Report of Lieut. Gen. Thomas
J. Jackson, C. S. Army,
commanding Second Army Corps,
Battle of Fredericksburg
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI [S# 31]
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 31, 1863.
Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,
Asst. Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Army of Northern Virginia.
GENERAL: ! have the honor herewith to submit to you a report of the operations of my corps in the battle of Fredericksburg on Saturday, December 13, last.
In pursuance to orders, Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill moved his division at dawn on the morning of the 12th from his encampment, near Yerby's, and relieved Major-General Hood, then posted near Hamilton's Crossing. At the same time Brigadier-General [William B.] Taliaferro, then in command of Jackson s division, moved from his encampment above Guiney s Depot, and took position in rear of Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill.
Early on the morning of the 13th, Ewell's division, under command of Brig. Gen. J. A. Early, and Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, with his division, arrived, after a severe night's march, from their respective encampments in the vicinity of Buckner's Neck and Port Royal, the troops of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill being from 15 to 18 miles distant from the point to which they were ordered.
On the morning of that day the troops were arranged as follows: Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill occupied the front line, formed of two regiments of Field's brigade, commanded by Colonel [J. M.] Brockenbrough, and the brigades of Archer, Lane, and Pender (posted from right to left in the order named), his right resting on the road leading from Hamilton's Crossing to the Port Royal road, and his left extending to within a short distance of Deep Run. These troops were partially concealed by the wood, near the edge of which they were posted. The remainder of Brockenbrough's command, consisting of the Fortieth and Fifty-fifth Virginia, was immediately in rear of Walker's batteries, and acting as a support to them. Of the other two brigades, Gregg's and Thomas', of the same division, the first was in rear of the interval between Archer and Lane, and the second in rear of the interval between Lane and Pender. The divisions under Generals Early and Taliaferro formed the second line, Early being on the right. The division of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, which was still farther in rear, constituted the reserve. Upon the eminence immediately to the right, Lieutenant-Colonel [R. L.] Walker (Maj. Gen. A. P. Hilts chief of artillery) had in position fourteen guns, composed of the batteries of Pegram and McIntosh, with sections from the batteries of Crenshaw, Latham, and Johnson, commanded, respectively, by Lieutenants [J.] Ellett, [J. R.] Potts, and [Valentine J.] Clutter. On the left of the line, and near the Bernard cabins, were posted twenty-one guns, of the batteries of Captains Davidson. Raine, Caskie, and Braxton, all under the immediate direction of Captain Davidson. To the right and some 200 yards in front of these, and beyond the railroad, were posted twelve guns, from the batteries of Captains Carpenter, Wooding, and Braxton, under the direction of Captain Brockenbrough, General Taliaferro's chief of artillery; Carpenter's battery commanded by Lieutenant [George] McKendree, and Braxton's by Lieutenant [Edward A.] Marye. On my left was Major-General [John B.] Hood, of Longstreet s corps, and on my right and front the cavalry, under command of Major-General [J. E. B.] Stuart, with a battery near the Port Royal road, under the direction of Major [John] Pelham, of the Stuart Horse Artillery, aided in the course of the day by sections from the batteries of Captain [William T.] Poague, Lieutenant [Archibald] Graham commanding; Capts. David Watson, B. H. Smith, jr., [A. W.] Garber, Willis J.] Dance, and the Louisiana Guards, of my corps, thrown into position so as to cross their fire with the guns of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, and designed to check the advance of the enemy in that direction.
