No. 90. Report of Colonel Norman J. Hall, Seventh Michigan Infantry, commanding Third Brigade.
HDQRS. 3rd Brigadier, 2nd DIV., 2nd ARMY CORPS, May 15, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Third Brigade and other troops under my command, during the recent actions near Fredericksburg, Va.:
On Saturday evening, May 2, this command struck camp, and was marched to the Lacy house, where it awaited the laying of the pontoon bridge across the river. I was directed to man two pontoons with volunteers, who were to cross the river at a point a few hundred yards above the place proposed for the bridge, carry the rifle-pits of the enemy, and them to move down the bank until they should cover the head of the bridge. Lieutenant McKay, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, with 25 men from that regiment, and Lieutenant Ferris, with 25 men from the Nineteenth Massachusetts, promptly volunteered, and, placing the boats in the water, awaited the signal to make the crossing. Their services, so gallantly offered, were not required, the bridge being built without molestation by the enemy.
A storming party of 100 men, from the regiments of General Sully's brigade, under Captain G. W. Ryerson, Eighty-second New York Volunteers, was placed under my command, and the brigade crossed the river into the streets of the city before sunrise.
At about 7 o'clock I was directed to move by the flank up the river, cross the mill-race, attack the left of the enemy's works above the town, and turn the strong position of Marye's Heights, which was engaged in front by the troops of General Sedgwick. The head of my column had passed half the distance from the river to the works when it was ascertained that a broad and deep canal lay at the foot of the hill on which were the works of the enemy.
General Warren, chief topographical engineer, Army of the Potomac, rode in advance of the column to the canal, and discovered the frame of an old bridge crossing it. This he proposed covering with boards torn from an old house near by. The column was halted, and a party from the Nineteenth Massachusetts at once commenced the work. At this moment the enemy brought two guns into the nearest work and opened an enfilanding fire. The first shrapnel wounded several men of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers. I immediately formed column of regiments, and commenced deploying them to the right of the First Battalion, in a sunken road, well sheltered by a stone fence. In performing this movement, upward of 50 officers and men were killed or wounded. Some of the regiments did not move with satisfactory precision. Two well-closed lines of the enemy developed abreast of the brigade, and were prolonged to the right until they reached the river above Falmouth. Here the enemy placed a gun, which very nearly enfiladed my line, but it did little injury, only wounding 4 or 5.
This diversion-as it terminated in-had the effect to draw all the reserves of the enemy from General Sedgwick's front, and thus probably secured the success of the attack of his storming columns.
The troops lay in this position, with a strong line of skirmishers in front, who occasionally exchanged shots with the enemy, until nearly noon, when, the column of General Sedgwick having penetrated the line on our left, the brigade was moved at double-quick to the breach,