massaponix Creek
, which empties into the river four or five miles below the town.
The river flats or bottoms immediately below Fredericksburg
widen out considerably and continue to widen until they are from one and a half to two miles in width at the lower end of the range of hills, where they unite with similar but not so wide flats on the Massaponix, which extend back for some distance in rear of the range of hills mentioned.
Below the mouth of the Massaponix there are other hills which approach near to the bank of the river, and extend down it for a considerable distance.
, rising southeast of Fredericksburg
, runs through the range of hills along a narrow valley, or ravine rather, and passing close on the east of the town, empties into the river.
rises below in the range of hills, and runs across the wide bottoms through a deep channel likewise into the river, something over a mile below the town.
The hills just in rear of the town were, at the time of which I am speaking, nearly denuded of growing timber, but below, to the end of the range, they were for the most part covered with woods.
bottoms were entirely cleared and in cultivation, furnishing several extensive farms, and up Deep Run
to its sources is a valley making a large re-entering angle in the line of hills, which valley was then also cleared and in cultivation.
From the town a road, called the Telegraph Road
, runs south, crossing Hazel Run
and then ascending the hills passes towards Richmond
by the way of Hanover Junction
Another road called the Plank Road
ascends the hills above Hazel Run
and runs westward by Chancellorsville
to Orange Court-House
. A third road, called the River Road
, runs from the lower end of the town, crossing Hazel Run
and Deep Run
, and, passing through the bottoms about half way from the river to the foot of the hills, in a direction very nearly parallel to the river, it crosses the Massaponix not far above its mouth, where it forks, one fork going to Port Royal
below and the other by Bowling Green
in the direction of Richmond
This is a wide road, and where it passes through the bottoms there were on both sides high, thick, and firm embankments thrown up for fences or enclosures to the adjacent fields.
The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, leaving the Potomac
at the mouth of Aquia Creek
, crosses the river into Fredericksburg
and then runs through the bottoms below the town between the river road and the hills, which latter it approaches closely at their lower end, and then passes around at their foot to take the direction to Richmond
Just at the rear of the foot of the lower end of the hills, a country road leading from the Telegraph Road
and passing along the east of the ridge crosses the railroad to get into the River Road
, and this is called “Hamilton
's crossing,” from a gentleman of that name formerly residing near the place.
A canal runs from the river along the foot of the hills above the town to the rear of it, for the purpose of supplying water to several mills and factories in it,
and this canal connects by a drain ditch with Hazel Run
, over which ditch the Plank Road
What is called Marye's Heights
lies between Hazel Run
and the Plank Road
, and at the foot of it is a stone wall, behind which and next to the hill, the Telegraph Road
Above Marye's Hill on the east of the Plank Road
are what are called, respectively, Cemetery, Stansbury
's and Taylor's Hills, all overlooking the canal.
In rear of these hills and overlooking and commanding them are higher eminences.
On the east of Hazel Run
and the Telegraph Road
is quite a high hill farther back than Marye's Hill and overlooking it and nearly the whole ground, to which the name of Lee's Hill
has been given, because it was the position generally occupied by General Lee
during the battle.
's army had taken position on and in rear of Stafford Heights
, and the heights themselves, from Falmouth
to a point very nearly opposite the mouth of the Massaponix, were covered with numerous batteries of heavy guns, while the nature of the ground was such as to afford easy access to the river by his troops.
's corps occupied the hills in rear of Fredericksburg
to Hamilton's Crossing
, and positions for some distance above, while strong pickets were established in the town and on the river bank above and below to watch the enemy and impede a crossing.
It was impossible to resist successfully a crossing, as the river is only between two and three hundred yards wide, and the banks are so deep, and the river so accessible, on the north bank by means of ravines running into it, that our artillery, posted on the hills occupied by our troops, could not play upon the bridges either during the progress of the construction or afterwards, while the enemy's batteries were able, by a concentrated fire, to drive off the small bodies watching the river, or to prevent any aid being sent to them over the wide open plains formed by the bottoms.
In addition to all
this, the bottoms towards the lower end of our lines were so wide that we had no guns which would do effective firing across them, while the enemy's heavy guns from the north bank of the river completely swept the whole of our front, and reached over beyond our line.
