Report of Brig. Gen. W. S. Featherston, C. S. Army, Commanding Featherston's Brigade.
DECEMBER 11-15, 1862.--Battle of Fredericksburg, Va
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI [S# 31]
HEADQUARTERS FEATHERSTON'S BRIGADE,
December 22, 1862.
Maj. THOMAS S. MILLS,
MAJOR: In obedience to orders, I submit the following report of the part taken by my brigade in the battle before Fredericksburg:
About 5 a.m. on Thursday, the 11th instant, at the firing of the signal guns, my brigade was formed, and marched rapidly from its encampment to the line of battle previously designated for Major-General Anderson's division, in front and to the left of Fredericksburg.
My brigade formed the right of Anderson's division, and was posted on Thursday morning between the Plank road and Hazel Run, in front of the town, and some distance in rear of the Washington Artillery. Here we remained during that day and night, protected from the artillery fire of the enemy by a continuous range of hills in our front.
On Friday morning, my brigade was moved to the left of the Plank road, and our first position, between the Plank road and Hazel Run, occupied by General Ransom's division. During Friday and Friday night we remained in position on the left of the Plank road, about the same distance in rear of our batteries, where we were protected by the same continuous range of hills from the enemy's artillery fire.
About 10 a.m. on Saturday, we were ordered to advance in line of battle farther to the front, and halted about 100 yards in rear of our batteries, on the left of the Plank road, extending our line of battle up the river in the direction of the Taylor house. Here we remained during the day, subjected to a very heavy converging fire from the enemy's artillery immediately in our front and extending up the river to our left. My men were kept lying down during the day in an old road, protecting them as much as possible. The enemy's batteries immediately in front were numerous and skillfully served. Their batteries on our left completely enfiladed our position, which they did not fail to see, and of which they took every advantage to avail themselves.
The fire of the enemy's artillery could not have been more rapid or galling on any part of the line than that which was brought to bear on our position on Saturday. The right of my brigade was also within range of the fire of the enemy's small.arms. My orders were to hold this position in support of the batteries immediately in my front, and to advance to the batteries when the enemy advanced, with small-arms, immediately in my front. There was no considerable 'advance of the enemy's small arms in our immediate front during the entire engagement. We remained in this position Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night, Monday, and Monday night.
At a late hour on Sunday night I was advised by General Ransom that one of his brigades would be withdrawn and sent across Hazel Run down the river, by order of Lieutenant-General Longstreet. I then threw forward, to the rock fence on the right of the Plank road, the Sixteenth Mississippi Regiment and five companies of the Forty-sixth [Forty eighth] Mississippi Regiment (formerly the Second Battalion), to fill the place vacated by some of the troops withdrawn and to form a continuous line of battle. These troops, to wit, the Sixteenth Mississippi and five companies of the Forty-sixth [Forty-eighth] Mississippi, Sunday night, Monday, and Monday night remained in that position, declining on Monday night to be relieved by other regiments of my brigade.
On Tuesday morning, after the fact was ascertained that the enemy had recrossed the river, the troops were withdrawn, except the Twelfth Mississippi Regiment, which was left on picket in front.
During the engagement of Saturday the casualties in my brigade were 42 killed and wounded, and 1 on Monday. Among the number I regret to enumerate the loss of two valuable officers (Maj. L. C. Lee, of the Forty-sixth [Forty-eighth], and Captain [G. H.] Fulkerson, of the Sixteenth Regiment), both seriously, but, it is believed, not dangerously, wounded.
The small list of casualties under so heavy a converging fire from the enemy's numerous batteries can only be accounted for under Providence by the fact that the men were kept lying down closely on the ground, taking advantage of every hill and crest as a protection. A full return of the killed and wounded has already been transmitted to your headquarters.
During the engagement of five days and nights, both officers and men manifested great patience and endurance under the hardships and privations, and were eager to the last for a continuance of the fight.
The officers of the medical, commissary, and quartermaster's departments were prompt and efficient in discharging the duties of their several departments.
In the absence of my regular staff officers (Capt. W. R. Barksdale, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. A. N. Parker, aide-de-camp, both absent on sick leave), I feel greatly indebted to my volunteer aides, Capt. C. N. Featherston and Mr. C. W. Graves, who attended me during the entire engagement, and who were ever ready, prompt, and efficient in the execution of all orders upon every part of the field.
I have the honor to be, major, your obedient servant,
W. S. FEATHERSTON,
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