No. 220. Report of Colonel Lysander Cutler, Sixth Wisconsin Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH BRIGADE, Camp opposite Fredericksburg, Va., December 17, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Fourth Brigade in the operations of the army before Fredericksburg after I took command of the brigade, late in the evening of the 13th:
When I took command, I found the Sixth Wisconsin supporting Battery B, on the Bowling Green road, on the right of Phelps' brigade; the Second Wisconsin in their rear, Phelps' and Rogers' brigades being between them, and the balance of the brigade - the Twenty-fourth Michigan and Nineteenth Indiana - were in line of battle, extending back at right angles from the road, toward the river. The Seventh Wisconsin was thrown out on picket line, indicated by the division commander. The brigade being separated, and an attack being anticipated by the general, I obtained his order to have the Sixth relieved by one of Colonel Rogers' regiments, which was done by the Thirty-fifth New York. I also obtained permission to change the line of battle to a position diagonal to the road, so as to avoid in part an enfilading fire from the enemy's batteries.
After forming the new line, I formed the Sixth, Second, and Nineteenth as a second line, about 200 paces in rear of the first, and at daylight I called in the Seventh and formed in on the left of the Twenty-fourth Michigan, in the first line. Upon an examination of the position by the division and corps commanders in the morning, I was directed to keep the brigade in that position until otherwise ordered.
During the days of Sunday and Monday, I had skirmishers deployed in front of my line, and at night posted and the skirmishers called in. On Monday forenoon, Colonel Morrow, of the Twenty-fourth Michigan, was sent down the river to the Massaponax Creek, with two companies, to ascertain if the enemy were in that direction. He performed that duty very skillfully, and satisfied himself that there was no enemy in that direction above the Massaponax. During both days and nights a sharp fire was kept up between our skirmishers and those of the enemy, and at interval a brisk cannonade from the enemy's batteries - a severe ordeal four our men, as it was a fire to which we could not reply. The men and officers of the command behaved with perfect coolness during the whole time.
At 9 p.m. of the 16th, I received orders to form the brigade in order, when the artillery had been withdrawn, to recross the river. I was also instructed to give no intimation to the pickets of our march, for fear of betraying our movement to the enemy. Being unwilling to leave any men to be captured, I finally obtained permission of General Reynolds to make the effort to save our pickets after the troops were safely withdrawn.
At 11 o'clock,the artillery having been withdrawn, I received orders to move. The brigade moved in perfect silence, and safely crossed the bridge 2 miles above. Before leaving, I sent an order to Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, of the Nineteenth Indiana, who was doing picket duty that night, to call in his pickets at 4.30 o'clock, and to follow the brigade in silence to a new position up the river, without intimating to him that we were to recross the river. He obeyed the order to the letter, and when day dawned found himself and his regiment following the