Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/422

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416 Southern Hisfor-ical Society Papers.

Early's division was left at Hamilton's station to watch the Federal General, Sedgwick, who was left in the command of thirty thousand troops in front of Fredericksburg. Barksdale's brigade was left at Fredericksburg to picket the Rappahannock, from the reservoir above Falmouth to Fernahough house, below Fredericksburg, a dis- tance of three miles.

Sedgwic!k lay quietly in our front, and contented himself with for- tifying his position below Deep Run, until the 2d day of May, when he commenced recrossing his troops at Deep Run and moving over the Stafford Heights, in full view, up the river, doubtless with the view of deceiving us into the belief that he was withdrawing from our front and going to support Hooker at Chancellorsville, by the way of the United States ford. The heavy artillery and musketry firing in that direction told but too plainly that a terrible battle was raging there. About the middle of the forenoon Barksdale, in obedience to orders from General Early, moved off with his brigade on the Spot- sylvania Courthouse road to reinforce General Lee at Chancellors- ville, leaving the Twenty- first regiment to picket the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, the entire distance of three miles. The pickets of the Thirteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth regiments were re- lieved by the Twenty-first, and the brigade moved off in full view of the enemy. The only instruction I received from General Barksdale was, " Watch your flanks, hold the picket line as long as you can, then fall back along the Spotsylvania Courthouse road, and hunt for your brigade." I cannot well describe my feelings when I found my regi- ment thus left alone, stretched out three miles long, with only a small river between us and thirty thousand well-armed and hostile men, purposely displayed to magnify their numbers, on Stafford's Height, with balloons and signal corps observing and reporting our weakness. The mass of the citizens of Fredericksburg were patriotically devoted to our cause, yet 1 knew that some of the citizens were unfriendly to us, ready and willing to betray us. My nerves were not much strengthened by a message I received from the facetious Colonel Holder, of the Seventeenth regiment, as the brigade marched off: "Tell the Colonel farewell; the next time I hear from him will be from Johnson's Island." Of course every man in the Twenty-first regiment felt his loneliness and danger, and was on the quivive, watch- ing front, flank and rear, with his gun loaded, his knapsack on his back, and rations in his haversack.

Immediately after the brigade disappeared behind Marye's Hill, my pickets at P'ernahough house reported the enemy preparing to