No. 298. Report of Captain V. Maurin, Louisiana battery, Donaldsonville Artillery.
CAMP NEAR DUNMAN'S FARM, VA., December 18, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the part taken by my battery in the engagements before Fredericksburg.
The signal gun fired Thursday morning, the 11th instant, found every man to his post. I had two sections of my battery in the field, the first commanded by Lieutenant [R.] Prosper Landry, and the other by Lieutenant Camille Mollere. The four first bastions immediately on the left of the Plank road were the positions assigned and occupied. As soon as the fog that covered us until 9 a.m. had disappeared, the enemy opened fire on me from his numerous field batteries and heavy guns on the opposite bank of the river, his shots falling around, some striking the works, but none doing any injury. This he repeated at intervals each succeeding to orders, I withheld my fire until late in the evening, when the enemy came down to cross, but the increasing darkness preventing me from seeing the effects of my shots, I ceased firing.
Friday morning, a company of sharpshooters advanced on my left, but a few well-directed shots from Mollere's section drove them back into the town. The enemy was now seen coming down in force from the opposite hills in order to cross. The distance was rather too great for much accuracy, yet a shell from my 10-pounder Parrott proved effective, bursting in the midst of an advancing column, causing it to stagger, making some run, and sending the mounted officers to arrest the flight of the fugitives. That this shot effected more than a mere panic was attested, a short time after, by the arrival in that spot of four ambulances, which returned with their load of killed and wounded.
Saturday morning, a column of the enemy being seen crossing the street of which the Plank road is a prolongation, a few shot from the first piece forced it to take another line of march behind the brow of the hills; but when his heavy columns debouched from the town and were marching across the valley in line of battle to attack our lines, the second and third pieces were the only guns that could be brought to bear on them, and so effectually did they do this that the enemy brought forward, immediately in front, on the edge of the town, eight pieces, which opened on me so furiously that they succeeded in diverting my fire, but not before I had fired more than 200 rounds. Their shots were so well directed that I could only occasionally give a round to the infantry whenever the opportunity occurred. What harm I did them their smoke, as well as mine, prevented me from seeing, yet I saw one shell burst fairly among one of his detachments. A regiment now came forward to support them, which was driven back by Lieutenant Mollere's section. It was then that Captain [O.] Latrobe, of General Longstreet's staff, came and suggested the propriety of dislodging two or three regiments standing behind a steep hill, which not only protected, but also concealed them from our men, on whom they were evidently preparing to make a charge. But my 10-pounder Parrott could not be brought to bear on them without taking it out of the bastion, and, to do this, were to meet almost certain death from the guns in front, which had by this time obtained a perfect range. However, the suggestion was no sooner made than Lieutenant Landry orderer it out, and, together with Captain Latrobe, helped the men to pull and put in position. It was scarcely out, and not yet in position, when Cannoneer [Claudius] Linossier fell, dead, pierced to the heart by a piece of shell. The fate of their comrade seemed to inspire my men with renewed determination, and, undaunted