War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0243 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA.

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the brigade were thus being concentrated, I had every reason to become convinced that the hospitals were dangerously, if not fatally, exposed; consequently I sent two of my aides, Captain Hart and Lieutenant Blake, of the Eighty-eighth, to Brigadier-General Hancock, to request of him that he would be so good as to authorize me to take what was left of the brigade across the river, the request for such authority being based on the fact that while there were not over 300 of the brigade, maimed and serviceable, who had reported themselves up to that time, the badly disabled were so numerous as to require the assistance of all those who were unhurt. Even while I was waiting for Captain Hart and Lieutenant Blake to return, several discharges of shells and rifle-balls broke through and over the hospitals of the Sixty-ninth, Sixty-third, and Eighty-eighth.

All this time, however, the officers and men of the brigade obeyed my orders and conducted themselves with perfect calmness and cheerfulness. Captain Hart, on his return, having given me to understand that I had a conditional authorization to remove the brigade from the city, under the circumstances mentioned, I assumed the responsibility of doing so. I did so under the impression that Brigadier-General Hancock had given me such authorization for the purpose, which impression, a few hours later, I discovered was erroneous. I should not, however, have brought over my command to the opposite side of the river, nor have dreamed of asking permission to do so, but for the horrible accidents to which the wounded of the brigade were exposed. That I myself did not wish to retire out of range of the rifle-pits and batteries of the enemy' that I was solely actuated by an affectionate and intense concern for the wounded officers and soldiers of my command, it will suffice for me to refer to Brigadier-General Butterfield, who, on questioning me regarding the brigade the afternoon of the assault, at the headquarters of General Willcox, and in presence of other officers, was told by me that I feared the Irish Brigade was more; that out of 1,200 men I had led into action that morning about 250 alone had reported to me under arms from the field, and added that, were I left without a command, it would grafity me to act as one of his aides. This I did at the time, not knowing that Brigadier-General Hancock had been deprived of most of his staff.

It was late in the afternoon when I learned that Lieutenant Miller, Lieutenant Parker, and Lieutenant Rorty, three of his active and gallant staff, were wounded and disabled. Had I been sooner made aware of the loss he sustained in these intelligent and brave young officers, I should have cheerfully volunteered my services in the contingency I had mentioned to Brigadier-General Butterfield-my services on the staff of a general who so well deserves all the support he can receive. Having placed, with the encampment we left the night before, I rode up to the quarters of Major-General Sumner to report myself and my action in the matter to him. He was not there; none of his staff were there; but General Burnside, coming in a few minutes after I had arrived, I communicated to him what I have taken, and with marked cordiality inquired after the brigade. Shortly afterward Major-General Sumner entering with his staff, I repeated to him what I had stated to General Burnside, adding, however, that my principal object had been, after reporting to him and explaining the reason of my crossing the river, to procure rations and ammunition for my men. The rations had been flung