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488

PERILOUS BRIDGE-BUILDING.

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front and fatally penetrate it, while his army was thus divided. Preparations for forcing the passage of the Rappahannock were made accordingly. The topgraphy of the river shores favored the enterprise, for Stafford Heights, where the Nationals lay, were close to its banks, and commanded the plain on which the city stands, while the heights on which Lee's batteries were planted were from three-fourths of a mile to a mile and a half from the banks. Such being the case, there seemed to be nothing to oppose the construction of the bridges but the Mississippi sharp-shooters in the city.

Every thing was in readiness on the 10th of December. During that night Stafford Heights, under the direction of General Hunt, chief of artillery, were dotted by twenty-nine batteries containing one hundred and fortyseven guns, so arranged that they commanded the space between the town and the heights back of it, and might protect the crossing of the troops. Burnside's head-quarters were at the house of Mr. Phillips, on the heights, a mile from the river, from which he could survey the whole field of operations. The Grand Divisions of Sumner and Hooker, sixty thousand strong, lay in front of the city, and that of Franklin, forty thousand strong, two miles below. It was arranged to throw five pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock for the passage of these troops—three of them opposite the city, and two where Franklin was to cross.

Before daylight on the morning of the 11th the engineers were quietly but vigorously at work making the bridges, covered by the Fifty-seventh

and Sixty-sixth New
York, of Zooks's bri-
gade, Hancock's divi-
sion, and concealed by
a fog. They had one
of the bridges about
two-thirds completed,
when they and their
work were discovered.
This drew upon them
a shower of rifle-balls
from the Mississippians

concealed behind walls and houses on the city side of the stream. At the same time a signal-gun was fired to call the Confederate hosts to arms, for General Lee had expected this movement, and was prepared for an attack. The fire was so severe that the engineers were driven away. Several attempts to renew the work were foiled by the sharp-shooters. Nothing could be done while these remained in the town, and only artillery might effect their expulsion. So, at about ten o'clock in the morning, Burnside ordered the batteries on Stafford Heights to open upon the city, and batter it down, if necessary. The response to that order was terrific. More than a hundred guns fired fifty rounds each before the cannonade ceased, when the city was awfully shattered, and on fire in several places. Under cover of this cannonade a fresh attempt

1 This is a view of the Phillips House in flames, taken by the photographic process by Mr. Gardiner, of Washington City, while it was burning.

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THE PHILLIPS HOUSE ON FIRE,

PASSAGE OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK.

489

were

was made to finish the bridges; but, strange to say, the sharp-shooters were there yet, and the effort failed. These must be dislodged. Volunteers were called for to cross the river in the open pontoon-boats, and drive them from their hiding-places, which cannon on the heights could not reach. The Seventh Michigan and Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, of Howard's division, offered their services for the perilous undertaking. These dashed across as rapidly as possible, and as soon as a sufficient number had landed, they rushed up the bank, drove the Mississippians from their shelter, captured nearly one hundred of them, and took possession of the riverfront of the town.' The pontoon-bridges soon completed; but at the loss, at this point and at Franklin's crossing-place, nearly two miles below, of three hundred men.

That evening Howard's division of Couch's corps crossed the river, drove the Confederates

PLACE OF FRANKLIN'S PASSAGE OF THE RAPPAHANNOCE. (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi and Eighth Florida) out of Fredericksburg, and occupied the battered and smoking city. Fortunately for the Nationals, there was another thick fog the next morning, and under its cover, and the wild firing in the mist from the Stafford Hills, the remainder of Sumner's Right Grand Division crossed to the city side of the Rappahannock. A large portion of Franklin's Left Grand Division crossed at the same time, while the Center Grand Division, under Hooker,“ remained on the Falmouth side, in readiness,

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1 In this gallant exploit a drummer-boy of the Seventh Michigan, named Robert H. Hendershot, distinguished himself. It was his twelfth birthday, having been born on the 11th day of December, 1850. He volunteered to go, and with his drum slung to his back he jumped into one of the boats. Ilis captain ordered him out, telling hinn he was too small for such business. May I help push off the boat, Captain ?" said the boy. “ Yes," was the reply. He purposely let the boat drag him into the river, and, clinging to it, he so crossed the stream. A large number of the men in the boat were killed, and as the boy climbed up the bank his drum was torn in pieces by the fragment of a shell. Ho seized a musket belonging to one of his slain companions, and fought gallantly with the rest. Ilis bravery was brought to the notice of Burnside, who warmly commended it. It was published abroad. The Tribune Association of New York presented him with an elegant new drum, and the proprietor of the Eastman Business College, at Poughkeepsie, offered to give him a home, a full support, and a thorough education, without charge; which generous offer the boy accepted, and he at once entered that institution.

