Free Excerpt from My New Book

Here's a free sample excerpt from my new book in Chapter 7. This takes place in December 1862, at the start of the battle of Fredericksburg. Enjoy!

     ...The next morning dawned gloomy with an incredibly thick fog that blanketed the entire battlefield. Even the rising sun could not penetrate the mist. Generals Lee and Longstreet stood at Lee's headquarters near the midpoint of Old Pete's line, atop what is now called “Lee's Hill.” It afforded an excellent view of almost the entire battlefield. At least it usually would have. Today, they could hear the Federal preparations in the valley and town below, but could not actually see any of it.

     Lee was once again in good spirits. Dressed in his usual gray sack coat with only the non-regulation three unwreathed stars of a Confederate Colonel to indicate his rank. His field glasses in their leather case strung around his neck, and hung at his side. He wore his plain, light butternut Planters hat. In spite of his gray beard, his brown eyes still showed the vigor of his youth, even though he was only about a month shy of his 56th birthday.

     Longstreet was in a good mood as well. They were going to fight just the type of battle he liked to fight, and had ample time to prepare the defenses. All that was left was for the Yankees to do their part and attack. In the midst of this, General Jackson,“Old Jack” his men called him, came riding up on his little horse as usual. But there was something different this time. Gone was his old battered homespun cap. Gone was his tattered old threadbare uniform coat and oversized muddy boots. Here he was in all his regal splendor. A new frock coat of gray wool given to him by General Stuart, with gold lace “chicken guts” on the cuffs and up the sleeves. At his side was his model 1850 U. S. Staff and Field sword. He even had his old boots shined up. He still retained his stern facial expression though. His appearance was so unusual, even the usually glum General Longstreet had to comment. Moxley Sorrel was present and describes the fun:

     “...General Lee's position with his staff during the day was on a small hill with a good plateau, from which he had a fair view of Sumner's attack on Longstreet, as well as Franklin's on Jackson. Longstreet was much of the time with him. Before the hot work began, "stonewall " rode up to have a word with Lee. As he dismounted we broke into astonished smiles. He was in a spick and span new overcoat, new uniform with rank marks, fine black felt hat, and a handsome sword. We had never seen the like before, and gave him our congratulations on his really fine appearance. He said he "believed it was some of his friend Stuart's doings."

Franklin was in great masses before Jackson, and before mounting, Longstreet called out, "Jackson, what are you going to do with all those people over there?" "Sir," said Stonewall, with great fire and spirit, "we will give them the bayonet..." i

     By ten o'clock, the fog slowly began to lift, and in another half hour some of the artillery of both sides began to feel out the other side. In another half hour, the fog was rapidly fading away and bright sunlight was shining through the scattered clouds. This exposed a Federal corps in Jackson's front advancing forward as if on parade, perfectly aligned and with flags snapping in the breeze. Along with the infantry was eleven batteries of artillery, 66 guns in all.

Lee watched as two guns dashed out from Jackson's line into the open field and take position on the Union flank. It was General Stuart's Chief of Artillery, Major John Pelham. The Major, while only twenty-four years old had a reputation for daring and bravery. One of his guns was a Blakely and the other a 12 pounder Napoleon. He fired so rapidly that the Federals halted their advance and milled about in confusion. The Major's rounds found their mark and bowled over lines of men in rapid order. The Union guns on the heights returned fire disabling the Blakely, which pulled out. The lone Napoleon kept right on blasting away, with Pelham having to help serve the gun. General Stuart sent word to retire. Pelham sent back the message, “Tell the General I can hold my ground.” Three more times the order to retire came, and three times he ignored it, until his ammunition was nearly gone. Finally, he pulled back to relative safety. General Lee remarked, “It is glorious to see such courage in one so young.”...

 

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