Interesting account of the battle of Fredericksburg.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Camp Near Fredericksburg. December 17, 1862.
The five daysfight before Fredericksburg
has at last ceased, and I hasten to send you an account of such operations as fell under own my view — of course limited to the brigade to which I am attached, Gen. W. S. Featherstone
's; to whose kindness, and to that of Col. Carnot Pesey
, 18th Mississippi volunteers.
I am indebted for more particular detail than I could otherwise have furnished.
The long-looked for signal guns pealed forth about 5 o'clock on the morning of the 11th; the brigade was quickly formed, and awaited orders, all full of hope and courage.
gave a few brief directions to Lieut, Col. Manlove
commanding the 2d Mississippi battalion, in which he told him to order his men ‘"to take deliberate aim, and shoot the enemy as you are accustomed to shoot squirrel or bear; your courage has often been tried, and is now to be tried again; I believe that my brigade can whip the whole Yankee army."’ We then double-quicked down the plank road leading to Fredericksburg
, and took our positions on the right of the road, under a hill, about a mile from the town.
Here we remained a few hours, when we changed our position to the left of the plank road, somewhat nearer town.
We staid in this position all day, being somewhat exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, which was directed is one of our long range batteries planted near us; but their shot did us no harm, striking the top of the hill, and ricochetting over us, or else passing over our heads.
After dark we resumed our former position, where we remained until the morning of the 12th.
Meantime the enemy had kept up a continuous roar of artillery along the line endeavoring, under the shelter of the guns, to throw their pontoon bridges across the river, which they succeeded in doing on the 12th, although they were repulsed several times, with considerable loss, by our small picket force, stationed in the town.
On this day we moved back to our second position and remained there, listening to the whise of ball and the bursting of shell all day. On Saturday, the 13th, the 2d Mississippi Battalion, with the 12th and 16th Mississippi moved over the hill and formed in a ditch about one hundred yards behind our batteries which were planted nearly opposite the tannery and canal, at the northern end of the town, the 19th Mississippi being on picket in advance of the batteries and parallel to the canal, about a quarter of a mile in its rear.
The fire of the enemy on this day was unusually severe, as we were exposed to a direct line of fire as well as being enfiladed right and left, being placed, as it were, at the apex of a triangle formed by the enemy's three lines of fire.--On this day a Yankee brigade, supposed to be Gen. Meagher
's, charged our batteries several times, but were repulsed with immense slaughter by our batteries and pickets.
About the middle of the day the Yankee
army sent up a balloon several times, and ascertained our position very satisfactorily to themselves, as they soon succeeded in getting our range, and we lay exposed to a most galling fire of sht and shell for about three hours. Sunday morning, the 14th, found the battalion, 18th and 19th, in the same position in the rear of the batteries, and the 16th, with companies G and F, of
the 19th, commanded by Lieuts Lester
, were ordered to relieve a brigade stationed in an old road running at right angles to the plank road and about fifty yards in the rear of the batteries.
Companies D and K, of the 16th, commanded by Captain H. C. Councell
, were placed on picket on the left, and had quite a sharp skirmish with the enemy, driving them back with considerable loss, and displaying unusual gallantry in their trying position.
About midnight a detail was made from the brigade for the purpose of throwing up rifle pits, connecting with the batteries on the top of the hill, which was accomplished in perfect safety, being disturbed but once by firing of the advance pickets, which took place just as we arrived at our position.
At the same time the 2d again moved forward to the old road occupied by the 16th, and the 16th moved down the plank road to the extreme advance line, on the outskirts of the town, which positions these regiments held until the close of the engagement.
A magnificent aurora borealis made its appearance just at sunset, tinging the heavens blood red, as it were with the blood of those martyrs who had offered their lives as a sacrifice to their native land.
I omitted to state that companies D, F, and L, of the 2d, commanded by Captains Davis
and Lieutenant Duquerson
, accompanied the 16th.--About one o'clock Monday our artillery directed their fire into the canal running from the tannery, which resulted in the routing of about two regiments of Yankees from their hiding place.
The 2d was called up from the pits, and the following circular was read to them:
"Headq'rs Anderson's Div'n,
Dec. 15, 1862.
commanding desires to impress upon the minds of the troops of this division the greatness of the occasion now presented to them."’
‘"The enemy has gathered his force and hopes to deal a crushing blow.
Let every man of us summon all his spirit and all his strength to this encounter."’
‘"If we beat our foe in this engagement the war may terminate with it; of we suffer ourselves to be beaten, it is certain that we have before us many a bloody battle."’
