We were invited to dine at Mr. Burgess' with Mrs. Campbell (sister of late Mrs. Newton) Mrs. Clark, &c. but could not go as Mr. & Mrs. Joel Deming and Mrs. Converse dined here, also Mr. Plumly and brother Daniel.
On December 10, Julia's nephew Rufus Dawes was encamped near Fredericksburg, Virginia, and wrote the following in a letter to his sister:
The country is clamoring for General Burnside to drive his army to butchery at Fredericksburgh. What we think of the probability of Burnside's attacking Fredericksburgh is best shown in the fact that we are building winter quarters. Not by order, oh, no! No general would dare give such an order, as the country would demand his head immediately. But if General Burnside allows himself to be pushed into a battle here, against the enemy's works, the country will mourn thousands slain, and the Rappahannock will run red with blood expended in fruitless slaughter.
On the early morning of December 12th, 1862, in the midst of a dense fog, a heavy bombardment of artillery was opened on the town of Fredericksburgh. A crossing of the Rappahannock in pontoon boats was forced later in the day. Our brigade lay quietly on the heights opposite Fredericksburgh until about four o'clock in the afternoon of this day, when we moved toward a pontoon bridge about a mile below the town. From the Stafford Heights we had a fine view of the broad open plain on the south side of the river, upon which long lines of battle were being formed by our troops. General Franklin's grand division was assigned to duty on the left flank of the army. After crossing the bridge, our march was directed down the south bank of the river for nearly two miles. Our column was in plain view of the rebel artillerists, posted on the hills at about the distance of one mile. Battery after battery opened fire upon us, as we moved along. Owing to the distance and their bad practice, no damage was inflicted. The shell whistled over us, and a panic took place among our colored servants, who were following the regiment. They were loaded down with coffee pots, frying pans and officers' rations, and they fled hastily over the river bank, tumbling from top to bottom, and scattering our officers' provisions. The brigade reached a stone house, known as Bernard's, at dark. We bivouacked that night in a fine grove of trees around the house. The night was very cold.