the woods and undergrowth, rendered it advisable to defer further operations until morning; and the troops rested on their arms in line of battle. Colonel Crutchfield, chief of artillery of the corps, was severely wounded, and Colonel Alexander, senior artillery officer present, was engaged during the entire night in selecting positions for our batteries. As soon as the sound of cannon gave notice of Jackson's attack on the enemy's right, our troops in front of Chancellorsville were ordered to press him strongly on the left, to prevent reenforcements being. sent to the point assailed. They were directed not to attack in force, unless a favorable opportunity should present itself; and while continuing to cover the roads leading from their respective positions towards Chancellorsville, to incline the left so as to connect with Jackson's right, as he closed in upon the centre. These orders were well executed, our troops advancing up to the enemy's intrenchments, while several batteries played with good effect upon his lines, until prevented by the increasing darkness. Early on the morning of the third General Stuart renewed the attack upon the enemy, who had strengthened his right during the night with additional breastworks, while a large number of guns, protected by intrenchments, were posted so as to sweep the woods through which our troops had to advance. Hill's division was in front, with Colston in the second line, and Rodes in the third. The second and third lines soon advanced to the support of the first, and the whole became hotly engaged. The breastworks, at which the attack was suspended the preceding evening, were carried by assault, under a terrible fire of musketry and artillery. In rear of these breastworks was a barricade, from which the enemy was quickly driven. The troops on the left of the plank road, pressing through the woods, attacked and broke the next line, while those on the right bravely assailed the extensive earthworks behind which the enemy's artillery was posted. Three times were these works carried, and as often were the brave assailants compelled to abandon them — twice by the retirement of the troops on their left, who fell back after a gallant struggle with superior numbers, and once by a movement of the enemy on their right, caused by the advance of General Anderson. The left being reenforced, finally succeeded in driving back the enemy, and the artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonels Carter and Jones, being thrown forward to occupy favorable positions, secured by the advance of the infantry, began to play with great precision and effect. Anderson, in the mean time, pressed gallantly forward, directly upon Chancellorsville, his right resting upon the plank road, and his left extending around the furnace, while McLaws made a strong demonstration to the right of the road. As the troops advancing upon the enemy's front and right converged upon his central position, Anderson effected a junction with Jackson's corps, and the whole line pressed irresistibly on. The enemy was driven from all his fortified positions, with heavy loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners, and retreated towards the Rappahannock. By ten A. M. we were in full possession of the field. The troops having become somewhat scattered, by the difficulties of the ground and the ardor of the contest, were immediately re-formed, preparatory to renewing the attack. The enemy had withdrawn to a strong position nearer to the Rappahannock, which he had previously fortified. His superiority of numbers, the unfavorable nature of the ground, which was densely wooded, and the condition of our troops after the arduous and sanguinary conflict in which they had been engaged, rendered great caution necessary. Our preparations were just completed, when further operations were arrested by intelligence received from Fredericksburg. General Early had been instructed, in the event of the enemy withdrawing from his front and moving up the river, to join the main body of the army, with so much of his command as could be spared from the defence of his lines. This order was repeated on the second; but by a misapprehension on the part of the officer conveying it, General Early was directed to move unconditionally. Leaving Hays's brigade and one regiment of Barksdale's at Fredericksburg, and directing a part of General Pendleton's artillery to be sent to the rear, in compliance with the order delivered to him, General Early moved with the rest of his command towards Chancellorsville. As soon as his withdrawal was perceived, the enemy began to give evidence of an intention to advance; but the mistake in the transmission of the order being corrected, General Early returned to his original position. The line to be defended by Barksdale's brigade extended from the Rappahannock, above Fredericksburg, to the rear of Howison's house, a distance of more than two miles. The artillery was posted along the heights in rear of the town. Before dawn, on the morning of the third, General Barksdale reported to General Early that the enemy had occupied Fredericksburg in large force, and laid down a bridge at the town. Hays's brigade was sent to his support, and placed on his extreme left, with the exception of one regiment, stationed on the right of his line, behind Howison's house. Seven companies of the Twenty-first Mississippi regiment were posted by General Barksdale between the Marye house and the plank road; the Eighteenth and the three other companies of the Twenty-first occupied the telegraph road at the foot of Marye's hill, the two remaining regiments of the brigade being farther to the right on the hills near to Howison's house. The enemy made a demonstration against the extreme right, which was easily repulsed by General Early. Soon afterwards a column moved from Fredericksburg along the river banks, as if to gain the heights on the extreme left, which commanded those immediately in rear of the town. This attempt was foiled by General Hays, and the arrival of General Wilcox from Banks's Ford, who deployed a few skirmishers on the hill, near Taylor's house, and opened upon the enemy with a section of
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.