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 Union re-enactors attack Trench Hill on Saturday as hundreds of Confederate troops fire on them during the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/9/2012

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That meant the Union soldiers coming from Ferry Farm got fairly wet, jumping into water up to their knees and thighs, and getting help up the muddy bank from National Guard troops.

Watters joked that the water from his boots was enough to make soup.

"Two soups for dinner!" said 9-year-old Nathan Guilbert, as he watched another re-enactor do the same thing.

The guard's 189th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, based in Bowling Green in Caroline County, deployed the American military's most-modern bridging gear to support the 19th-century scene. The Virginia guard's top brass observed the training operation from the fields above at Ferry Farm, George Washington's boyhood home.

As pickets traded fire across the water, Union engineers paddled the first pontoon boat to Fredericksburg's shore to establish a bridgehead.

The river crossings were filled with meaning for re-enactors and the guardsmen, they said. The morning phase of "Fire on the Rappahannock" commemorated the first amphibious assault undertaken under fire in U.S. history--the sort of thing for which today's Marines are known.

HIGH SPIRITS

Nathan Guilbert and his sister, Joanna, 7, were watching the re-enactments with their grandparents. Nathan hoped to see a special type of pistol that generals carried, while Joanna said she had already learned lots about the women of the era.

Earlier, Joanna covered her ears and nose as the Northern troops began their assault on the city, said her grandmother, Jackie Kotowsai, a history teacher in Spotsylvania County.

"I bet in the old days it would smell terrible," Nathan said.

THE NOISE OF WAR

The frightening sounds of rifle and cannon fire, which echoed off buildings and carried at least seven blocks away, led some small children to cry and pets to be skittish.

"It was like bombs were going off," said Megan Miller, who lives near the river with her Cairn terrier, Toto, off Sophia Street. They woke to the sound of gunfire nearby, as the Yanks tried to advance up Rocky Lane and push Rebels back from Lower Caroline Street. "I didn't know the battle was going to happen. But my dog sure let me know."


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