seemed a long time for General Gibbon's division to come up, though it moved, I believe, with dispatch, and as soon as the First Brigade arrived, Colonel [Norman J.] Hall's (a small one), I galloped to the front to reconnoiter for a point to assault. Our object then became apparent to the enemy, and a single horseman rode out to meet me, while at the same time a gun was limbered up on Marye's Hill and sent at a run to command the nearest bridge over the second canal. Not a man or gun was at that moment there to resist us. I found the plank only taken up from the bridge, and, hurrying back, directed the pioneers to pull boards from the siding of the nearest house as rapidly as possible to replace the planks.
While this was being done, the single gun opened upon us with shrapnel effectively, and seemed quite to paralyze our men. Soon another gun was added to it, and before we could get ready to cross the bridge a regiment of the enemy's infantry filed into the rifle-pits at double-quick time, and the opportunity was lost. General Gibbon had rapidly brought up artillery to reply to the enemy, but only to suffer itself without doing any damage in return, as those on the hill were completely sheltered by epaulements. General Gibbon also moved his other brigade rapidly to the right, to attempt the passage of the second canal by the bridge near Falmouth, but this movement was also anticipated by the enemy's infantry extending themselves to our right. This movement, however, had compelled the enemy to distribute his forces along a very extended line, and thus weaken it at all points; but more artillery had been placed on Marye's Hill. I returned to General Sedgwick about 8.30 a. m., and told him I thought the only thing left for us to do was to carry Marye's Hill by main force as speedily as possible. The plan adopted by General Sedgwick was to assault by two strong columns moving on the Plank road and Telegraph road, and to be followed by a heavy force in line against the stone wall. Great care was taken to conceal these preparations from the enemy.
About 11 a. m. the dispositions were completed, and the columns moved out on the roads, taking the double-quick step as soon as the enemy's fire began. His artillery on the heights had no effect, for the pieces could not be sufficiently depressed, and the shells burst in the town, doing no injury to us. These column suffered severely, however, from the musketry, and the colonels leading the columns both fell; one killed, the other mortally wounded. A portion of the column continued to advance, and the troops in line, now rushing forward in gallant style, drove the enemy from the stone wall, and captured this hill, with the artillery upon it. General Howe's division then assaulted the heights southeast of Hazel Run, and took them, with the guns there posted.
The enemy's line was thus cut in two, those on the left toward Hamilton's Crossing and those on the right toward Banks' Ford. It would have been easy now to have driven all the troops around Hamilton's Station and the Massaponax away, and destroyed the depot and transportation there. The order, however, required the movement toward Chancellorsville, and no disposition was made to accomplish the other object. General Gibbon's division remained in Fredericksburg, to prevent any of the enemy crossing to the north side, and the Sixth Corps moved out on the Plank road as soon as the troops, somewhat disorganized by the assaults, could be reformed.
General Brooks' division was now given the advance, and he was farthest in the rear, not having got moved from the crossing-place. This necessarily consumed a considerable time, and before it was completed the sound of the cannonading at Chancellorsville had ceased.