Copyright © Randy Strickland, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
The Battle of Fredericksburg and the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry
American By Birth -- Southern By the Grace of GOD!!
||This part of my site is a synopsis of the Battle of Fredericksburg, specifically that part of the battle in front of Marye's Heights, the Sunken Road and the Stonewall. The 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry was part of General Cobb's Brigade and held their position at the right end of the Sunken Road behind the Stonewall. Together, with the other Confederate troops that made up Cobbs Brigade held off seven Union Divisions in their futile attempt to gain the Heights.|
Now consisting of 160 barefoot
men, on November 26, 1862, along with Hampton's Legion, the 18th georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry were officially detached from the Texas Brigade and reassigned to General Longstreet's I Corps, in the Georgia brigade of Gen. T. R. R. Cobb and the Palmetto brigade of Micah Jenkins, respectively. A new law having been passed requiring southern State regiments to be assigned with regiments of their own states. General Thomas R. R. Cobb's brigade was composed of the 16th, 18th, and 24th Georgia Regiments, Cobb's Legion, and Phillips' Legion. The 18th Georgia Regiment remained assigned to General Longstreet's Corps until the end of the war.|
General Burnside reluctantly replaced General McClellan on the Union side, and recommended to his superiors in Washington that the next attempt on Richmond should be from the north, through Fredricksburg. His army had been reorganizerd
and transformed into three "Grand Divisions" of two corps each. He made his move towards Richmond, by shifting General Sumner towards Fredericksburg, which was countered by General Longstreet's Corps being placed opposite him. General Lee, knowing that General Burnside would move very cautiously,
sent for General Stonewall Jackson's divisions. The opposing forces now numbered 122,000 troops on the Union side and 78,000 on the Confederate side.
On the morning of 13 December 1862 both the Union army and the Confederates readied themselves for the continuing battle. General "Bull" Sumner's Grand Division had been preparing very early that morning, hidden from the Rebel's view by the heavy fog which laid over the city. Union General Sumner, having been ordered by his commander, General Ambrose Burnside, to capture and hold Marye's Heights by sending a "division or more", started his troops early. Used to leading his men into battle, General Sumner was also ordered to stay on the Union side of the Rappahannock River. General Burnside feared the loss of one of his most important and productive division commanders.|
Battle Map of Fredericksburg - Marye's Heights
||In the meanwhile, Confederate General Lafayette Mclaws had ordered General Barksdale and his troops in reserve for a much deserved rest, they having been heavily engaged the day before in slowing the enemy crossing of the river. General Mclaws then ordered Confederate General Thomas R.R. Cobb to place his brigade in the sunken road behind the stonewall on the crest of Marye's Heights.|
|General Cobb placed his brigade in trenches extending the line 250 yards. In all, his brigade numbered 2000 men on that line with another 7000 men waiting just beyond the ridge. As morning came and the fog began to lift, Union General Franklin received General Burnside's orders to advance against the Confederate right and turn their flank. Behind the wall and on the plains to it's front, both Union and Confederate soldiers could hear the raging battle. General Franklin's division moved along the Richmond Stage Road to attack where his commander thought the Confederates were most vulnerable, at Hamilton's Crossing. As the Union troops on the Confederates right are engaged by General Jackson's troops, General Sumner began his thrust against Marye's Heights.|
As can be seen in the "Battle Map" above, the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, was posted in line behind the "Stone Wall", towards the south end of the wall. General Cobb's Brigade was in battle formation with the 8th South Carolina and 27th South Carolina on the extreme south end of the wall. Next in line, the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry; the 24th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry; Phillip's Legion; the 25th North Carolina Troops; and the 24th North Carolina Troops were placed at the extreme north end of the wall.
NOTE:Once again, the war had brought members of our family together in the defense of the Southern Cause. With the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry was our Great Great Grandfather George Right Smith and on the northern end of the line with the 24th Regiment of North Carolina Troops, was our Great Great Great Uncle Marshall Strickland. Several times, throughout the war, these two members of our family fought near one another, suffering the same and fighting the same enemy.
|Marye's Heights were located west of Fredericksburg, skirted by Telegraph Road which had become sunken due to years of heavy wagon traffic. Intersecting this road were Hanover Street and Plank Road. As General Sumner's troops moved into formation, they were forced by a canal to use two small bridges and enter a virtually unprotected plain at the base of Marye's Heights.|
As the Union troops formed into line of battle, they were able to observe the stone wall in front of the Conferderate position on the Heights, but could not see the troops hidden behind the wall and in the trenches. Here, the Confederates had removed even more dirt from the sunken road and placed it against the stone wall as further protection against Union shot.
|General Lee asked his "Old War Horse", General James Longstreet, if he could hold this line against what was surely to be massive Union attacks. General Longstreet answered confidently, "If you put every man now on the other side of the Potomac in that field to approach me over the same line, and give me plenty of ammunition, I will kill them all before they reach me."|
Though unseen by the Union troops, the entrenched Confederate troops would have a clear line of fire over the entire plain to their front. General Longstreet had ordered his Chief of Artillery, Colonel Alexander to position his cannon to command any spot on the field. Able to support the troops in the trenches, Colonel Alexander felt there was not a safe place anywhere to his front that could not be hit by his artillerists.
|Behind the wall, General Cobb's troops...including those of the 18th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, were formed into two lines. In this position, the Confederates would be able to keep up a continuous rate of fire. The first rank would fire, fall back to reload and the second rank would step up, fire, fall back and reload as the first rank moved forward to fire. This cycle was to continue until the enemy was either broken or victorious.|
Near midday, Union General Sumner gave orders to his Lieutenant, General Darius Couch, to begin the attack. General Couch had chosen the division of General William French to lead the assault. General Nathan Kimball's brigade was the first to move up the Heights. As the brigade started to march against the heights the Confederate infantry behind the wall opened up murderous rate of fire. Within the first 15 minutes, General Kimball's brigade was decimated. Survivors went to ground, nearly 125 yards short of the Heights, trying to escape the hell they had been led into.|
Behind General Kimball's brigade was that of Colonel Andrews. His troops were not to fare any better as in just a few short minutes, they were mercilessly cut down. Next, Colonel Oliver Palmer ordered his Union troops at the double quick into the fray. Meeting the same fate as their fellows before them, this brigade was soon lying wounded or dead on the field. In very short order, an entire Union division was destroyed and laying at the foot of the Heights, never getting any closer to the Stonewall at the top.|
General Sumner's division commanders were not idle during this initial assault. General Winfield S. Hancock lined up his division to begin to support the faltering attack. As he rode amongst his troops, he shouted encouragement and tried to calm his men, who had observed the decimation of the division before them. His division was formed into line of battle led by the brigade of Colonel Sam Zook, then that of General Thomas Meagher and his soon to be famed "Irish Brigade", and the last in line to be the brigade of General John Caldwell.
||As General Hancock's division moved forward closely on the heels of the first three brigades, they too were quickly dispatched by the defenders of the Stonewall. Tryng to fall back, the survivors of Colonel Zooks brigade were slowed by the piling dead and the clutching wounded, desparately trying to gain help to retreat from this terrible field of horror. Moving to the attack, the Irish Brigade (88th New York, 69th New York, 63rd New York, 28th Mass. and 116th Pennsylvania) quickly double-stepped over their fallen comrades.|
|As Col. McMillan had taken command of Cobb's Brigade after the mortal wounding of General Cobb, the command "Give it to them now boys! Now's the time! Give it to them!" rang out. The Confederate commander was Irish himself and was ordering the devaststion of fellow Irish. Though the Confederates above them kept up their murderous fire, the Irishmen were able to get to within 50 yards of the wall. However, the veteran Confederate troops entrenched behind the wall, supported by the troops atop the Heights, as well as the well trained artillerists, were able to stay this attack, like the others. Later, General Thomas Meagher would be startled by the carnage and the fact that he had lost nearly 45% of his 1,200 man brigade, 545 men killed, wounded or missing.|
It must be noted here, the Confederates of General Cobb's Brigade were not wholly cold to the fact that they were presenting a devastating defense. Many were moved by the valiant charges of the enemy and in particular, that of the Irish brigade. As many of the defenders in the "sunken road" were Confederate "Sons of Erin"...
