Numbers 35. Report of Colonel William W. Robinson, Seventh Wisconsin Infantry.
HDQRS. SEVENTH WISCONSIN VOLUNTEERS, May 12, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the regiment under my command, attached to the Fourth Brigade, in the late engagements near Fredericksburg:
The evening of April 28 found us encamped with the brigade in the woods about 1 1/2 miles back from the Rappahannock River, and about 4 miles below Fredericksburg. Between 11 and 12 p. m. of the 28th, the several commanders of the regiments of the brigade were convened at brigade headquarters, when we were informed that the brigade was ordered to cross the river in boats at 2 o'clock next morning, for the purpose of dislodging the enemy from their rifle-pits and houses near the river, and commanding the point where it was intended to lay the pontoon bridges. At this time we were informed by the general commanding the brigade of the details of the plan for crossing, and received from him our orders for the execution. The two flank regiments (the Sixth Wisconsin and Twenty-fourth Michigan) were to cross over first; the other regiments (the Second and Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana) were to support them, and cross over as soon as the boats could return. We immediately moved from our camp down near the river, but from some cause unknown to me the boats were not launched until daylight, when the enemy opened a brisk fire upon our engineers and skirmishers, which was warmly returned. Our artillery took a position on an elevation in our rear, and shelled the enemy at intervals until about 8 p. m., when we were order to cross over. We moved down to the river by the right flank in double-quick, the Sixth Wisconsin and Twenty-fourth Michigan leading. On reaching the bank, I found the Sixth and Twenty-fourth rapidly launching boats and crossing, but most of the men of those regiments still on this bank. The Second was getting into line on my right. The enemy opened a galling fire upon us from the opposite bank. I commanded "by companies into line," then formed into line, which movements were executed in double-quick. As the right companies came into line, they opened a return fire upon the enemy. As I had received no other instruction than those above mentioned of the night before, I supposed my regiment was not to enter the boats until the Sixth and Twenty-fourth had passed over, and, in accordance therewith, made the above-mentioned disposition for the purpose of returning the enemy's fire.
At this time some member of General Wadsworth's staff rode up with some excitement, and gave orders, not to me, but direct to the regiment. These orders were conflicting, one calling out to "Fire to the right," or "left;" another, "Cease firing;" another, "Launch the boats," &c. Amid this din of orders and firing, my own voice was drowned. I went to the right of the regiment, and learned from some staff officer that the general wished the men rushed over without regard to precedence of regiments or companies. The command was immediately given; the men sprang forward; launched the remaining boats; jumped into them and others already in the river; passed over; gained the opposite heights, and formed line of battle, with every man in his place in the regiment (excepting our killed and wounded) in about twenty minutes from the time of starting from the position we occupied during the morning.
When the pontoon bridges were laid, and the balance of the division had come over, we moved with the brigade to the left, and took a posi
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