rifle-pits running from Banks's Ford to within a few hundred yards of the mine road. Half past 6, P. M., orders were received to advance to the front. This forward movement was continued, though with much difficulty, owing to the densely thick forest, till the darkness of the night rendered it impracticable to go farther. The command was halted near Dewson's mills, on Mott Run, three quarters of a mile from the Rappahannock; and having established pickets in front and on our flanks, the command bivouacked for the night. Two companies were ordered out on patrol, with the view of ascertaining whether or not the enemy occupied the river road near Dicker's house, and if not, to communicate with our pickets left near Banks's Ford. The enemy were found not to occupy the river road: the companies returning captured three Federal soldiers making their way, so they stated, to the United States Ford. Ten P. M. orders were received to return to the old turnpike, and halt for the remainder of the night, in rear and near the advance troops on that road. This point was reached near half past 2 A. M., and soon after orders came to return to Banks's Ford, and to hold it at all hazards — it being reported that the enemy were in force there, and threatened to cross; the ford was reached at daylight. The command had thus been on the march the entire night. The second instant, the brigade remained near Banks's Ford. Large bodies of the enemy's infantry and artillery were seen moving up on the opposite side of the river. Artillery was also heard in the direction of Chancellorsville. Strong pickets were kept up during the night near the ford. Having visited my line of pickets on the morning of the third instant, I found that the enemy had reduced very much, apparently, his force. The sentinels on post had their haversacks on — a thing unusual. This induced me to believe that much of the force from Banks's Ford had been sent to Chancellorsville; and having been ordered the day before, by the commanding General, to leave a small force to watch the ford, if, in my judgment, I was satisfied that the enemy did not intend to cross, and then move up the plank road. Reporting the fact to him, I relieved my pickets, being convinced, as stated, that the enemy had removed most of his forces from Banks's Ford, and did not intend crossing there. Leaving only about fifty men and two pieces of artillery to guard Banks's Ford, my command was being formed to march to Chancellorsville, when one of my pickets (infantry) came running from the canal in front of Dr. Taylor's, to report to me that the enemy were advancing up the road between the canal and the river. Hurrying rapidly to the canal, I saw the enemy advancing on the direct road from Fredericksburg, three regiments being seen, the leading one not more than one thousand yards distant. Gathering in my pickets along the canal and at the dam above Taylor's — in all less than twenty men — they were deployed as skirmishers on the crest of the hill in front of Dr. Taylor's, and near the canal. Two rifle pieces of Huger's battery, already prepared to move to Chancellorsville, were ordered into position in the battery across the road form Taylor's. While these dispositions were being made, our infantry were seen taking position in the rifle-pits near Stansbury's house. Huger's two rifle pieces being now in position, opened with a fire of shells upon the enemy, who had halted in the road upon the display of our skirmishers. The advance one of these regiments moved down the river in front of Falmouth, and sought shelter from our artillery fire in the rifle-pits along the river. The other regiments remained in the road, lying down, the stone knolls on either side of which gave good protection. The enemy being so easily checked by the display of such a small force on our side, I was induced to believe that it was only a demonstration to keep us near Fredericksburg, and prevent reenforcements from going to Chancellorsville. Seeing a group of officers near Stansbury's house, I rode to them, and met Generals Barksdale and Hays. The former informed me that the enemy were in considerable force in and below Fredericksburg. This was the first intimation I had of the fact, and expressed some anxiety as to his right flank, and said that he should have reenforcements. I now determined not to move my command up the road until I knew definitely the intention of the enemy, and ordered them in the ravine opposite Dr. Taylor's, where they would be near, and yet out of sight. I now rode to the vicinity of the Marye house to see and confer with General Barksdale. While near this house I saw great numbers of the enemy in Fredericksburg, and a battery in the street, running near the cemetery, was firing occasional shots at a battery of ours, to the left of the plank road. I returned to my command without seeing General Barksdale, and, on my return, saw several regiments of the enemy's infantry moving out of the upper edge of the town. I had been with my command but a few minutes when one of General Barksdale's staff reported to me that the General was hard pressed, and wanted me to send him a regiment. I instantly ordered the Tenth Alabama to move in the direction of the Marye house, and rode rapidly in that direction myself, and when in the open field and high ground between Stansbury's and the plank road saw Hays's brigade moving over in the direction of the plank road. This I supposed to be for the support of General Barksdale; but, upon inquiry from one of Hays's regiments, learned that the enemy had taken Marye's hill and a portion of two of Barksdale's regiments, and that Hays's brigade was falling back to the telegraph road. Soon a courier from General Barksdale confirmed this report, and with a suggestion from General Barksdale that I also had better fall back to the telegraph road. On the left of the plank road the ground in rear of Marye's hill is higher, and overlooks and commands well that hill. Believing that my own and Hays's brigade could form in line extending from rear Stansbury's house along the crests of hills towards the plank road, and contest the field, at least for a time, successfully with the enemy, I
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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