As General Caldwell's troops, the final brigade of General Hancock's division moved into the field, Colonel Nelson Miles (later to gain fame as the captor of the Indian Chieftain Geronimo)led two regiments on an oblique towards the Confederates left. They gained ground to within 40 yards of the wall. However, they to were stopped by the Confederate fire. As he reported back to his commander, General Caldwell, he suggested that a bayonet charge against the Confederate left would be successful. General Caldwell denied the frantic request of this regimental commander, who, after realizing he would not be given permission for such an attack, requested the assistance of General O.O. Howard. However, before gaining this support, Colonel Miles was shot through the throat. Yet, his pleas had not fallen on deaf ears and Corps Commander General Darius Couch sent orders to General Howard to send his division against the Confederate left, enmasse... with bayonets.
Although aligning for this attack, General Howard had to change plans and send his troops to the relief of Generals French and Hancock. Both Generals were pleading for relief of their own destroyed divisions. General Hancock's division had lost nearly 42% of his division (2,100 men).|
Cobb's Brigade Behind the Stonewall
General Howard sent his brigades over the same killing ground that the first two divisions had failed to gain. His troops had a very difficult time moving through the many wounded and dead bodies on the field. Some reported the grass was slippery with blood.|
Though the troops of General Cobb's Brigade were proving to be very successful against the Union assaults, General Lee and his staff were worried that these brave Georgians could not hold the line. General Longstreet sent word to General Cobb that if his left was in danger, to fall back. General Cobb sent word back to his Corps commander that he would never leave his position. To support this General from Georgia and his brave soldiers that were stalling the enemy at every point, General Longstreet ordered General Lafayette Mclaws to move the troops of General Joseph Kershaw forward to the stonewall and in support of the troops there.
During the third assault, General Thomas R.R. Cobb was mortally wounded. In a written report of the battle, General Robert E. Lee would later write, "In the third assault the brave and lamented Brigadier-General Thomas R.R. Cobb fell at the head of his troops" and further, "Fearing that Cobb's brigade might exhaust it's ammunition, General Longstreet had directed General Kershaw to take two regiments to its support. Arriving after the fall of General Cobb, he assumed command. His troops taking position on the crest and the foot of the hill, to which point Confederate General Ransom also advanced three other regiments." |
||Now, with the additional troops, the defenders of Marye's Heights and the Stonewall were four deep and continued an overwhelming and death dealing fire on the Union blue clad troops. Federal General O.O. Howard's troops were quickly added to the list of the defeated and a fourth division was sent against the Height's and near certain death.|
|This division, commanded by General Sam Sturgis moved south of the original stepping off point and tried to move against the Confederate left flank. Like those divisions before this one, General Sturgis' was blasted by an insurmountable fire from the defending Confederate forces, and was forced to ground and the little cover the troops could find against the fire storm raging around them. Finally, observing the terrible losses of their men, the Union commanders stopped the onslaught.|
However, later that afternoon, Union army commander General Ambrose Burnside ordered a renewal of the attacks on both fronts. Grand Division commander General Franklin, whose troops had been stalled by those of Generals Jackson and Stuart on the far right Confederate flank, failed to comply with those orders. Union General Joseph Hooker was ordered to send his Grand Division against the entrenched defenses of Marye's Heights. Upon arriving on the battlefield, he was astounded and sickened by what he saw and heard.
He rode back to report the condition of the Army to General Burnside. In his abscence, Union General Daniel Butterfield was left in command. Feeling he must deploy troops to help relieve those of General Sturgis' decimated division, he ordered forward the brigade of General Charles Griffin. These troops too, were soon pinned down and useless on the field.
An attempt to send artillery forward to support the divisions laying and being slaughtered on the field, met the same fate as most of the artillerists and horses were shot down while unlimbering.|
Union commanders on the field observed what they determind to be a retreat of Confederate forces from the Heights. Believing this to be an opportunity that must be pressed, Union General Andrew Humphrey's division was sent forward. Realizing it was slow going to stop, fire, reload and move on towards the Confederates... (Like General Hood had done at Gaines Mill and South Mountain with the Texas Brigade), General Humphreys ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge. Quickly, another 1000 Union troops were added to the dead and wounded on the field. Believing that General Humphrey's troops would need covering fire to withdraw, General George Sykes sent his division forward to their support. The devastating Confederate fire soon drove this division to ground, as it had all the others.|
As General Hooker returned from his meeting with his Commanding General, who he was unable to convince of the futility of the assaults, ordered the division of General George Getty forward. Col. Rush Hawkins Brigade, undetected in the late day light, moved against the Stonewall. They were soon spotted and the heavy Confederate fire was brought to bear on these exposed troops.
General Hooker had had enough. He ordered the useless assaults to be abandoned as he had "lost as many men as his orders required."
There had been seven divisions sent against the well defended Confederate position. The Confederate ranks had been four or five deep at one point, with the men in the rear loading and passing rifles to the front to be fired with the killing power of a modern day machine gun. The Confederate infantry behind the wall and the supporting artillery had poured volley after volley of deadly fire into the rank and file of the Union divisions sent against them. Finally, the slaughter stopped, as thousands of wounded and dead layed on the field. The cries of the wounded could be heard all through the night. Many of the Union soldiers who had gone to ground, were now piling the dead bodies of their comrades around them, using the dead as protection against the bullets raining down upon them from the Heights.
As daylight came over the killing field, most of what was left of the Union army had retreated to Fredericksburg and were making prpearations to recross to the other side of the Rappahannock River. As the toll was added up, the Union army had realized 7,000 dead, wounded or missing in front of Marye's Heights. This, compared to only 1,200 Confederate casualties, was a lop sided victory in deed. In the entire battle, the Union had lost 12,653 men compared to 5,377 Confederate losses.
It would not be until spring, when General Burnside would try once again to defeat the Confederates at Fredericksburg. This new campaign would quickly be referred to as the "Mud March" and failed miserably. General Burnside was soon after relieved of his command, replaced by General "Fighting Joe" Hooker.
General Hooker would soon learn the lessons of his predecessors, as he would gain notoriety in defeat... at the Battle of Chancellorsville, in the Spring of 1863.
Report of General Robert E. Lee, C.S. Army,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia,
Battle of Fredericksburg
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI [S# 31]
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
December 14, 1862.|
Hon. SECRETARY OF WAR,
SIR: On the night of the 10th instant, the enemy commenced to throw three bridges over the Rappahannock, two at Fredericksburg and the third about 1 1/4 miles below, near the mouth of Deep Run. The plain on which Fredericksburg stands is so completely commanded by the hills of Stafford (in possession of the enemy) that no effectual opposition could be offered to the construction of the bridges or the passage of the river without exposing our troops to the destructive fire of his numerous batteries. Positions were, therefore, selected to oppose his advance after crossing. The narrowness of the Rappahannock, its winding course, and deep bed afforded opportunity for the construction of bridges at points beyond the reach of our artillery, and the banks had to be watched by skirmishers. The latter, sheltering themselves behind the houses, drove back the working parties of the enemy at the bridges opposite the city, but at the lowest point of crossing, where no shelter could be had, our sharpshooters were themselves driven off, and the completion of that bridge was effected about noon on the 11th.|
In the afternoon of that day, the enemy's batteries opened upon the city, and by dark had so demolished the houses on the river bank as to deprive our skirmishers of shelter, and under cover of his guns he effected a lodgment in the town. The troops which had so gallantly held their position in the city under the severe cannonade during the day, resisting the advance of the enemy at every step, were withdrawn during the night, as were also those who, with equal tenacity, had maintained their post at the lowest bridge. Under cover of darkness and of a dense fog on the 12th, a large force passed the river and took position on the right bank, protected by their heavy guns on the left.
The morning of the 13th, his arrangements for attack being completed, about 9 o'clock (the movement veiled by a fog) he advanced boldly in large force against our right wing. General Jackson's corps occupied the right of our line, which rested on the railroad; General Longstreet's the left, extending along the heights to the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg. General Stuart, with two brigades of cavalry, was posted in the extensive plain on our extreme right. As soon as the advance of the enemy was discovered through the fog, General Stuart, with his accustomed promptness, moved up a section of his horse artillery, which opened with effect upon his flank and drew upon the gallant Pelham a heavy fire, which he sustained unflinchingly for about two hours.
In the mean time the enemy was fiercely encountered by General A. P. Hill's division, forming General Jackson's right, and, after an obstinate combat, repulsed. During this attack, which was protracted and hotly contested, two of General Hill's brigades were driven back upon our second line. General Early, with part of his division, being ordered to his support, drove the enemy back from the point of woods he had seized, and pursued him into the plain until arrested by his artillery. The right of the enemy's column, extending beyond Hill's front, encountered the right of General Hood, of Longstreet's corps. The enemy took possession of a small copse in front of Hood, but were quickly dispossessed and repulsed with loss.
