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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1863 Report
Appendix B

HeadQuarters, 2d Brigade, 2d Division, 6th Corps
Camp in the Field, May 14th, 1863.

Peter T. Washburn, Adjutant and Inspector General:

Sir: -- In my account of the part taken by the Vermont troops in the storming of the heights of Fredericksburg, I promised to forward further particulars. The rush of events that followed, and a constant employment of time since, must be my excuse for the delay.

The Brigade crossed the river on the evening of the 2d inst., and rested on its arms for a few hours. Long before light on the morning of the 3d inst., the head of the column was moving up the Bowling Green road, into Fredericksburg. When the action commenced, Newton's Division and the Light Brigade occupied the streets of Fredericksburg. This Division, Gen. Howe commanding, occupied the Bowling Green road, just outside and to the left of Fredericksburg, its right resting on a creek which flows into the Rappahannock, immediately on the left of Fredericksburg.

Commanding Fredericksburg are two ranges of hills. The lower range, or Marye's hill, is on the right of the creek, and just in the rear of Fredericksburg. The higher, or principal range of hills, is to the left of the creek, and immediately in front of the position occupied by this Brigade.

Between the Bowling Green road and the base of the principal hills, is an open plain, nearly a mile in extent, through which passes a Railroad. -- Nearly parallel with the railroad were rifle pits; in these rifle pits, and behind the railroad, were posted rebel infantry. The entire plain was commanded by the enemy's guns upon the principal range of hills. It was determined that Newton's Division and the Light Brigade should storm the lower range, on Marye's Hill, rom the streets of Fredericksburg. an attack in our immediate front was also planned, which was to be made at the same time of Newton's attack on the right.

It was designed to drive the enemy from the rail road and rifle pits, to assist Newton's attack on the right, and if possible, to take the principal heights. The plan of our attack was in two lines of battle, of three regiments each. The 33d New York, 7th Maine, and 21st New Jersey regiments, from Neil's Brigade, constituted the first line. The 6th Vermont, 26th New Jersey, and 2nd Vermont, from this Brigade, constituted the second line, and they were arranged from right to left, in the order above named, the right of the 6th resting on the creek.

THe attack of Newton on the right was the signal for our attack. It commenced about 11 A. M. The lines started over the plain at a double quick, in splendid style, the rebels opening at the same time all their batteries on the principal heights, pouring a terrible fire upon the advancing lines; but on they went, driving the rebels before them. Having gained possession of the rail road and rifle pits, the 33d New York and 7th Maine bore to the right, crossed the creek, and gained the extreme left of the lower range. The 6th Vermont followed the 33d New York, and was the second regiment that gained the heights of Marye's Hill.

What became of the 21st New Jersey at this juncture I am unable to say. the 26th New Jersey and 2d Vermont now constituted the principal line, advancing across the plain directly towards the principal heights. The enemy's batteries concentrated their fire full upon us. The 26th broke, and in some confusion bore to the left, getting partially in front of the 2d Vermont. I immediately ordered the 2d by the right flank, and led it to the right and front, near the creek, gaining a steep bank, where the regiment was protected from the shower of shell and canister thrown from the hill. Here we halted, and the men took breath. At the command the regiment moved forward again, up the bank and hill, gaining a deep ditch or rifle pit. Here we halted again, and sent forward two two companies as skirmishers. Seeing a regiment down the creek, near Marye's hill, I despatched an Aide to urge it forward. It proved to be the 33d New York, Col. taylor, who came forward at the word. As soon as the 33d had arrived within supporting distance, I ordered the 2d Vermont forward. the regiment bounded forward, charged up the hill, and drove the rebels from their works in great confusion. We were not in possession of the works on the right of the principal heights. The rebels rallied on a swell of ground, a short distance beyond, and opened fire on the 2d, which was returned in earnest. Col. Taylor now came up, and taking position on the right of the 2d, went into the engagement. The 7th Maine, Lieut. Col. Conner, came gallantly to our support. I at once assumed command of the regiment and threw it into the engagement. The rebels were completely routed, and driven from this portion of the heights.

While this was going on, the 3d Vermont, Col. Seaver, the 4th Vermont, Col. Stoughton, the 5th Vermont, Lieut. Col. Lewis, advanced across the plain, and sealed the heights farther to the left. As soon as the 3d Vermont had gained the heights, an infantry force beyond opened upon them. Col. Seaver immediately returned the fire. The 4th, and 5th Vermont, and 21st New Jersey soon came up, and the rebels were driven rom that portion of the heights. The 6th Vermont, Col. Barney, was retained on Marye's hill, by order of the General from Newton's Division, who had gained the range, and sent to the front as skirmishers.

This was the way the heights of Fredericksburg were carried, and this was the part taken by the Vermont troops in that brilliant achievement.

	I am, General,
		Your obedient servant,
			L. A. Grant,
				Col. Com'd'g Brigade.