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under General Taliaferro, and gained a position near Captain Hamilton's house, capturing and sending back three hundred prisoners and more. Nothing could be better than this gallant charge. It was made in the midst of a destructive fire of musketry in front, and a severe enfilading fire of artillery, and for a time carried everything before it. Finding an interval in the enemy's line between the brigades of Archer and Lane, General Meade took advantage of it, and wedged his advance in, turning the flanks of both brigades and throwing them into confusion. He next struck Gregg's brigade and broke it to pieces, with the loss of its commanding officer. General A. P. Hill's line was thus pierced, and General Meade's next duty was to break the line of General Taliaferro. But this was not so easy. For an hour and a half had the gallant little division pushed forward in its successful career. But it was now bearing the brunt of a contest with the entire corps of General Jackson, which had been ordered to meet the audacious attack, and it could not maintain itself without continued support. General Doubleday was not actively engaged on the left, except to prevent Stuart's advance. There was no strong attack from the enemy in that quarter. Two corps were resting quietly near the river and down towards the bridges, engaged very diligently in "keeping the line of retreat open."
General Meade most urgently desired support. General Reynolds ordered General Gibbon in, and that officer hastened to the aid of the imperilled division. Ward's brigade of General Birney's division was also ordered forward. But it was too late. All the enemy's right wing-except the command of General Stuart, which General Doubleday was holding in check ——was now concentrated upon two small divisions of our army, and, after an unavailing struggle of another hour, General Meade was forced back. General Gibbon was slightly wounded, and the two divisions were badly cut up. General Newton's division of General Smith's corps, and General Sickles's division of General Stoneman's were sent forward to aid the engaging forces in extricating themselves from the position.
General Meade had come within a hair's breadth of achieving a great success. His attack had been so vigorous as to be almost a surprise. His troops had come upon the enemy, in some cases, before he had time to take the muskets from the stacks. General Meade was very decidedly of the opinion, that "if large reënforcements had been thrown in immediately after" his "attack, we could have held that plateau, and, if we had done that, the result of the operations there would have been very different from what they were. 99* General Meade undoubtedly felt as though a victory could have been gained, had he received the support to which he was entitled. He thought that one or two divisions at the bridge heads would have been sufficient to hold them securely and keep open the line of retreat. Out of the five divisions in his rear, he had a right to suppose that a larger force than a single brigade would have been sent to his assistance. Even for that small reënforcement, he was obliged to send no less than three separate times-putting the last appeal into the form of a peremptory order. When the brigade from General Birney's division came, the most it could do, though bravely advancing, was to help in giving to the exhausted forces that had made so gallant an advance, an opportunity for retiring in comparative safety. The remainder of our troops upon that wing were not actively in contact with the enemy beyond a little skirmishing and some artillery fire.
General Burnside at thirty minutes past one o'clock sent a written order to General Franklint to advance with all his available force and carry the heights in his front, which General Meade had previously won and lost. Orders to the same effect had already been given, but had not been zealously obeyed. General Franklin did not think fit to regard this last order of General Burnside with any better feeling. Indeed, he seems to have been disposed to treat it somewhat contemptuously. "I look upon the order," he says, "as the attempt
* Gen, Meade's testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, I., 692.
Order received at 2.25 P. M. ‡ New York Tribune of March 24th, 1866.
of a man frantic with desperation at the failure due to his inefficient orders of the morning, to retreive his reputation by the last resource of all weak generals, an attack along the whole line. Knowing as I did, that darkness would overtake us before we could reach the enemy, I did not make the attack ordered, and I explained to General Burnside that night my reasons for not making it." The question naturally arises in the mind of a candid observer, whether General Franklin could not now have reached the enemy sooner, if he had vigorously advanced in the first place at an earlier hour in the day. "It would have required two hours or more," he says, "for either of General Smith's divisions to have reached the enemy's works on the summit of the ridge, on account of the natural and artificial obstacles in the way." But it would appear as though it would not have taken so long a time, had the proper dispositions been previously made. The reason for the failure in making those dispositions has not yet been satisfactorily shown.
