On the morning of the 18th, he forced a passage at Warrenton Springs in the face of a regiment of cavalry and three pieces of artillery, guarding the ford, and reached Warrenton soon after the last of the enemy's column had left. The information he obtained confirmed the previous reports, and it was clear that the whole Federal Army, under Major-General Burnside, was moving toward Fredericksburg.
On the morning of the 19th, therefore, the remainder of Longstreet's corps was put in motion for that point.
The advance of General Sumner reached Falmouth on the afternoon of the 17th, and attempted to cross the Rappahannock, but was driven back by Colonel [William B.] Ball with the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, four companies of Mississippi infantry, and [Captain J. W.] Lewis' light battery.
On the 21st, it became apparent that General Burnside was concentration his whole army on the north side of the Rappahannock.
On the same day, General Summer summoned the corporate authorities of Fredericksburg to surrender the place by 5 p. m., and threatened, in case of refusal, to bombard the city at 9 o'clock next morning. The weather had been tempestuous for two days, and a storm was raging at the time of the summons. It was impossible to prevent the execution of the threat to shell the city, as it was completely exposed to the batteries on the Stafford hills, which were beyond our reach. The city authorities were informed that, while our forces would not use the place for military purposes, its occupation by the enemy would be resisted, and directions were given for the removal of the women and children as rapidly as possible. The threatened bombardment did not take place, but, in view of the imminence of a collision between the two armies, the inhabitants were advised to leave the city, and almost the entire population, without a murmur, abandoned their homes. History presents no instance of a people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism or a higher spirit of fortitude and courage than was evinced by the citizens of Fredericksburg. They cheerfully incurred great hardships and privations, and surrendered their homes and property to destruction rather than yield them into the hands of the enemies of their country.
General Burnside now commenced his preparations to force the passage of the Rappahannock and advance upon Richmond. When his army first began to move toward Fredericksburg, General Jackson, in pursuance of instructions, crossed the Blue Ridge, and placed his corps in the vicinity of Orange Court-House, to enable him more promptly to co-operate with Longstreet.
About November 26, he was directed to advance toward Fredericksburg, and as some Federal gunboats had appeared in the river at Port Royal, and it was possible that an attempt might be made to cross in that vicinity, D. H. Hill's division was stationed near that place, and the rest of Jackson's corps so disposed as to support Hill or Longstreet, as occasion might require. The fords of the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg were closely guarded by our cavalry, and the brigade of General W. H. F. Lee was stationed near Port Royal, to watch the river above and below.
On the 28th, General Hampton, guarding he Upper Rappahannock, crossed to make a reconnaissance on the enemy's right, and, proceeding as far as Dumfries and Occoquan, encountered and dispersed his cavalry, capturing two squadrons and a number of wagons. About the same time some dismounted men of Beale's regiment, Lee's brigade, crossed in boats below Port Royal, to observe the enemy's left, and took a number of prisoners.