Reports of Brig. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, U.S. Army, Commanding Second Division.
DECEMBER 11-15, 1862.--Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI [S# 31]

HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Falmouth, Va., December 19, 1862.

Maj. FRANCIS A. WALKER,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff, Second Corps.

    MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my division during the 11th, 13th, and 14th instant:
    On the 11th, in accordance with orders from General Couch, I marched from my present camp at 6.30 a.m., in order of brigades, as follows: Colonel Hall's, Colonel Owen's, and General Sully's, and proceeded to vicinity of the Lacy house. The batteries were guided to the same point, and Hazard's Rhode Island Battery sent to General Hunt, by whom it was placed in position on the bank of the river, and fired to cover the bridge-builders just south of the Lacy house.
    General Couch ordered me, at 8 a.m., to detach a brigade to report to General Woodbury at the same house near the river; I did so at once. The brigade (Colonel Hall's) was moved forward and established. The rest of the division was kept under cover from the enemy's shell. There we waited for the completion of the bridge until about 3 p.m., when Colonel Hall, not waiting for the bridge, with the Seventh Michigan, under the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter, effected the crossing in boats. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts followed in boats, and drove the rebel infantry from behind their covers in rifle-pits and cellars, and took some 30 or 40 prisoners. These regiments covered the bridge head while the engineers finished their work.
    About sunset the bridge was ready, the last of the Twentieth just having gained the opposite shore. Colonel Hall was ordered to throw the rest of his brigade into the city. Meanwhile General Couch had directed me to bring up the rest of my division. The crossing on the bridge commenced, and was kept up till, just at dark, the left of General Sully's brigade was placed in position. The enemy took up successfully covers, from which he brought a sharp fire upon Colonel Hall's troops, which he moved forward, seizing the streets to the right. Colonel Owen formed the Second Brigade on Colonel Hall's left, and cleared his front by skirmishers.
    Just as soon as I got a firm hold on the town, I made my dispositions for the night. Every regiment was under artillery fire, and Hall's and Owen's exposed to musketry, during this affair. Our loss, as estimated, was about 40 killed and 160 wounded in the two leading brigades.
    On the morning of the 12th, I moved General Sully and Colonel Owen :o the front, and took possession of the ridge near the town. Colonel Hawkins, of General Willcox's command, had crossed the lower bridge with a brigade the night before, and, in conjunction with my division, held the entire town at daybreak of the 12th. During the day I concentrated my command on the right, and placed them as much under cover as possible, and remained, picketing my front and right, till the 13th.
    During the forenoon of the 13th, General Whipple relieved a part of my pickets. One regiment and two companies of another were detained to strengthen him without my knowledge at the time. Before the engagement commenced, General Couch carefully instructed me to hold my command in hand, and wait his orders either to move to the support of General Hancock or be sent elsewhere, as the exigencies of the day might demand.
    At about 12.55 p.m. I was ordered to move to the right of Hancock and attack the works there, debouching on the right of the Plank road, where I had already located a company of sharpshooters, of General Sully's command, to pick off the enemy's cannoneers within range. This order was immediately countermanded by General Couch, and I was sent to support General Hancock. My command was moved out, Colonel Owen's brigade in front. He was ordered by me cross the bridge over the mill-race, which is just outside of the town, moving on Hanover street by the flank, left in front. As soon as he reached a plowed field on the left of the road, he was to deploy and move forward in line of battle. This he did in fine style. He moved, without breaking his line, to the vicinity of a small brick house, where he halted, because unsupported, and, fearing he should lose ground, caused the men to lie down. He was now within 100 yards of the enemy's first line. I sent him word to hold what he had got, and to push forward the first opportunity, and not to fire, except when he had something to fire at. Colonel Hall, meanwhile, following Colonel Owen by the flank, was ordered by General Couch, both directly and through me, to deploy to the right of Hanover street, which he did. He made several bold attempts to storm the enemy's rifle-pits, but the concentrated fire of artillery and infantry was too much to carry men through. He kept what ground he got. I held General Sully in the outskirts of the town, ready to support or relieve either brigade. Colonel Hall sent for re-enforcements, stating that his ammunition was getting low. General Sully sent him two regiments, which prolonged his line to the right. Another of General Sully's was deployed on the left of the road, and afterward endeavored to re-enforce Colonel Owen.
    This, then, was the condition of things at 4 p.m.: Owen extending from the road which prolonged Hanover street to General Willcox's command; Hall extending from the same road to the right. Now a brigade of General Humphreys' division formed in my rear. Hazard's battery (Company B, Rhode Island Artillery) was sent forward across the mill-race, took position just in rear of Owen's line, and fired briskly. Captain Hazard's conduct was equal to anything I ever saw on a field of battle. With the loss of 16 men hors de combat, he drove up cowardly reluctance to help him move and serve his guns. General Humphreys desired him to cease firing, when the general gallantly led forward his men. They reached my line, a portion passed it a little, met a tremendous volley of musketry and grape, and fell back. One of my regiments, the One hundred and twenty-seventh Pennsylvania, went with him. All were rallied at the millrace ravine. As soon as the battery ceased it was withdrawn, as also was Captain Frank's New York Battery, which had followed Hazard's, and did good service near the same advanced ground.
    After several ineffectual attempts to carry the enemy's works, darkness came on and the firing subsided. My division remained out to the front, and was not withdrawn until relieved by Generals Sykes, Hall, and Sully, about 12, and Owen reached his place in town about 2 a.m.
    Again on the following night I was ordered to relieve General Sykes. I chose five regiments, and put them under command of Colonel Morgan, First Minnesota. In the night two companies of the Nineteenth Maine worked vigorously, and covered the regiments to the left of the road with rifle-pits for their skirmishers.
    About 1 p.m. on the 15th, the enemy opened a new battery on the right of the picket line, and drove some two or three regiments from their position. Nearly all communication with the town was cut off by sharpshooters, but brave men of the Eighty-second New York and First California reoccupied all the important points, and held them until relieved.
    I received orders from General Couch, on the night of the 15th, to commence some works to protect the troops against shells. A small party had broken the ground, under direction of General Sully, when, between 8 and 9 p.m., orders came to relieve my working party and move across the river. As soon as my picket regiments had joined their brigades, they were moved to their old camp, near Falmouth.
    For gallantry, steadiness under fire, and constancy, I commend my division. I honor the fallen and sympathize with the wounded. The officers have cordially co-operated with me and the men have done nobly. I will mention but few, leaving the rest to brigade commanders, whose commendations I heartily indorse.
    Colonel Hall, of the Seventh Michigan, commanding the Third Brigade, receives from me the most unqualified recommendation to the post of a general officer. For gallantry and good service he is not excelled.
    Colonel Owen, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, commanding the Second Brigade, has been warmly recommended by General Sedgwick and myself. Again let me show him as a man who cannot be outdone on the battle-field. His horse was killed under him.
    It is unnecessary to call attention to General Sully, always cool, and especially so at the late battle, where he received a slight wound.
    I call attention to Captain Arnold, who commanded Tompkins' battery (A), Rhode Island Artillery. He had a good position, near Hanover street, in the suburbs, and used his rifled guns effectively in silencing different batteries of the enemy.
    My adjutant-general and aides did everything possible to assist me, and neither shrank from exposure. Their horses were wounded, but themselves unhurt, except Lieut. C. H. Howard, who had a slight wound in the leg.
    Lieuts. H. N. Stinson and A. T. Atwood are highly commended by the brigade commanders for their fearless conduct under fire.
    Captain Whittlesey accompanied me to the front to cheer each regiment just as the action closed on the evening of the 13th.
    Lieutenant Steele, ordnance officer, showed diligence in keeping the artillery and infantry supplied with ammunition during the action.
    Captain Batchelder, quartermaster, and Captain Smith, commissary of subsistence, promptly brought up supplies when required.
    The adjutant and aides of General Couch met me with clear and definite orders from himself, which I endeavored to fulfill.
    I met General French just before the action, and consulted with him and with General Hancock just as I pushed in my first and second brigades. His suggestions enabled me to take my position for his support, and for the relief of his decimated command.
    Herewith I send a nominal list of the killed, wounded, and missing. Aggregate loss in the division: Officers killed, 8; enlisted men killed, 102; officers wounded, 56; enlisted men wounded, 634, and missing, 77. Total, 877.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.


