Early on the morning of the 14th, we withdrew to our former post on the railroad, where we remained without further action of consequence until the evening of December 15.
The night of the evacuation my regiment was posted along the street flanking the slaughter-house, so called, and so disposed as to repel any attempt of the enemy to interrupt the contemplated movement.
At about 8 p.m. the brigade marched silently out of the city, crossed the river, and reoccupied its former camp without molestation.
It givers me great pleasure to testify to the admirable behavior of the regiment throughout, and to the skill and energy with which the officers co-operated in all the movements. It is believed that the unbroken front with which they moved over the obstructed ground above alluded to, under a warm fire of the enemy, could not be surpassed by any older regiment, or equaled by any new one.
I forward herewith a list of casualties up to date.*
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. H. DUTTON,
Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Lieutenant H. P. GATES,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Brigade.
Numbers 143 Report of Major Martin P. Buffum, Fourth Rhode Island Infantry.
DECEMBER 17, 1862
COLONEL: In obedience to circular order of this date, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Fourth Rhode Island in the recent operations:
On the afternoon of the 12th instant, the regiment crossed the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg. Immediately upon its arrival in that city, Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis, commanding, received orders to report with his regiment to Colonel Hawkins, commanding First Brigade, Third Division, for picket duty. In obedience to orders, the regiment was marched to the rear of the city, and the men posted near the line of the railroad, relieving the One hundred and third Regiment New York Volunteers, which had been picketed there. The Ninth New York had followed the Fourth Rhode Island from the city, and occupied a position near the brick-kilns in our rear, acting as a reserve.
It was about 7 p.m. when the Fourth Rhode Island relieved the One hundred and third New York. At about 3 a.m. on the 13th instant, the pickets of the Fourth Rhode Island were relieved by the Ninth New York, the Fourth Rhode Island taking its position as a reserve at the place vacated by the Ninth New York. About 8 a.m. the regiment was relieved by the Tenth New Hampshire, and immediately rejoined its brigade.
During the day, until about sunset, the Fourth Rhode Island lay, with its brigade, near the pontoon bridge, changing its position once a few paces, to secure a partial protection from the enemy's fire under the hillside. While there, several of the men were wounded by shells fired from one of our own batteries across the river, very many of which exploded in our immediate vicinity.
*Nominal list, omitted, shows 1 officer and 5 enlisted men wounded, and 1 enlisted man missing.
23 R R-VOL XXI