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Gradually the belief spread that the long vacation was over. After Fredericksburg the armies had spent four months in peace along the Rappahannock, but there was a certainty in the minds of all that the armed peace had passed.

This was true of the cavalry corps, and part of it even crossed the upper waters of the Rappahannock; but the same storm which dashed the thick drops against her windows also filled the river to overflowing, and the brave troopers, recalled, had to swim their horses in returning. Lane was among these, and his humorous account of the affair was signed, "Your loyal amphibian!"

Like a lion at bay, restless in easy view of the hosts of the Rebellious, the army had remained in its camp upon the heights of Stafford until the arrival of the pontoons. For miles along the Rappahannock, the picket of blue had his counterpart in the picket of grey upon the opposite shore.

Though from the outside they were rather dismal, especially through the dreary winter time, within they were cheerful, and the surroundings as neat and comfortable as possible under the circumstances. On November 24, 1862, in a letter to his daughter Mary, he writes: "...General Burnside's whole army is apparently opposite Fredericksburg and stretches from the Rappahannock to the Potomac.

A man who went there for his own pleasure, or even devotion, would have been as wise as one who had built himself last summer a villa on the Rappahannock, or retired for private meditation to the orchard of Hougoumont during the battle of Waterloo. Nevertheless, there Severinus stayed till men began to appreciate him; and called him, and not unjustly, Saint. Why not?

This force, however, was not posted on the Rappahannock with a view of retarding the enemy's advance, but merely for observation. Lee, at this date, had no intention of concentrating at Fredericksburg.

"It gives you a haunted, weird feeling," said Dalton, looking at the closed windows and smokeless chimneys. But the people of Fredericksburg had good cause to go. Two hundred thousand men, hardened now to war, faced one another across the two hundred yards of the Rappahannock. Four hundred Union cannon on the other side of the river could easily smash their little city to pieces.

On the evening of the fifth, General Hooker held a council of war with his commanders, at which, however, nothing was decided upon; but in the night he took the responsibility of ordering all his forces to recross the Rappahannock, which they did in good order and without molestation; and thus ended the disastrous battle of Chancellorsville, with a loss of about eighteen thousand men on each side, and our remaining troops returned to bivouac on their old camping-ground on the north bank of the river near Falmouth.

After this action every thing remained quiet until toward the end of April General Lee continuing to hold the same position with his right at Fredericksburg, his left at the fords near Chancellorsville, and his cavalry, under Stuart, guarding the banks of the Rappahannock in Culpepper. That this movement was a surprise to Lee, as has been supposed by some persons, is a mistake.

The Rappahannock river flowed between the Yankee and the Rebel armies, each picketing its own side of the stream. By common consent there was no shooting across the river, but on the other hand there was an occasional exchange of tobacco and coffee by means of little boats. We could hear them impudently singing: "O soldiers, won't you meet us."

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