‘"Every soldier should feel that upon his own individual efforts may hang the success or the failure which will be attended with consequences of such magnitude."’
‘"Be resolved, therefore, to do your whole duty, think of this only and trustingly; leave all the rest to the Almighty Disposer
of all events."’
‘"By command of Major General Anderson
‘"Thos. S. Mills
and A. A. G."’
took this occasion to make the battalion a short speech, urging us to fight, if it could be possible, with even more than our usual courage and desperation, calling to mind our sufferings, and urging us to end them by the decisive success of our arms.
A little after dark a volley was heard from the pickets, and the battalion made a perfect rush for the advance rifle pits to meet the enemy, but no further alarm was heard, and we returned to the old road, after a few remarks from Lieut. Col. Manlove
, urging us to an energetic discharge of duty as soldiers.
A cold rain set in about midnight, and Tuesday morning found us with chilled bodies, but hearts eager to renew the battle, when the news came that the enemy had withdrawn his force to the other side of the river, and was leaving.
Many of our men went down to the town, and the number of dead Yankees was astonishing.
Nearly every one of them had been hit in three or four places — in fact, they were cut to pieces.
The field was strewn with dead, piled on each other in many instances, and never more than three or four feet apart.
Muskets and rifles were in profusion, overcoats, shoes, canteens, and oil-cloths
were in abundance.
Not a vestige of a live Yankee was to be seen, and from many hearts went up thanksgiving to God for the victory and for His mercy in sparing our lives.
This, as Gen. Featherstone
remarked, is the first time we have fought the Yankees
I speak of our brigade, and the result shows that our old success attends us. We have saved more small arms than at any other former time, and our victory is a decided one.
's brigade made itself conspicuous in the beginning of the action, and I learn that it suffered severely.
Among the noteworthy incidents is the fact that when Gen. Featherstone
sent to Col. Posey
, of the 16th, then in the advance position, desiring to know if he wished to be relieved, as he had been on picket 24 hours, the reply was, ‘"Tell Gen. Featherstone
that we will remain here, if necessary, until relieved by the squad who come to bury us." ’ I send herewith an accurate list of the killed and wounded in the brigade:
16th Mississippi, Col. Cannot Posey.
- Company B--Wounded: T W Bass, slightly in ankle.
- Company C--Killed: Richard Bredon Wounded: W T McDade and S C Barkins, both slightly.
- Company D--Killed: W D Cole, - Wounded: H Hassan.
- Company F--Wounded: P C Smith, severely.
B F Everett and R J Lightsey, slightly.
- Company G--Killed: T E Lowry.
Wounded: Capt Fulkerson, left arm shot off; F A Christian, R B McIvan, and A S Jones, slightly.
- Company H--Wounded; Lieuts J H Switenberg and T J Hardy, both slightly; privates Isaac Williams, John Williams, C H Noblin, all slightly.
- Company I--Wounded: Humphrey Dillon.
- Total killed.
3; wounded, 17.
- Major Lee severely wounded.
- Company B--Scroggins, slightly wounded
- Company E--Sergeant Geo. Schlegel, slightly wounded.
- Company I--Killed:--McGuire.
Wounded: H D Bryson, slightly.
- Company L--Wounded:--Alkin, severely.
- Total killed, I; wounded, 5.
- Company D--Wounded: W T Seal, slightly.
- Company G--Wounded: Serg't J W Williams, slightly; Corporal J M Lee, severely; privates J J Holcombe, right leg off, since dead; D Archibald, very slightly; J M Murphy, shot in left hand; A B Sanaom, stunned by a shell; J R Petrea, two fingers on right hand.
- Total killed, 1; wounded, 7.
- Company A--Wounded: Ben Fortner, J C Cleary, slightly.
- Company E--Wounded; Chas Kean; severely; Wm Heard, contusion.
- Company C--Wounded; Sergeant E H Derbin, slightly.
- Company H--Wounded: A J Davis severely.
- Total wounded 4.
- Casualties — None.
- Total killed in Featherstone's Brigade, 5; wounded 35.
I omitted to state in its proper place that we are in Anderson
's Division, composed of five brigades, and we were placed in the following order: Wilcox
; Gen. Featherstone
's brigade being on the extreme right of the division, and nearest to the town, supported on his left by Perry
, and so on in inverse order to that written above, Gen. Wilcox
being on the left.
's battery is attached to our brigade, and did noble-service.
We were protecting Capt. Moody
's battery, the ‘"Madison Tips, "’ during the engagement, but I have not learned their casualties, if any. Our position was admirable, being on a height commanding the town and the river, and difficult of access from the front.