War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0216 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

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No. 48. Report of Captain Andrew Cowan, First New York Battery.

ON THE RAPPAHANNOCK, December 19, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, with the other batteries under your command, I took position at 12 p.m., December 10, on the high ground overlooking the river above Pollock's Mill. At 7 o'clock the following morning, in accordance with your orders, I changed my position to the river bank, near the pontoon bridges, and opened fire upon some buildings on the opposite side, from which the enemy's sharpshooters were firing upon our engineer party. The sharpshooters ceased firing, and the bridges were completed without further hinderance. During the remainder of the day I fired several shots at parties of the enemy's troops, with, as far as I could judge, very good effect. The ground was very heavy, and before night three of my pieces were disabled, the recoil having broken the axles. At sunset I threw a few shells into the buildings, and immediately after our troops commenced to cross.

At early daylight on the following morning (December 12), I had my men at their posts, by order of Major-General Smith, it being reported that the enemy had moved several of their batteries down near our picket line, but we heard nothing from them. At 11 a.m., by your directed, to General Hunt's headquarters, to request him to send to Washington for new axles; but, finding that he was at the front with repair the old axles, and at 6 p.m. I reported to you as ready for action with my whole battery (six pieces).

At 8 o'clock Saturday morning, I moved to Pollock's Mill, and afterward took position a half mile to the left of that point, and drove a party of the enemy's cavalry from a piece of woods on the opposite side of the river. When our skirmishers advanced, and the line of battle had been formed in our front, I limbered up and moved 100 yards to the rear. The enemy's shell reached us, but failed to do any damage. At dark, returned to camp, and at 6 a.m. Sunday took position on this side of the river, beyond the extreme left of our line, on the opposite side; kept up a fire, as from time to time any considerable body of the enemy came in sight, and with good effect. Remained in this position during the night, and on Monday performed the same duty as on the day previous. At 10 p.m. had my men at their posts, where they remained till morning.

At 7 a.m. Tuesday, received orders from you to withdraw to the position occupied on the night of December 10, which I did, and there I still remain.

I found the shell of the Hotchkiss pattern excellent, but very many of the spherical case failed to explode, as also the percussion. I examined several case shot, and found one without any powder filling, and another filled with, apparently, iron filings or rust. I fired, in all, 319 rounds. We lost neither men nor horses.

I regretted being detached from my division while it was engaged on the opposite side of the river, but endeavor to perform my duty while under your command.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain First New York Independent Battery.

Captain G. A. DE RUSSY,

Commanding Batteries.