About 10 o'clock, as the fog disappeared, the lines of the enemy, arranged in order of battle, were distinctly visible in the plain between us and the river, covering my front and extending far to the left toward Fredericksburg. The force in front of me I supposed to number about 55,000. Pelham, with part of the Stuart Horse Artillery, was soon engaged with the artillery of the enemy, and a brisk and animated contest was kept up for about an hour. Soon after Pelham, in obedience to orders, had withdrawn from his position on the Port Royal road, the enemy directed his artillery on the heights, held by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, and upon the wood generally occupied by our troops, evidently with a view of causing us to disclose whatever troops or artillery were there. Not eliciting any response, the enemy was seemingly satisfied that he would experience but little resistance to an effort to obtain possession of this hill. Accordingly, about 11 o'clock, he advanced by the flank parallel to the Port Royal road nearly to the road running from thence to Hamilton's Crossing, now unimpeded in his march, as Pelham was withdrawn. Facing to the front, he advanced in line of battle across the plain, straight upon the position occupied by Walker. His batteries reserved their fire until the enemy's lines came within less than 800 yards, when the fourteen guns opened, pouring such a storm of shot and shell into his ranks as to cause him first to halt, then to waver, and at last seek shelter by flight.
About 1 o'clock, the main attack was made by heavy and rapid discharges of artillery. Under the protection of this warm and well. directed fire, his infantry in heavy force advanced, seeking the partial protection of a piece of wood extending beyond the railroad. The batteries on the right played on their ranks with destructive effect. The advancing force was visibly staggered by our rapid and well-directed artillery, but, soon recovering from the shock, the Federal troops, consisting of the main body of Franklin's grand division, supported by a portion of Hooker's grand division, continued to press forward. Advancing within point-blank range of our infantry, and thus exposed to the murderous fire of musketry and artillery, the struggle became fierce and sanguinary. They continued, however, still to press forward, and before General A. P. Hill closed the interval which he had left between Archer and Lane it was penetrated, and the enemy, pressing forward in overwhelming numbers through that interval, turned Lane's right and Archer's left. Thus attacked in front and rear, the Fourteenth Tennessee and Nineteenth Georgia, of Archer's brigade, and the entire brigade of Lane fell back, but not until after a brave and obstinate resistance. Notwithstanding the perilous situation in which Archer's brigade was placed, his right, changing front, continued to struggle with undaunted firmness, materially checking the advance of the enemy until re-enforce-ments came to its support· The brigade of General Thomas, posted as before stated, moved gallantly forward, and, joined by the Seventh and part of the Eighteenth North Carolina, of Lane's brigade, gallantly drove back a Federal column which had broken through Lane's line.
In the mean time a large force of the enemy penetrated the wood in rear of the position occupied by the brigades of Lane and Archer, and came in contact with Gregg's brigade. Taken by surprise, Orr's Rifles were thrown into confusion. It was in the act of rallying this regiment that Brig. Gen. Maxcy Gregg fell in front of the Rifles, mortally wounded. General Gregg was a brave and accomplished officer, full of heroic sentiment and chivalrous honor. He had rendered valuable service in this great struggle for our freedom, and the country has much reason to deplore the loss sustained by his premature death. Colonel Hamilton, upon whom the command of that brigade now devolved, hastened to meet the emergencies of his position, and with the four remaining regiments and one company of the Orr Rifles (Lieutenant [J. D.] Charles') gave the enemy a warm reception. The enemy was not long permitted to hold the advantage which he had thus gained. The second line came promptly to the support of the first. Lawton's brigade, commanded by Colonel [E. N.] Atkinson, subsequently by Colonel [C. A.] Evans; Tumble's brigade, commanded by Col. R. F. Hoke, and Early's brigade, commanded by Colonel [J. A.] Walker (all under the command of Brigadier-General Early), and the Forty- seventh and Twenty-second Virginia Regiments, of Colonel Brockenbrough's command, were already rushing with impetuous valor to the support of the first line. In Taliaferro's command, his right regiment--the Second Virginia, of Paxton's brigade--became engaged with part of the enemy, which, after a slight resistance, retreated. The combat in the wood was brief and decisive. The farther advance of the enemy was checked. He was driven with great slaughter from the wood to the railroad, the two regiments of Brockenbrough's command, Archer with the First Tennessee and Fifth Alabama Battalion, and the three brigades commanded by Colonels Hoke, Walker, and Atkinson, pursuing the retreating Federals to the railroad, where they made a brief stand, when Hoke and Atkinson charged upon them with impetuosity, destroying many in the charge, and taking a large number of prisoners. Nor did they stop there, but, impelled by an ardor which reflects the highest credit on their courage and patriotism, this comparatively small force pressed the discomfited foe in hot pursuit until they appeared so far within range of his artillery, and the fire of a large force of his infantry, as to make further pursuit an act of rashness.
