War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0589 Chapter XXXIII. BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

and the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Captain E. T. Stackhouse commanding. Within a few minutes after, I was directed to take my entire command to the same point and assume command there. I had just moved when I was informed that General Cobb was wounded, and was directed by Major-General McLaws to hasten forward in person immediately and take command. Leaving my staff to conduct the troops, I proceeded as rapidly as possible to the scene of action, reaching the position at Stevens' house at the moment that Colonel Kennedy arrived with the Second and Eighth Regiments, and just in time to meet a fresh assault of the enemy. The position was excellent. Marye's Hill, covered with our batteries-then occupied by the Washington Artillery, Colonel [J. B.] Walton commanding-falls off abruptly toward Fredericksburg to a stone wall, which forms a terrace on the side of the hill and the outer margin of the Telegraph road, which winds along the foot of the hill. The road is about some 25 feet wide, and is faced by a stone wall about 4 feet high on the city side. The road having been cut out of the side of the hill, in many places this last wall is not visible above the surface of the ground. The ground falls off rapidly to almost a level surface, which extends about 150 yards, then, with another abrupt fall of a few feet, to another plain which extends some 200 yards, and then falls off abruptly into a wide ravine, which extends along the whole front of the city and discharges into Hazel Run. I found, on my arrival, that Cobb's brigade, Colonel McMillan commanding, occupied our entire front, and my troops could only get into position by doubling on them. This was accordingly done, and the formation along most of the line during the engagement was consequently four deep. As an evidence of the coolness of the command, I may mention here that, notwithstanding that their fire was the most rapid and continuous I have ever witnessed, not a man was injured by the fire of his comrades.

The first attack being repelled at 2.45 p. m., the Third Regiment, Colonel J. D. Nance, and Seventh, Lieutenant-Colonel Bland, came into position on the hill at Marye's house, with Colonel De Saussure's Fifteenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers in reserve, and under cover of the cemetery. James' Third South Carolina Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Rice commanding, I left in position at Howison's Mill, to protect our right from any advance of the enemy up Hazel Run. While the Third and Seventh Regiments were getting into position, another fierce attack was sustained, and those regiments, especially the former, suffered severely. Colonel J. D. Nance, that gallant and efficient officer, fell, at the head of his regiment, severely wounded in two places. Lieutenant-Colonel [W. D.] Rutherford, upon whom the command devolved, was almost immediately shot down, dangerously wounded, as also was Major [R. C.] Maffett, the next in command. Captain [R. P.] Todd, the senior captain, was disabled. Captain [W. W.] Hance, the senior captain, upon assuming command, was dangerously, if not mortally, wounded, and his successor, Captain [J. C.] Summer, killed. Notwithstanding these unprecedented casualties, the regiment, without hesitation or confusion, gallantly held their position under command of Captain John K. G. Nance, assisted by my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant A. E. Doby, and in every attack repulsed the enemy on that flank, assisted as gallantly by the Seventh Regiment, immediately on their right.

In the mean time line after line of the enemy deployed in the ravine, and advanced to the attack at intervals of not more than fifteen minutes until about 4.30 o'clock, when there was a lull of about a half hour, during which a mass of artillery was placed in position in front of the town,