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

and to the apparent designs of the enemy. In the evening he also visited the admirable position on the river bank selected for Ross' battery. Major [William] Nelson and the captains of the reserve batteries were next requested to accompany the undersigned along the line, that they also might become familiar with routes and positions.

On the 28th, the commanding general having requested that another rifle battery should be placed 8 or 10 miles lower down the river toward repelling gunboats, the undersigned took Captain Milledge's battery of light rifles to a commanding bluff just below Skinker's Mill. Here the battery was left, with one of General Stuart's, under charge of Major [John] Pelham, with whom, moving from point to point as gunboats threatened, it remained more than ten days.

On the 29th, Lieutenant [W. F.] Anderson, of [H. N.] Ells' battery, near Richmond, reported the arrival of men and horses with two 30-pounder Parrott guns, which, on recommendation of the undersigned, the commanding general had ordered up to the lines. Measures were promptly taken to have them tested and to fit them in all respects for service.

December 1, the undersigned was diligently engaged in examining again the whole line, with reference to the best positions for these two large guns, facility of ingress and egress being important for them as well as extensive command of the field. The points selected were reported to the commanding general, with reasons for the choice, and on his approval the sites were next day pointed out, working parties engaged, clearings commenced, &c. The work on the right and back of Mr. Howison's house was directed, with his accustomed intelligence and energy, by the since lamented General Thomas R. R. Cobb; that on the eminence farther to the left and near the Telegraph road was staked off and directed by the undersigned. This point, densely wooded when first chosen, became the most important, perhaps, in the entire scene as the position affording the best view of all the field, and, therefore, principally occupied by the commanding general and other chief officers during the battle. In such duties, and in designating, with Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander, acting chief of artillery First Corps, the various batteries to occupy assigned positions, the undersigned was engaged till the evening of December 11. That evening, Major Nelson, who had closely reconnoitered during the day, reported to him indications of an approaching movement on the part of the enemy. He also received a reliable intimation of intelligence, said to have been sent to General Stuart by a friend across the river, that the enemy had orders to prepare rations and move at dawn next morning.

On the 12th, therefore, signal guns just before dawn were only what the undersigned anticipated. A few minutes after them, he sent one aide to the front for information, and another to the commanding general to ask if the large Parrotts should not at once be taken into position, the possibility of their being needed elsewhere having caused this to be delayed. It being now approved, they were as early in the day as practicable taken to the works prepared for them. A dense fog more than half the day concealed the enemy, and rendered active operations nearly impossible. The morning was, therefore, employed by us in preparation, adjusting batteries in position, &c. Later in the day, as the atmosphere cleared up, it was known that the enemy had completed a bridge across the river near the mouth of Deep Run. Near that run, in the river road, suggested a judicious staff officer, who had some days before ridden over the ground, good positions might be chosen, which ought now to be occupied by several batteries. To test this, the undersigned proceeded to the place, accompanied by Majors Nelson and [John J.] Gar-


Page 564 OPERATIONS IN N. VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
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