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Marye's Heights, (Fredericksburg II), 3 May 1863

Vermont units present/engaged:

2nd Infantry
3rd Infantry
4th Infantry
5th Infantry
6th Infantry



7643, Ainsworth, George Julius, ;

200, Bagley, Roderick, ;

257, Ballard, Henry L., ;

262, Ballou, Erastus G., ;

326, Barrett, Daniel E., ;

8936, Bateman, David P., ;

425, Bell, Benjamin F., ;

9233, Bennett, Amos N., ;

9510, Bixby, Hiram P., ;

10006, Boyden, Dexter Edmund, ;

10039, Bradford, Amos C., ;

10045, Bradford, John M. Jr., ;

30297, Brittell, Joshua H., ;

10353, Brown, Chauncey W., ;

10944, Bush, Francis A., ;

965, Camp, William H. H., ;

11237, Cannon, Daniel, ;

11660, Chamberlin, Frederick W., ;

11980, Claflin, William N. S., ;

12076, Clark, Ira D., ;

12222, Clifford, Benjamin F., ;

12288, Coagle, William, ;

12517, Colt, Frank, ;

12677, Cook, Ebenezer M., ;

1412, Cook, Marvin J., ;

12729, Cook, William Wallace, ;

12537, Coombs, Benjamin E., ;

13042, Crosby, Philip W., ;

13054, Cross, John, ;

1519, Crossman, Horace F., ;

13278, Cutler, Jerome, ;

13773, Dempsey, Thomas, ;

13812, Derby, Webster D., ;

13964, Ditty, Ralph, ;

14373, Dunbar, Jesse B., ;

14469, Durham, Thomas P., ;

16259, Fairbanks, John, ;

17496, George, Orlenzo M., ;

17515, Gerron, Lewis, ;

17695, Gilson, Forest D., ;

17824, Goodale, Samuel L. D., ;

2696, Hall, Austin H., ;

18582, Hall, Eleazer A., ;

18597, Hall, Harry, ;

79989, Harrington, U. H. Bill, ;

18858, Harris, Lester K., ;

19709, Holmes, James T., ;

19750, Hood, Christopher C., ;

20441, Jabonzie, Charles, ;

20589, Jenne, William Selden, ;

20764, Johnson, Willard R. F., ;

3432, Kelley, John, ;

21497, Knight, George H., ;

21537, La Mudge, George, ;

21803, Langmaid, Solomon Sias, ;

22035, Lawson, Norman C., ;

3789, Loomis, Lyman Ford, ;

22472, Lord, Robert P., ;

22574, Luce, William, ;

22961, Marsh, Henry H., ;

23625, McKinn, Daniel, ;

23758, Meader, Benjamin Avery, ;

23759, Meader, Charles C., ;

23846, Merrill, Samuel Theodore, ;

24026, Minard, Franklin E., ;

24252, Moore, Joseph Jr., ;

4206, Munger, George W., ;

24974, Norcross, Josiah Walter, ;

25117, O'Brian, William, ;

25137, O'Brien, Patrick, ;

25616, Parker, Sumner L., ;

25700, Partridge, George M., ;

26591, Pratt, Augustus H., ;

27209, Rice, George A., ;

27332, Richardson, William C., ;

27353, Ricker, Benjamin, ;

27770, Ross, Duane O., ;

28790, Shippee, George C., ;

28794, Shippee, William Edward, ;

29431, Snell, Hiland, ;

30054, Stoddard, Lyman Brown, ;

30511, Tanner, Charles Edward, ;

5846, Tenney, Marquis E., ;

5991, Tracy, Amasa Sawyer, ;

31061, Train, Thaddeus, ;

31520, Walker, James, ;

31829, Watson, Josiah, ;

32749, Williams, Thomas R., ;

32751, Williams, Wallace Edward, ;

32788, Wills, Andrew J., ;

33115, Woodward, Charles L., ;

33187, Worthing, Robert N., ;

6608, Wyman, Warren M., ;

33342, Young, James, ;


Fredericksburg II - Marye's Heights

It was the gray of morning when the advance reached the rear and left of Fredericksburg. A negro who came into the lines reported the heights occupied and that the enemy were cutting the canal to flood the roads. To ascertain whether this was true, another delay was caused. No one in the command was acquainted with the topography of the country, and the advance was compelled to move with great caution through the streets and in the outskirts of the town. As the morning dawned, Marye's Heights, the scene of the fierce attacks under Burnside in the previous December, were presented to our view. Several regiments were speedily moved along the open ground in the rear of the town toward the heights, and this movement discovered the enemy in force behind the famous stone wall at the base of the hill. Lee had left Early with his division and Barksdale's brigade, a force of about ten thousand men, to hold Fredericksburg Heights. They were protected by strong works and supported by well-served artillery. It was at once felt that a, desperate encounter was to follow, and the recollections of the previous disaster were by no means inspiriting.

It was Sunday morning, the 3d of May, and the weather was beautiful. The town was perfectly quiet, many of the inhabitants had fled, not a person was to be seen on the streets, and the windows and blinds of the houses were closed; The marks of the fierce cannonade to which the place had previously been exposed were everywhere visible.