On the morning of the 11th of December the enemy commenced his movement, and by the use of his artillery drove the regiments which were guarding the river from its banks after an obstinate resistance, and succeeded in laying down their pontoon bridges, one at the mouth of Deep Creek
, and the other two at Fredericksburg
The first was laid early in the afternoon, but the latter two not until near night, and during night and the next day the enemy crossed in heavy force.
On the afternoon of the 12th I received an order from General Jackson
to move at once to the vicinity of Hamilton's Crossing
, which I did by marching nearly all night, and a short — time before day I bivouacked some two miles in rear of the crossing where the division had a little time to rest.
At light on the morning of the 13th I moved up to the crossing, and found our army in position confronting the enemy.
's line had been constructed from the right, and General A. P. Hill
's division, which was much the largest in Jackson
's corps, now occupied the right of the line which rested near the crossing.
He was in the front skirts of the woods which covered the hills, and on his left was Hood
On the right of Hill
's line was a small hill cleared on the side next the enemy, on which were posted some fourteen pieces of artillery under Lieutenant Colonel Walker
, which were supported by Field
's brigade, under Colonel Brockenborough
, while Archer
's brigade was on the left of the guns.
's left there was an interval of several hundred yards in front of which was a low flat marshy piece of woodland extending across the railroad out into the bottom which was supposed to be impracticable, and was therefore not covered by any body of troops, but Gregg
's brigade was posted in reserve
in rear of this interval, without, however, being in the line of battle.
On the left of the interval were the other three brigades of A. P. Hill
's division, Lane
's brigade being next to it, but in advance of the general line a considerable number of pieces of artillery were posted along the left of Hill
's line, but they were on low and unfavorable ground, as there were no good positions for guns on that part of the line.
On my arrival, my division was posted on a second line several hundred yards in rear of A. P. Hill
's, with Jackson
's, now under Brigadier General Taliaferro
, on my left.
My right rested on the railroad at the crossing, and extended along the ridge road, which here crossed the railroad, for a short distance and then into the woods on my left.
' brigade was on my right, with Trimble
's brigade under Colonel R. F. Hoke
immediately in its rear, Lawton
's brigade under Colonel N. N. Atkinson
in the centre, and my own brigade under Colonel J. A. Walker
on the left.
In this position there was a thick woods intervening between my division and the enemy, and the consequence was that he was entirely excluded from our view as we were from his. D. H. Hill
's division, which had followed mine from below, was posted in a third line in the open ground in my rear beyond the hills.
The weak point in our position was on our right, as there was the wide open plain in front of it extending to the river and perfectly covered and swept by the enemy's heavy batteries on the opposite heights, and to the right, extending around to our rear, were the open flats of the Massaponix, here quite wide and incapable of being covered by any position we could take.
There was very great danger of our right being turned by the enemy's pushing a heavy column down the river across the Massaponix.
The plains on that flank were watched by Stuart
with two brigades of cavalry and his horse artillery.
A heavy fog had concealed the two armies from each
other during the early morning, but about nine o'clock it began to rise, and then the artillery fire opened, which was just as my division was moving into position.
The enemy's fire at first was not directed towards the place where my division was posted, but after a short interval the shells began to fall in our vicinity, and the division remained exposed to a random but quite galling cannonading for two or three hours.
Shortly after noon we heard in our front a very heavy musketry fire, and soon a courier from General Archer
came to the rear in search of General A. P. Hill
, stating that General Archer
was very heavily pressed and wanted reinforcements.
Just at that moment, a staff officer rode up with an order to me from General Jackson
, to hold my division in readiness to move to the right promptly, as the enemy was making a demonstration in that direction.
This caused me to hesitate about sending a brigade to Archer
's assistance, but to be prepared to send it if necessary, I ordered Colonel Atkinson
to get his brigade ready to advance, and the order had been hardly given, before the adjutant of Walker
's battalion of artillery came galloping to the rear with the information that the interval on Archer
's left (an awful gulf as he designated it) had been penetrated by heavy columns of the enemy, and that Archer
's brigade and all our batteries on the right would inevitably be captured unless there was instant relief.
This was so serious an emergency that I determined to act upon it at once notwithstanding the previous directions from General Jackson
to hold my division in readiness for another purpose, and I accordingly ordered Atkinson
to advance with his brigade.
I was then entirely unacquainted with the ground in front, having been able when I first got up to take only a hasty glance at the country to our right, and I asked Lieutenant Chamberlain
's adjutant, to show the brigade the direction to advance.
