War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0241 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA.

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doing an injustice to my brigade if I did not say that the fortitude and endurance with which the hardships of that night were borne were such as to affect me deeply. I shall also digress from the strict line of an official report, in vindication of the honor and humanity of the brigade, to state that during the occupation of the city of Fredericksburg, previous to as well as after the advance of our forces on the batteries of the enemy, the Irish Brigade scrupulously abstained from any act of depredation.

On the morning of Saturday, the 13th instant, we were ordered under arms. The order was delivered to me at 8 a.m. Having formed the brigade, I addressed to every regiment separately a few words, reminding them of their duty, and exhorting them to do it bravely and nobly. Immediately after, the column moved up the street, headed by Colonel Robert Nugent and his veteran regiment, being exposed during the march to a continuous fire of shot and shell, several men falling from the effects of each. Even while I was addressing the Sixty-ninth, which was on the right of the brigade, 3 men of the Sixty-third were knocked over, and before I had spoken the last word of encouragement the mangled remains-mere masses of blood and rags-were borne along the line.

Advancing up the street, at the front of which the right of the brigade in line had rested, and worried by shell and shot and rifle balls every step we took, we crossed the mill-race immediately outside of the city, which water course may be described as the first defense of the enemy. The entire brigade, consisting of 1,200 men, at that moment had to cross a single bridge, and, passing to the right, deploy into line of battle. This movement necessarily took some time to execute. The Sixty-ninth, being on the right, was compelled to stand its ground until the rest of the brigade came up and formed. This ordeal it had to endure for fully half an hour. I myself, accompanied by Lieutenant Emmet, of the staff, crossed over on foot from the head of the street through which the brigade had approached the battle-field. It was not, however, more than thirty minutes after the head of the column had reached the right of the line, on which the brigade was to form preparatory to its advance, that the other regiments of the brigade, unbroken and undismayed by the terrific fire which poured down upon them, dashingly came up.

Reaching the head of my column, accompanied, as I have said, by Lieutenant Emmet, and having crossed the mill-race with the assistance of two wounded soldiers, I found that Colonel Nugent had just halted his regiment. Remaining here in conversation for a few minutes with the colonel, Lieutenant Miller, of Brigadier-General Hancock's staff, late of Major-General Richardson's, rode up and delivered me further instructions, in obedience to which I directed Colonel Nugent to throw out two companies of his regiment as skirmishers on the right flank. I had hardly done so before the Eighty-eighth, Sixty-third, Twenty-eighth, and One hundred and sixteenth,coming up, and deploying themselves in line of battle, drew down upon the brigade a still more terrific fire. The line, however, was beautifully and rapidly formed, and then boldly advanced, Colonel Nugent leading the Sixty-ninth on the right, Colonel Patrick Kelly, commanding the Eighty-eighth, being next in position, and both displaying a courageous soldiership which I have no words, with all my partiality for them, adequately to describe. Major Joseph O'Neill, commanding the Sixty-third, was as true that day as he has ever been. His position was on the left of the center of the line.

The center was assigned by me to the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Volunteers, commanded by Colonel R. Byrnes (this regiment carrying the only green flag under which the Irish Brigade this day had the proud

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