For minute details of the action you are respectfully referred to the inclosed reports of regimental commanders.
Casualties: Killed, 59; wounded, 394; missing 36. Total loss, 489.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,,
Captain W. C. RAWOLLE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
Numbers 124. Report of Colonel William S. Clark, Twenty-first Massachusetts Infantry.
OPPOSITE FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
December 16, 1862
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers crossed the Rappahannock, on the upper pontoon bridge, on Friday, the 12th instant, numbering 284 officers and enlisted men. We remained with the brigade near the bridge until the next morning about 10 o'clock, when I was ordered to support the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, who were thrown out as skirmishers in rear of the city. Our forces soon advanced on the on the right toward the formidable earthworks of the rebels on the heights overlooking the town, and were met by a terrible storm of shot and shell. Nothing daunted, they pressed forward until within range of the enemy's infantry, posted behind stone walls, earthworks, and natural ridges. Seeing that to advance farther was, apparently, impossible, and that their fire had little effect upon their opponents, while they, being entirely unprotected, were being rapidly cut to pieces, they began to fall back, some of them in considerable disorder.
The Second Brigade was now ordered to the front, and, forming in double line of battle, most gallantly and steadily moved across the plain, swept by the destructive fire of the enemy. When about 60 rods from the city, Color-Sergeant Collins, of Company A, was shot, and fell to the ground. Sergeant Plunkett, of Company E, instantly seized the colors, and carried them proudly forward to the farthest point reached by our troops during the battle. When the regiment and commenced the delivery of its fire, about 40 rods from the position of the rebel infantry, a shell was thrown, with fatal accuracy, at the colors, which again brought them to the ground wet with the life-blood of the brave Plunkett, both of whose arms were carried away. Color-Corporal Olney, of Company H, immediately raised the glorious flag, and defiantly bore it through the remained of the day. Color-Corporal Barr, of Company C, who carried the State colors, was also shot, and his post of honor and danger quickly taken by Color-Corporal Wheeler, of Company I. Color-Corporal Miller was also wounded.
The whole number of casualties is 69, viz, 8 killed, 56 wounded, and 5 missing a list of which has been furnished.
After expending our ammunition,the Twenty-first fell back into the line of supports, and remained until dark, when we returned to our position near the bridge, where the brigade passed the night and the next day.
*But see revised statement, p. 132.