Franklin was opposed by sharp-shooters in rifle-pits in front of his bridges, near the mouth of Decp Run. These he soon dislodged, and by noon his bridges were ready for use. The above view of the place where Franklin's pontoons were laid is from a sketch made by the author in June, 1866, from the right bank of the river, and nearly opposite the site of the residence of Washington, when he was a boy. For a picture of that residence, see Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, ii. 219. The river here is much wider than in front of the city,

3 Eye-witnesses describe the scene in Fredericksburg after the bombardment on the 11th as sad in the extreme. Several buildings which had been set on fire were yet smoking, and very few had escapeil wounds from the missiles. The streets were filled with furniture, carried out to be saved from the flames only to be destroyed by other causes. Fortunately, the few inhabitants who remained took refuge in cellars, and not one was killed. The picture in the text on the next page is from a sketch by Henry Lovie, made on the morning after the bombardment.

+ See note 3, page 485.

490

POSITION OF THE BELLIGERENTS.

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if the movement succeeded, “ to spring upon the enemy in their retreat.”

The entire daye was consumed in the crossing, and in recon. a Dec. 19, noitering the position of the Confederates, and that night the 1862.

National troops lay on their arms, ready for the expected battle in the morning

The Confederates, with three hundred cannon well posted on the heights, were also ready for action; for Jackson's force, whose extreme right had

been posted eighteen miles down the river, had been called in, and the whole of Lee's army, eighty thousand strong, was ready to oppose the Nationals.' Its left was composed of Longstreet's corps, with Anderson's division resting upon the river, and those of McLaws, Pickett, and IIood, extending to the right in the order named. Ransom's division supported the batteries

on Marye’s and Willis's Hills, at the foot of which Cobb's brigade and the Twenty-fourth North Carolina were stationed, protected by a stone wall. The immediate care of this important point was intrusted to General Ransom. The Washington (New Orleans) Artillery, under Colonel Walton, occupied the redoubts on the crest of Marye's Hill, and those on the heights to the right and left were held by part of the Reserve artillery, Colonel E. P. Alexander's battalion, and the division batteries of Anderson, Ransom, and McLaws. A. P. Hill, of Jackson's corps, was posted between Ilood's right and IIamilton's crossing on the railway, his front line under Pender, Lane, and Archer occupying the edge of a wood. Lieutenant Walker, with fourteen pieces of artillery, was posted near the right, supported by two Virginia regiments, under Colonel

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BCENE IN FREDERICKSBORG ON THE MORNING OF THE 12TII,

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1 When Lee was satisfied that Burnside was moving on Fredericksburg, he ordered Jackson to cross the Blue Ridge and place himself in position to co-operate with Longstreet. A little later both he and Longstreet were ordered to Fredericksburg, when the division of D. H. Hill was sent to Port Royal to oppose the passage of gun-boats, which hu appeared there. The rest of Jackson's division was disposed so as to support Hill. The cavalry brigade of General W. H. F. Lee was station I near Port Royal, and the fords of the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg were closely watched. On the 25th of November, Wade Hampton crossed and made s reconnoissance as far as Dumfries and Occoqnan, and captured two hundred Nationals and some wagons; and at about the same time a part of Benles's regiment of Lee's brigade dashed across the Rappabannock in boats, below Port Royal, and captured some prisoners. Hill and some of Stuart's horse-artillery had a skirmish with the gun-boats at Port Royal on the 5th of December, and compelled them to retire.-- Lee's Report, volume I. of the Reports of the Army of Northern Virginia, pages 38 and 39.

2 The little picture on page 491 shows the appearance at this point on a roail at the foot of Maryo's Hill, and just below his mansion, when the writer sketched it in June, 1566. The stone wall is on the city side of the rond on which the Confederates were posted. The tents of a burial-party, encamped nearer the Rappahandock at the time, are seen in the distance.

ATTACK ON THE CONFEDERATE LINE.

491

Brockenborough. A projecting wood at the front of the general lines was held by Lane's brigade. Hill's reserve was composed of the brigades of Thomas and Gregg, with a part of Field's. The divisions of Early and Taliaferro composed Jackson's second line, and D. H. Hill's was his reserve. The cannon of the latter were well posted so as to command the open ground between the heights and the city. The plain on Jackson's right was occupied by Stuart, with two brigades of cavalry and his horse artillery, and his line extended to Massaponax Creek.'

A council of officers was held on the evening of the 12th, when Burnside submitted his plan of attack the next morniny, which was for the whole force on the south bank of the Rappahannock to advance, and, by sudden assaults along the whole line, attempt to penetrate and carry the fortified

WALL AT THE root OF MARYE'S NEIGIITS. heights occupied by the Confederates. The Right and Left Grand Divisions, under Sumner and Franklin, were to perform the perilous work; and, to give Franklin sufficient strength, two divisions from Hooker's command (his own and Kearney's) were sent to reenforce him, making his whole number about fifty-five thousand men, or onehalf of the effective force of the army.

