from Bristoe Station, his army advancing as the work progressed. His movements were regularly reported by our scouts, and it was known that he had advanced from Warrenton Junction a few days before the attack.
His approach toward the Rappahannock was announced on November 6, and about noon next day his infantry was discovered advancing to the bridge, while a large force moved in the direction of Kelly's Ford, where the first attack was made. At the later point the ground on the north side of the Rappahannock commands that on the passage of the river as would suffice to gain time for putting the troops in a a position selected in rear of the ford, with a view to contest the advance of the enemy after crossing. In accordance with this intention, General Rodes had one regiment (the Second North Carolina) on picket along the river, the greater part of it being at Kelly's, with the Thirtieth North Carolina in reserve supporting a battery.
As soon as he perceived that the enemy was in force, he ordered his division to take the position referred to in rear of the ford. While it was getting into line the enemy's artillery opened upon the Second North Carolina and soon drove it to shelter, except a few companies near the ford, which continued to fire from the rifle-pits. The Thirtieth was advanced to the assistance of the Second, but in moving across the open ground was broken by the concentrated fire of the enemy's artillery, and took refuge behind some buildings at the river. The enemy, being unopposed except by the part in the rifle-pits, crossed at the rapids above the ford and captured the troops defending it, together with a large number of the Thirtieth North Carolina, who refused to leave the shelter of the houses. A pontoon bridge was then laid down, on which a large force crossed to the south bank.
General Rodes in the meantime had placed his division in position, the resistance of the Second North Carolina having delayed the enemy sufficiently for this purpose. The advance of the Thirtieth does not appear to have contributed to this result, which, as previously stated, was the object of contesting the passage. It was not intended to attack the enemy until he should have advanced from the river, where it was hoped that by holding in check the force at the bridge, we would be able to concentrate upon the other. With this view General Johnson's division was ordered to re-enforce General Rodes.
In the meantime a large force was displayed in our front at the bridge, upon receiving information of which General A. P. Hill was ordered to get his corps in readiness, and Anderson's division was advanced to the river on the left of the railroad. The artillery was also ordered to move to the front. General Early put his division in motion toward the bridge and hastened thither in person. The enemy's skirmishers advanced in strong force with heavy supports, and ours were slowly withdrawn into the trenches.
Hoke's brigade, of Early's division, under Colonel Godwin (General Hoke being absent with one regiment on detached service), re-enforced General Hays, whose brigade occupied the north bank. No other troops were sent over, the two brigades mentioned being sufficient to man the works; and though inferior to the enemy in numbers, the nature of the position was such that he could not attack with a front more extended than our own. The remainder of Early's