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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 586 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

very annoying to our troops, who were drawn up under the cover of the woods and in convenient range of its guns. This battery then took position on the other side of Deep Creek alongside of several other batteries, but its effectiveness was nearly destroyed by its compelled removal of position.

Every battery officer received the instructions that he was to fire with great deliberation, and to fire only upon large bodies of troops. Of course, some discretion was allowed to every officer, and I am happy to be able to state that that discretion was generally well exercised. And one of the best proofs of the effectiveness of our fire was afforded by their turning their guns upon us. In front of my position the low grounds extended in an apparent plain from the base of the hill to the river bank. Through these low grounds the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad and the river road passes. Though apparently a plain, there are many inequalities of the ground, which, with these roads, enabled the enemy to mask his approach. All but five of our batteries were so placed as to command not only the approach of the enemy on our right, but also the Telegraph road and the abandoned railroad, called the Fredericksburg and Gordonsville Railroad. The guns back of Howison's house, besides this, commanded the left of the Telegraph road, and enabled us to give an oblique and almost enfilading fire upon the enemy advancing from the various streets in Fredericksburg, and who were drawn up under the protection of the inequalities of the ground in front of Marye's Hill. The main battle on the left was fought to obtain this hill. Between this hill and the town of Fredericksburg, it is said, the Rappahannock formerly flowed. The conformation of the ground, therefore, enabled the enemy to mask their troops so as to be out of view of our infantry in position at the foot of Marye's Hill, and even from our artillery on the hill itself. My position enabled me to observe the enemy's left flank, upon which our guns opened a most destructive fire. It was easy to perceive, from previous knowledge of the ground and the location of their left flank, where their troops were massed, and our batteries having an oblique and almost enfilading fire opened upon them. Through the valley in front of Marye's Hill a sluice for the waste water of the canal passes. There is no passage for the enemy's troops between the road immediately in front of Marye's house and the road leading directly from the Telegraph road to the depot of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad. The approach by this latter road was completely commanded by our guns. Several times their advance was repulsed by well-directed fire of our batteries. Once a whole brigade was dispersed and scattered in confusion to the rear. Once they made for the railroad cut, and several shells from our batteries exploded among them before they could escape from it. Once they charged by attempting to cross the cut, running down one side and up the other, and again they attempted to escape in the same manner; but on each occasion a murderous fire from our batteries caused them to retire precipitately. I am confident that not only upon the approach and the successive repulses of the enemy was the fire of our batteries most efficacious, but that also it did great execution upon the masses of the enemy in front of Marye's Hill.

It may be proper also to state another fact in connection with the topography of the battle-field: The right of Marye's Hill terminates almost precipitously. The Telegraph road passes on the right of the hill, and then turns almost directly at right angles at the foot and in front of the hill. The railroad cut and embankment would have enabled the enemy to come in almost perfect secure ty within a short distance of the right


Page 586 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
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