During the attack on our right, the enemy was crossing troops over his bridges at Fredericksburg and massing them in front of Longstreet's line. Soon after his repulse on our right, he commenced a series of attacks on our left with a view of obtaining possession of the heights immediately overlooking the town. These repeated attacks were repulsed in gallant style by the Washington Artillery, under Colonel [J. B.] Walton, and a portion of McLaws' division, which occupied these heights. The last assault was made after dark, when Colonel [E. P.] Alexander's battalion had relieved the Washington Artillery (whose ammunition had been exhausted), and ended the contest for the day.
The enemy was supported in his attacks by the fire of strong batteries of artillery on the right bank of the river, as well as by his numerous heavy batteries on the Stafford Heights.
Our loss during the operations since the movements of the enemy began amounts to about 1,800 killed and wounded. Among the former I regret to report the death of the patriotic soldier and statesman, Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb, who fell upon our left, and among the latter that brave soldier and accomplished gentleman, Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg, who was very seriously, and it is feared mortally, wounded during the attack on our right.
The enemy today has been apparently engaged in caring for his wounded and burying his dead. His troops are visible in their first position in line of battle, but, with the exception of some desultory cannonading and firing between skirmishers, he has not attempted to renew the attack. About 550 prisoners were taken during the engagement, but the full extent of his loss is unknown.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,Near Fredericksburg, Va, December 16, 1862.|
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: I have the honor to report that the army of General Burnside re crossed the Rappahannock last night, leaving a number of his dead and some of his wounded on this side. Our skirmishers again occupy Fredericksburg and the south bank of the river. Large camps and wagon trains are visible on the hills of Stafford, and his heavy guns occupy their former position on that bank. There is nothing to indicate his future purpose. I have sent one brigade of cavalry down the Rappahannock, and have put Jackson's corps in motion in the same direction. I think it probable an attempt will be made to cross at Port Royal. Another brigade of cavalry has been sent up the Rappahannock, with orders, if opportunity offers, to cross and penetrate the enemy's rear and endeavor to ascertain his intention. I learn from prisoners that the three grand divisions of General Burnside's army, viz, Hooker's, [E. V.] Sumner's, and [W. B.] Franklin's, crossed this side, and were engaged in the battle of the 13th. They also state that the corps of Generals [S. P.] Heintzelman and Sigel reached Fredericksburg Sunday evening. Should the enemy cross at Port Royal in force before I can get this army in position to meet him, I think it more advantageous to retire to the Annas and give battle than on the banks of the Rappahannock. My design was to have done so in the first instance. My purpose was changed not from any advantage in this position, but from an unwillingness to open more of our country to depredation than possible, and also with a view of collecting such forage and provisions as could be obtained in the Rappahannock Valley. With the numerous army opposed to me, and the bridges and transportation at its command, the crossing of the Rappahannock, where it is as narrow and winding as in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, can be made at almost any point without molestation. It will, therefore, be more advantageous to us to draw him farther away from his base of operations.
The loss of the enemy in the battle of the 13th seems to have been heavy, though I have no means of computing it accurately. An intelligent prisoner says he heard it stated in the army to have amounted to 19,000, though a citizen of Fredericksburg who remained in the city computes it at 10,000. I think the latter number nearer the truth than the former.
I hope there will be no relaxation in making every preparation for the contest which will have to be renewed, but at what point I cannot now state.
I have learned that on the side of the enemy Generals Bayard and Jackson were killed, and Generals Hooker and [John] Gibbon wounded; the former said to be severely so.
I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 10, 1863.
General S. COOPER,|
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit herewith my report of the operations of this army from the time that it moved from Culpeper CourtHouse, in November, 1862, and including the battle of Fredericksburg. This report is sent in prior to reports of some of the preceding operations in consequence of the subordinate reports of this period having been first received. I have not yet received all the reports of the division and corps commanders for the intervening period, but hope soon to be able to furnish to the Department complete records of our operations during the last campaign.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
On November 15, [1862,] it was known that the enemy was in motion toward the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and one regiment of infantry, with a battery of light artillery, was sent to re-enforce the garrison at Fredericksburg.
On the 17th, it was ascertained that Sumner's corps had marched from Catlett's Station in the direction of Falmouth, and information was also received that on the 15th some Federal gunboats and transports had entered Aquia Creek. This looked as if Fredericksburg was again to be occupied, and McLaws' and Ransom's divisions, accompanied by W. H. F. Lee's brigade of cavalry and Lane's battery, were ordered to proceed to that city. To ascertain more fully the movements of the enemy, General Stuart was directed to cross the Rappahannock.
On the morning of the 18th, he forced a passage at Warrenton Springs in the face of a regiment of cavalry and three pieces of artillery, guarding the ford, and reached Warrenton soon after the last of the enemy's column had left. The information he obtained confirmed the previous reports, and it was clear that the whole Federal Army, under Major-General Burnside, was moving toward Fredericksburg.
On the morning of the 19th, therefore, the remainder of Longstreet's corps was put in motion for that point. The advance of General Sumner reached Falmouth on the afternoon of the 17th, and attempted to cross the Rappahannock, but was driven back by Colonel [William B.] Ball with the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, four companies of Mississippi infantry, and [Capt. J. W.] Lewis' light battery.
On the 21st, it became apparent that General Burnside was concentrating his whole army on the north side of the Rappahannock.
On the same day, General Sumner summoned the corporate authorities of Fredericksburg to surrender the place by 5 p. m., and threatened, in case of refusal, to bombard the city at 9 o'clock next morning. The weather had been tempestuous for two days, and a storm was raging at the time of the summons. It was impossible to prevent the execution of the threat to shell the city, as it was completely exposed to the batteries on the Stafford hills, which were beyond our reach. The city authorities were informed that, while our forces would not use the place for military purposes, its occupation by the enemy would be resisted, and directions were given for the removal of the women and children as rapidly as possible. The threatened bombardment did not take place, but, in view of the imminence of a collision between the two armies, the in. habitants were advised to leave the city, and almost the entire population, without a murmur, abandoned their homes. History presents no instance of a people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism or a higher spirit of fortitude and courage than was evinced by the citizens of Fredericksburg. They cheerfully incurred great hardships and privations, and surrendered their homes and property to destruction rather than yield them into the hands of the enemies of their country.
General Burnside now commenced his preparations to force the passage of the Rappahannock and advance upon Richmond. When his army first began to move toward Fredericksburg, General Jackson, in pursuance of instructions, crossed the Blue Ridge, and placed his corps in the vicinity of Orange Court-House, to enable him more promptly to co-operate with Longstreet.
About November 26, he was directed to advance toward Fredericksburg, and as some Federal gunboats had appeared in the river at Port Royal, and it was possible that an attempt might be made to cross in that vicinity, D. H. Hill's division was stationed near that place, and the rest of Jackson's corps so disposed as to support Hill or Longstreet, as occasion might require. The fords of the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg were closely guarded by our cavalry, and the brigade of General W. H. F. Lee was stationed near Port Royal, to watch the river above and below.
On the 28th, General Hampton, guarding the Upper Rappahannock, crossed to make a reconnaissance on the enemy's right, and, proceeding as far as Dumfries and Occoquan, encountered and dispersed his cavalry, capturing two squadrons and a number of wagons. About the same time some dismounted men of Beale's regiment, Lee's brigade, crossed in boats below Port Royal, to observe the enemy's left, and took a number of prisoners.
On December 5, General D. H. Hill, with some of his field guns, assisted by Major Pelham, of Stuart's Horse Artillery, attacked the gun. boats at Port Royal and caused them to retire. With these exceptions, no important movement took place, but it became evident that the advance of the enemy would not be long delayed. The interval was employed in strengthening our lines, extending from the river about 1½ miles above Fredericksburg along the range of hills in the rear of the city to the Richmond railroad. As these hills were commanded by the opposite heights in possession of the enemy, earthworks were constructed upon their crest at the most eligible positions for artillery. These positions were judiciously chosen and fortified, under the direction of Brigadier-General Pendleton, chief of artillery ; Colonel Cabell, of McLaws' division; Col. E. P. Alexander, and Capt. S. R. Johnston, of the engineers. To prevent gunboats from ascending the river, a battery, protected by intrenchments, was placed on the bank, about 4 miles below the city, in an excellent position, selected by my aide-de-camp, Major [T. M. R.] Talcott. The plain of Fredericksburg is so completely commanded by the Stafford Heights that no effectual opposition could be made to the construction of bridges or the passage of the river without exposing our troops to the destructive fire of the numerous batteries of the enemy. At the same time the narrowness of the Rappahannock, its winding course, and deep bed presented opportunities for laying down bridges at points secure from the fire of our artillery. Our position was, therefore, selected with a view to resist the enemy's advance after crossing, and the river was guarded only by a force sufficient to impede his movements until the army could be concentrated.
