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THE ENEMY IN OUR REAR.
furiously into the city, or turned back to the army, thereby escaping. A few, losing presence of mind, cut their horses loose from the wagons, and, mounting them, rode away, in hot haste. Gen. Gibbon, in charge of the city, sent up one or two Regiments left with him as a patrol, to check the enemy. But it was useless for them to attempt doing so, and after firing three or four rounds, they fled out to the army. The rebels now pressed forward and re-occupied the Heights, delivering as they did so, one of their characteristic yells, so much resembling a wolf howl.
After resting for a moment they were deployed out to the right of the Heights, and forming an extended line, swept rapidly up after the Sixth Corps. A Union battery, planted on a bluff up the river, one mile from the city, immediately opened a hot fire on their backs, and so interfered with his plans that the commanding officer was content to draw in his forces and mass them around the Heights.
Fredericksburg, as well as Falmouth, was now perfectly defenceless, all the troops not with Sedgwick having been sent up to the support of Hooker, and a few siege guns planted on Stafford Heights, comprising almost our only artillery. The enemy, had they known it, could have passed down into the city with impunity, paroled our fifteen hundred wounded, and then, seizing our pontoon-boats, pushed over the river and captured Gen. Hooker's headquarters and the immense supplies at the Falmouth depot.
FREDERICKSBURG AND FALMOUTH DEFENCELESS. 305
Why they did not at least descend to the city still • remains a mystery. Perhaps they were intimidated by the show of resistance made by a few stragglers, whom some wounded officers collected about the streets and posted along the edge of the city. Capts. Root and Cole, and other officers in the hospital, sent their swords and equipments over the river, expecting to be made prisoners. As the day advanced, however, and the enemy did not come down, preparations were inade for transferring the wounded to the oppo site bank, and before night they were all taken over, together with the materiel of war, which had collected there.
The Sixth Corps was now placed in a most critical position by this coup-de-main of Gen. Lee, having the enemy in front, left and rear, and an unfordable river on the right. No wonder that Gen. Butterfield, Chief-of-Staff, when he rode down to the Falmouth side of the river and comprehended the situation, remarked to Gen. Fogliardi, the Swiss General who · accompanied him, “Sedgwick has gone up.” That
indomitable hero, however, had no idea of “going up,” but immediately set about rescuing his command from the dilemma in which Hooker and his Chief-of-Staff had placed it. Hooker and his Chiefof-Staff, we say, for it was in accordance with their orders that the Sixth Corps had been pushed on, regardless of the higher ridge at the left.
The diagram on the opposite page represents the · positions of the different forces of both armies as they then were.
THE SIXTH CORPS SURROUNDED. .
First on the west our main army, then Lee's main army, then the Sixth Corps, then a rebel Corps, and then our siege guns, planted on the east side of "the river—a most extraordinary sandwiching of opposing forces together.
Instead of attempting to cut his way through to Hooker in front, or Fredericksburg in the rear, Gen. Sedgwick drew back Brook's Division, still in the advance, and arranging his army in the form of an arc, fronting towards the enemy, gradually contracted the lines until the wings extended nearly to the river. By this movement the rebels were thrown out of the rear to his left front. The lines continued to stretch out towards the river, until they enclosed Banks' Ford, six miles above the city, over which communication was immediately established with Falmouth, and Gen. Sedgwick sent for supplies. The announcement of this fact dispelled much of the gloom prevailing at headquarters, for it was then known that if the Corps could hold out until night it would be able to draw back to the ford, under cover of darkness, and escape.
At daybreak, the Thirty-third, together with three other Regiments of Gen. Neill's Brigade, had been sent out to attack a body of rebels who appeared on the higher ridge, some distance further on from the point where they finally descended. After a spirited fight, the enemy were put to flight. The Regiment had now returned, and was posted on the left curvature of the arc formed by Sedgwick, about one mile from the Heights, and near the road leading 308 THE ENEMY'S CHARGE AND REPULSE. from the city. Occupying a commanding position, and being so near, they could perceive all the operations of the flanking force, which numbered twentyfive thousand. The reader can imagine their feelings at seeing the Heights which they had so gallantly stormed on the day previous, now reöccupied by the enemy. After being arranged in line of battle, the men amused themselves by firing at the rebel skirmishers, who crept up behind the trees and fences to reconnoitre our position. Several were killed in this manner. Lieutenant Carter, seizing a musket from the hands of one of his men, brought down a general officer, who persisted in recklessly riding out in front of the line.
As the morning advanced, members of the Regiment proceeded out on the road, and brought in one of the wagons abandoned by the teamsters, which proved to be well stocked with delicacies for a General and his Staff. This was a rich prize for the men, who, now having subsisted for six days on the scanty contents of their haversacks, were as eager for food as the famished Arab in the desert, who, discovering a bag of gold, mourned that it did not contain dates.
Towards noon a Brigade of rebels charged upon the earthworks thrown up in front of the Brigade, but were handsomely repulsed, and two hundred of them made prisoners, by a counter charge.
Our forces remained in two lines of battle, expecting every moment a fierce onslaught from various points. But the day wore away without an attack,