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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
Page 636 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.


No. 304. Report of Colonel S. Crutchfield, Chief of Artillery.

JANUARY 3, 1863.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the artillery of this corps in the engagement near Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862:

The heights on the right of our line were held by fourteen guns of the batteries of Major General A. P. Hill's division, under Lieutenant Colonel R. L. Walker, and consisting of the batteries of Captains Pegram and McIntosh [four guns each] and sections of the batteries of Captains Latham, [M.] Johnson, and [William G.] Grenshaw, commanded, respectively, by Lieutenants [J. R.] Potts, [V. J.] Clutter, and James Ellett. The position was a commanding one and afforded admirable advantages against a direct assault from infantry; but, what was more important, so controlled the ground in front as to force the enemy to open a heavy cannonade upon it in hopes of silencing these batteries before they could move any considerable mass of their infantry down the plain, as would be necessary should they endeavor to turn our right. On the other hand, it was liable to the disadvantage always attaching to fixed position, that it must receive a concentrated fire from many points, added to which the formation of the ground at the top of the hill was such as not to afford much protection to men and hardly any to horses. It was, of course, a position of great importance; and it being specially necessary that its batteries should be able to open an effective fire upon the enemy's infantry in the plain below should they endeavor to move down the river to threaten or turn our right, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Walker to keep his guns concealed as well as he could, and not to allow himself to be drawn into an artillery duel, but, disregarding the fire of the enemy's batteries, to reserve his own for their infantry when it should come within effective range.

On the left of our line were posted twenty-one guns, as follows: Just at Bernard's cabins and to their left nine guns [consisting of six rifles, two Napoleons, and one 6-pounder] of the batteries of Captain Davidson, Raine, Caskie, and Braxton, all under the immediate direction of Captain Davidson. Some 200 yards in front of these to their right and beyond the railroad, were placed twelve guns [consisting of six rifles, three Napoleons, and three 6-pounders] from the batteries of Captains [Joseph] Carpenter, Wooding, and Braxton, all under the immediate command of Captain J. B. Brockenbrough. Captain Carpenter's battery was commanded by Lieutenant McKendree.

From the first it was evident that the enemy's attack might be expected upon our center, where the heights on our right descended to a level with the plain, and a point of woods running out into the field offered them early and good shelter, or that they would endeavor to turn our right. A considerable artillery force was held ready to meet this latter contingency by moving out and taking position in the fields to our right, so as to cross its fire the batteries of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker. The center of the line was our weakest part, since Lieutenant-Colonel Walker's guns could not oblique their fire to the left sufficiently to hope to prevent the enemy seizing the point of woods referred to at the distance at which it was. The batteries near Bernard's cabins more directly controlled this point, but only by a quite oblique fire to the right; so that there were some 800 or 1,000 yards of our front near the center undefended by a direct artillery fire to the front. I examined the ground carefully in


Page 636 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 21, Part 1 (Fredericksburg)
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