Dec. 22, 1862.
Camp Near Fredericksburg. December 17, 1862.
|Brig. Gen. W. S. Featherstone|
(Library of Congress)
|Two unidentified Mississippi Confederates.|
(Liljenquist Family Collection, Library of
We then double-quicked down the plank road leading to Fredericksburg, and took our positions on the right of the road, under a hill, about a mile from the town. Here we remained a few hours, when we changed our position to the left of the plank road, somewhat nearer town. We staid in this position all day, being somewhat exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, which was directed is one of our long range batteries planted near us; but their shot did us no harm, striking the top of the hill, and ricocheting over us, or else passing over our heads.
After dark we resumed our former position, where we remained until the morning of the 12th. Meantime the enemy had kept up a continuous roar of artillery along the line endeavoring, under the shelter of the guns, to throw their pontoon bridges across the river, which they succeeded in doing on the 12th, although they were repulsed several times, with considerable loss, by our small picket force, stationed in the town. On this day we moved back to our second position and remained there, listening to the whise of ball and the bursting of shell all day.
On Saturday, the 13th, the 2d Mississippi Battalion, with the 12th and 16th Mississippi moved over the hill and formed in a ditch about one hundred yards behind our batteries which were planted nearly opposite the tannery and canal, at the northern end of the town, the 19th Mississippi being on picket in advance of the batteries and parallel to the canal, about a quarter of a mile in its rear. The fire of the enemy on this day was unusually severe, as we were exposed to a direct line of fire as well as being enfiladed right and left, being placed, as it were, at the apex of a triangle formed by the enemy's three lines of fire.
On this day a Yankee brigade, supposed to be Gen. Meagher's, charged our batteries several times, but were repulsed with immense slaughter by our batteries and pickets. About the middle of the day the Yankee army sent up a balloon several times, and ascertained our position very satisfactorily to themselves, as they soon succeeded in getting our range, and we lay exposed to a most galling fire of sht and shell for about three hours.
Sunday morning, the 14th, found the battalion, 18th and 19th, in the same position in the rear of the batteries, and the 16th, with companies G and F, of the 19th, commanded by Lieuts. Lester and Phipps, were ordered to relieve a brigade stationed in an old road running at right angles to the plank road and about fifty yards in the rear of the batteries. Companies D and K, of the 16th, commanded by Captain H. C. Councell, were placed on picket on the left, and had quite a sharp skirmish with the enemy, driving them back with considerable loss, and displaying unusual gallantry in their trying position.
About midnight a detail was made from the brigade for the purpose of throwing up rifle pits, connecting with the batteries on the top of the hill, which was accomplished in perfect safety, being disturbed but once by firing of the advance pickets, which took place just as we arrived at our position. At the same time the 2d again moved forward to the old road occupied by the 16th, and the 16th moved down the plank road to the extreme advance line, on the outskirts of the town, which positions these regiments held until the close of the engagement.
A magnificent aurora borealis made its appearance just at sunset, tinging the heavens blood red, as it were with the blood of those martyrs who had offered their lives as a sacrifice to their native land. I omitted to state that companies D, F, and L, of the 2d, commanded by Captains Davis and McLellen and Lieutenant Duquerson, accompanied the 16th.
About one o'clock Monday our artillery directed their fire into the canal running from the tannery, which resulted in the routing of about two regiments of Yankees from their hiding place.
I omitted to state in its proper place that we are in Anderson's Division, composed of five brigades, and we were placed in the following order: Wilcox, Wright, Mahone, Perry, Featherstone; Gen. Featherstone's brigade being on the extreme right of the division, and nearest to the town, supported on his left by Perry, and so on in inverse order to that written above, Gen. Wilcox being on the left. Capt. Grandy's battery is attached to our brigade, and did noble-service. We were protecting Capt. Moody's battery, the "Madison Tips, " during the engagement, but I have not learned their casualties, if any. Our position was admirable, being on a height commanding the town and the river, and difficult of access from the front. Dewyll