Above is an artist’s depiction of the skirmish on the night of April 18th. Two cavalry regiments (2nd New York-Harris Light and 1st Pennsylvania) were followed by the 2nd United States Sharpshooters, the 84th New York Infantry, otherwise called the “14th Brooklyn Chasseurs” New York State Militia, and Battery B of the 4th United States Artillery. Their mission had been to attack any Confederate forces (headquartered at the Duff Green Warehouse…today across from Amy’s Cafe) and seize the bridges over the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg. The bridges, already prepared for burning with pitch, tar and straw, were fired.
The mixed force of Confederates (9th Virginia Cavalry, 40th and 55th Virginia Infantry) engaged the Federals with a barricade on the hill above Falmouth to the west, and fought a delay through the village before destroying at least half of each bridge (Falmouth, Chatham and Railroad) behind them. The Federals would not enter Fredericksburg until May 2nd.
Not only were the bridges rendered useless, but Confederates burned forty schooners, three steamers, and several grain and cotton depots to deny them to the Union.
A letter by Charles Morton, on the next slide, gives a vivid firsthand description of the fight that took place by today’s Arby’s on Warrenton Road in Falmouth.