Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg (Part Three)

On December 12, 1862, Colonel George W. Mindil and his 27th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment were ordered to be the first to cross the newly constructed pontoon bridges  over the Rappahannock River to enter Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Guarding those bridges were the men of the 11th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment.   Not far behind the 27th NJ marched the men of Colonel Edward Campbell's  15th NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the 6th Corps.  During the day the 27th NJ took up a position behind the Fredericksburg Gas Works in the second line of battle.  The regiment spent the day under fire from Confederate artillery batteries.

The men of Colonel Robert McAllister's 11th NJ Regiment were ordered to cross the Rappahannock River from Falmouth to Fredericksburg on December 14th. The 11th NJ relieved the battle-weary men of the 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  Two companies were dispatched to relieve the 26th PA Regiment's pickets. the pickets had exchanged fire with the rebels for several hours and sustained a loss of four men wounded and six men missing. On December 15th, the 11th NJ Regiment was ordered to cross the river back to Falmouth.
Reverend Alanson Haines, Chaplain of the 15th NJ Regiment, praised the work of Dr. Redford Sharp, of Belvidere, Surgeon of the 15th NJ.  "Doctor Redford Sharp, the principal surgeon, was most active and efficient.  Though detailed to the Division Hospital, he was able to do much for the wounded of the regiment brought to him, and was specially tender and careful of all under his charge.   He gave nearly five years to the cause of humanity in the army, and his name deserves remembrance along with the good and the brave."

On December 13, Sergeant Cicero H. Drake, of Belvidere, serving in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was wounded in the leg by shrapnel.  He was transported by railroad to Washington, D.C. to Finley Hospital, 6th Ward.   Drake wrote in a letter to J. R. Butts, of Belvidere, "I am now comfortably housed in this hospital.  We have a warm room, good beds and good attendance. My wound is not a bad one, and is doing well.  Beside the hole made by the slug that wounded me, I have six ball holes through my clothes.  Our company lost, in killed and wounded, that I know of, 37 - perhaps not more than 6 or 8 were killed.  Among the killed was Charles Wallace, cousin to Isaac Wallace.  He was a favorite of mine, and I regret his loss very much.  William Divit [or Davitt], son of Matthew Divit, formerly of Warren County, was among the slain."

Many of the NJ troops returned to Belle Plain, Virginia.  Lieutenant Birdsall Cornell, of the 1st NJ Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, visited some of the Knowlton Township men of Company G, 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment for the Christmas season.  Cornell wrote, "On Sunday, the 28th, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting my old friends Captain B. F. Howey and Lieutenant James F. Green, Co. G, 31st N.J. Vols. and partook of their hospitality in the shape of a splendid dinner of roast beef, chicken, eggs &c., quite a rarity for a soldier to enjoy; Captain Howey, I am happy to state, is enjoying excellent health, but Green has been indisposed for some time, but is now improving.  1st Lieutenant [William C.] Larzelier, of the same company, is also in good health.  All the officers of this company enjoy the respect and confidence of their men to an unusual degree.

"The 31st Regiment, I learn, have had very arduous duties to perform since they came into the service.  While in Maryland, they were engaged in the construction of a Fort, and since having crossed the river into Virginia, they have been constantly employed , through all kinds of weather, in repairing roads, rebuilding bridges, &c. This is an unthankful service for a soldier, and it is very seldom they receive sufficient credit for it, as the movements of our armies depend very much upon the energy and perseverance of this class of men."

Copyright 1997-2012: Jay C. Richards 

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