The favorable opportunity for making any decided impression upon the enemy's lines had been allowed to pass. The languid nature of the operations upon our left-always with the glorious exception of General Meade's attack—had permitted the moment of victory to glide away from our hands. General Jackson had now massed his forces in front of General Franklin's position. Instead of waiting for an attack, he threatened to deliver one and also detached a force to hold the divisions of Generals Howe and Brooks in check. Growing more bold as he perceived the hesitation of our forces, he actually made a spirited assault upon General Franklin's batteries in front, but was speedily repulsed with the loss of prisoners. The short winter's day was drawing to a close, and nothing further could be done on either side. At half-past four o'clock, General Franklin reported that it was "too late to advance either to the left or front," and so far as the left grand division was concerned, the battle of Fredericksburg was over. During the day, it had suffered the loss of three hundred and seventy-three killed, two thousand, six hundred
and ninety-seven wounded, and six hundred and fifty-three missing-of whom three hundred and fifty-three killed, two thousand three hundred and sixty-eight wounded and five hundred and eighty-eight missing belonged to the first corps, General Reynolds. The sixth corps, General Smith, had not been permitted to participate to any extent in the engagement during the entire day. Resting on its arms, it had been obliged to witness the advance and retreat of the two divisions of Generals Meade and Gibbon without being allowed to go to their aid.
The centre of our line was formed by the Ninth Corps. On the morning of the 13th General Willcox was directed to hold his corps in readiness to support the attacks to be made upon the left and right. He connected his own right with General Couch's line, and his left with General Franklin's, holding the ground between Hazel and Deep Runs, below the town. General Sturgis's division was posted on the right, General Getty's in the centre, and General Burns's on the left. The corps remained quietly in position until noon, when General Sturgis's division was sent to the right to support General Couch. Dickinson's battery was posted in a good position to cover the advance. General Ferrero's brigade went gallantly forward, and succeeded in checking the enemy, who had repulsed General Couch's left, and was following up his advantage. General Ferrero's men met the foe with their accustomed spirit and quickly drove him back to the cover of his rifle pits. Captain Dickinson, who had served his battery with great efficiency, was killed, and his battery suffered considerable loss in men and horses. Major Sidney Willard, of the 35th Massachusetts. regiment, an accomplished officer, also fell during this movement. Ferrero's brigade, suffering severely from the enemy's fire, was reënforced by General Nagle's brigade, and soon afterwards by the 51st New York under Colonel Potter. these troops," says General Willcox in his report of the battle, "behaved well, and marched under a heavy fire across the broken plain, pressed up to the field at the foot of the enemy's
sloping crest, and maintained every inch of their ground with great obstinacy, until after night fall. But the position could not be carried." Lieutenant Colonel Welcome B. Sayles and Major Jacob Babbitt of the 7th Rhode Island fell during this movement, the former killed and the latter mortally wounded. The 7th Rhode Island, Colonel Bliss, belonged to General Nagle's brigade, the 11th New Hampshire, Colonel Harriman, belonged to the brigade of General Ferrero. Both were new regiments, and both received at Fredericksburg their initiation of blood. They stood at their posts with the steadiness of veterans, they advanced with the enthusiasm of genuine soldiers, they won the encomium of all who witnessed their valor on this their first day of battle.
During the afternoon, General Whipple sent over to the line of the Ninth Corps Colonel Carroll's brigade, consisting of the 84th and 110th Pennsylvania and the 163d New York, to assist General Sturgis's operations. A brigade of General Griffin's division from the fifth corps also lent a timely aid. Captain Phillips's battery from General Hooker's command did good service, and Captain Buckley's Rhode Island battery—D, 1st Rhode Island light artillery-belonging to the Ninth Corps, made itself conspicuous for its gallantry and well delivered fire. But all efforts to dislodge the enemy were in vain, and about half-past seven o'clock in the evening General Willcox withdrew General Sturgis from the advanced position, which he held close under the enemy's works, and from which he was relieved by the division of General Griffin.
At three o'clock in the afternoon General Burns's division crossed Deep Run in support of General Franklin's command. By this movement it was thrown out of the action altogether and could do little more than look as a spectator upon movements in which it could not participate. General Franklin did not choose to employ it, and by such a movement he could only neutralize, or at least impede the operations of the centre of the army. But for General Getty's division a more active duty was required. It was held-up to a late hour in the afternoon