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the rear. The Confederate troops had no use for the town, except to prevent a surprise upon the hills; the Union troops had no use for it whatever except as they might occupy it for a momentary cover, while forming their columns for an assault upon the hills. But a direct attack upon the enemy through Fredericksburg was full of difficulties. Between the town and the hills ran a deep ditch, or canal, which had been used to carry water from the river above to certain mills upon its course and then emptied into the river below the town. The hills themselves, which curved around Fredericksburg approaching the Rappahannock at either end, were admirably adapted for defense, and had been strongly fortified since the arrival of the Union troops upon the Stafford side. The plain, which our army emerging from the town must cross, was wide enough and clear enough to allow the utmost effects of artillery and infantry fire from the hills and from a sunken road and a stone wall which ran along their base at the only practicable point for assault. Such was the prospect which greeted the eyes of General Burnside and his troops every clear day from about the middle of November till the Ioth of December, 1862. Nevertheless, Burnside decided to cross into the city and carry the hills by a resolute attack should the enemy make a stand there. At least that was the plan which he afterward claimed to have followed. So vacillating, however, were his moods, so contradictory the orders given, that it must always remain doubtful how much of this was an afterthought, of the truth of which he had persuaded himself. Whatever his real intentions were, if, indeed, he had any definite purpose, he, on the day last named, directed General Sumner, commanding the Right Grand Division, consisting of the Second and Ninth Corps, to prepare to cross the river and occupy Fredericksburg. Coincidently with his crossing, Franklin was to cross with the Left Grand Division, three miles below the town, and threaten Lee's communications with Richmond. One thing, and one thing only, favored the operation undertaken on the 11th of December. This was that Jackson, with a powerful column, was many miles down the river, awaiting a possible crossing in that direction. But to take advantage of this it was necessary that whatever was to be attempted should be done promptly and decisively. Our space will not serve to tell the miserable story of the long delays which beset the crossing by the Lacy House, owing to the fact that General Burnside trusted to the effect of more than one hundred guns, placed along the bank, to drive the Confederates out of the houses on the opposite side, and thus enable the bridges to be laid. Hancock's division had been ordered to cover the engineers and pontoon-men at their work; but these and Hancock's regiments alike suffered helplessly from the riflemen of the enemy, in cellars and pits along the shore, who defied the utmost fury of the cannonade. Hour after hour of precious time was wasted in efforts, manifestly futile, to lay the bridges under these conditions. It was not until the afternoon was well advanced that the thing was done that should have been done at break of day. Volunteers from Howard's division at a signal rushed down the banks, jumped into the pontoons, pushed off under a heavy fire, and, rowing straight across, formed under the bank; then, with a rush, carried the river street and smoked the enemy out of their defenses. Upon this the bridges were quickly laid, as might have been done in the early morning, and the remainder of Howard's troops crossed into the city and cleared the nearest streets. But by that time the short winter day was at its close, and nothing more could be done. Meanwhile, Jackson had taken the alarm and was hurrying back to join Longstreet. During the night most of the remaining troops of both wings were thrown over; and the dawn of the 12th of December found Sumner's column in Fredericksburg, on the right, while Franklin's six divisions, upon the left, held enough ground beyond their bridges below the town to enable them to manoeuvre. And now, if anything was to be done it should have been done at once; done according to some carefully studied plan, of which all commanders should have

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