In reply he stated that the column of the enemy which had penetrated our line
was immediately in front of the brigade I had ordered forward, and that by going right ahead there could be no mistake.
The brigade, with the exception of one regiment, the 13th Georgia, which did not hear the order, accordingly moved off in handsome style through the woods, but as it did so Lieutenant Chamberlain
informed me that it would not be sufficient to cover the entire gap in our line, and I ordered Colonel Walker
to advance immediately with my own brigade on the left of Atkinson
The enemy's column in penetrating the interval mentioned had turned Archer
's left and Lane
's right, while they were attacked in front, causing Archer
's left and Lane
's entire brigade to give way, and one column had encountered Gregg
's brigade, which, being taken somewhat by surprise, was thrown into partial confusion, resulting in the death of General Gregg
, but the brigade was rallied and maintained its ground.
's brigade advancing rapidly and gallantly under Colonel Atkinson
, encountered that column of the enemy which had turned Archer
's left, in the woods on the hill in rear of the line, and by a brilliant charge drove it back down the hill, across the railroad, and out into the open plains beyond, advancing so far as to cause a portion of one of the enemy's batteries to be abandoned.
The brigade, however, on getting out into the open plain came under the fire of the enemy's heavy guns, and the approach of a fresh and heavy column on its right rendered it necessary that it should retire, which it did under orders from Colonel Evans
, who had succeeded to the command by reason of Atkinson
's being severely wounded.
Two of Brockenborough's regiments from the right participated in the repulse of the enemy.
advanced, at a double quick, further to the left, encountering one of the columns which had penetrated the interval, and by a gallant and resolute charge he drove it back out of the woods across the railroad into the open plains beyond, when, seeing another column of the enemy crossing the railroad on his left, he fell back
to the line of the road, and then deployed the 13th Virginia Regiment to the left, and ordered it to advance under cover of the timbers to attack the advancing column on its flank.
This attack was promptly made and Thomas
' brigade, attacking in front at the same time, the enemy was driven back with heavy loss.
As soon as Atkinson
had been ordered forward, Hoke
was ordered to move his brigade to the left of Hays
, but before he got into position, I received a message stating that Archer
's brigade was giving way and I ordered Hoke
to move forward at once to Archer
's support, obliquing to the right as he moved.
Just as Hoke
started, I received an order from General Jackson
, by a member of his staff, to advance to the front with the whole division, and Hays
' brigade was at once ordered forward in support of Hoke
The 13th Georgia Regiment which had been left behind on the advance of Lawton
's brigade was ordered to follow Hoke
's brigade and unite with it.
found a body of the enemy in the woods in rear of Archer
's line on the left, where the regiments on that flank, which had been attacked in rear, had given way, but Archer
still held the right with great resolution, though his ammunition was exhausted.
Upon a gallant charge, by the brigade under Hoke
, the enemy was driven out of the woods upon his reserves posted on the railroad in front, and then by another charge, in which General Archer
participated, the railroad was cleared and the enemy was pursued to a fence some distance beyond, leaving in our hands a number of prisoners, and a large number of small arms on the field.
The movements of the three brigades engaged have been described separately from the necessity of the case, but they were all engaged at the same time, though they went into action separately and in the order in which they have been mentioned, and Lawton
's brigade had advanced further out into the plains than either of the others.
On riding to the front, I directed Lawton
's brigade, which was retiring, to be re-formed in the woods-Colonel Atkinson
had been left in front severely wounded and he fell into the enemy's hands.
Captain E. P. Lawton
, Assistant Adjutant General
of the brigade, a most gallant and efficient officer, had also been left in front at the extreme point to which the brigade advanced, mortally wounded, and he likewise fell into the enemy's hands.
I discovered that Hoke
had got too far to the front where he was exposed to the enemy's artillery, and also to a flank movement on his right, and I sent an order for him to retire to the original line, which he did, anticipating the order by commencing to retire before it reached him. Two of his regiments and a small battalion were left to occupy the line of the railroad where there was cover for them and his other two regiments, along with the 13th Georgia, which had not been engaged, were put in the slight trenches previously occupied by Archer
continued to hold the position on the railroad which he had taken after repulsing the enemy.
's brigade was sent to the rear for the purpose of resting and replenishing its ammunition.
