ed, and the white tents and swarming numbers of the enemy on the heights across the Rappahannock.
Fredericksburg, one of the oldest places in Virginia, was before the war a pretty town of about 5000 inhabitants, which enjoyed a considerable local trade, and was distinguished for the hospitality and refinement that belonged to its society.
It was now comparatively deserted.
The larger part of its citizens had been driven off by the continued threats of bombardment which had hung like a Damocles's sword above their heads for several weeks, and the few who had been compelled to remain behind plainly exhibited in their features that the apprehension of doom was pressing like an iron weight upon their hearts.
The knowledge on their part that more than a hundred hostile cannon, planted on the dominating Shepherd's Heights of Stafford, over the river, bore directly on their unfortunate town, might well have given disquietude to this community of non-combatants.
A lively contrast was