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[148] Lieutenant-Colonel Cowan, who was making his arrangements for an attack when I joined him with the balance of the brigade.

I had been ordered to the oak woods near the ice-house by Generals Early and Wilcox, with instructions to face to the front; after the left of my line had gotten well into the woods to advance upon the enemy and try to capture the battery which was planted in the open field beyond the salient, and which had been enfilading that part of our works which we had just left. The main object of this movement, however, as I was informed, was to relieve Ewell's front, which at that time was heavily pressed by the enemy. On reaching Lieutenant-Colonel Cowan, I faced my whole brigade as directed, the regiments being in the following order from right to left: Seventh, Thirty-third, Thirty-seventh, Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth. In this position I threw forward skirmishers before advancing, Captain Williamson, with his four companies, being still on the right flank. Mahone's brigade, under Colonel Weisiger, had formed about one hundred yards in our rear as a support. Just here I received orders from General Early, through one of General Wilcox's couriers (Baily), to advance at once and rapidly. To guard against a flank attack I ordered the Seventh regiment back at right angles to our general line and then had it moved forward, under Captain J. G. Harris, in the direction of Williamson's skirmishers. When I ordered the general advance I notified Colonel Weisiger of the fact through my Adjutant-General, Captain Hale, and requested him to follow us in supporting distance. My men, as usual, moved forward very handsomely and, encouraged by their officers, drove the enemy's sharpshooters out of the oak woods, rushed upon their battery of six guns--four Napoleons and two rifles — which was in the open field, and struck Burnside's assaulting column in flank and rear. Our men commenced yelling too soon and drew upon themselves a terrible fire of canister from four of the guns above referred to. The enemy's artillerists fought with great gallantry, some being shot down while serving their pieces after a part of the battery had fallen into our hands. We also suffered from the fire of two other batteries--one on the right and rear, on the Fredericksburg road, and the other to our right and front. We were in great danger, too, from the fire of our own guns of Walker's artillery when we were fighting the assaulting column. The infantry fire in our rear was for a short time more severe than that in front, as Mahone's brigade poured such a fire into us that Lieutenant-Colonel Cowan and Lieutenant-Colonel McGill had to rush back and ask them not to fire into friends. What induced these brave Virginians to fire upon us I have never been able to learn.

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Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)

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R. V. Cowan (3)
Thomas G. Williamson (2)
C. M. Wilcox (2)
Weisiger (2)
Mahone (2)
J. A. Early (2)
James A. Walker (1)
Virginians (1)
McGill (1)
J. G. Harris (1)
E. J. Hale (1)
Ewell (1)
Burnside (1)
Baily (1)
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