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[95]

I cannot presume to express all that is due to officers and men of the Twentieth Regiment for the unflinching bravery and splendid discipline shown in the execution of this 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.

In the great attack of December 13th the Twentieth had the extreme right of our line, and advanced on the enemy's works under an enfilading fire of artillery, till it approached the rifle-pits, when a withering fire of musketry was opened upon it. The conduct of the regiment in this exposed position was so admirable that it received strong commendation in the official report,—commendation the more noteworthy, as it contrasted their steadiness with the wavering and ultimate retreat of neighboring regiments, which were unable to bear the tremendous fire to which they were subjected. Captain Abbott, in his attack, was in command on the extreme right, and he and the regiment met with a heavy loss, for his valued lieutenant, Alley, was shot dead. Sixty men fell in this attack, making one hundred and fifty-seven of the three hundred and seven which the regiment numbered when it crossed the river.

When General Hooker commenced the movement which led to the battle of Chancellorsville, in May, 1863, General Sedgwick caused his command, the Sixth Corps, with the Second Division of the Second Corps, to cross below Fredericksburg. Thus the Twentieth, which belonged to the Second Division, came once more under the orders of the gallant soldier who commanded that division all through the Peninsular campaign and at Antietam. Abbott was with his regiment in all the movements made by General Sedgwick, and marched with it through the streets of Fredericksburg, passing the graves of the many gallant soldiers of his company who fell there in the previous December. He saw the storming of Marye's Heights, and was with his regiment all the long 4th of May, when the brigade of which it formed part deployed as skirmishers, and, covering a front of nearly five miles, alone held the city of Fredericksburg, and held it till the following morning, when the troops recrossed the river.

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