east side. Hawkins' brigade stacked arms in line immediately in front of the Second Brigade in the same street, and occupied the houses on the opposite side. The Ninth Regiment New York Volunteers and the Fourth Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers were thrown forward as pickets, and relieved the One hundred and third Regiment New York Volunteers.
Early on the morning of December 13, the division was moved to the extreme lower end of Fredericksburg, near Hazel Creek, where it was massed under cover of the river bank, and remained until late in the afternoon.
While in that position the troops suffered considerably by the premature bursting of shells from one of our own batteries on the other side of the river-Diederichs' battery, First New York Artillery Battalion.
The Tenth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, afterward strengthened by the Eleventh Connecticut Volunteers, was placed on picket, and relieved the regiments which went on the night before.
When the action began on the right, the enemy's line of pickets was observed falling back, whereupon Colonel Donohoe, of the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, advanced his line and occupied the railroad as far as across Hazel Creek, and also a small block-house on the other sid of the creek, near the railroad. This line was held henceforth until the evacuation of the town.
At 5 p.m. orders were received from General Willcox, commanding Ninth Army Corps, to advance by brigade front and charge the enemy. The orders were immediately communicated to the brigade commanders. Colonel Hawkins, First Brigade, was to advance by the right of companies, halt, reform behind the railroad, and then advance in line to the attack. Colonel Harland, Second Brigade, was to follow in similar formations and support Colonel Hawkins.
Just previous to the advance of the First Brigade, Captain Stevens, of my staff, was sent to communicate with the commander of a large body of men, on the right front, who, under cover of a ravine, were holding this position, close up to the enemy's line, in order to inform him of this advance and to request his support. No general officer could be found. The men seemed to be broken detachments from many regiment; but finally Major Burns, or Byrnes, was found, who undertook to advance with the First Brigade He failed to do this, however Some disorder was necessarily occasioned by the irregularities of the ground; nevertheless, the First Brigade reached the railroad without any accident, and, forming behind it, advanced to the attack in tolerable order. But it was now dark, and after advancing well up to the enemy's line the First Brigade received a severe front and enfilade fire, was thrown into partial confusion, and was obliged to fall back under the cover afforded by a depression of ground and the bed of an old canal. From this position they were withdrawn and reformed behind the railroad, and finally stationed for the night in a position in front of the slaughter-house, parallel to Carolina street. The Ninth Regiment New York Volunteers did not participate at all in this attack, being directed by Colonel Hawkins, under some misconception of orders, to support a battery near the brick-kilns. The Second Brigade advanced in good order to a position immediately in rear of the line of pickets, and protected by the ridge bordering the railroad. In their advance they were exposed to a heavy fire of shell and shrapnel. Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis, Fourth Rhode Island Volunteers, while gallantly leading forward and encouraging his men, was killed. Colonel Harland maintained his position