ePub 版
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

shade trees shorn of their limbs or twisted from their trunks ; fences stripped of their pickets by canister, or lying flat on the ground; streets furrowed with solid shot, and strewn with household effects; elegant up-town residences in flames; we had literally swept the city with the besom of destruction.

It did not seem possible that any animate thing could have survived this bombardment; and there were in fact no signs of life visible; but no sooner had the engineers again resumed operations, than they were greeted with a fresh shower of bullets. How the sharpshooters had managed to live through all that fire and smoke, was to us almost a miracle. Yet they were alive, and as plucky as ever, and our gunners returned to their work.

General Burnside now almost despaired of effecting a crossing. Nothing but some brilliant coupde-main would accomplish it. He accordingly decided upon sending a body of men over in boats, who should rush suddenly upon the concealed foe, and hunt them from their holes. The Seventh Michigan and Nineteenth Massachusetts were designated for this purpose. The gallant fellows never flinched from the duty assigned them, but taking their places in the pontoons, pushed bravely out into the stream, regardless of the rapid volleys of musketry which were poured into them. In a moment they had gained the opposite shore, and fearlessly sweeping up the bank, dashed into the houses, and shot, bayoneted or captured the small force which had occasioned us so much trouble and delay. A



hundred dark, swarthy Alabamians and Mississippians were brought back, amidst the wildest cheers of the spectators who had witnessed the heroic act.

Fredericksburg was now ours, and no further trouble was experienced in laying the bridge. The second was completed in a similar manner; about ninety men' belonging to Colonel Fairchild's New York Regiment being taken over in boats, and returning with 110 rebels. Owing to the fact of there being no buildings to screen them, the enemy could offer but little resistance to the engineers at the

lower crossings, and they were completed much , earlier in the day.

The pontoons now being thrown, the right and centre Grand Divisions moved down in columns to cross, halting around Falmouth Station. The left, which had marched from White-Oak Church early in the morning, was massed during the day on the plain below. For some reason, General Burnside decided to cross but a small force that night, and the Sixth Corps drew back from the plain, and bivouacked in the adjoining woods. Leaving the vast army

“A multitude like which the populous North

Poured never from its frozen loins"sleeping along the banks of the river and in the groves beyond, let us briefly survey the scene of its operations during the four days which followed.

Directly in the rear of Fredericksburg is a plain, about one quarter of a mile wide, extending back to a low range of hills, along the crest of which was



the enemy's first line of works. At the foot of and running parallel with this range, is a massive stone wall, behind which infantry were posted. In the rear of the first is another and much higher chain of hills, extending down the river for several miles. Along the top of these woody heights ran the road, referred to by General Burnside, connecting the rebel right with the rebel left, which rested immediately back of the city.

Crossing Hazel Creek, a small stream skirting the lower part of the place and emptying into the Rappahannock, the ground becomes very level, stretching out into a broad plateau, and traversed by the Bowling Green turnpike, running half a mile back from the river, and the Fredericksburg and Richmond railroad still further back. The Bernard House was located on the bank, about one mile and a half below the city. Three-fourths of a mile lower down, the Massaponax Creek flows into the Rappahannock. This plain, bounded on the north by Hazel Creek, east by the Rappahannock, west by a chain of hills, and south by the Massaponax, was the theatre of General Franklin's operations. While he advanced and occupied some point in these hills, Sumner and Hooker were to storm the batteries in the rear of Fredericksburg. Our narrative will be confined mainly to the left Grand Division.

Long before daylight Friday morning, it commenced crossing, and by ten o'clock was all over. As fast as the various commands reached the

[ocr errors][merged small]

opposite shore, they debouched upon the plain, spreading out like a fan, prepared to sweep down the enemy before them. The Thirty-third passed over the bridge about 74 o'clock. An hour and a half later the Sixth Corps was drawn up in line of battle, facing to the west. The First Corps joined on further to the left. Skirmishers were deployed, and feeling their way cautiously forward, encountered those of the enemy near the Bowling Green road. The first man wounded was John S. Havens, of Company H, Thirty-third, which was in the front. After a few moments the rebels fell back, leaving us in possession of the road. Owing to the dense fog which prevailed, it was deemed best not to fight

the battle that day, and our troops moved no further :: forward. About 24 o'clock in the afternoon, the ene

my opened some masked guns from the heights on our batteries facing in that direction, which, immediately limbering up, moved.several yards further to the front and returned the fire. The artillery duel was kept up for some time, resulting in but little loss to us.

General Burnside rode down from the right at sunset, and was received with vociferous cheering by the Regiments as he galloped rapidly by. Officers and men had alike admired the courage which led him to boldly cross the river and endeavor to clear up the mystery which enshrouded the enemy; and now that the rebels had apparently retreated, leaving å mere shell of an army to oppose us, their admiration for their chief knew no bounds.






Franklin's troops slept upon their arms that night, little dreaming of the fierce conflict of the morrow. At an early hour Saturday morning, it became evident that the enemy, instead of having fallen back, were

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

Battle-field of the Left Grand Division. concentrating their forces, with the design of giving us battle. The sun rose clear in the heavens, though the mist and fog of a late Indian summer enveloped

« 上一頁繼續 »