Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Shelled by battery near Fredericksburg.–Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

Shelled by battery near Fredericksburg.–Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

November 17, 2012

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry)

November 17th. Towards evening came within sight of Falmouth and struck a very slight line of cavalry pickets. We got together all the mounted officers and orderlies of the brigade, and formed ourselves as a line of cavalry skirmishers, and advanced, with the infantry in rear of us, hustling the scattered rebels before us in fine style, advancing close to the high hills overlooking the little village below, where we were stopped by a shell from a rebel battery, which exploded just in front of us. The Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth regiments were ordered up, and directed to scale the hill, which they did in fine style, although the rebels had the exact range, and dropped several shells amongst them. Reaching the crest of the hill, the town of Fredericksburg was in full view across the river and to the left, the battery that was shelling us could be seen down by the river alongside a brick mill. The colonel sent for Captain Pettit, who soon came up with his battery, and by doubling the teams and getting many men to push, quickly ran a couple of guns up the very steep hill. We all stood around awaiting the opening fire, while the rebels industriously blazed away, hoping to drive us off, but they were disappointed, Pettit sighted the two guns himself, and the first two shells burst directly in front of the rebel guns, driving every man away from them. They subsequently tried to man the guns again, but were driven back just as before. Finally a single man came out with a rope and tried to draw the guns off, but in this too they were equally unsuccessful, and finally abandoned them altogether. In the meantime the infantry marched down, and occupied Falmouth at the base of the hills along the river bank. The river here flows over a rocky bed, and while unnavigable, is not fordable near the town. A little way up there is a dam of eight or ten feet fall perhaps, and below that the water gradually increased in depth, until in front of Fredericksburg, about a mile below, it is navigable for large boats. There were three bridges, one opposite Falmouth, and two in front of Fredericksburg, but all three are now destroyed except their blackened piers, which stand as melancholy monuments of the devastation of war.

As the pontoon train ordered to be on hand had not arrived, we could not get across, and so made preparations for an early attack the following morning, but to our surprise were directed to establish camps and picket lines.

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