General Semmes was with us in the charge, and, as usual, in the front rank. No officer or man with any pride could skulk behind and see his general display such courage as General Semmes displayed in the charge.
W. C. HOLT,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Tenth Georgia Regiment.
Captain R. ELLIS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Semmes' Brigade.
No. 319. Reports of Brigadier General William Barksdale, C. S. Army, commanding brigade.
FREDERIKCSBURG, VA., May 15, 1863.
MAJOR: When General McLaws moved up the river on the night of April 30, I was temporarily detached from my command, and ordered to report to General Early. My brigade was then at Marye's Hill, with the exception of twelve companies, which were protecting the river from Taylor's Hill to the Ferneyhough house. By General Early's order, with the Thirteenth and Seventeenth [Mississippi] Regiments, I relieved the pickets of Generals Kershaw and Wofford above the railroad. The brigade was then extended over a picket line of not less than 5 miles.
On Saturday appearances indicated that the enemy were leaving their encampments on this side of the river, and were marching to
re-enforce Hooker. By General Early's order, the Twenty-first [Mississippi] Regiment, of my brigade, was left to picket the river, while the other three regiments, with three of his brigades, proceeded to rejoin the main army at Chancellorsville. He had marched but a short distance when it was reported that the enemy were advancing upon General Hays, who had been left with his brigade on the line from Hamilton's Crossing to Fredericksburg. General Early ordered the entire command to return to its former position.
About 2 o'clock on Sunday morning, having thrown a pontoon bridge over the river, the enemy commenced crossing into Fredericksburg in large numbers. I at once informed General Early on the fact, and asked for re-enforcements. Which several batteries, under the command of General Pendleton, and a single brigade of infantry, I had a front of not less than 3 miles to defend, extending from Taylor's Hill on the left to the foot of the hills in rear of the Howison house. The Twenty-first [Mississippi] Regiment was posted between the Marye house and the Plank road, three companies of which were afterward sent to the support of the Eighteenth [Mississippi] Regiment, which was stationed behind the stone wall at the Marye house. The Seventeenth [Mississippi] Regiment was placed in front of Lee's Hill, and the Thirteenth [Mississippi] still farther to the right. One regiment from General Hays' command was subsequently placed to the right of the Thirteenth [Mississippi]. Four pieces of artillery were placed on the right of Marye's house, two on the left, and the balance on Lee's and the hills in the vicinity of the Howison house, thus making the only disposition of the small force at my command which, in my judgment, would prevent the enemy from passing the line.
The battle commenced at daylight. A furious cannonading was opened from the enemy's batteries in town, and along both banks of the river. Two assaults were made upon Marye's Heights, but both were signally repulsed.