The battles on the Rappahannock.
Capture of Marye's Heights.After this, these divisions were sent to aid Gen. Early, whose division was contending with the enemy, under Gen. Sedgwick, in the immediate front of Fredericksburg; they, as stated, having carried Marye's Heights on Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning these divisions took position on the right of the plank road, from which they moved on in the direction of Fredericksburg, and formed a junction with the left wing of Gen. Early, who had extended his right wing very near the Rappahannock, at a point about equidistant from the town and Banks's ford. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of that day an attack was commenced by the troops on Early's left, who were at once joined by McLaws and Anderson, forcing the enemy in the direction of the ford. Early's troops participated actively in this struggle, capturing several pieces of artillery and many prisoners. That night the whole Yankee force on this end of the line of operations, except those which had fallen in battle, recrossed the river at Banks's ford. Meantime, the heights were recaptured by the brigade commanded by Gen. Gordon, assisted by Barksdale's Mississippians. It is stated that the loss of the enemy on Sunday in their attack on Marye's Heights was very heavy, and nearly equalled the slaughter which attended their advance on the 13th of December.
The fight in the wilderness.The fight on the plank road — in the country known as the "Wilderness" --was, beyond doubt, one of the most stubbornly contested of any that has been fought since the commencement of this war; yet at no time during the struggle, from the time the first works were assailed till the last, in the vicinity of Chancellorsville, was carried, was the result in the least doubtful. To form any correct conception of the difficulties encountered by our troops in their assaults upon the enemy's works, a view of the bloody field, extending a distance of nearly five miles, is necessary. Imagine a narrow road, skirted on either side with a dense and apparently impenetrable growth of stunted oaks, whose branches reach the ground and whose gnarled trunks nearly touch each other, and some idea may be had of the country in its natural condition. Here and there, an intervals of perhaps half a mile, was a cleared spot of from 50 to 100 acres. Upon these Hooker had thrown up his entrenchments, and behind them posted his artillery and infantry. In approaching them our forces had either to huddle in the narrow pass way, or feel their way as best they could through the woods above described. In addition to this a part of the ground over which they had to pass was of a soft, marshy character, covered with a less stubborn, but quite as dense growth of shrubbery as the higher grounds. As they pierced the wood land, and approached the cleared fields upon which were situated the successive lines of the enemy's works, a perfect storm of shell, grape, canister, and musketry was hurled upon them, and many a brave spirit sank at the bidding of the deadly messengers. On Saturday afternoon the work was begun, Jackson, with the divisions of A. P. Hill, Rhodes, and Trimble, having reached the enemy's rear. Their fleet serious of entrenchments was carried without such a resistance as indicated a very determined spirit on the part of the enemy; and indeed, if reports of those who participated be correct, the stubborn fighting of the enemy did not commence until Sunday morning, when they seemed to have acquired some knowledge of their situation.--Our gallant men, undaunted by the rugged face of the country, and undismayed by the shower of iron and lead that rained around them, pressed forward, driving the enemy before them in the direction of Chancellorsville, where the two divisions of Longstreet's corps --McLaw's and Anderson's — which have borne so conspicuous a part in many of the hard-fought battles of this war, were engaging them from the front, and driving them by way of the old turnpike road, in the direction of United States ford. This fight, which continued through the afternoon of Saturday and forenoon of Sunday, wound up gloriously about noon of the latter day, though the army and country are called to mourn the loss of many a gallant Southerner. The enemy fought well, contesting the field with a stubbornness which gave evidence of at least a hope of success.
Subsequent Events.Since Sunday there has been no fighting of consequence on the upper line. On Monday and Tuesday the stillness was occasionally broken by the reports of heavy ordnance, but no engagement occurred, and on Wednesday night, the enemy taking advantage of the storm, recrossed his shattered and discomfited columns to the North bank of the Rappahannock.
The prisoners.In the series of fights, thus imperfectly described, prisoners were taken on both sides. --The most careful calculation I can make of our loss in this manner will not extend it beyond one thousand. At present we have, at this point, as an offset to this loss, fifty-one hundred of the enemy, and I am informed by Maj. Hawks, Chief Commissary of this post, that he yesterday issued rations for fifteen hundred of the wounded, who are in field hospitals near the late scene of conflict. Among these are officers of every grade, from Brigadier-General down. When these were first brought here, they seemed possessed of all the impudence characteristic of the Yankee, and openly boasted that Richmond would fall be fore the close of the week, basing their hopes upon, the great feats to be accomplished by Stoneman in the destruction of our lines of communication. Since the trains have commenced running through, and they have learned of Hooker's defeat, their spirits have greatly fallen, and they begin to realize that little hope exists of their reaching Richmond, save as prisoners of war.
Address of Gen. Lee to his army.The following appropriate address has been issued by Gen. Lee to the gallant and invincible army under his commands. It will be seen that Gen. Lee pays a just tribute to Lieutenant General Jackson, with whom he has been so long associated in arms:
General Orders, No. 59.