relieved and sent to the rear of the Twelfth New Hampshire Volunteers, to strengthen the right flank.
Meanwhile Piatt's brigade and Potter's regiment had been successively placed in front to guard against an attack or check an advance of the enemy, exposed to the fire of their batteries, and occasionally exchanging shots with sharpshooters from rifle-pits. Both officers and men would have preferred to bear a part in more exciting conflicts, but, with rare exceptions, they performed the duties assigned them, under arms and under fire almost continually for three successive days and nights, faithfully watching and coolly prepared for any service that might be required.
On the 15th, the front of my line of defense was diminished, the left flank resting upon the canal basin and connecting with Griffin's right. Upon his left, General Humphreys relieved me of the portion of the line in front of Kenmore. Having been placed under the orders of General Butterfield, and directed by him to prepare for the defense of Fredericksburg upon the right, earthworks were thrown up at the corner of Charles and Fauquier streets, for the protection of a section of Captain Bruen's battery. The brick warehouses at the basin and the mills at lower canal bridge were loop-holed for musketry. It was designed to throw up earthworks for the remaining batteries at the brick dwelling beyond the canal, but the order was subsequently countermanded.
At night I was directed to resume the defense of that portion of the line just taken by Griffin's division. The change of forces required for this was effected at 2.30 a.m. on the 16th.
At 4 a.m. I received the order to send the main body of my troops across the upper bridge; to withdraw my reserves to the canal banks, and send two officers to report to General Sykes, who was charged with the withdrawal of the pickets. These orders were complied with, and the whole command withdrew in perfect order to the position assigned to it on this side of the river.
In the withdrawal of the pickets I would call attention to the coolness and presence of mind of the officers and men of the One hundred and twenty-fourth New York Volunteers, on duty at the Fall Hill road, beyond the canal. Colonel Ellis, who was in command, was perfectly prepared to contend, foot by foot, with any force the enemy might throw against him.
I beg leave also to mention, in terms of commendation, the members of my staff, Captain Dalton, assistant adjutant-general, and my aides, Captains Van Horn, Morgan, and Hall, and Lieutenant Nevin: and especially Lieutenant Eddy, whose disappearance is due to persistent efforts in the discharge of duty through well-known peril.
In conclusion, I would state that this division recrossed the Rappahannock with a loss of 19 killed, 91 wounded, and 18 missing.*
A list of the casualties is herewith appended. The brave who have fallen are a severe loss. Those who remain have won the confidence of their commander and the morale of the division is better than it was before the battle of Fredericksburg.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. W. WHIPPLE,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Third Corps.
*But see revised statement, p. 135.