HEADQUARTERS SECOND DIVISION, SECOND CORPS,
December 19, 1862.

    COLONEL: I have the honor to state that the Seventh Michigan passed over not far from 3 p.m. The Nineteenth Massachusetts followed immediately, at about 3.30 p.m., it having been necessary for the boats to cross twice with the Seventh Michigan. The boats crossed three times to carry over the Nineteenth. The bridge was commenced after the Nineteenth had crossed, and completed at sunset, about 4.30. The Twentieth followed the Nineteenth in boats before the bridge was completed. No other regiments crossed in boats.
    A company of sharpshooters, Captain Plumer's, from General Sully's command, covered the crossing from this bank.
    The Seventh Michigan lost I officer and 2 men killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Baxter and 13 men wounded.
    The Nineteenth Massachusetts having lost two regimental commanders, it cannot be ascertained with certainty what its losses were in that 'affair separate from the battles following. Colonel Hall thinks there were about 10 killed and about 28 wounded.
    The Twentieth Massachusetts lost I officer and 19 men killed and 4 officers and 73 men wounded.
    Total loss, 2 officers and 31 men killed and 5 officers and 114 men wounded.
    The Fifty-ninth New York first crossed the bridge at sunset, and lost 1 officer killed and 3 wounded, and 3 men killed and 19 wounded.
    The latter regiment should be embraced with the others. It is impossible to separate those killed and wounded in actual crossing from those killed and wounded in the fight on the shore. I embrace the whole affair on the evening of the 11th with reference to these regiments. It should be remembered that Colonel Owen's brigade was also engaged in the fight on other streets on the left.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. HOWARD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.


HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
December 19, 1862.

Maj. FRANCIS A. WALKER,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.

    MAJOR: I have the honor to recommend, for promotion to brigadier-generals of volunteers, Col. Norman J. Hall, Seventh Michigan, Col. J. T. Owen, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Col. T. G. Morehead, One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania.
    These officers have been recommended before for the same positions. In the late battles near Fredericksburg they have fully sustained their record.
    I think the Seventh Michigan Regiment, as also the Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, deserve honorable and public mention for gallantry in crossing the river and securing a foot-hold in the town of Fredericksburg on the evening of the 11th instant.

Very respectfully,
O. O. HOWARD,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

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