In this gallant charge, Colonel Atkinson was severely wounded and fell into the hands of the enemy. Capt. E. P. Lawton, assistant adju-tant-general of the brigade, though injured during the advance by the fall of his horse, continued to press forward on foot, heroically encouraging the brigade, until he fell mortally wounded.
During the day some of the guns under Lieutenant-Colonel Walker becoming short of men and ammunition, and otherwise disabled from further service, were relieved by Captain Poague's battery with two 20-pounder Parrotts. These two pieces actively engaged the enemy's artillery and afterward opened on the infantry. The exact range of the hill having been accurately obtained by much previous firing, the loss at this point was heavy. It is due to Captain Poague here to state that when ]ate on the evening previous he received orders to move his battery, he was distant some 16 miles from the battle-field, and the promptitude with which he responded to the order by a fatiguing night's march is worthy of notice. Some guns of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill's division were put in at this time on our right, under the direction of his chief of artillery, Maj. T. H. Carter, which were all well served. Later in the' evening, Lieutenant. Colonel [L. M.] Coleman brought up two howitzers from Captain [Willis J.] Dunce's battery and placed them on the left of Captain Poague's guns. About this time Lieutenant-Colonel Coleman was severely wounded. On the extreme right. beyond the Massaponax, was a Whitworth gun under the command of Captain Hardaway, of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill's division, which was well served.
On the extreme left, the day did not pass without some incidents worthy of notice. Early in the day the enemy opened upon the left with sixteen guns, afterward increased to twenty-four. The officers in command obeyed their orders, and, reserving their fire, the enemy advanced his skirmishers in heavy line upon the points occupied by the commands of Captains Davidson and Brockenbrough. They were soon driven off by canister; but the position of these batteries being thus disclosed to the enemy, a heavy artillery fire was directed upon them, which was replied to with animation and spirit. The ammunition of Captain [C. I.] Raine's battery proving defective, it was withdrawn, and Captain [J. W.] Latimer, acting chief of artillery of Ewell's division, was ordered to take a position still farther to the front and left. These last pieces were admirably served, and, though suffering severely from skirmishers and sharpshooters, drove them back, and by the accuracy and rapidity of their fire inflicted a severe loss upon the enemy. As the Federal infantry pressed forward upon our front, it was deemed advisable to withdraw the batteries of Captain Brockenbrough placed in advance of the railroad, before the enemy should seize the point of woods to their right and rear, which they a short time afterward penetrated, the withdrawal of the batteries being covered by Lieutenant-Colonel [J. L.] Hill, of the Seventh North Carolina. The brigade of General Pender was immediately in rear of the batteries of Captains Davidson and Latimer, and was without any protection from the enemy's artillery; and thus, notwithstanding the efficacy of the batteries acting in conjunction with Major [Chris. C.] Cole, of the Twenty-second North Carolina, in dispersing the cloud of skirmishers and sharpshooters that hung all day upon that part of the line, that brigade received much of the fire that was directed at these guns, and suffered severely. General Pender was himself wounded. The Sixteenth North Carolina, Colonel [John S.] Mc Elroy, which had been thrown out as a support to Latimer's battery, became warmly engaged with a brigade of the enemy, which had advanced up Deep Run under cover, and, acting with two other North Carolina regiments (the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-seventh) of Law's brigade, Hood's division, drove them back.
