Report of Brig. Gen. Nathan Kimball, U. S. Army, Commanding First Brigade.
DECEMBER 11-15, 1862.--Battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXI [S# 31]
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 22, 1862.
Lieut. J. W. PLUME,
Aide.de. Camp and Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, I moved my command, on the morning of the 11th instant, at daybreak, from the camp of the division to the front, opposite Fredericksburg, and halted at 8 o'clock in a ravine near the railroad, to the right of General Sumner's headquarters.
At 3 p.m. I moved to the bank of the river, near the Lacy house, expecting to cross, but at sundown, being then under fire from the enemy's batteries, I was ordered back, and bivouacked on the hill, about half a mile from the river, for the night.
At sunrise on the morning of the 12th, I was ordered forward again, and, crossing the pontoon bridge, entered Fredericksburg and formed my brigade on Sophia street; my right at Hanover street, and my left on Princess Anne street.
At 11 o'clock, I moved forward and formed on Caroline street, opposite my first position, where I remained during the afternoon and night, the troops sleeping on their arms.
At 10 o'clock on the morning of the 13th, I received the order to lead the advance in an attack on the enemy's works in rear of the city. The First Regiment Delaware Volunteers having been ordered to report to me, I placed them on the center, the Eighth Ohio on the right, and the Fourth Ohio on the left, the whole under the command of Col. John S. Mason, of the Fourth Ohio, and sent them forward as skirmishers. The Eighth Ohio passed out Hanover street until it crossed the canal in rear of the town, when it deployed to the left, until it connected with the Fourth Ohio and First Delaware, which passed out Princess Anne street; crossed the canal near the depot buildings, and deployed to the right. This movement commenced at 11.30 o'clock.
At a few minutes before 12 o'clock, I moved my brigade, which had already been formed on Caroline street, with the Seventh [West] Virginia on the right, the Fourteenth Indiana on the left, and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth New Jersey in the center, by the right flank, out Princess Anne street; crossed the open space near the depot buildings and the canal bridge near there; filed to the right, and formed line of battle under cover of the low bluff, on which my skirmishers had deployed, my right resting on Hanover street, and my left on the so-called Telegraph road.
From the time my column came in sight at the depot buildings all these movements were executed under a most murderous fire from the enemy's artillery, several shells bursting in the ranks and destroying a company at a time. Yet all the regiments, without an exception, moved steadily forward without confusion, those in the rear quickly closing up the gaps left by their fallen comrades.
My skirmishers having already driven the enemy's pickets from the plain in front of their position, I moved rapidly forward in line of battle. As soon as my line came in sight on the top of the small hill, under cover of which it was formed, it was met by a deadly fire from the enemy's batteries in front and on each flank, but in the face of this it moved steadily forward with fixed bayonets, and without firing a gun, over rough and muddy ground, through fences and all other obstacles, until, reaching the enemy's rifle-pits, it was met by his infantry, posted behind stone walls and earthworks, and in cover of a small ravine, in superior numbers, and by a fire so fierce as to compel it to halt and open fire upon him.
The right of my line then occupied a small village at the forks of the Hanover road, and my left rested at the Telegraph road. A fourth of my command had fallen while crossing the plain, and those left with me Were exhausted by the fatigue of clearing away fences and marching so far at double-quick over rough and muddy ground; and they were exposed to a most murderous fire of grape and musketry. The support had not then come up from under cover of the bluff. My command held its ground, but could advance no farther.
At this moment I was severely wounded in the thigh, and was soon after carried from the field, after sending orders to Colonel Mason to take command of the brigade. I respectfully refer you to the report of this officer for the subsequent action of my brigade, and for lists of killed and wounded.
My command, both officers and men, behaved with the most determined bravery and coolness.
I cannot speak too highly of the skill and gallantry with which Colonel Mason, of the Fourth Ohio, commanding the skirmishers; Colonel Snider, of the Seventh West Virginia; Colonel Wisewell, of the Twenty-eighth, and Colonel Robertson, of the Twenty-fourth New Jersey; Lieutenant Colonels Godman, of the Fourth Ohio, Sawyer, of the Eighth Ohio, and Lockwood, of the Seventh West Virginia, and Majors Cavins, commanding the Fourteenth Indiana, and Smyth, the First Delaware, managed their several commands. Colonels Snider and Wisewell, and Lieutenant-Colonel Godman, were dangerously wounded while leading their regiments.
My staff, Capt. E. D. Mason, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieuts. J. R. Swigart and John G. Burrill, aides-de-camp, by my orders reported to Colonel Mason on the field when he took command, and remained with him until after the evacuation of Fredericksburg. I am deeply indebted to them for the prompt and fearless manner in which they performed their perilous duties. Lieutenant Swigart was wounded while carrying dispatches to you.
I desire to call your special attention to the conduct of Private M. A. Wixon, of Company B, Twenty-third New York Volunteers, whom you sent as guide, and who performed his duties with intelligence and skill, faithfully bearing important information on the field, and bearing himself in a manner deserving distinguished notice.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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