It was expected that Franklin would make the main attack at dawn, and that upon its results would depend the movements of Sumner; but he did not receive his promised instructions until after sunrise, and then they were so open to misinterpretations that he was puzzled to know precisely how to act. They seemed, however, to demand that he should keep his whole command in position for a rapid movement on the old Richmond road, and to send out an armed reconnoissance, with a single division, to attack and seize some point of the heights. IIe accordingly threw forward Meade's division, supported by Gibbon’s on its right, with Doubleday's in reserve. Meade had not proceeded far when he was confronted by a Confederate battery, placed by Stuart on the Port Royal road. This he silenced, and then pressed on, his skirmishers clearing the way, and his batteries shelling the woods in his front. All was silence on that front for a while, when a terrible storm of shell and canister, at near range, fell upon him. Ile pressed on, and three of his assailants' batteries were hastily withdrawn. Ile still pressed on. Jackson's advanced line, under A. P. Hill, was driven back with a loss of two hundred men made prisoners and several battle-flags. Meade still pressed on; crossed the railway and up to the crest of the hill, to a new military road, just constructed by Lee to connect his wings, where he encountered Gregg, with his South Carolina veterans, on Lee's second line. These gave Meade such a warm reception that he was obliged to halt, when Early's division swept forward at a double-quick, assailed his flanks, and compelled him to fall back with heavy loss.

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» Lee's Report, March 6, 1868.

492

BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG.

Gibbon now came up gallantly to Meade's support, but was repulsed, and when the shattered forces of both were made to fly in confusion, General Birney advanced with his division of Stoneman's corps in time to check the victorious pursuers, who pressed up to within fifty yards of his guns. But the Nationals were unable to advance, for Stuart's cavalry, on Lee's extreme right, strongly menaced the left. At length, when charge after charge had been repulsed, Reynolds, with re-enforcements, pushed the Confederates back to the Massaponax, where they kept up the contest with spirit until dark. The three divisions in the battle on the left that day composed Reynolds's corps, and by their gallantry, and that of the divisions of Birney and Sickles (the latter taking the place of Gibbon's), of Stoneman's corps, presented such a formidable front that Jackson did not hazard an advance against them that day, but stood on the defensive.' Smith's corps, twentyone thousand strong, was near and fresh, and had not been much engaged in the battle throughout the day.”

Let us see what Sumner was doing while a part of Franklin's corps was struggling so fearfully on the left.

Sumner was to attack the Confederate front when Franklin should fairly inaugurate the battle with a prospect of success. The conditions were complied with. At eleven o'clock he and his staff repaired to the Lacey House, near the river opposite Fredericksburg, from which he could have a full view of the operations of his division. Couch's corps (Second) occupied the city, and Wilcox's (Ninth) the interval between Couch and Franklin's right. Upon Couch fell the honor of making the first attack. At noon he ordered out French's division, to be followed and supported by Hancock. Kimball's

1 Reynolds lost in the struggle full 4,000 men. Meade lost about forty per cent. of his whole command, and inany valuable officers were slain or wounded. General C. F. Jackson was killed; and General George D. Bayard, who commanded the cavalry on the left, was mortally wounded by a shell, and died that night. lie was only twenty-eight years of age, and was on the eve of marriage. His loss was widely felt. General Gibbon was wounded and taken from the field.

Bayard's brigade was famous for good deeds throughont the war. It was distinguished for gallantry in the following engagements before the death of its first leader:-Woodstock, Harrisonburg, Cross Keys, Cedar Mountain, Brandy Station, Rappabannock Station, Gainesville, Bull's Run, Warrenton, and Fredericksburg. After Bayard's death the brigade was formed into a division, under General Gregg, and served throughout the campaigns in Virginia under Stoneman, Pleasanton, and Sheridan. A portrait of the gallant Bayard, and a picture of the “Bayard Badge;" will be found in the third volume of this work.

2 The army signal-telegraph was used with great effect on the left that day. Its lines extended from Burnside's head-quarters, at the Phillips house, across the Rappabannock to Franklin's quarters, a distance of about four miles. The wire was of copper, insulated, coiled on a drum or reel, and carried in a cart or by band, as seen in the engraving, by the motion of which it was unwound. Each c:rt carried a series of reels, and each reel contained a mile of wire. The line was laid on light poles or on fences, and was operated upon wherever the cart or the men halted for the purpose, by a simple process. This telegraph was worked without batteries, and was so simple that it could be used, after one day's practice, by any soldier who could easily read and write. As we have observed, it was made useful on the day of the battle described in the text, when operations at various points were immediately made known by it at head-quarters. The cart or the men were often seen weil up to tho front of the battle, and exposed to all its con

sequences. : French's was composed of the brigades of Kimball, Anderson, and Palmer. · Ilancock's was composed of the brigades of Zook, Meagher, and Caldwell.

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ARMY SIGNAL-TELEGRAPH.

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