After what Your Excellency has read and heard concerning the battle of Fredericksburg, I need not say to you that the fierceness of the fight during that long, bloody, and disastrous day exceeds any description of which my pen is capable.
As yet all the accounts which I have seen or read from Union or rebel sources approach not in delineation the truthful and terrible panorama of that bloody day. Twice during the day I rode up Caroline street to the center of the city, toward the point where our brave legions were struggling against the terrible combinations of the enemy's artillery and infantry, whose unremitting fire shook the earth and filled the plain in rear of the city with the deadly missiles of war. I saw the struggling hosts of freedom stretched along the plain, their ranks plowed by the merciless fire of the foe; I saw the dead and wounded, among them some of New Hampshire's gallant sons, borne back on the shoulders of their comrades in battle and laid tenderly down in the hospitals prepared for their reception in the houses on either side of the street,as far as human habitations extended; I listened to the roar of battle and groans of the wounded and dying; I saw in the crowded hospitals the desolation of war; but I heard from our brave soldiers no note of triumph, no word of encouragement, no syllable of hope that for us a field was to be won. In the stubborn, unyielding resistance of the enemy, I could see no point of pressure likely to yield to the repeated assaults of our brave soldiers,and so I returned to my command to wait patiently for the hour when we might be called to share in the duty and danger of our brave brethren engaged in the contest.
By stepping forward to the brow of the hill which covered us, a distance of 10 yards, we were in full view of the rebel stronghold-the batteries along the crest of the ridge called Stansbury Hill, and skirting Hazel Run. For three-quarters of an hour before we were ordered into action, I stood in front of my regiment, on the brow of the hill, and watched the fire of the rebel batteries, as they poured shot and shell from sixteen different points upon our devoted men on the plains below. It was a sight magnificently terrible. Every discharge of the enemy's artillery and every explosion of his shells were visible in the dusky twilight of that smoke-crowned hill. There his direct and enfilanding batteries with the vividness, intensity, and almost the rapidity of lightning, hurled the messengers of the death in the midst of our brave ranks, vainly struggling through the murderous fire to gain the hills and the guns of the enemy. Nor was it any straggling or ill-directed fire. The arrangement of the enemy's guns was such that they could pour their concentrated and incessant fire upon any point occupied by our assailing troops, and all of them were plied with the greatest skill and animation. During all this time the rattle of musketry was incessant.
About sunset there was a pause in the cannonading and musketry, and orders came for our brigade to fall in. Silently, but unflinchingly, the men move out from under their cover, and when they reached the ground quickened their pace to a run. As the head of the column came in sight of the enemy at a distance of about three-quarters of a mile from their batteries, when close to the slaughter-house, it was saluted with a shower of shell from the enemy's guns on the crest of the hill. It moved on by the flank, down the hill into the plain beyond, crossing a small stream which passes stream which passes through the city and empties into Hazel Run, then over another hill to the line of railroad. We moved at so rapid a pace that many of the men relieved themselves of their blankets and haversacks, and, in some instances, their greatcoats, which, in most cases, were lost. By countermarch, we extended our line along the rail-