War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0449 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG,VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

bridges having been reported to the commanding general, I was directed to keep my position until further orders, taking care to prevent any danger of their destructions by the enemy.

At 4 p.m. I was instructed to cross my whole command, which order was shortly afterward modified, so that my orders were to cross about a brigade to insure the safety of the bridges. Deven's brigade, of Newton's division, Smith's corps, crossed with great enthusiasm, and took position on the south bank about dark. Some of the troops of Brook's division also crossed, but returned, in obedience to the orders as modified. Devens' brigade drove away the enemy's pickets from the houses near the crossing; threw out a line of pickets to the left and front, and held the position during the night.

At daylight on the morning of the 12th, Smith's corps began to cross. It was followed by Bayard's brigade of cavalry, which immediately proceeded to the front to make a reconnaissance. Reynolds' corps followed Bayard, and by 1 p.m. the whole of the grand division was on the south bank of the river. The crossing was made in excellent order, without the slightest confusion or stoppage. Smith's corps had been previously ordered, in compliance with the directions of the commanding general, to form parallel to the old Richmond road, with two divisions in front and one in reserve. Reynolds' corps was to form at nearly right angles to Smith's, his right resting on Smith's and his left on the river. Two divisions were to be in line of battle and one in reserve. The artillery was to be posted and used according to the directions of the corps commanders, as the nature of the ground and position of the enemy might determine. The dispositions indicated were made in the face of some slight opposition by the enemy's skirmishers, and a spiteful, though nearly harmless, fire from his artillery, and by 4 o'clock the troops were in the positions assigned to them.

The ground upon which the troops were disposed is, in general, a plain. It is cultivated and much cut up by hedges and ditches. The old Richmond road traverses the plain from right to left, about 1 mile from the river and nearly parallel to it. This road is bordered on both sides by an earthen parapet and ditch, and is and exceedingly strong feature in the defense of the ground, had the enemy closed to hold it. On the right of my position is Deep Run, and on the left, about 1 mile in front of Reynolds, is Massaponax Creek. Both streams are tributaries of the Rappahannock. The plain is bordered by a range of high hills in front, which stretches from Fredericksburg to the Massaponax, nearly parallel to the river. In front of and nearly parallel to the old Richmond road, and about 500 or 600 yards from it, at the foot of the range of hills, is the railroad. The ravine through which Deep Creek runs passes through the hills near the center of my front. Two brigades of Brooks' division, Smith's corps, were in front of Deep Creek, forming the extreme right. The remainder of Smith's troops was in rear and to the left of Deep Creek, Reynolds' corps being about 1 mile from the Massaponax. The enemy had artillery on the hills and in the valley of Deep Creek, in the wood near Reynolds' right, and on the Massaponax, so that the whole field was surrounded by it, except the right flank. His infantry appeared in all direction around the position. In front of Reynolds' right the forest extends to the old Richmond road, coming nearer the river there than at any other point in the vicinity of my position. The railroad traverses the forest.

About 7.45 o'clock on the morning of the 13th (Saturday), Brigadier-General Hardie arrived from general headquarters, and informed me verbally of the designs of the commanding general in reference to the attack,