General Burnside to General Halleck, dated December 19, six days after the battle, by which it appears that he intended to make his "vigorous attack," as he there calls it, over two miles from my front and upon the heights in the rear of the town of Fredericksburg, and that part of his order to me in which he informed me of the orders which he had given to General Sumner, showing that General Sumner's movement was to be simultaneous with mine. In this he states the measures taken to avoid a collision between General Sumner's force and mine, while in the plan before the committee he is represented as testifying that he did not mean that General Sumner should move until I had taken the position designated in the order.
General Burnside's plan of attack, as given by the committee.
The enemy had cut a road along in the rear of the line of heights where we made our attack, by means of which they connected the two wings of their army, and avoided a long detour around through a bad country. I obtained from a colored man, from the other side of the town, information in regard to this new road which proved to be correct. I wanted to obtain possession of that new road, and that was my reason for making an attack on the extreme left. I did not intend to make the attack on the right until that position had been taken, which I supposed would stagger the enemy, cutting their line in two; and then I proposed to make a direct attack on their front and drive them out of their works.
Extract from General Burnside's order to me, informing me of General Sumner's orders.
He has ordered another column of a division or more to be moved from General Sumner's command up the plank road to its intersection of the Telegraph road, where they will divide, with a view to seizing the heights on both of those roads. Holding these heights with the heights near Captain Hamilton', will, I hope, compel the enemy to evacuate the whole ridge between these points. He makes these moves by column, distant from each ew of avoiding from each other, with a view of avoiding the possiblity of a collicion of our own forces, which might occur in a general mvoement during the fog.
General Burnside's plan of attack in his letter to General Halleck.
I discovered that he did not anticipate the crossing of our whole force at Fredericksburg, and I hoped, by rapidly throwing the whole command over at that place to separate, by a vigorous attack, the forces of the enemy on the river below from the forces behind and on the crest in the rear of the town, in which case we could fight with him with great advantage in our favor. For this we had to gain a heigh on the extreme right of the crest which commanded a new road lately made by the enemy, &c.
The statements in General Burnside's letter to General Halleck, is statement in the order of the 13th to me, and his statement of his plan before the committee all agree upon one point at least - that he did not mean to make his "main attack" under either of those orders. Under the orders he issued he designed seizing, first, the heights in rear of the town; next, the heights near Captain Hamilton's, which he supposed would stagger the enemy, and then he proposed to make a "direct attack" in the enemy's front and drive him out of his works. The orders not only agree in this, but the fact, in all the significant proportions of its results in killed and wounded, was before the committee,