War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0222 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

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of prisoners, and advanced into the town. This was a gallant affair. It should be stated that the engineer troops, who were to use oars in crossing the troops, could not be made to do their duty. The bridges were rapidly completed, but the lateness of the hour (4.30 p.m.) prevented the crossing of more than Howard's division before dark. General Howard commanded in Fredericksburg that night.

At sunrise on the 12th, French's and Hancock's divisions were crossed and assigned positions in the streets running parallel to the river. The Ninth Corps occupied the left of the city; scarcely an inhabitant was found remaining; very little property was maliciously destroyed, the troops taking tobacco, flour, and other eatables, wherever found; order and discipline reigned. The enemy fired a few shot and shell at intervals, but without serious damage.

In rear of the town the ground is a broken plain, traversed about midway by a canal or ditch, running from right to left. Across this plain, some 600 yards from the outer edge of town, commences the first rise of hills on which the enemy had erected his batteries. Two roads cut the plain nearly at right angles with the canal-the one a plank road, leading to Culpeper, to the right; the other, to the left, the Telegraph road leading to Richmond.

At 8.15 on the morning of the 13th, the following order was received:


Near Falmouth, Va., December 12, 1862.

Major-General COUCH,

Commanding Second Corps d'Armee:

GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs me to say to you that General Willcox has been ordered to extend to the left, so as to connect with Franklin's right. You will extend your right so far as to prevent the possibility of the enemy occupying the upper part of the town. You will then form a column of a division for the purpose of pushing in the direction of the Plank and Telegraph roads, for the purpose of seizing the heights in rear of the town. This column will advance in three lines, with such intervals as you may judge proper, this movement to be covered by a heavy line of skirmishers in front and on both flanks. You will hold another division in readiness to advance in support of this movement, to be formed in the same manner as the leading division. Particular care and precaution must be taken to prevent collision with our own troops in the fog. The movement will not commence until you receive orders. The watchword will be "Scott."

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Chief of Staff and Assistant Adjutant-General.

P. S-The major-general commanding thinks that, as Howard's division led into the town, it is proper that one of the others take the advance.

General French was at once directed to prepare his division for the advance, and General Hancock to follow with his division in the same order of attack. The distance between the successive line was to be about 200 yards. The divisions were sent into action as came their turn in order of march.

At 9.50 a.m. General French reported that he had made his dispositions, and General Sumner was signaled that all was ready. The fog that covered the town and heights commenced lifting. French commenced his movement by throwing out a strong body of skirmishers, under command of Colonel (now Brigadier General) J. S. Mason, Fourth Ohio.

The division moved out of the city by two parallel streets, running into the Plank and Telegraph roads, and at 12.10 p.m. became engaged. General Kimball's brigade was in front, and by its subsequent conduct showed itself worthy to lead. It was followed in succession by the brigades of Colonel J. W. Andrews, First Delaware, and Colonel Palmer, One hundred and eighth New York. As has been stated, the