' brigade, which had advanced in rear of Hoke
, had not become engaged, but in advancing to the front it had been exposed to a severe shelling which the enemy began, as his attacking columns were retiring in confusion before my advancing brigades.
was posted in rear of Hoke
for the purpose of strengthening the right in the event of another advance.
When I had discovered Lawton
's brigade retiring, I sent to General D. H. Hill
for reinforcements for fear that the enemy might again pass through the unprotected interval, and he sent me two brigades, but before they arrived Brigadier General Paxton
, who occupied the right of Taliaferro
's line, had covered the interval by promptly moving his brigade into it.
The enemy was very severely punished for this attack,
which was made by Franklin
's grand division, and he made no further attack on our right.
During this engagement and subsequently there were demonstrations against A. P. Hill
's left and Hood
's right which were repulsed without difficulty.
Beginning in the forenoon and continuing until nearly dark, there were repeated and desperate assaults made by the enemy from Fredericksburg
against the positions at Marye's Hill and the one to our right of it, but they were repulsed with terrible slaughter, mainly by the infantry from Longstreet
's corps posted behind the stone wall at the foot of Mayre's Hill, and the artillery on that, and on the neighboring heights.
The loss to the enemy here was much heavier than that on our right, while our own loss at the same point was comparatively slight.
My two brigades, Trimble
's under Hoke
, and my own under Walker
, and the 13th Georgia Regiment held their positions on the front until night, while Hays
retained his position immediately in rear of Hoke
, but there was no further attack made on that part of the line, or on any part of Hill
's front, except the demonstrations on his left which have been mentioned and which resulted in some skirmishing and artillery firing.
When my division was first put in position on the second line as described, having no use for my artillery, I ordered Captain J. W. Latimer
, my acting chief of artillery, to report to Colonel Crutchfield
, Chief of Artillery
for the Corps
, with the six batteries attached to the division, to-wit: Carrington
's, and his own. Of these Brown
's and Latimer
's were posted on Hill
's left, under the immediate charge of Captain Latimer
, and did most effective service, and D'Aquin
's and Garber
's were sent to Major Pelham
's Chief of Artillery
, on the right, where they likewise did good service, Captain D'Aquin
losing his life while taking part in the artillery firing in that quarter.
Just before sunset of the day of the battle, after having seen that all was quiet in my front, I rode
a little to the rear and discovered General D. H. Hill
's division moving to the front through the woods.
On my inquiring the meaning of the movement, General Colquitt
, in command of the front brigade, informed me that orders had been given for the advance of the whole line, and that Hill
's division was ordered to advance in support.
General D. H. Hill
himself rode up in a few minutes, and confirmed the information.
This was the first intimation I had received of the order, as it had not reached me. While General Hill
and myself were speaking of the matter, Lieutenant Morrison
, aidede-camp to General Jackson
, rode up and stated that the General
's orders were that I should hold my command in readiness to advance; and immediately afterwards one of my own staff officers came to me with the information that General Jackson
wished me to take command of all the troops on the right and advance, regulating the distance to which I should go, by the effect produced on the enemy by our artillery which was to open.
I rode immediately to where Hoke
's brigade was posted and found General Jackson
himself, who repeated in person the orders to me, stating that I was to advance in support of some artillery which he was about to send forward.
I informed him of the condition of my command, the separation of Walker
from the rest, the fact of Lawton
's brigade being in the rear, and that Hoke
's and Hays
' brigades and the 13th Georgia were the only troops immediately available.
He told me to advance with the latter and that he would give me abundant support; I accordingly prepared to advance with Hoke
's brigade and the 13th Georgia in front, followed by Hays
The programme was that a number of pieces of artillery should be run out in front, and open on the enemy's infantry, when I was to advance and the artillery to be again moved forward, followed by my infantry.
The movement with the artillery was commenced, and as soon as it left the woods the enemy opened with numerous batteries from the plains and from behind the
embankments on the river road.
This fire was terrific and many shells went crashing past us into the woods in our rear, where D. H. Hill
's division was massed.
Our own guns opened and continued to fire for a brief space, and a part of Hoke
's brigade advanced to the railroad, but General Jackson
soon became satisfied that the advance must be attended with great difficulties and perhaps disastrous results, and abandoned it. It was well that he did. The enemy had very heavy forces massed behind the embankments on the river road, the one nearest us being pierced with embrasures for numerous pieces of artillery.