As soon as practicable and as secretly as possible, Sedgwick prepared to attack the heights. Gibbon, of the Second Corps, who had been left on the north bank, crossed shortly after Sedgwick had captured the town and moved to the right, but his advance was stopped by the canal in front, over which it was impossible to lay bridges in face of the fire from the artillery and infantry on the hill. Sedgwick says, "Nothing remained but to carry the works by direct assault." The attack on Marye's Heights was made under direction of Newton. Two columns, each marching by fours, were formed on the Plank and Telegraph roads, and were supported by a line of infantry from the Light Brigade on the left, commanded by Colonel Burnham. The right column, under Colonel George C. Spear, was composed of the 61st Pennsylvania and the 43d New York. These two regiments belonged to the Light Brigade. This column was supported by the 67th New York and 82d Pennsylvania, under Colonel Alexander Shaler. The left column consisted of the 7th Massachusetts and the 36th New York, under Colonel Thomas D. Johns. The Line of battle, commanded by Colonel Hiram Burnham, was composed of the 5th Wisconsin (acting as skirmishers), the 6th Maine, 31st New York (these three regiments also belonging to the Light Brigade), and the 23d Pennsylvania. (Brig.-Gen. Albion P. Howe's division, which included the Second Brigade commanded by Colonel Lewis A. Grant was composed of the 26th New Jersey under Colonel Andrew J. Morrison and Lieut-Colonel Edward Martindale; the 2d Vermont under Colonel James H. Walbridge; the 3d Vermont under Colonel Thomas Seaver and Lieut-Colonel Samuel E. Pingree; the 4th Vermont under Colonel Charles B. Stoughton; the 5th Vermont under Lieut-Colonel John R. Lewis; and the 6th Vermont under Colonel Elisha L. Barney). Howe's division was posted south of Hazel Run, and cooperated handsomely, capturing five guns.

The order to advance was given at 11 o'clock. Sedgwick and Newton with the deepest interest watched the attack from the garden of a brick residence situated on the outskirts of the town and to the left of the Telegraph road, which commanded a full view of the assault. The movements of the enemy showed that they were actively preparing to receive the attack, but the men behind the stone wall were concealed from view. As the left column emerged from the town and was passing near Sedgwick and Newton, the enemy's battery opened, and a portion of a bursting shell struck and killed Major Elihu J. Faxon, of the 36th New York, while mounted and riding with his command, and wounded several others. There was an exclamation of horror and a momentary scattering of the rear of the column, but the men quickly closed up and pressed on. Colonel Spear, commanding the right column, was killed at about the same time. Both columns and line, in light marching order, advanced at double-quick without firing a shot. The enemy kept up an incessant artillery fire, and the noise was deafening. Their musketry fire was reserved until our men were within easy range. Then a murderous storm of shot from the stone wall, and grape and canister from the hill, burst upon the columns and line. For a moment the head of the left column was checked and broken. The column on the right was also broken. Colonel Burnham's line of blue on the green field paused as if to recover breath, and slightly wavered. Sedgwick and Newton looked on with unconcealed anxiety, and turned to each other, but remained silent. The suspense was intense. Was it to be a victory or a defeat ? Was the place a second time to be a " slaughter-pen ? " Was the Sixth Corps to be driven into the river? Staff-officers, waving their swords and hurrahing to the men, dashed down the Telegraph road. A blinding rain of shot pierced the air. It was more than human nature could face. The head of the column as it reached the lowest part of the decline near a fork in the road seemed to melt away. Many fell; others bending low to the earth hurriedly sought shelter from the undulations of ground and the fences and the two or three wooden structures along the road. Out of 400 comprising the 7th Massachusetts, 150 were killed and wounded. Colonel Johns, commanding, was severely wounded. Then, as if moved by a sudden impulse and nerved for a supreme effort, both columns and the line in the field simultaneously sprang forward. The stone wall was gained and the men were quickly over it. Just as my horse was jumping through a break in the wall one of the enemy, standing slightly to the left and about a horse's length from me, raised his gun and fired. The excitement of the hour must have unnerved his hand, for the ball zipped harmlessly by to my right. In a second a bayonet was thrust into his breast by one of our men on my left. Along the wall a hand-to-hand fight took place, and the bayonet and the butt of the musket were freely used. The brilliant and successful charge occupied perhaps ten or fifteen minutes, and immediately after the wall was carried the enemy became panic-stricken. In the flight they threw away guns, knapsacks, pistols, swords, and everything that might retard their speed. One thousand prisoners were taken, besides several battle-flags and pieces of artillery. The commander of a Louisiana battery handed his saber to Colonel Thomas S. Alien, of the 5th Wisconsin. This regiment out of 500 men lost 123, and the 6th Maine out of about the same number lost 167 in killed and wounded. Over 600 were killed and wounded in the direct assault upon the heights, and the loss to the corps on the entire front was about 1000.

General G. K. Warren, who had arrived that morning with instructions from headquarters, said in his telegram to Hooker: " The heights were carried splendidly at 11 A. M. by Newton." Upon reaching the summit of the sharp hill, after passing through the extensive and well-wooded grounds of the Marye House, an exciting scene met the eye. A single glance exhibited to view the broad plateau alive with fleeing soldiers, riderless horses, and artillery and wagon trains on a gallop. The writer hurried back to Sedgwick, who was giving directions for Brooks and Howe to come up, and suggested that it was a rare opportunity for the use of cavalry. With evident regret Sedgwick replied that he did not have a cavalryman. The carrying of the heights had completely divided the enemy's forces, throwing either flank with much confusion on opposite roads, and it seemed as though regiment of cavalry might not only have captured many prisoners, guns, ammunition, and wagons, but also have cleared the way for the corps almost as far as the immediate rear of Lee's army at Chancellorsville.

Newton's division, exhausted by the night march, the weight of several days' rations and sixty rounds of ammunition, and by the heat, fatigue, and excitement of battle, were allowed to halt for a short time. Many were soon asleep, while others made coffee and partook of their first meal that day.




Materials for this page produced for "Vermont in the Civil War" by Frank Pulaski,
great-grandson of Sergt. William O'Brian, Searsburg, Co. A, 2nd VVI.