had completed such dispositions as he deemed requisite to storm the heights; when, advancing resolutely, those heights were quickly carried; Gen. Howe
's (2d) division forming three storming columns, under Gen. Neill
and Cols. Grant
, and carrying Cemetery hill
under a heavy fire of artillery, pushing thence to Marye's hill, which was likewise carried with little loss; our columns having scarcely been checked in their advance: the Rebel
force (the 19th and 20th Mississippi, under Barksdale
) being too light.
Among the trophies of this success were 200 prisoners, some guns, camp equipage, &c.
Having reformed his brigades, Sedgwick
, leaving Gibbon
, moved out on the Chancellorsville
road on the track of Barksdale
, following him three or four miles to Salem church, where the Rebels
halted and began to fight in earnest; being joined by Wilcox
, who had fallen back from Banks's ford.
The position was strong, its flanks well covered by woods, and repeated attempts to carry it proved abortive.
By this time (5 P. M.), Lee
— the fighting around Chancellorsville
being over — had thrown McLaws
this way, with orders and men to stop Sedgwick
's progress; and they did it. The fight continued till dark; but the enemy were on high ground, and held it; McLaws
now taking command against us, with his force continually augmenting.
Being the assailants, we of course lost the greater number; and our men lay down on their arms, with little hope of forcing their way through to Hooker
line, especially since he gave no signs of vitality, and afforded no promise of vigorous cooperation.
's position was fast becoming critical.
The enemy were not only in force on his front, but were feeling around his left, and even back to the heights above Fredericksburg
He was not strong enough to fight the whole Rebel army; yet, should Hooker
remain torpid, that luxury was just ahead.
He received several dispatches from his chief during the day, evincing a very unsettled frame of mind: one, written early in the morning, saying, “You must not try to force the position you attacked at 5 P. M. Look to the safety of your corps ;” another, dated 11 A. M., saying, “If it is practicable for you to maintain a position on the south side of the Rappahannock
, near Banks's ford, do so ;” and another, dated fifty minutes later:
If the necessary information can be obtained to-day, and, if it shall be of the character the commanding General anticipates, it is his intention to advance upon the enemy to-morrow.
In this event, the position of your corps on the south bank of the Rappahannock will be as favorable as the General could desire.
It is for this reason that he desires that your corps should not cross the Rappahannock.
was thus hesitating and vacillating,2
No longer dreading an offensive