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Fitzhugh’s Crossing - April 28, 1863

These are summaries of the battles. For first hand news reports, note the dates and check our "From the Front" section for more detail.

Jan. 20th, 1863. Up to this day we were in winter quarters at Belle Plaine. Gen. Burnside attempts a winter campaign, and today we break camp and march up the Rappahannock towards Banksford, a cold wind blowing from the northeast with rain since sunset. We are all wet, and stop for the remainder of the night, without fire or shelter on a barren ridge. Jan. 21st remain with the trains near Stoneman's Switch on the Aqua Creek and Fredericksburg Railroad. Jan. 23rd a council of war was held, campaign abandoned. Jan 24th return to our winter quarters at Belle Plaine, but marching through mud and rain about forty miles. The campaign is termed Burnside's Stuck in the Mud.

Feb. 12th the Second and Sixth Regiments go down the Potomac on a foraging expedition; return by boat at night. March ten miles, bring back a quantity of hams, grain and bacon, horses, mules and prominent Confederate prisoners.

March 25th. The routine of dull camp life is again broken by an expedition under Col. Fairchild to Mechsdoe Creek, with a detatchment of cavalry men on a steamer.

April 9th. Our corps is to-day reviewed by Gen. Hooker, President Lincoln, Secretary Seward, Gen. Stoneman of cavalry fame, Gen. Sickles, accompanied by their wives. April 14th. Supplied with eight days rations. April 22nd the regiment is visited by Gov. Soloman. April 28th break camp, form brigade line, march in rain by White Oak Church toward the Rappahannock and bivouac near Fitzhugh Crossing. Evidently spring campaign has begun. Distance seven miles.

General Hooker was placed in command of the army of the Potomac, and the campaign of 1863 was begun on the 28th of April. Breaking Camp on that day, the brigade proceeded to Fitzhugh’s Crossing, below Fredericksburg. It was now attached to the First Division, General Wadsworth, of the First Army Corps, General Reynolds. On the 29th, the division moved down to the river, at the Crossing, with a pontoon train, to lay a bridge across the river at that point. As the engineers approached the river, the enemy’s pickets, on the opposite bank, opened a sharp fire of musketry, driving our pontooneers and sharpshooters back from the river. About sunrise, an attempt was made to shell them from their rifle pits, but it proved ineffectual. The "Iron Brigade" was thereupon organized into a storming party, to cross the river in pontoon boats, and drive them out at the point of the bayonet. Unslinging their knapsacks, the Sixth Wisconsin took the advance, followed by the Twenty-Fourth Michigan. They reached the river with pontoon boats, launched them, filled them with men and polled them over as rapidly as possible, under a galling fire of the enemy, followed by the balance of the brigade, and charged immediately on the intrenchments at the top of the bank. In less than twenty minutes, the struggle was over, and the brigade was in possession of the enemy’s works, with nearly two hundred prisons. Twenty-nine of the enemy wer killed in the fight, and the balance retired across the plain, to a safe position, in the intrenchments on the heights beyond.

For their gallantry in leading this desperate charge across the river, Colonel Bragg and the Sixth Regiment received special mention in a complimentary order from General Wadsworth, thanking them, and the Twenty-Fourth Michigan, for the heroic manner in which they crossed the river and seized the heights, and also, General Meredith, and the rest of the "Iron Brigade" for the promptness with which they followed, in the daring enterprise.

In the monthly reports of the Second, we find the names of Oscar B. Bradford, of Company B, and William H. Snodgrass, of Company C, reported as wounded at Fitzhugh’s Crossing, April 29th. On the 3rd of May, Sergeant J. M. Patch and Henry C. Parker are reported wounded.

The Military History of Wisconsin, Quinter, 1866

April 29th, about midnight, the Iron Brigade moves down to the river and lay a bridge at Fitzhugh Crossing, Sixth Wisconsin and Twenty forth Michigan in advance, followed closely by the Second, Seventh and Nineteenth Indiana, all at doublequick. When the boats were filled they were quickly pulled over the stream under a galling fire from the enemy, gaining the banks in less than twenty minutes, two hundred rebels being taken prisoner, twenty-nine killed, after which Battery B crosses over, takes position between the bridges, where we entrench and remain here several days, subject to a good deal of shelling.