We would have had to advance nearly a mile, over an entirely bare plain swept by all this artillery, as well as cannonaded by the heavy guns on Stafford Heights
, and if we had been able to force back the bodies of infantry and the artillery occupying positions on the plain between us and the woods, still when we reached the road itself we would have found a vastly superior force behind a double line of very strong breastworks.
Nothing could have lived while passing over that plain under such circumstances, and I feel well assured that, while we were all ready to obey the orders of our heroic commander, there was not a man in the force ordered to advance, whether in the front or in support, who did not breathe freer when he heard the orders countermanding the movement.
I have subsequently examined this ground with great care, and this examination has strengthened the position first entertained.
It may perhaps be asked why our troops had not occupied the line of this road, to which I will reply that the road and the embankments on each side of it were perfectly commanded by the batteries of Stafford Heights
, which rendered the position untenable for us, and the retreat from it most hazardous, while it afforded safe protection to the enemy from our guns.
Shortly after the termination of this effort to advance, I received a notification from General Jackson
my troops to the rear for the purpose of resting and getting provisions as soon as they should be relieved by the troops of A. P. Hill
's division which had at first occupied the positions now held by me, but no troops came to my relief, and I therefore, remained in position.
Orders were received during the night for Taliaferro
to relieve Hill
's troops in the front line beginning from the left, and for me to occupy the remainder of the line on the right which Taliaferro
could not fill out. In accordance with these directions, before dawn on the 14th, Paxton
took the position which Paxton
remained stationary, Lawton
's brigade under Colonel Evans
was posted on Hoke
's right, and Walker
was moved from the left and placed in reserve behind Hoke
The evening before, Carrington
's battery had relieved Latimer
's and Brown
's on the left, and still remained in position, and on the morning of the 14th, Dement
's battery relieved one of the batteries on the right which had been engaged the day before.
During the 14th the enemy remained in position on the plains and at Fredericksburg
, an occasional shot being exchanged by the artillery and some firing from the skirmishers taking place on portions of the line, but none in my front.
Before light on the morning of the 15th, D. H. Hill
's division relieved Taliaferro
's and mine on the front line, and we moved to the rear in reserve, A. P. Hill
's division occupying the second line.
There was quiet on the 15th, the enemy still retaining his position, but early on the morning of the 16th, as I was moving into position on the second line in accordance with previous orders, it was discovered that the enemy had re-crossed the river during the night, taking up his bridges, and I was ordered to move at once to the vicinity of Port Royal
to guard against the possible contingency of the enemy's attempting to turn our right by crossing the river near that place; and I commenced the march immediately.
The loss in the division under my command in this battle was in killed 89 and wounded 639, to-wit: in Hays
' brigade, 5 killed and 40 wounded; Trimble
's brigade (Hoke
's), 8 killed and 98 wounded; Lawton
's brigade, 55 killed and 369 wounded; my own brigade (Walker
's), 17 killed and 114 wounded; and in the artillery of the division 3 killed and 18 wounded. Among the killed were Lieutenant Colonel Scott
of the 12th Georgia Regiment, and Captain D'Aquin
of the artillery, and among the wounded were Colonel Atkinson
of the 26th Georgia Regiment (in the hands of the enemy), Captain E. P. Lawton
, A. A. G. Lawton
's brigade (Lawton
mortally wounded and in the hands of the enemy) and Colonel Lamar
, 61st Georgia Regiment.
's entire loss in the battle was in killed 458, and wounded, 3,743, to-wit: in Longstreet
's corps, 130 killed, 1,276 wounded; in Jackson
's corps, 328 killed and 2,454 wounded; and 13 wounded in Stuart
The enemy's loss was very much heavier, and over 900 prisoners, more than 9,000 stand of arms and a large quantity of ammunition fell into our hands.
The failure of General Lee
to attempt to destroy the enemy's army after its repulse has been much criticised, and many speculations about the probable result of an attempt to drive the enemy into the river have been indulged in by a number of writers.
In the first place, it must be recollected that no man was more anxious to inflict a decisive blow on the enemy than General Lee
himself, and none understood better the exact condition of things, and the likelihood of success in any attempt to press the enemy after his defeat on the 13th.
That defeat was a repulse with very heavy loss, it is true, but it was not a rout of the enemy's army; and candid persons ought to presume that General Lee
knew what he was about and had very good and sufficient reasons for not sallying from his line of defence, upon the exposed plains below, to make the attempt to convert the repulse into a rout.
