War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0271 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA.

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No. 82. Report of Captain Charles H. Watson, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.

CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., December 16, 1862.

SIR: In pursuance to orders received on the morning of the 11th, the regiment, under my command, left camp with 287 men and 16 officers, including sharpshooters, which were detached, the doings of which will be reported by their captain. We marched about 2 miles, when we halted. About sundown we took up our line of march in the rear of the Eighty-second New York, and crossed the Rappahannock, where we formed a line of battle, our right resting upon the left of the bridge, our line extending along the bank of the river, covering the Thirty-fourth New York, which was in our advance.

The next morning we received orders to march up the street, the First Minnesota leading. After advancing one square, we filed to the right and marched toward the outskirts of the town, where we formed a line of battle, covering the First Minnesota. Orders came to throw out a company of skirmishers. Company A, under command to Lieutenant Jorgenson, was detailed and duly posted. While taking their position, they captured 3 rebel prisoners, who were forwarded to the brigade commander. We then received orders from the general commanding to move. Here Major Philbrick assumed command. We moved one square to the left, and formed a line of battle on Princess Anne street, our right resting on the corner of Fauquier street. Company B was here detailed as a support to Company A. At dark, Companies C, H, and G were sent to relieve Companies A and B, under command of Captain John Murkland, of Company G.

These companies were relieved the next morning at 9 a.m. by two companies of the Nineteenth Maine. The remaining companies of the regiment were sent to the relief of the First Minnesota as pickets. These companies were soon called in, when the regimental line was formed on Fauquier street, the right resting on the corner of Princess Anne street.

We were here ordered to relieve the pickets of Colonel Owen. On our march, which was a double-quick step, a shell from the enemy passed through our lines, killing Surg. S. F. Haven, jr., and wounding color-sergeant, color-corporal, and surgeon's orderly. The regiment halted in the road near the front, when the major commanding went in search of the pickets to relieve, and was at this time wounded by one of the enemy's sharpshooters. Captain John Murkland, of Company G, the senior captain present, took command, and finding the regiment was exposed to the enemy's sharpshooters, they having already wounded many of our men, he moved the regiment to the left of the road, under cover of the hill. We were here ordered to remain by an aide of Colonel Owen, though exposed to a heavy fire from the enemy. While here, Hazard's battery took position on the crest of the hill, and, being in want of men to manage the pieces, they called on Captain Murkland for volunteers. This was quickly responded to by 10 privates, although the battery was under a heavy fire from the enemy's sharpshooters and batteries. We were soon ordered by General Howard to the front.

We went up the road and took our position on the left of the First California, Colonel Morehead, where we remained until 1 o'clock the next morning, when we were relieved by a battalion of regulars. We retired to our old position on Princess Anne street, where we remained until