Before dawn, on December 11, our signal guns announced that the enemy was in motion. About 2 a.m. he commenced preparations to throw two bridges over the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg, and one about 1¼ miles below, near the mouth of Deep Run. Two regiments of Barksdale's brigade, McLaws' division (the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi), guarded these points; the former, assisted by the Eighth Florida, of Anderson's division, being at the upper. The rest of the brigade, with the Third Georgia Regiment, also of Anderson's division, was held in reserve in the city. From daybreak until 4 p.m. the troops, sheltered behind the houses on the river bank, repelled the repeated efforts of the enemy to lay his bridges opposite the town, driving back his working parties and their supports with great slaughter. At the lower point, where there was no such protection, the enemy was successfully resisted until nearly noon, when, being greatly exposed to the fire of the batteries on the opposite heights and a superior force of infantry on the river bank, our troops were withdrawn, and about 1 p.m. the bridge was completed.
Soon afterward, one hundred and fifty pieces of artillery opened a furious fire upon the city, causing our troops to retire from the river
bank about 4 p. m. The enemy then crossed in boats and proceeded rapidly to lay down the bridges. His advance into the town was bravely resisted until dark, when our troops were recalled, the necessary time for concentration having been gained.
During the night and the succeeding day the enemy crossed in large numbers at and below the town, secured from material interruption by a dense fog. Our artillery could only be used with effect when the occasional clearing of the mist rendered his columns visible. His batteries on the Stafford Heights fired at intervals upon our position. Longstreet's corps constituted our left, with Anderson's division resting upon the river, and those of McLaws, Pickett, and Hood extending to the right in the order named. Ransom's division supported the batteries on Marye's and Willis' Hills, at the foot of which Cobb's brigade, of McLaws' division, and the Twenty-fourth North Carolina, of Ransom's brigade, were stationed, protected by a stone wall. The immediate care of this point was committed to General Ransom. The Washington Artillery, under Colonel Walton, occupied the redoubts on the crest of Marye's Hill, and those on the heights to the right and left were held by part of the reserve artillery, Col. E. P. Alexander's battalion, and the division batteries of Anderson, Ransom, and McLaws. A.P. Hill, of Jackson's corps, was posted between Hood's right and Hamilton's Crossing on the railroad. His front line, consisting of the brigades of Pender, Lane, and Archer, occupied the edge of a wood. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, with fourteen pieces of artillery, was posted near the right, supported by the Fortieth and Fifty-fifth Virginia Regiments, of Field's brigade, commanded by Colonel Brockenbrough. Lane's brigade, thrown forward in advance of the general line, held the woods, which here projected into the open ground. Thomas' brigade was stationed behind the interval between Lane and Pender; Gregg's in rear of that, between Lane and Archer. These two brigades, with the Forty-seventh Virginia Regiment and Twenty-second Virginia Battalion, of Field's brigade, constituted General Hill's reserve. Early's and Taliaferro's divisions composed Jackson's second line; D. H. Hill's division his reserve. His artillery was distributed along his line in the most eligible positions, so as to command the open ground in front. General Stuart, with two brigades of cavalry and his Horse Artillery, occupied the plain on Jackson's right, extending to Massaponax Creek.
On the morning of the 13th, the plain on which the Federal army lay was still enveloped in fog, making it impossible to discern its operations. At an early hour the batteries on the heights of Stafford began to play upon Longstreet's position. Shortly after 9 a.m. the partial rising of the mist disclosed a large force moving in line of battle against Jackson. Dense masses appeared in front of A. P. Hill, stretching far up the river in the direction of Fredericksburg. As they advanced, Major Pelham, of Stuart's Horse Artillery, who was stationed near the Port Royal road with one section, opened a rapid and well-directed enfilade fire, which arrested their progress. Four batteries immediately turned upon him, but he sustained their heavy fire with the unflinching courage that ever distinguished him. Upon his withdrawal, the enemy extended his left down the Port Royal road, and his numerous batteries opened with vigor upon Jackson's line. Eliciting no response his infantry moved forward to seize the position occupied by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker. The latter, reserving his fire until their line had approached within less than 800 yards, opened upon it with such destructive effect as to cause it to waver and soon to retreat in confusion.
About 1 p.m. the main attack on our right began by a furious cannonade, under cover of which three compact lines of infantry advanced against Hill's front. They were received, as before, by our batteries, by whose fire they were momentarily checked, but, soon recovering, they pressed forward until, coming within range of our infantry, the contest became fierce and bloody. Archer and Lane repulsed those portions of the line immediately in front of them, but before the interval between these commands could be closed, the enemy pressed through in overwhelming numbers and turned the left of Archer and the right of Lane. Attacked in front and flank, two regiments of the former and the brigade of the latter, after a brave and obstinate resistance, gave way. Archer held his line with the First Tennessee, and, with the Fifth Alabama Battalion, assisted by the Forty-seventh Virginia Regiment and the Twenty-second Virginia Battalion, continued the struggle until the arrival of re-enforcements. Thomas came gallantly to the relief of Lane, and, joined by the Seventh and part of the Eighteenth North Carolina, of that brigade, repulsed the column that had broken Lane's line and drove it back to the railroad.
In the mean time a large force had penetrated the wood as far as Hill's reserve, and encountered Gregg's brigade. The attack was so sudden and unexpected that Orr's Rifles, mistaking the enemy for our own troops retiring, were thrown into confusion. While in the act of rallying them, that brave soldier and true patriot, Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg, fell, mortally wounded. Colonel Hamilton, upon whom the command devolved, with the four remaining regiments of the brigade and one company of the Rifles, met the enemy firmly and checked his further progress. The second line was advancing to the support of the first. Lawton's brigade, of Early's division, under Colonel Atkinson, first encountered the enemy, quickly followed on the right and left by the brigades of Trimble (under Colonel Hoke) and Early (under Colonel Walker). Taliaferro's division moved forward at the same time on Early's left, and his right regiment (the Second Virginia, belonging to Paxton's brigade) joined in the attack. The contest in the woods was short and decisive. The enemy was quickly routed and driven out with loss, and, though largely re-enforced, he was forced back and pursued to the shelter of the railroad embankment. Here he was gallantly charged by the brigades of Hoke and Atkinson, and driven across the plain to his batteries. Atkinson continuing the pursuit too far, his flank became exposed, and at the same time a heavy fire of musketry and artillery was directed against his front. Its ammunition becoming exhausted, and Colonel Atkinson being severely, and Capt. E. P. Lawton, [assistant] adjutant-general, mortally, wounded, the brigade was compelled to fall back to the main body, now occupying our original line of battle, with detachments thrown forward to the railroad.
The attack on Hill's left was repulsed by the artillery on that part of the line, against which the enemy directed a hot fire from twenty-four guns. One brigade advanced up Deep Run, sheltered by its banks from our batteries, but was charged and put to flight by the Sixteenth North Carolina, of Pender's brigade, assisted by the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh North Carolina, of Law's brigade, Hood's division. The repulse of the enemy on our right was decisive, and the attack was not renewed, but his batteries kept up an active fire at intervals, and sharpshooters skirmished along the front during the rest of the afternoon.
While these events were transpiring on our right, the enemy, in formidable numbers, made repeated and desperate assaults upon the left of our line.
About 11 a.m., having massed his troops under cover of the houses of Fredericksburg, he moved forward in strong columns to seize Marye's and Willis' Hills. General Ransom advanced Cooke's brigade to the top of the hill, and placed his own, with the exception of the Twenty-fourth North Carolina, a short distance in the rear. All the batteries on the Stafford Heights directed their fire upon the positions occupied by our artillery, with a view to silence it and cover the movement of the infantry. Without replying to this furious cannonade, our batteries poured a rapid and destructive fire into the dense lines of the enemy as they advanced to the attack, frequently breaking their ranks and forcing them to retreat to the shelter of the houses. Six times did the enemy, notwithstanding the havoc caused by our batteries, press on with great determination to within 100 yards of the foot or' the hill, but here encountering the deadly fir e of our infantry, his columns were broken and fled in confusion to the town.