If attention is given to the previous description of the ground on which the two armies were operating, it must be seen that an attempt to pass over the wide plain intervening between our line and the enemy's position below the town, while exposed to the fire of 150 heavy guns on the Stafford Heights
, and the numerous field pieces securely masked in the River
road, would inevitably have resulted in disaster, unless the enemy's forces had become so paralyzed as to be incapable of an effort at defence.
's army was composed of about 150,000 men in the grand divisions under Sumner
, and Hooker
In none of the assaults on our lines were the whole of these grand divisions engaged, but when columns of attack were sent forward, there were always very heavy reserves for the attacking columns to fall back upon in case of repulse; Sumner
's and Franklin
's grand divisions had been mainly engaged and Hooker
's scarcely at all. General Lee
's army was not half as large as Burnside
's and if he had at any time made an attempt to advance, any force that he could have massed for that purpose without abandoning his line of defence entirely would in all likelihood have still encountered a superior force of infantry behind a strong line of defence, in addition to the artillery.
As I have stated, General Jackson
made the attempt to advance on the right late in the day on the 13th, but he was compelled to desist, very fortunately, before any disaster happened.
Above the town, the same canal, at the foot of the range of hills, which had furnished an insurmountable obstacle to any attack by the enemy on our extreme left, likewise furnished the same obstacle to an advance on our part.
The only other quarter from which the advance could have been made was from the hills immediately in rear of the town upon the enemy in the town, and there the difficulties were greater even than below.
Any attacking columns from that quarter must either have moved down the rugged face of the
base hills, or by flank along the Telegraph
and Plank roads, and then they would have been so much scattered by the artillery from the north bank, which would then have had a more effective range than even on the plains, that it would not have required the reserves, posted behind the houses and defences in the town, to complete the repulse and disaster.
As to a night attack, that is a very easy thing to talk about but a most hazardous experiment to try, especially on dark nights such as we then had. Such attacks cannot be ventured on with safety unless with the most thoroughly trained troops, and then not in large bodies, for fear of confusion and firing into each other, the very dread of which often paralyzes very brave troops.
It has been said that General Lee
might have inflicted tremendous damage upon the enemy by forcing hot shot and shell into Fredericksburg
while the enemy's troops were massed there.
The heroic and patriotic people of that town, when it was threatened with a bombardment by Sumner
, had not appealed to the commander of their country's army to cause the danger to be removed from them by not resisting its occupation by the enemy, but had exhibited most commendable unselfishness by, in most cases, abandoning their homes without a murmur, while there were some too poor to move elsewhere, and others who chose to remain and share all the dangers of the approaching struggle; it was not in the heart of the noble commander of the Army of Northern Virginia to doom, by his own act, the remaining few of that devoted people and the homes of the absent to destruction, for the sake of killing and wounding a few thousand of the enemy, and causing dismay among the remainder.
Is this forbearance one to be criticised with severity as a grievous military blunder?
It is probable that if General Lee
had known that the enemy was evacuating the town, his artillery might have inflicted considerable damage, but the enemy had
given no indication of such a purpose, and he took advantage of the darkness of the night and the prevalence of a storm and wind to make good his retreat, when the noise attending the movement could not be heard.
accomplished all that was possible with the means under his control, except, indeed, the useless destruction of what the enemy had left of the town of Fredericksburg
There was a ridiculous story about General Jackson
, to which currency was given by the newspapers, which represented that, at a council of war called by General Lee
on the night after the battle, General Jackson
fell into a doze while the very grave question of what ought to be done under the circumstances was being discussed, and after all the rest had given their opinion, General Lee
turned to General Jackson
and asked, “Well, General, what is your opinion?”
to which the latter, waking out of his nap, replied, “Drive 'em in the river, drive ‘em in the river.”
This story is by no means creditable to General Jackson
, yet it obtained a wide circulation, and the narrators of it seemed to think it was very characteristic.
was a most able commander and heroic soldier, and it was not at all likely that he would have acted so much like a besotted member of a council of war called by his chief.
I presume after the facts that I have before stated, it is not necessary to assert that no such incident occurred.
moved down the river to the Massaponix, after crossing, or had thrown other bridges across at or near the mouth of that stream, and crossed one of his grand divisions there, he would inevitably have forced us to abandon our line of defence, and fight him on other ground.