It is doubtful if all the advantages, including prestige, which the Rebels
gained around Chancellorsville
, were not dearly purchased by the loss of Thomas Jonathan Jackson
, no longer annoyed, proceeded with his work, getting batteries arranged, with caissons, &c., from the debris
left behind by the stampeded corps, until he had forty guns in position, and three roads built across an adjacent marsh; so that, with the support of Sickles
's infantry, he deemed his position tenable against the entire Rebel army.
, who was again in communication with Hooker
, advanced Birney
's division at midnight, Hobart Ward
's brigade in front, charging down the plank road, driving back the Rebels
, and recovering a part of the ground lost by Howard
; bringing away several of our abandoned guns and caissons.
And now, reporting in person to Hooker
, he was ordered to fall back on Chancellorsville
— the collapse of the 11th corps having rendered our force inadequate, as was judged, for the defense of so extended a front.
This order would seem to hare been unfortunate.
At daylight,1 Sickles
commenced the movement — Birney
in the rear — and was of course closely followed by the enemy, whose infantry filled the woods; but our men retired slowly and steadily, by successive formations, and left nothing to the enemy but one dismounted gun, a shattered caisson, and our dead.
's army was nearly all now concentrated in Hooker
's front, and on his left flank, elated with its easy rout of the 11th corps and its general success; covered by woods, which not merely concealed its inferiority in numbers, but rendered it immaterial; while Hooker
had lost heart, by reason of Howard
's sudden disaster; and his subordinates were paralyzed by their ignorance of this region of woods and dense thickets, in which they could rarely determine whether they were confronting a regiment or a division, and in which, with 60,000 men at hand, they were never able to put in half that number so as to render them of any service.
At daylight, the Rebels
pushed forward heavy columns on their chosen points of attack, infesting our whole front with sharp-shooters, and keeping each of our corps which they had determined not to attack in constant expectation of a charge in force.
But their main effort was made from the west, by direct advance on Chancellorsville
down the plank road on the ground wherefrom Howard
had been hurled.
Never did men charge with more desperate determination, more utter recklessness of their own lives, than did that morning the Rebels
, now led by J. E. B. Stuart
(A. P. Hill
having been disabled soon after Jackson
was, in front of Pleasanton
's batteries), dashing themselves upon Sickles
's corps; whose forty guns, ably fought, tore through their close ranks with frightful carnage.
Those guns were supported by Berry
's and Birney
's divisions of their own corps; the remaining division (Whipple
's) supporting Berry
's, as Williams
's (of Slocum
's corps) supported Birney
's. Charging up to the mouths of our cannon, the Rebels
were mowed down by hundreds; but fresh regiments constantly succeeded those which had been shattered; until Sickles