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[84]

Colonel Stevens's report.

headquarters Thirteenth regiment N. H. Vols., opposite Fredericksburgh, Va., December 22, 1862.
To His Excellency Nathaniel S. Berry, Governor of New-Hampshire:
sir: I have the honor to report to you the operations of the regiment under my command since their departure from Camp Casey, near Fairfax Seminary, Virginia, including the battle of Fredericksburgh, on the thirteenth inst.

My regiment moved from Camp Casey on the first inst., with the First brigade of Casey's division, consisting of the Fifteenth Connecticut, Thirteenth New-Hampshire, Twelfth Rhode Island, and Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh New-Jersey volunteers, under command of the senior Colonel, Dexter R. Wright, of the Fifteenth Connecticut volunteers.

The first day we reached Uniontown, some two miles southerly from Washington City. We encamped the second day near Piscataway, and the third day about six miles northerly from Port Tobacco. We passed Port Tobacco about noon of the fourth day, and encamped for the night some six miles west of that place. The fifth day, in the midst of a cold and violent snow-storm, we encamped about one and a half miles from Liverpool Point, or Bluebank, as it is sometimes called, a point on the Potomac nearly opposite Acquia Creek. On the morning of the sixth day, we broke camp and marched to Bluebank, where we were detained some eight hours awaiting transportation; the soldiers during that time being exposed to a keen, cold, and piercing wind which swept down the river and across the plateau where they were halted.

My regiment was ferried across the Potomac about six o'clock Saturday evening. The weather was extremely cold, and the men suffered much from its severity. From Acquia Creek, where we landed, we marched about two miles and encamped in a ravine well sheltered from the northerly winds, but filled with snow. The baggage of the field and staff-officers, including their blankets, mess-chests, eatables, etc., was, through the inefficiency and neglect of the transportation officials, left on the Maryland side of the river, and notwithstanding the faithful exertions of brigade and regimental quartermasters, was detained from us nearly two days. Consequently we were without blankets or shelter for two nights of intense cold weather. The result in my own case was an attack of illness from which I have not yet recovered, though I have had the good fortune thus far to be able to be on duty. I was, however, only a sufferer in common with others. In this encampment we remained until the next Tuesday afternoon, when we moved to this point, reaching here Wednesday afternoon. Our brigade was then broken up, and my regiment was assigned to the First brigade, (Colonel Hawkins,) Third division, (Brig.-Gen. Getty,) Ninth army corps, (Brig.-Gen. Wilcox,) in Major-Gen. Sumner's right grand division. This brigade is composed of the Ninth, (Hawkins's Zouaves,) Eighty-ninth and One Hundred and Third New-York, Tenth and Thirteenth New-Hampshire, and Twenty-fifth New-Jersey volunteers.

On Wednesday evening we received orders to be ready to move the next morning. Thursday we were in line all day, ready and waiting orders to move and listening silently to the heavy cannonading and sharp musketry, principally on our right, or watching the smoke, rising from the burning buildings of Fredericksburgh, directly in our front. Just after dark we moved to the river, and crossed, without opposition, the pontoon-bridge near the lower end of the city. My regiment took up its position for the night in Caroline street, one of the principal streets of the city, and threw out two companies, company B, Capt. Dodge, and company E, Captain Julien, as pickets toward the enemy. This position we occupied until Saturday morning, the two companies on picket-duty being relieved by company C, Capt. Bradley, and company G, Lieutenant Forbush commanding.

At an early hour on Saturday morning, the eventful and disastrous day of the battle, we took up our position with the brigade under the hill on the bank of the river, just below the bridge which we crossed on Thursday night. Here we remained under arms the entire day, our position being about a mile distant from the line of the enemy's batteries. Occasionally, during the day, fragments of shell from his guns reached us or passed over us, falling in the river and beyond, doing but little damage. One of our own guns, however, on the opposite bank of the river, which threw shells over us toward the enemy, was so unfortunately handled as to kill two men and wound several others in our brigade. After what your Excellency has read and heard concerning the battle of Fredericksburgh, I need not say to you that the fierceness of the fight during that long, bloody and disastrous day, exceeds any description of which my pen is capable.

As yet all the accounts which I have seen or read from Union or rebel sources approach not in delineation the truthful and terrible panorama of that bloody day. Twice during the day I rode up Caroline street to the centre of the city toward the point where our brave legions were struggling against the terrible combination of the enemy's artillery and infantry, whose unremitting fire shook the earth and filled the plain in rear of the city with the deadly missiles of war. I saw the struggling hosts of freedom stretched along the plain, their ranks ploughed by the merciless fire of the foe. I saw the dead and wounded, among them some of New-Hampshire's gallant sons, borne back on tile shoulders of their comrades in battle, and laid tenderly down in the hospitals prepared for their reception, in the houses on either side of the street as far as human habitations extended. I listened to the roar of battle and the groans of the wounded and dying. I saw in the crowded hospitals the desolation of war, but I heard from our brave soldiers no noe of triumph, no word of encouragement, no syllable of hope that for us a field was to be won. In the stubborn, unyielding resistance of


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Joseph G. Hawkins (2)
Dexter R. Wright (1)
Wilcox (1)
E. V. Sumner (1)
A. F. Stevens (1)
Julien (1)
Getty (1)
Forbush (1)
C. C. Dodge (1)
Thomas S. Casey (1)
Charles Bradley (1)
Nathaniel S. Berry (1)
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December 22nd, 1862 AD (1)
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