In the third assault, the brave and lamented Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb fell, at the head of his gallant troops, and, almost at the same moment, Brigadier-General Cooke was borne from the field severely wounded. Fearing that Cobb's brigade might exhaust its ammunition, General Longstreet had directed General Kershaw to take two regiments to its support. Arriving after the fall of General Cobb, he assumed command, his troops taking position on the crest and at the foot of the hill, to which point General transom also advanced three other regiments. The Washington Artillery, which had sustained the heavy fire of artillery and infantry with unshaken steadiness and contributed much to the repulse of the enemy, having exhausted its ammunition, was relieved about 4 p.m. by Colonel Alexander's battalion. The latter occupied the position during the rest of the engagement, and, by its well-directed fire, rendered great assistance in repelling the assaults made in the afternoon, the last of which occurred shortly before dark. This effort met the fate of those that preceded it, and, when night closed in, the shattered masses of the enemy had disappeared in the town, leaving the field covered with dead and wounded. Anderson's division supported the batteries on Longstreet's left, and, though not engaged, was exposed throughout the day to a hot artillery fire, which it sustained with steady courage.
During the night our lines were strengthened by the construction of earthworks at exposed points, and preparations made to receive the enemy next day.
The 14th, however, passed without a renewal of the attack. The enemy's batteries on both sides of the river played upon our lines at intervals, our own firing but little. The sharpshooters on each side skirmished occasionally along the front.
On the 15th, the enemy still retained his position, apparently ready for battle, but the day passed as the preceding. The attack on the 13th had been so easily repulsed, and by so small a part of our army, that it was not supposed the enemy would limit his efforts to an attempt, which, in view of the magnitude of his preparations and the extent of his force, seemed to be comparatively insignificant. Believing, therefore, that he would attack us, it was not deemed expedient to lose the advantages of our position and expose the troops to the fire of his inaccessible batteries beyond the river, by advancing against him; but we were necessarily ignorant of the extent to which he had suffered, and only became aware of it when, on the morning of the 16th, it was discovered that he had availed himself of the darkness of night, and the prevalence of a violent storm of wind and rain, to re-cross the river. The town was immediately reoccupied and our position on the river bank resumed.
In the engagement more than 900 prisoners and 9,000 stand of arms were taken. A large quantity of ammunition was found at Fredericksburg.
The extent of our casualties will appear from the accompanying report of the medical director. We have again to deplore the loss of valuable lives. In Brigadier-Generals Gregg and Cobb, the Confederacy has lost two of its noblest citizens and the army two of its bravest and most distinguished officers. The country consents to the sacrifice of such men as these, and the gallant soldiers who fell with them, only to secure the inestimable blessing they died to obtain. The troops displayed at Fredericksburg in a high degree the spirit and courage that distinguished them throughout the campaign, while the calmness and steadiness with which orders were obeyed and maneuvers executed in the midst of battle, evinced the discipline of a veteran army.
The artillery rendered efficient service on every part of the field, and greatly assisted in the defeat of the enemy. The batteries were exposed to an unusually heavy fire of artillery and infantry, which officers and men sustained with a coolness and courage worthy of the highest praise. Those on our right, being without defensive works, suffered more severely. Among those who fell was Lieutenant-Colonel [Lewis M.] Coleman, First Regiment Virginia Artillery, who was mortally wounded while bravely discharging his duty.
To the vigilance, boldness, and energy of General Stuart and his cavalry is chiefly due the early and valuable information of the movements of the enemy. His reconnaissances frequently extended within the Federal lines, resulting in skirmishes and engagements, in which the cavalry was greatly distinguished. In the battle of Fredericksburg the cavalry effectually guarded our right, annoying the enemy and embarrassing his movements by hanging on his flank, and attacking when opportunity occurred. The nature of the ground and the relative positions of the armies prevented them from doing more.
To Generals Longstreet and Jackson great praise is due for the disposition and management of their respective corps. Their quick perception enabled them to discover the projected assaults upon their positions, and their ready skill to devise the best means to resist them. Besides their services in the field--which every battle of the campaign from Richmond to Fredericksburg has served to illustrate--I am also indebted to them for valuable counsel, both as regards the general operations of the army and the execution of the particular measures adopted.
To division and brigade commanders I must also express my thanks for the prompt, intelligent, and determined manner in which they executed their several parts.
To the officers or' the general staff--Brig. Gen. R. H. Chilton, adjutant and inspector general, assisted by Major [Henry E.] Peyton; Lieutenant-Colonel [James L.] Corley, chief quartermaster; Lieutenant-Colonel [Robert G.] Cole, chief commissary; Surgeon Guild, medical director, and Lieut. Col. B. G. Baldwin, chief of ordnance--were committed the care of their respective departments, and the charge of supplying the demands upon each. They were always in the field, anticipating, as far as possible, the wants of the troops.
My personal staff were unremittingly engaged in conveying and bringing information from all parts of the field. Colonel [Armistead L.] Long was particularly useful before and during the battle in posting and securing the artillery, in which he was untiringly aided by Capt. S. R. Johnston, of the Provisional Engineers; Majors [T. M. R.] Talcott and [Charles S.] Venable, in examining the ground and the approaches of the enemy; Majors[Walter H.] Taylor and [Charles] Marshall in communicating orders and intelligence.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General
Report of Col. Robert McMillan, Twenty-fourth Georgia, Commanding Cobb's Brigade.|
DECEMBER 11-15, 1862.
Fredericksburg, Va., December 20, 1862.
Maj. JAMES M. GOGGIN,
I have the honor to report to you the part taken by this brigade in the battle of Fredericksburg.
On the morning of the 11th instant, at 5 o'clock, the brigade was put under arms and in position, and so remained until 7 p.m., when the Eighteenth and Twenty-fourth Georgia Regiments and Phillips' Legion were marched into Fredericksburg by General Cobb, to relieve General Barksdale, and took position on our line of battle in the road along the foot of Marye's Hill, crossing the Telegraph road, by which the enemy advanced--the Legion on the left, Twenty-fourth Georgia in the center, and Eighteenth on the right.
The men lay on their arms during the night. Our pickets and scouts took 15 prisoners. Close and heavy skirmishing was kept up during Friday, the 12th, and on that night we again rested on our arms.
At day break on the 13th, skirmishing again commenced, accompanied by the enemy's shells. This was kept up continuously until about 11 a.m., when the advance of the enemy drove in our pickets, and his column approached the left of our line by the Telegraph road and deployed toward our right. He had succeeded in planting three stand of colors along our front, and when his column had been deployed about twothirds of the distance on his line, one well-directed fire had so - ranks that the survivors retreated. General Cobb, whose fall we so much deplore, lived to see this first signal repulse and the bravery of the troops he so well commanded.
About twelve or fifteen minutes thereafter, General Cobb fell, mortally wounded, and I took command of the brigade. Soon another column, heavier than the first, advanced in our front and moved steadily forward to their colors near our center. As the column approached, I directed the small-arms to cease until the enemy should get nearer. So soon as he got within certain range, our fire mowed down his ranks until they faltered and the survivors retreated.
They were met by a strong re-enforcement, and again advanced upon us in heavier force, and this time the slaughter in their ranks was terrific, and we again drove them back. Column after column was brought up during the afternoon, and the battle continued until after dark.
In every attack the enemy was repulsed with immense slaughter. During the afternoon a courier informed me that you had sent the Sixteenth Georgia Regiment to the mill to await orders. I sent for that regiment and placed it on our right, to strengthen and protect that point, which it held during the remainder of the engagement.
We rested on our arms that night, and throughout the next day (Sunday, the 14th) a close, heavy, and continuous skirmish fire was kept up. On Sunday night we were relieved by General Semmes.
I cannot speak in too high terms of the cool bravery of both officers and men, and the promptness and cheerfulness with which they obeyed and executed all orders. The heaps of slain in our front tell best how well they acted their part. Annexed is a list of killed and wounded.
Very respectfully, &c.,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, C. S. Army, Commanding Kershaw's Brigade.|
DECEMBER 11-15, 1862.--Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
HEADQUARTERS KERSHAW'S BRIGADE,
Near Fredericksburg, Va., December 26, 1862.
Maj. JAMES M. GOGGIN,
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit a report of the operations of my command during the recent engagement.
On the morning of the 11th instant, by daylight, the brigade was formed in line of battle in the position assigned me, the right resting at the left of Howison's Hill, and the left near Howison's Mill, on Hazel Run. Ordered during the morning to re-enforce the picket of General Barksdale, at Deep Run, the Fifteenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Colonel De Saussure, was sent, but found the bridge at that point already completed, and perfectly commanded by the batteries on the other side. This regiment remained on picket until withdrawn to its former position, by order of the major-general commanding, on Friday morning, after a night of such intense cold as to cause the death of one man and disable, temporarily, others. With this exception, the troops were kept in position strengthening our defenses nightly without any incident requiring notice until Saturday, the 13th.
