Doubleday's division from being cut off and taken in reverse; the left of Smith's corps, which had not been engaged, from being turned, and, possibly,if not probably, the whole left wing of the army from disaster. But in doing this valuable and important service, the First Division lost upward of 1,000 of as brave men as ever pulled a trigger.
Of the conduct of this fine division I cannot speak too highly; composed, as it is, of regiments of almost every State, from the Penobscott to the Mississippi, the whole country may justly feel proud of its wellearned fame. Among the stragglers and skulkers the Kearny badge was never seen, and the new regiments appeared to vie with their veteran brothers in arms in coolness, courage, and efficiency.
It is a subject of great regret to the Second Division that it did not have an opportunity of adding to its well-earned and well-known reputation as a fighting division.
In regard to the operations of the Third Division, I know but little from personal observation, General Whipple having been detached and removed from my command on the evening of the 12th; but from all I have heard, and from the official reports of the general and his brigade commanders, herewith transmitted, I am assured,and happy to know, that it proved itself in every way worthy champions of the noble cause in which we are all engaged.
The Third Corps, as a corps, I am proud to say, did its duty, and its whole duty, to the country and its flag.
Where all act nobly and well it is difficult to distinguish. I must, however, be permitted to compliment Brigadier-General Birney upon the handsome manner in which he handled his division, and his brigade commanders, General Berry, Robinson, and Ward, in the way they fought their brigades. Also, Captain Randolph and his officers for the style in which they used their guns; all, while under the fire of the enemy, proving the value and efficiency of thorough drill and discipline.
To the different members of my staff I am under many obligations. Their conduct was what might be expected of officers of their character and acquirements, and all that I could have desired.
We who survive have to mourn the loss of many brave and noblehearted brothers in arms,but in no way are we discouraged or dispirited by the failure of our efforts to conquer a brave and powerful foe, and all we ask or desire is to be led to renewed efforts in a just and holy cause.
I am, colonel, very respectfully,your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Corps.
Lieutenant Colonel JOS. DICKINSON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Center Grand Division.
Numbers 146. Report of Brigadier General David B. Birney, U. S. Army, commanding First Division.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, THIRD ARMY CORPS,
Camp Pitcher, Va., December 17, 1862
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the operations of this division on the 13th, 14th, and 15th instant, as follows:
My division reached the river at daylight on the morning of the 13th, and remained massed on the heights until 10.30 a.m. when Captain