Repulsed on the right, left, and center, the enemy soon after reformed his lines, and gave some indications of a purpose to renew the attack. I waited some time to receive it; but he making no forward movement, I determined, if prudent, to do so myself. The artillery of the enemy was so judiciously posted as to make an advance of our troops across the plain very hazardous; yet it was so promising of good results, if successfully executed, as to induce me to make preparations for the attempt. In order to guard against disaster, the infantry was to be preceded by artillery, and the movement postponed until late in the evening, so that, if compelled to retire, it would be under the cover of night. Owing to unexpected delays, the movement could not be gotten ready until late in the evening. The first gun had hardly moved forward from the wood 100 yards when the enemy's artillery reopened, and so completely swept our front as to satisfy me that the proposed movement should be abandoned.
The next day (14th), the divisions under the command of Brigadier-Generals Early and Taliaferro formed the first line; that of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill the second, and the division of Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill the reserve. The enemy continued in our front all day, apparently awaiting an attack from us. During the night our lines were again changed, so as to place the division of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill in the front line, Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill in the second, and the divisions commanded by Brigadier-Generals Early and Taliaferro the reserve.
On the 15th, the enemy still remained in our front, and in the evening of that day sent in a flag of truce requesting a cessation of hostilities between his left and our right wings, for the purpose of removing his wounded from the field, which, under previous instructions from the commanding general, was granted.
Our troops patiently remained in position on that, as they had done the previous day, eagerly awaiting another attack from the enemy, and such was the desire to occupy the front line, when such an attack should be made, that the division of Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill sent in a written request to be permitted to remain in the front line until next day. But our brave troops were disappointed in the expectation of another attack, for while they patiently waited during the night of the 15th in the hope of another encounter on the following day, and of visiting upon the invaders of their sacred homes and firesides a just retribution for the outrages of this most unprovoked and unchristian war, the enemy hurriedly and silently during that night made good his retreat by recrossing the river.
For further details of the operations of my corps in the battle, I respectfully refer you to the reports of the division, brigade, and regimental commanders who participated in the engagement; also to the reports of Colonel [S.] Crutchfield, my chief of artillery; Lieutenant- Colonel Walker, Colonel [J. T.] Brown, of the reserve artillery, and Captain Latimer, detailing the operations of the artillery. I refer you also to the same source of information for the names of many officers who distinguished themselves in this battle, and by their good conduct specially merit the approbation of the Government and of t-he country.
I herewith forward to you a list of the casualties of this corps on December 13, from which it will appear that 26 officers were killed and 195 wounded ; 318 enlisted men killed and 2,350 wounded; 18 officers and 508 enlisted men missing, making a total loss in this corps of 3,415. Nearly all who are reported as missing were taken prisoners in the fight.
By the official report of Major Bridgford, provost-marshal of the corps, herewith submitted, it appears that we captured 521 prisoners, of whom 11 were officers. The report of Major Bridgford exhibits a gratifying statement of the small number who straggled from the ranks during the last action, and affords further evidence of the improving discipline and spirit of the army.
The report of Major Bier, my chief of ordnance, shows that we captured 4,446 small- arms. My medical director, Dr. Hunter McGuire, gave special and skillful attention to the wounded. Maj. J. A. Harman, chief quartermaster; Maj. W. J. Hawks, chief commissary, and Maj. G. H. Bier, chief of ordnance, discharged their respective duties well.
During the action I received valuable assistance in transmitting orders an(! discharging other duties from the following members of my staff: Col. S. Crutchfield, chief of artillery; Col. A. Smead, inspector. general; Capt. A. S. Pendleton, assistant adjutant-general ; Capt. J. K. Boswell; chief engineer; First Lieuts. J. G. Morrison and J.P. Smith, aides- decamp, and Second Lieut. W. G. Williamson, engineer department.
I trust that the victory of Fredericksburg, with which God has blessed our cause, will continue to be gratefully remembered.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,
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