On the morning of the 4th instant, when it was found that the enemy occupied the heights and a position between us and Fredericksburg, the brigade promptly moved to the left, and changed front, so as to face the heights and Fredericksburg. The order of battle at the time of the attack by the rebel forces was as follows: The Fifth Vermont Regiment (Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis) was posted to the right, in a depression or ravine near the brown house south of the Plank road, and on the right of the principal line was the Third Vermont Regiment (Colonel T. O. Seaver). The Sixth Vermont Regiment (Colonel E. L. Barney) held a position on the left of the Third Vermont. Between the Third and Sixth Vermont there was a battery. The Second Vermont Regiment (Colonel James H. Walbridge) occupied the left of the Sixth Vermont, and the twenty-sixth New Jersey Regiment (Lieutenant-Colonel Martindale) was on the left of the Second Vermont. The Fourth Vermont (Colonel C. B. Stoughton) was posted on the extreme left and considerably to the front, in the edge of a thick pine woods, in a position commanding a ravine and open space in front. Each regiment was partially protected by a slight swell or crest of ground in front. The main attack commenced on the right and in front of the Fifth Vermont. This regiment, being in support of a section of artillery and being farther to the right than the skirmishers of the Third Brigade, had sent forward, in command of Major C. P. Dudley, two companies as skirmishers. The skirmishers of the Fifth Vermont were considerably in front of the brown house, their right resting on the deep ravine or creek, practically connecting with skirmishers from General Brooks' division. The skirmish line held its position against the enemy's skirmishers and until the enemy's lines of battle nearly approached, and retired slowly, fighting inch by inch.
By this time the enemy's lines had gained the hill in front, and, instead of advancing directly on the Fifth Vermont, they bore to the left toward the river and the skirt of woods in front of the main line of the brigade. The section of artillery, having exhausted its ammunition, retired.
Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, with great presence of mind, threw forward the right of his regiment on the crest, and engaged the enemy with telling effect. This was the first regiment engaged, and it poured a terrible cross and enfilading fire into the enemy's advancing lines, creating great havoc in their ranks. It is believed that this regiment, from that point alone, disabled a much grater number of the enemy than there are men in the regiment. This regiment continued its fire with great rapidity until another column farther to the right moved up nearly to the rear of the Fifth Vermont, threatening to cut it off. Seeing this, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, agreeably to previous instructions, drew off his regiment by the flank, passing around through a depression to the right of the Third Vermont. The regiment moved in a highly creditable manner, with the ranks well closed and without confusion.
While this was transpiring on the right, and the enemy were gaining the crest in front of the main line and threatening to get possession of the skirt of woods in our front, by direction of the general commanding the division I ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Martindale to throw the Twenty-sixth New Jersey to the front and right, to hold possession of the ravine, and to prevent, if possible, the enemy from gaining the woods; and at the same time Colonel Walbridge, of the Second Vermont, was ordered to move to the left, to the former position of the Twenty-sixth New Jersey, and Colonel Seaver, Third Vermont, to take