The battle commenced at daylight. A furious cannonading was opened from the enemy's batteries in town, and along both banks of the river. Two assaults were made upon Marye's heights, but both were signally repulsed. About eight o'clock a heavy column of the enemy were seen moving up the river, evidently for the purpose of getting possession of Taylor's hill, which, if successful, would have given him command of the position which I held. But this was prevented by the timely arrival of General Hays, with four regiments of his brigade. The enemy having thus been foiled in his purpose, turned the head of his column down the river again; but it was impossible to tell whether he had abandoned the attempt, or intended to advance again on the same position with a still heavier force. General Wilcox had now reached Taylor's hill with three regiments of his brigade, one of which he promised to send to the right in case it should be needed. This regiment was sent for, but there was not sufficient time for it to come up before the action was over. With a line as extended as this, and in consideration of the small number of forces at my disposal, and the uncertainty as to the point against which the enemy would hurl the immediate force he had massed in town, I deemed it proper that the regiments should remain as they then were, and await the happening of events. Very soon, however, the enemy came out from his hiding-place, and moved in three columns and three lines of battle, twenty thousand strong, against the position held by my brigade. At the same instant Colonel Humphreys was assailed on the left, Colonels Holder and Carter, and the Louisiana regiment on the right, and Colonel Griffin in the centre. After a determined and bloody resistance by Colonel Griffin and the Washington artillery, the enemy, fully twenty to one, succeeded in gaining possession of Marye's hill. At all other points he was triumphantly repulsed; but seeing the line broken at this point, I ordered the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, and Louisiana regiment to fall back to the crest of Lee's hill, to prevent the enemy from getting in our rear. This they did, resisting his approach at every step; and with the aid of Frazer's and Carlton's batteries, both of which were handled with the most consummate skill and courage, finally succeeded in checking his advance. The Twenty-first regiment, with the remainder of the Eighteenth, after Marye's hill had been taken, fell back, and rejoined the brigade on the hills. The distance from town to the points assailed was so short, the attack so suddenly made, and the difficulty of removing troops from one part of the line to another was so great, that it was utterly impossible for either General Wilcox or General Hays to reach the scene of action in time to afford any assistance whatever. It will then be seen that Marye's hill was defended by but one small regiment, three companies, and four pieces of artillery. A more heroic struggle was never made by a mere handful of men against overwhelming odds. According to the enemy's own accounts, many of this noble little band resisted to the death, with clubbed guns, even after his vast hordes had swept over and around the walls. His loss, from reports published in his own papers, was a thousand killed and wounded; but, according to statements from intelligent citizens, it reached two thousand. Upon the pretext of taking care of their wounded the enemy asked a flag of truce, after the second assault at Marye's hill, which was granted by Colonel Griffin, and thus the weakness of our force at that point was discovered. It is proper to say that Colonel Griffin, who is a brave and gallant officer, granted this flag of truce without consulting me. The next morning the line of battle was formed on the river road, General Gordon in front, General Hays on the left, and my brigade on the right of the road. It was soon discovered that Lee's and Marye's hills had been abandoned by the enemy. General Gordon took possession of Marye's hill without opposition. My brigade was ordered to the stone wall in front of the hill; and I was ordered to send out skirmishers, and if the town was not strongly defended, to storm and take it. I at once sent out both scouts and skirmishers, both of whom reported that, in their judgment, the town was in a state of strong defence; that rifle-pits had been dug across the streets, and that cannon had been planted on both sides of the river, which completely commanded the entire town. This fact I reported to General Early, who ordered me to remain where I then was, and prevent any advance from town on the part of the enemy. During the night the enemy recrossed the river; and on the following morning I moved in and occupied the town, capturing about forty prisoners. In concluding this brief report, I desire specially to mention the names of Captain J. A. Barksdale, adjutant of this brigade; Lieutenant J. A. Gibson, acting inspector-general; Harris Barksdale, aid-de-camp, as having acted with the greatest possible coolness and gallantry. Dr. Hill, senior surgeon of the brigade, and all the regimental surgeons, did their whole duty. All the couriers who were with us, J. T. Broach, W. M. Palmer, and W. L. McKee, carried my messages to the different commands promptly, regardless of danger. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wm. Barksdale, Brigadier-General, commanding.
Report of Brigadier-General Posey.
headquarters Posey's brigade, near Fredericksburg, Va., May 12, 1863.Major: I have the honor of submitting a report of the part my brigade took in the recent engagement about Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg. On the evening of the twenty-ninth ultimo, being then in camp with Brigadier-General Mahone, near the United States Ford, we were advised by our scouts and the cavalry pickets, who were posted at Ely's Ford and Germana bridge, that the enemy had crossed in heavy force at those points, and were advancing on the Ely and plank roads towards Chancellorsville. Upon
To Major Thomas S. Mills, A. A. General, Anderson's Division:
To Major Thomas S. Mills, A. A. General, Anderson's Division: