War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0355 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG. VA.,

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properly accomplished, General Stoneman's corps moving from Bealeton and General Butterfield's corps moving from Warrenton Junction.

Upon my arrival at Hartwood Church, November 19, impressed with the necessity of a prompt and vigorous prosecution of the campaign, the fear of a delay in the construction of the bridges over the Rappahannock, and a belief that the enemy, by such a movement, would be effectually prevented from making the Rappahannock River (of itself a most formidable obstacle) his line of defense, I addressed the following letter to the major-general commanding the army:

HEADQUARTERS CENTER GRAND DIVISION,

Camp at Hartwood, Va., November 19, 1862

Lieutenant Colonel LEWIS RICHMOND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:

COLONEL: I have the honor to request that you will call the attention of the major-general commanding to the advantage it will be in the prosecution of the campaign to allow my command to cross the Rappahannock at the ford 4 miles distant from this point, and to march by the most direct route, to Saxton's Junction. I have three days' rations from to-morrow morning, and forage I can obtain in the country. At Bowling Green I am nearer to supplies delivered at Port Royal than I can be here, and supplies, can be landed at that point, in a day and a half from Washington. I make this suggestion in order to have it brought to the general's attention, in the event it should not already have received his reflection. I cannot possibly encounter a force in this advance which I cannot easily push away, and, should Sickles join me and supplies be properly furnished, continue the advance. It has appeared to me that the lateness of the season almost demands celerity of movement on our part.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH HOOKER,

Major-General, Commanding Center Grand Division.

This movement was not approved, and my command was moved to the vicinity of the Potomac Creek crossing and the railroad from Aquila Creek to Falmouth, and remained there until the movements for crossing the Rappahannock in December.

During this time a disgraceful affair at the outpost occurred, in consequence of the neglect of duty of some of the officers of the cavalry division, resulting in the capture of-- men and -- horses. The details of this affair are set forth in the report and correspondence hereto annexed, marked A.*

Upon the arrival of the pontoons, which had been delayed, it was determined to cross the Rappahannock. Meanwhile the enemy had assembled in force and intrenched himself upon the opposite bank, in rear of the city of Fredericksburg.

The grand division commanders were assembled to discuss and determine the place and method of crossing the river. It was proposed by the major-general commanding that a portion of the army should cross at Falmouth and a portion 12 miles below. To this I objected by my vote, and proposed a crossing above. It was finally determined by General Burnside to cross at Falmouth and 12 miles below. This plan was afterward changed, and three bridges thrown across the river at Fredericksburg and two, about 4 miles below, my orders being to hold my troops in hand, and, in event of a successful crossing, to spring upon the enemy's line of retreat with my whole force. My corps were moved to the three upper bridges to carry out the proposed plans, General Stoneman's corps in advance, followed by General Butterfield's corps.

The night previous to the attack (December 12), I was ordered to send two divisions (Sickles' and Birney's) of General Stoneman's corps to the bridges, 4 miles below, to support General Franklin.

On December 13, during the attack of General Franklin, without any

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*See affair near Hartwood Church, Va., November 28, 1862, p. 13.

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