About 1 o'clock of that day I was directed to send two regiments into the city to the support of General Cobb, then engaged with part of his brigade at the foot of Marye's Hill, and having called for re-enforcements. I sent forward at once Col. John D. Kennedy with his own (Second) regiment and the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Capt. E. T. Stackhouse commanding. Within a few minutes after, I was directed to take my entire command to the same point and assume command there. I had just moved when I was informed that General Cobb was wounded, and was directed by Major-General McLaws to hasten forward in person immediately and take command. Leaving my staff to conduct the troops, I proceeded as rapidly as possible to the scene of action, reaching the position at Stevens' house at the moment that Colonel Kennedy arrived with the Second and Eighth Regiments, and just in time to meet a fresh assault of the enemy. The position was excellent. Marye's Hill, covered with our batteries-then occupied by the Washington Artillery, Colonel [J. B.] Walton commanding--falls off abruptly toward Fredericksburg to a stone wall, which forms a terrace on the side of the hill and the outer margin of the Telegraph road, which winds along the foot of the hill. The road is about some 25 feet wide, and is faced by a stone wall about 4 feet high on the city side. The road having been cut out of the side of the hill, in many places this last wall is not visible above the surface of the ground. The ground falls off rapidly to almost a level surface which extends about 150 yards, then, with another abrupt fall of a few feet, to another plain which extends some 200 yards, and then falls off abruptly into a wide ravine, which extends along the whole front of the city and discharges into Hazel Run. I found, on my arrival, that Cobb's brigade, Colonel McMillan commanding, occupied our entire front, and my troops could only get into position by doubling on them. This was accordingly done, and the formation along most of the line during the engagement was consequently four deep. As an evidence of the coolness of the command, I may mention here that, notwithstanding that their fire was the most rapid and continuous I have ever witnessed, not a man was injured by the fire of his comrades.
The first attack being repelled at 2.45 p.m., the Third Regiment, Col. J. D. Nance, and Seventh, Lieutenant-Colonel Bland, came into position on the hill at Marye's house, with Colonel De Saussure's Fifteenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers in reserve, and under cover of the cemetery. James' Third South Carolina Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Rice commanding, I left in position at Howison's Mill, to protect our right from any advance of the enemy up Hazel Run. While the Third and Seventh Regiments were getting into position, another fierce attack was sustained, and those regiments, especially the former, suffered severely. Col. J. D. Nance, that gallant and efficient officer, fell, at the head of his regiment, severely wounded in two places. Lieutenant-Colonel [W. D.] Rutherford, upon whom the command devolved, was almost immediately shot down, dangerously wounded, as also was Major [R. C.] Maffett, the next in command. Captain [R. P.] Todd, the senior captain, was disabled. Captain [W. W.] Hance, the senior captain, upon assuming command, was dangerously, if not mortally, wounded, and his successor, Captain [J. C.] Summer, killed. Notwithstanding these unprecedented casualties, the regiment, without hesitation or confusion, gallantly held their position under command of Capt. John K. G. Nance, assisted by my aide.de-camp, Lieut. A. E. Doby, and in every attack repulsed the enemy on that flank, assisted as gallantly by the Seventh Regiment, immediately on their right.
In the mean time line after line of the enemy deployed in the ravine, and advanced to the attack at intervals of not more than fifteen minutes until about 4.30 o'clock, when there was a lull of about a half hour, during which a mass of artillery was placed in position in front of the town, and opened upon our position. At this time I brought up Colonel De Saussure's regiment. Our batteries on the hill were silent, having exhausted their ammunition, and the Washington Artillery ware relieved by a part of Colonel Alexander's battalion. Under cover of this artillery fire, the most formidable column of attack was formed, which, about 5 o'clock, emerged from the ravine, and, no longer impeded by our artillery, impetuously assailed our whole front. From this time until after 6 o'clock the attack was continuous, and the fire on both sides terrific. Some few, chiefly officers, got within 30 yards of our lines, but, in every instance, their columns were shattered by the time they got within 100 paces. The firing gradually subsided, and by 7 o'clock our pickets were established within 30 yards of those of the enemy.
Our chief loss after getting into position in the road was from the fire of sharpshooters, who occupied some buildings on my left flank in the early part of the engagement, and were only silenced by Captain [W.] Wallace, of the Second Regiment, directing a continuous fire of one company upon the buildings.
General Cobb, I learn, was killed by a shot from that quarter. The regiments on the hill suffered most, as they were less perfectly covered. During the engagement Colonel McMillan was re-enforced by the arrival of the Sixteenth Georgia Regiment, and a brigade of General Ransom's command was also engaged, but as they did not report to me, I am unable to give any particulars in regard to them. That night we materially strengthened the position, and I more perfectly organized and arranged my command, fully expecting the attack to be renewed next day. I sent the Third Regiment in reserve, in consideration of their heavy loss.
At daylight in the morning the enemy was in position, lying behind the first declivity in front, but the operations on both sides were confined to skirmishing of sharpshooters. We lost but 1 man during the day, but it is reported that we inflicted a loss upon the enemy (Sykes' division) of 150.
Monday morning discovered the pickets of the enemy behind rifle-pits constructed during the night along the edge of the ravine. From this position they were nearly all driven by our batteries, and nothing of interest occurred during the day. General Semmes relieved Cobb's brigade Monday night.
Tuesday morning, as soon as the haze lifted, the enemy's pickets being no longer visible, I sent out scouts from my own brigade to the left and from General Semmes' to the right. The former soon returned, reporting the evacuation of the town, which the latter soon confirmed, with the additional information that the bridges had been removed. I sent forward two companies, one from each brigade, and afterward two regiments, in obedience to the order of the major-general commanding, to occupy the town. A number of prisoners, and a quantity of arms, ammunition, &c., were taken, the particulars of which have already been reported.
During these operations I was ably and gallantly aided by Captain [C. R.] Holmes, assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenant [A. E.] Doby, aide-de-camp: who were present on the field in the active discharge of their duties. Lieut. J. A. Myers, ordnance officer, was at his post promptly replenishing our exhausted ammunition. Lieut. W. M. Dwight, assistant inspector-general, was disabled from his injuries received at Maryland Heights, but was on the field and received a contusion on the head from a shell. Colonel McMillan, commanding Cobb's brigade, rendered valuable assistance, and when offered the alternative of being relieved Saturday night, gallantly claimed the honor of remaining. All the regimental field officers and company commanders are entitled to commendation for coolness and courage, and their successful efforts to produce a deliberate and effective fire under the most trying circumstances.
Besides the field officers already mentioned as wounded, Maj. F. Gail-lard, Second Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, was struck in the face before he got into position, and was subsequently severely wounded while conveying directions at my request to the regiments in the rear. For particular mention of others who distinguished themselves in the engagement, I beg leave respectfully to refer to the reports of commanders, herewith submitted.
Capt. G. B. Cuthbert's company, Second Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, was thrown out by me on the edge of Hazel Run on the 13th in an exposed position, but one from which they could harass the enemy on their left flank. They held the position the whole day, exhausting their ammunition and effectively annoying the enemy. His loss was considerable, including 2 officers severely wounded.
Captain Read's battery was posted on the hill on the right of my first position, and did great damage to the advancing columns of the enemy. They fired 136 rounds of ammunition, affording excellent practice in the field. I will here remark that during the engagement on Saturday my command fired about 55 rounds per man.
A large red and white battle-flag, with the figure I in the center, and an embroidered guide flag of the Sixty-ninth New York Regiment are among the trophies taken in battle by my command, and have already been forwarded to division headquarters.
I append herewith a recapitulation of the losses sustained by my brigade.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. KERSHAW,
Report of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws,|
C. S. Army,
Commanding McLaws Division.
Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.,
December 30, 1863.
|Major General Lafayette McLaws
|Maj. G. MOXLEY SORREL,
My division occupied the front of defense from Hazel Run along the ridge of hills to the right and through the point of woods extending into Mr. Alfred Bernard's field, one brigade being in reserve. The brigade on the left had an extended rifle-pit at the foot of the main ridge, from the left of the Telegraph road to a private road near Mr. Howison's barn. The next brigade had rifle-pits along the foot of the hills in front of its position, and others on the crest of the hills. The right brigade constructed rifle-pits and breastworks of logs through the woods, with abatis in front of them. The crests of the hills were occupied by the batteries of Captain [John P. W.] Read, one 10-pounder Parrott, one 12-pounder howitzer, one 3-inch rifle; Captain [B.C.] Manly, three 6-pounders, one 3-inch rifle, two 12.pounder howitzers; Captain [H. N.] Ells, one 30-pounder Parrott; Captain [Miles C.] Macon, two 10-pounder Parrotts and two 6-pounders; [Capt.] R. L. Cooper, three 10-pounder Parrotts; [Capt. Henry H.] Carlton, two 10-pounder Parrotts; [Capt. John L.] Eubank, one 3-inch rifle; [Capt. E. S.] McCarthy, two 3-inch rifles; [Capt. James] Dearing, one 10-pounder Parrott; [Capt. H. M.] Ross, three 10-pounder Parrotts, and, in addition, there was a number of smooth-bore pieces placed along the hills, to be used should the enemy advance near enough for their effectual range. One brigade was constantly on duty in the city to guard the town and defend the river crossings as far down as a quarter of a mile below Deep Run Creek. Two regiments from General Anderson's division picketed the river bank above the town, reporting to the brigadier-general in charge of the brigade on duty in the city. The orders were that two guns should be fired from one of my batteries in a central position, which would be the signal that the enemy were attempting to cross. These were the positions of my command and the orders governing them up to the 10th instant. On that day the brigade of General Barksdale, composed of the Mississippi troops, were on duty in the city.|
About 2 a.m. on the 11th, General Barksdale sent me word that the movements of the enemy indicated they were preparing to lay down their pontoon bridges, and his men were getting into position to defend the crossing. About 4.30 o'clock he notified me that the bridges were being placed, and he would open fire so soon as the working parties came in good range of his rifles. I gave the order, and the signal guns were fired about 5 a.m.
I had been notified from your headquarters the evening previous (the 10th instant) to have all the batteries harnessed up at daylight on the 11th, and I had given orders that my whole command should be under arms at the same time.
General Barksdale kept his men quiet and concealed until the bridges were so advanced that the working parties were in easy range, when he opened fire with such effect the bridges were abandoned at once. Nine separate and desperate attempts were made to complete the bridges under fire of their sharpshooters and guns on the opposite banks, but every attempt being attended with such severe loss from our men--posted in rifle-pits, in the cellars of the houses along the banks, and from behind whatever offered concealment--that the enemy abandoned their attempts for the time and opened a terrific fire from their numerous batteries concentrated along the hills just above the river. The fire was so severe that the men could not use their rifles, and the different places occupied by them becoming untenable, the troops were withdrawn from the river bank back to Caroline street at 4.30 p.m. The enemy then crossed in boats, and, completing their bridges, passed over in force and advanced into the town. The Seventeenth Mississippi, Colonel [John C.] Fiser, and 10 sharpshooters from Colonel [J. W.] Carter's regiment (the Thirteenth), and three companies of the Eighteenth Mississippi Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel [William H.] Luse, under Lieutenant [William] Ratliff, were all the troops that were actually engaged in defending the crossings in front of the city. More troops were offered, but the positions were such that but the number already there could be employed. As the enemy advanced into the town our troops fell back to Princess Anne street, and as the enemy came up they were driven back, with loss. This street fighting continued until 7 p.m., when I ordered General Barksdale to fall back and take position along and behind the stone wall below Marye's Hill, where it was relieved by the brigade of Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb and retired to their position--on the right of my line of defense, in the woods of Mr. Bernard. Lieutenant-Colonel Luse, with his regiment (the Eighteenth Mississippi), who occupied the river bank below the town, drove back the enemy in their first attempt to cross the river, and kept them in check until about 3.30 p.m., when two regiments (the Sixteenth Georgia, Colonel [Goode] Bryan, and Fifteenth South Carolina, Colonel [W. D.] De Saussure) were sent to his support. It was then deemed advisable and the whole force was withdrawn to the river road, where they remained until daylight the next day, when they rejoined their brigades, excepting the Sixteenth Georgia, which retook its position in the general line of defense. These regiments performed their duties under a severe and destructive fire from the enemy's guns posted along the hills just above the river on the opposite side.
Early on the morning of the 11th, a battalion of the Eighth Florida Regiment, numbering about 150 men, was put in position to the left of Colonel Fiser and in easy range of the enemy above the upper bridge, then being rapidly constructed by them. This battalion was commanded by Captain [David] Lang, and while under his direction it acted gallantly and did good service. Captain Lang proved himself a gallant and efficient officer, but he was severely wounded about 11 a.m., and the battalion then rendered but little assistance. I call your attention to the special report of Lieutenant-Colonel Fiser on the subject, and to that of Captain [A. R.] Govan in relation to the conduct of three companies of the same regiment, which were on duty with the right of Colonel Fiser's regiment, and also to the indorsement of Colonel Humphreys on the special report of Captain Govan.
The brigade of General Barksdale, I consider, did their whole duty, and in a manner highly creditable to every officer and man engaged in the fight. An examination of the positions they held shows that no troops could have behaved more gallantly.
On the night of the 11th, the Eighteenth and Twenty-fourth Georgia Regiments and Phillips' Georgia Legion, of Cobb's brigade, relieved General Barksdale's command, behind the stone wall, at the foot of Marye's Hill, Phillips' Legion on the left, the Twenty-fourth Georgia in the center, and Eighteenth Georgia Regiment on the right, occupying the entire front under the hill. During that night the scouts took 15 prisoners.
On the 12th instant, close and heavy skirmishing was kept up, but no real attack was made.
On the 13th, skirmishing commenced at early dawn, the enemy shelling in that direction until about 11 o'clock, when the advance of the enemy drove in our pickets, and his columns approached the left of the line by the Telegraph road and deployed to our right? planting their stands of colors along our front. Before their deployment was completed, our fire had so thinned their ranks that the survivors retreated, leaving their colors planted in their first position. Soon another column, heavier than the first, advanced to the colors, but were driven back with great slaughter. They were met on retiring by re-enforcements and advanced again, but were again repulsed with increased loss. About I p.m., General Kershaw was directed to send two regiments from his brigade to the support of General Cobb, who reported that he was getting short of ammunition. The Sixteenth Georgia Regiment was sent forward at the same time. Not long after this, General Kershaw was directed to take his whole brigade. Just as his command was moving, he was ordered to hasten forward in person and assume command of the position under Marye's Hill, as General Cobb had been wounded and disabled. The South Carolina regiments were posted--the Second and Eighth, Colonel [J. D.] Kennedy and Captain [E. T.] Stackhouse commanding, in the road doubling on Phillips' Legion, Colonel [B. F.] Cook, and the Twenty-fourth Georgia, Colonel McMillan, and the Third and Seventh South Carolina, Colonel [James D.] Nance and Lieutenant-Colonel [El-bert] Bland, on the hill to the left of Marye's house. The Seventh was afterward moved (on a call from the Fifteenth North Carolina Regiment for re-enforcements) to the right and front of Marye's house, the three left companies being on the left of the house, the Fifteenth South Carolina, Colonel De Saussure, in reserve at the cemetery. The Third Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Rice, was posted at Howison's Mill, to resist any attack that might have been made up Hazel Run. The Eighth and Seventh Regiments arrived in time to assist in repelling a heavy assault made on the left at 2.45 p.m. The Third and Seventh Regiments suffered severely while getting into position, especially the former. Colonel Nance, Lieutenant-Colonel [W. D.] Rutherford, Major [Robert C.] Maffett, Captains [R. P.] Todd, [John C.] Summer, and [W. W.] Hance were shot down in succession, Cap,in Summer killed, the others more or less dangerously wounded, leaving the regiment under the command of Capt. John K. G. Nance, assisted by Lieutenant [A. E.] Doby, aide-de-camp to General Kershaw. Colonel Nance, although badly wounded, declined being removed at the time, and continued to encourage and direct his men, and after he was removed back to Marye's house ordered that his regiment take a new position, where the men would be less exposed, and sent directions to have them resupplied with ammunition.
In the mean time the enemy deployed in a ravine which was between us and the city, and distant about 300 or 400 yards from the stone wall, and advanced with fresh columns to the attack at intervals of not more than fifteen minutes, but they were repulsed with zeal and driven back with much loss on every occasion. This continued until about 4.30 p.m., when the enemy ceased in their assaults for a time, and posting some artillery in front of the town on the left of the Telegraph road, opened on our position, doing but little damage. The batteries on Marye's Hill of Colonel Walton were at this time silent, having exhausted their ammunition, and they were being relieved by others from Colonel Alexander's battalion. Taking advantage of the lull, the Fifteenth South Carolina Regiment, Colonel De Saussure, was brought forward from the cemetery and posted behind the stone wall, supporting the Second South Carolina Regiment. The enemy in the mean while formed a strong column of attack, and, advancing under cover of their own artillery fire and no longer impeded by ours, came forward along our whole front in the most determined manner, but they were repulsed at all points. The firing ceased as night came on, and about 7 o'clock our pickets and those of the enemy were posted within a short distance of each other. About 6 p.m. the Third South Carolina Regiment was brought from the hill and posted on the left of Phillips' Georgia Legion, when it was relieved by General Kemper with a portion of his brigade, about 7 p.m., and was then ordered in reserve by General Kershaw, because of its previous heavy loss.
