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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
Page 182 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

[CHAP. XXXIII.

was directed to protect the throwing of the bridges and to cover the pontoons and workmen, by subduing the fire of the enemy's troops from the houses and cover opposite the points selected; to sweep the streets of all columns of re-enforcements, and to destroy any guns that might be placed in position to bear on the bridges. The left center commanded the ground between Sumner's left and Franklin's right, from Hazel Run to Deep Run, and was specially directed to prevent the enemy from re-enforcing either of his flanks from the other, except by the circuitous route in rear of his position; to sweep the valley of Hazel Run, and to control the railroad bridges across it. The left division was directed to cover the ground below the lower bridges; to protect the left flank of the army; to assist in covering the workmen employed in throwing the bridges, and to move its light batteries down the river as occasion required, so as to prevent the enemy crossing the Massaponax River and annoying our left. The left center and left divisions were directed to unite their efforts in keeping clear the plain in front of the lower bridge, and in covering the passage of the troops.

Orders were given for all the batteries, first, to concentrate their fire on such of the enemy's works or guns as should open on our masses as they approached the crossing places; second, to burn their fire upon such bodies of the enemy's troops as should offer to oppose the passage; third, to cover the deployment of the troops when across, by checking any advance of the enemy; fourth, after the deployment not to fire over the heads of our own troops, except in case of absolutely necessity, and, lastly, to aid their advance, when possible to do so, by sweeping the ground in front of them with their fire. These instructions having been carefully communicated, the batteries of the four divisions were ordered to rendezvous, the right at a point about a mile behind Falmouth; the right center on the plateau in the rear of the Phillips house; the left center in the open ground near general headquarters camp, about 2 miles from the river; the left at White Oak Church, all being out of view of the enemy. At these points the divisions were met by their commanders, who conducted the batteries to their respective positions. The movement commenced at dusk, and by 11 o'clock all were properly posted, without confusion or any noise by which the enemy could learn that a movement had taken place.

On the morning of the 11th (December), the construction of the bridges commenced before day. Soon after daylight, the upper and middle bridges being about half constructed, a heavy fire of musketry was opened upon them from the opposite bank, which, after considerable loss, drove the engineer troops from their work at both places, notwithstanding the fire from their infantry supports. The batteries were then opened, and partially silenced the fire of the enemy. As the fog was dense and the batteries at a distance, and those on the bluff could not be used safely on the immediately banks of the river, six light 12-pounder batteries (thirty-six guns) were drawn from the divisions and posted on the banks, four near the upper and two near the middle bridges, all being attached to the command of Colonel Tompkins. In this first cannonade no less than five stock-trails of the 12-pounders were broken by the shock of firing. They were defective, and, it is almost needless to say, contract work, the contractors being Wood Brothers, of New York. A severe cannonade was now opened upon the cover which protected the enemy's sharpshooters, and after this fire was silenced another attempt was made to throw the bridges, but the enemy's skirmishers soon opened again, and, in addition, a column of infantry moved down the principal street toward

I. 1st U. S., Lieutenant Kirby.

Fand K, 3rd U. S., Lieutenant Turnbull.

K, 4th U. S., Lieutenant Seeley.

A, 5th U. S., Lieutenant Gilliss

G, 1st N. Y., Captain Frank.

B, 1st R. I., Captain Hazard.


Page 182 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
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