No. 222. Report of Brigadier General John Gibbon, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division.
BALTIMORE, MD., March 7, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my division in the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862:
On the morning of the 13th, the Second Division occupied the right of the First Corps, and was immediately on the left of the Sixth Corps, and in rear of the Bowling Green road. At 9 a.m. advance was ordered by General Reynolds, when I directed Taylor's brigade, preceded by skirmishers, to cross the road and the open field between us and the wood occupied by the enemy. On reaching half way across this field, the men were directed to lie down, under cover of a slight elevation, which protected them from the fire in front, but not from a heavy cross-fire of artillery, which the division remained under the whole of the morning. Lyle's brigade was moved forward to within supporting distance of Taylor's and Root's, in close column of regiments; was formed in rear of the left, and in supporting of Hall's Maine battery, which, under a heavy artillery fire, came into action on the left of Lyle's brigade.
In this position the division remained, waiting for orders, until about 12 o'clock, at which time, the fog having somewhat lifted, the enemy opened with a number of guns from an eminence in front of Meade's division. The fire of Hall's battery was joined to that of Meade's batteries, and, after a heavy cannonading, several of the enemy's ammunition boxes were blown up and the guns silenced. Immediately after, seeing Meade's men advancing to assault the enemy's position, I ordered Taylor's brigade forward. A severe fire was at once opened upon it by the enemy, posted behind the railroad embankment and in the wood. The left of Taylor's line was subjected to the heaviest fire, and was thrown into confusion. Lyle's brigade was now ordered up in support, and took post on the left of Taylor's right wing (Ninety-seventh New York and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania), which still held its position. Thompson's Pennsylvania battery was also ordered up to the right of the line to aid in the attack. Lyle's brigade soon feel into confusion, and most of it retired in disorder. The gallant Twelfth Massachusetts, Colonel Bates, however, held its ground.
Finding we were making but little impression on the enemy's position, sheltered as he was, I ordered up Root's brigade and directed it to take the position with the bayonet. The charge was gallantly made, and the brigade, being joined by the Twelfth Massachusetts and the remnants of some other regiments, took and held the embankment for some time, capturing 180 prisoners. Our forces on the right did not advance. I had exhausted my last man in capturing the position. Meade's men were retiring on the left, and without the speedy arrival of re-enforcements the position would have to be abandoned, as the enemy was pushing forward his.
About 2.30 o'clock, after directing the fire of Hall's battery upon a force of the enemy which issued from the wood on the left of my line, I was wounded and left the field.
Brigadier-General Taylor's letter, herewith,* will give the subsequent movements of the division.
I desire to call special attention to the services of