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HEROIC ASSAULTS ON MARYK'S
most of Hancock's corps, especially Meagher's Irish brigade, composed of the 63d, 69th, and 88th New York, the 28th Massachusetts, and the 116th Pennsylvania, which dashed itself repeatedly against those impregnable heights, until two-thirds" of its number strewed the ground; when the remnant fell back to a position of comparative safety, and were succeeded as they had been supported, by other brigades and divisions; each to be exposed in its turn to like pitiless, useless, hopeless slaughter. Thus Hancock's and French's corps were successively sent up against those slippery heights, girdled with batteries, rising, tier above tier, to its crest, all carefully trained upon the approaches from Fredericksburg; while that fatal stone wall—so strong that even artillery could make no impression on it—completely sheltered Barksdale's brigade, which, Bo 60on as our charging columns came within rifle-shot, poured into their faces the deadliest storm of musketry. Howard's division supported the two in advance; while one division of Wilcox's (9th, late Burnside's) corps was detached to maintain communication with Franklin on our loft.
Hooker's grand division was divided, and in good part sent to reen
"Gen. Meagher, in his official report, says:
"Of the 1.200 I led into action, only 280 appeared on parado next morning."
Among his officers who fell, ho mentions Col. Heenan, Lt.-Col. Mnlholland, and Maj. Bardwell, 116th Pa,; Maj. Wm. Horgnn and Adj. J. R. Young, 88th N. Y.; Maj. James Cavanagh, 6'Jth N. Y.; and Maj. Carraher, 28th Mass.
The London Times's correspondent, watching the battle from the heights, and writing from Lee's headquarters, says:
"To the Irish division, commanded by Gen. Meagher, was principally committed the desperate task of bursting out of the town of Fredericksburg, and forming, under the withering fire of the Confederate batteries, to attack Maryo'a
force Franklin; while Hooker himself, believing the attack hopeless, required repeated and imperative orders from Burnside to induce him to order an advance; but Humphreys's division was at length thrown outfrom Fredericksburg, and bore its full part in the front attack, losing heavily. And thus the fight was maintained till after dark—assault after assault being delivered by divisions advancing against twice their numbers, on ground where treble the force was required for the attack that sufficed for the defense; while a hundred Rebel cannon, posted on heights which our few guns on that side of the river could scarcely reach, and could not effectually batter, swept our men down from the moment that they began to advance, and while they could do nothing but charge, and fall, and die. And when night at length mercifully arrested this fruitless massacre, though the terraces and slopes leading up to the Rebel works were piled with our dead and our disabled, there was no pretense that the Rebel front had been advanced one foot from the ground held by it in the morning. We had reason enough for sorrow, but none for shame.
Franklin, on our left, beside his
Heights, towering immediately in their frontNever at Fontenoy, Albuera, nor at Waterloo, was more undoubted courape displayed by tho sons of Erin than during those 8ix frantic dashes which they directed against tho almost impregnable position of their foe.
'That any mortal men could have carried the position before which they were wantonly sacrificed, defended as it was, it seems to me idle for a moment to believe. But the bodies which lie in dense masses within 40 yards of the muzzles of Col. Walton's guns are the best evidence what manner of men they were who pressed on to death with the dauntlessness of a race which has gained glory on a thousand battle-fields, and never moro richly deserved it than at the foot of Marve's Heights on the 13th day of December, 1SG2."