The object having been accomplished, the two regiments, after remaining an hour in possession of the railroad, were ordered to retire to the positions formerly occupied by them, the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, Colonel Adams commanding, being thrown forward to an advanced crest, midway between the ravine and the railroad, to cover the movement and maintain a skirmish line after they had retired.
The loss of the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania in this attack was 4 killed and 19 wounded, and of the Fifth Maine 2 killed and 17 wounded, including the adjutant, George W. Bicknell, wounded in the head by a rifle-ball.
In the meantime the two divisions which had marched upon and possessed themselves of Fredericksburg kept up an incessant cannonading with the batteries in rear of the city, with but little success to our side.
At 10.30 a. m. the assault of Newton's and Howe's divisions and the Light Brigade upon the enemy's works could be seen from our position on the left. The attack was a complete success, and orders were brought to the First Division to march immediately through Fredericksburg, by the Gordonsville Plank road, directly upon Chancellorsville. To comply with this order it was necessary to withdraw the division in the face of superior numbers, which was done in a masterly manner and without loss, the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers remaining as skirmishers, in connection with three regiments of General Russell's brigade.
The march from our position on the left to the rear of the heights overlooking Fredericksburg was at least 5 miles, and was made without a halt, the troops arriving in and exhausted condition form the heat of the day and the weight of eight days' rations. A rest of fifteen minutes was all that was permitted us here, and the column moved on, the New Jersey Brigade forming in two lines on the right of the road and my brigade a few moments afterward making the same disposition on the left of the road. Our skirmishers pressed those of the enemy steadily back, while the batteries of our division drove the three pieces which were used upon us from successive positions until we arrived in front of a dense thicket, crossing the road at right angles and partially concealing the heights of Salem Church. Here our skirmish line was checked, and it became evident our farther advance was to be contested with all the forces of the enemy. The dispositions for the attack were rapidly made, my brigade advancing in the following formation, from the left to the right: The Fifth maine Volunteers, the Ninety-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the One hundred and twenty-first New York Volunteers in line of battle, the Sixteenth New York in rear of the Twenty-third New Jersey Volunteers. The line, advancing in the woods, which were not to exceed 30 yards in depth, was met by a vigorous fire of infantry stationed on the crest of an abruptly rising bank in rear of the timber. Seeing the Twenty-third New Jersey checked and hesitating in their charge, I ordered the Sixteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel Seaver commanding,by the right flank until I unmasked them, and threw it at a double-quick into the thicket on the right of the Twenty-third New Jersey and extending across the road.
The woods were thick with harsh, unyielding undergrowth, with little large timber. It afforded no protection to our troops from the showers of bullets which were rapidly thinning my ranks, but retarded their advance so much that nothing but the most unflinching bravery could make them withstand their fearful loss while overcoming so many natural obstacles. Under all these disadvantages i reached and held the crest until two fresh lines were hurled upon my exhausted troops, which