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The first conspicuous service rendered by Massachusetts troops in the attack on Fredericksburg was in crossing the river in boats in face of a severe fire on Dec. 11, 1862. Bridges were being laid across the river, a work so impeded by Confederate sharpshooters that in the afternoon volunteers were called for by Col. N. J. Hall to cross in boats and dislodge the enemy. Three regiments of Colonel Hall's brigade volunteered, the 7th Michigan and the 19th and 20th Mass. In the words of Maj.-Gen. O. O. Howard, commanding the division, ‘The 7th Michigan passed over not far from 3 P. M. The 19th Mass. followed immediately at about 3.30 P. M., it having been necessary for the boats to cross twice with the 7th Michigan. The boats crossed three times to carry over the 19th. The bridge was commenced after the 19th had crossed, and completed at sunset about 4.30. The 20th followed the 19th in boats before the bridge was completed. No other regiments crossed in boats. A company of sharpshooters, Captain Plumer's [1st Mass. Sharpshooters], covered the crossing from this bank.’1 After crossing, the 19th Mass., under Captain Weymouth, advanced up the hill to the town, deployed skirmishers and then fell back, maintaining its line. Colonel Hall, brigade commander, says in his report: ‘The 20th Mass. was formed in column on the street. The guide, a citizen, was killed at the head of the column. . . . I ordered Acting Major Macy, commanding the 20th Mass., to clear the street leading from the bridge at all hazards. . . . I cannot presume to express all that is due the officers and men of this regiment for the unflinching bravery and splendid discipline shown in the execution of the order. Platoon after platoon was swept away, but the head of the column did not falter. Ninety-seven officers and men were killed and wounded in the space of about fifty yards.’2 Among these was Chaplain Arthur B. Fuller of the 16th Mass. Infantry, whose resignation as chaplain had been accepted, and who had joined the force as a volunteer, crossing in the first boat, taking the rifle of a dead soldier and saying to Captain Dunn, who commanded the detachment, ‘Captain, I ’
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