The body of one man, believed to be an officer, was found within about 30 yards of the stone wall, and other single bodies were scattered at increased distances until the main mass of the dead lay thickly strewn over the ground at something over 100 yards off, and extending to the ravine, commencing at the point where our men would allow the enemy's column to approach before opening fire, and beyond which no organized body of men was able to pass.
On the 14th, the enemy were in position behind the declivities in front, but the operations on both sides were confined to skirmishing of sharpshooters.
On the 15th, it was discovered that the enemy had constructed rifle-pits on the edge of the ravine, but nothing of interest occurred during the day. Cobb's brigade was relieved by that of General Semmes on the night of that day, against the wishes, however, of Colonel McMillan, commanding Cobb's brigade, who objected to relinquish such an honorable position.
On the 16th (Tuesday morning), as the fog lifted, it was discovered that the enemy's pickets were withdrawn, and scouts being sent out reported that the enemy had retired across the river, removing their bridges. The town was reoccupied by two regiments from Kershaw's brigade, and a number of prisoners, arms, &c., were taken.
Captain [G. B.] Cuthbert, of the Second South Carolina Regiment, with his company of sharpshooters, was thrown out on the edge of Hazel Run, and did good service in annoying the flank of the enemy as their columns advanced to the attack. His loss was considerable. When General Kershaw's brigade was sent to the front its place along the main line of defense was occupied by the brigade of Brigadier-General Jenkins, a regiment from which occupied the right flank of the troops at the foot of Marye's Hill along Hazel Run, and was of essential service. The lieutenant-general was, however, overlooking the movements of all, and every order was issued under his supervision. The presence of himself and the general-in-chief inspired the troops and rendered them invincible. The very great enthusiasm and ardent desire for the enemy to advance, which existed and was evident among all officers and men, could not be surpassed, and when it was discovered on the 16th that the enemy had retired, there was a universal expression of disappointment.
The artillery along the heights, under the supervision of Col. H. C. Cabell, chief of artillery, and his subordinate, Major IS. P.] Hamilton, opened fire on the enemy's left flank, whenever their columns advanced, with such effect as to always force them to retire in disorder, or to incline to their right under shelter of ravines and rising ground; forced one of the enemy's batteries to retire, which had come forward on the right, and was of material assistance in checking the advance of their troops, which were threatening the center. I refer you to the special report of Colonel Cabell in reference to the operations of the artillery.
The country and the army have to mourn the loss of Brig. Gen. Thomas R. R. Cobb, who fell while in position with his brigade, and was borne from the field while his men were repulsing the first assaults of the enemy. He had but lately been promoted to a brigadier, and his devotion to his duties, his aptitude for the profession of arms, and his control over his men I have never seen surpassed. Our country has lost a pure and able defender of her rights both in the council and the field.
My aide-de-camp, Capt. H. L. P. King, was killed on Marye's Hill, pierced with five balls, while conveying an order to Brigadier-General Cobb. He was a brave and accomplished officer and gentleman, and had already distinguished himself during the operations in front of Fredericksburg, as he had done in all the other engagements when on duty.
Lieut. Thomas S. B. Tucker, my other aide-de-camp, was badly wounded while bearing one of my orders. He has always been noted for his daring and gallantry.
The services of my adjutant-general, Maj. James M. Goggin, were important and distinguished, as they have been always.
My thanks are due to the other members of my staff, Major [A. H.] McLaws and Major [John F.]Edwards, for their assistance. To Lieut. Alfred Edwards, ordnance officer, who was active and efficient in supplying ammunition to the troops, and to Lieut. D. G. Campbell, of the engineers, who had been engaged day and night (frequently all night) in strengthening the different positions, and on all occasions was very devoted and prompt in the discharge of his duties.
Colonel McMillan, of the Twenty-fourth Georgia, who succeeded to the command of the brigade when General Cobb was disabled during the first assaults of the enemy on Marye's Hill, behaved with distinguished gallantry and coolness.
General Barksdale commanded his fine brigade as it should have been commanded, and added new laurels to those gained on every other previous battle-field.
I call attention to the conduct of General Kershaw, who, after the fall of General Cobb, commanded the troops about Marye's Hill, composed of his own brigade and that of General Cobb. He possesses military talents of a high order, and unites with them that self-possession and daring gallantry which endears him to his command, and imposes confidence which but increases as the danger grows more imminent.
My inspector-general, Major [E. L.] Costin, was particularly active and distinguished in leading troops into position and carrying orders frequently under the hottest fire, and for his close attention to all his duties.
The brigade of General Semmes was not actually engaged, but under his supervision the position he commanded was strongly fortified, and his men were well prepared and eager for the fight under his leadership.
Surgeon [John T.] Gilmore, chief surgeon of the division, had his field hospital in readiness, and his arrangements were so complete that there was no detention or unnecessary suffering of the wounded, and those who could not remain in camp were sent at once to the hospitals in Richmond.
The loss in killed, wounded, and missing in my command was as follows:
I inclose reports of the several brigade commanders with those of their respective regimental and battalion commanders, excepting General Barksdale, who, receiving leave of absence, went away without rendering his report; those of his regimental commanders are, however, inclosed.
Report of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside,
U. S. Army, Headquarters, Army of the Potomac,
Battle of Fredericksburg|
December 17, 1862.--Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief , Washington, D. C
|I have the honor to offer the following reasons for moving the Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock sooner than was anticipated by the President, Secretary, or yourself, and for crossing at a point different from the one indicated to you at our last meeting at the President's:|
During my preparations for crossing at the place I had at first selected, I discovered that the enemy had thrown a large portion of his force down the river and elsewhere, thus weakening his defenses in front; and also thought I discovered that he did not anticipate the crossing of our whole force at Fredericksburg; and I hoped, by rapidly throwing the whole command over at that place, to separate, by a vigorous attack, the forces of the enemy on the river below from the forces behind and on the crests in tile rear of the town, in which case we should fight him with great advantages in our favor. To do this we had to gain a height on the extreme right of the crest, which height commanded a new road, lately built by the enemy for purposes of more rapid communication along his lines; which point gained, his positions along the crest would have been scarcely tenable, and he could have been driven from them easily by an attack on his front, in connection with a movement in rear of the crest.
How near we came to accomplishing our object future reports will show. But for the fog and unexpected and unavoidable delay in building the bridges, which gave the enemy twenty-four hours more to concentrate his forces in his strong positions, we would almost certainly have succeeded; in which case the battle would have been, in my opinion, far more decisive than if we had crossed at the places first selected. As it was, we came very near success. Failing in accomplishing the main object, we remained in order of battle two days--long enough to decide that the enemy would not come out of his strongholds and fight us with his infantry. After which we recrossed to this side of the river unmolested, and without the loss of men or property.
As the day broke, our long lines of troops were seen marching to their different positions as if going on parade; not the least demoralization or disorganization existed.
To the brave officers and soldiers who accomplished the feat of this recrossing in the face of the enemy I owe everything. For the failure in the attack I am responsible, as the extreme gallantry, courage, and endurance shown by them was never excelled, and would have carried the points, had it been possible.
To the families and friends of the dead I can only offer my heartfelt sympathy, but for the wounded I can offer my earnest prayers for their comfort and final recovery.
The fact that I decided to move from Warrenton onto this line rather against the opinion of the President, Secretary, and yourself, and that you have left the whole management in my hands, without giving me orders, makes me the more responsible.
I will visit you very soon and give you more definite information, and finally will send you my detailed report, in which a special acknowledgment will be made of the services of the different grand divisions, corps, and my general and personal staff departments of the Army of the Potomac, to whom I am much indebted for their hearty support and co-operation.
I will add here that the movement was made earlier than you expected, and after the President, Secretary, and yourself requested me not to be in haste, for the reason that we were supplied much sooner by the different staff departments than was anticipated when I last saw you.
Our killed amounted to 1,152; our wounded, about 9,000; our prisoners, about 700, which have been paroled and exchanged for about the same number taken by us. The wounded were all removed to this side of the river before the evacuation, and are being well cared for, and the dead were all buried under a flag of truce. The surgeon reports a much larger proportion than usual of slight wounds, 1,630 only being treated in hospitals. I am glad to represent the army at the present time in good condition.
Thanking the Government for that entire support and confidence which I have always received from them,
I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac.