War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0381 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

The sharpshooters and skirmishers of the enemy, covered by the wood in front and some farm buildings and an orchard on the right, kept up a constant fire, from which the troops on the right suffered most. To this I could only oppose the fire of my own skirmishers,who were much exposed; for if I had undertaken to dislodge the enemy by my artillery, I would have drowns the fire of several batteries on my lines from which our loss would have been more severe.

Opportunely, the stretcher-men from my ambulance corps, in going to the front for the wounded skirmishers, occasionally went unmolested to the verge of the enemy's lines to get the wounded of Gibbon's division, who fell on Saturday. These stretcher-men were told by the enemy that if our skirmishers would not fire any more, our ambulance parties might come anywhere along or within their lines and get all of our wounded, hundreds of whom were heard appealing for succor. This was soon afterward said to be confirmed by General Ewell, whose division was in my front, when I directed all firing along my lines to cease, and by a tacit, though informal, understanding, no more picket firing occurred along my lines. The ambulance men, frequently assisted by the enemy in pointing out our wounded and placing them on stretchers, brought off all of a our men who had been left on the field along my front.

My dispositions remained without material changes until Monday, when Seeley's battery (K, Fourth Artillery) was relieved by Dimick's (H, First Artillery),and General Revere's (Third) brigade relieved General Carr's (First) brigade on the right, which then formed my second line. Toward evening General Carr relieved the Second Brigade, Colonel Hall commanding, when they in turn to the second line.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night, and,as soon as darkness sufficiently concealed their movements, on Monday night also, the enemy resumed their industrious efforts to strengthen their position in front. Without ceasing, their axes and other implements were heard at work from the base to the crest of the height: with this peculiarity, however, which was noticed about their operations on Monday night, the trees were cut, but not felled.

At 9.30 at night in compliance with orders received from General Stoneman, I withdrew my first line of battle to the sunken road, and the second line retired under the slope which descended toward the swamp in the rear. The caissons of both batteries were sent to the north side of the river, and Dimick's was put in position behind the inner embankment of the sunken road.

At 10.30 I moved by the flank across the river, the right, of the front line leading off, followed by Seeley's battery and the First Brigade; then Dimick's battery joined the column, and the Second Brigade brought up the rear, all the troops, except the skirmishers and supports, crossing over before midnight.

In accordance with the instructions I received from the brigadier-general commanding the corps, I sent Captain H. E. Tremain, of my staff, to General Franklin's and General Smith's headquarters for orders in reference to the withdrawal of my skirmishers. After the troops had crossed over, I proceeded to General Franklin's headquarters, but found no one there except Captain Tremain and an officer of General Birney's staff. Two officers of General Smith's staff soon arrived, but they had no instructions on the subject, and were awaiting the return of Generals Franklin and Smith.

I waited until 2 a.,m. and no orders reaching me, and learning through one of my staff that the skirmishers on the right and left of the Third