previous next

[296] asked General Hays not to cross the plank road, but to remain with me; this he declined doing, having been ordered to fall back to the telegraph road, and was soon out of sight.

Thus far I have given a simple narrative of incidents as they occurred. Finding myself alone on the left of the plank road, with the enemy in full view on the crests of the first range of hills in rear of Fredericksburg, and with three times my own force clearly seen and in line, I felt it a duty to delay the enemy as much as possible in his advance, and to endeavor to check him all that I could, should he move forward on the plank road. I with this view formed my brigade promptly in line along the crests of the hill running near Stansbury's house, at right angles to the plank road. Two rifle pieces of Lewis's battery were placed in position to the rear of the left of my line, and two slightly in front of my right, which rested some five or six hundred yards in front of Guest's house; skirmishers were thrown forward, covering my entire front. As soon as the four pieces of artillery were in position they opened fire upon the enemy's lines, some eight or nine hundred yards to the front. This held the enemy in check for some time. At length they deployed skirmishers to the front, and began to advance. This was slow, and delayed by frequent halts — they seemed reluctant to advance. The enemy now brought a six-gun battery to the front, on the left of the plank road, not far from Marye's house, and opened with a fire of shells upon my line. The enemy's skirmishers now advanced and engaged ours, not nearer, however, than three hundred and fifty or four hundred yards, their solid lines remaining some distance behind the skirmishers. The enemy's battery having fired for some time, both the skirmishers and lines in rear advanced. They had also moved by a flank across the plank road, and it was reported to me that they were moving up on the far side of the road, and were in a line with my right flank. The artillery was now directed to withdraw. Then the skirmishers rejoined their regiments, and all moved to the rear on the river road, half a mile in rear of Dr. Taylor's, where they were halted for a few minutes.

In this affair with the enemy Lieutenant Barksdale, of Lewis's battery, received a severe wound in the shoulder from a piece of shell; three infantry killed, and eighteen or twenty wounded by skirmishers. From this slight affair with the enemy I felt confident, if forced to retire along the plank road, that I could do so without precipitancy, and that ample time could be given for reenforcements to reach us from Chancellorsville; and moreover, I believe that should the enemy pursue, he could be attacked in rear by General Early, reenforced by Generals Hays and Barksdale. I now directed Major Collins, Virginia cavalry, who was with me, with some forty or fifty men, to move over to the plank road, slightly in rear of Downman's, and dismounting a part of his men in rear of a thicket of pine, to deploy them to the right and left of the road as skirmishers. The command then moved on to the red church (Salem Church) on the plank road. The enemy followed up the plank road, and halted when the skirmishers of Major Collins were seen by them. Having examined the ground near the toll-gate, I determined to make a short stand there. My brigade was then moved back in line from Salem Church, and halted in rear of the gate; two rifle pieces were placed in the road, and we waited the approach of the enemy. They were soon heard to fire on Major Collins's skirmishers, who retired after a short skirmish, and at length appeared in lines, preceded by skirmishers. Major Collins's men now retired to the rear, and skirmishers were deployed from two regiments to their front. Our artillery opened fire upon the enemy's advancing lines; this caused a halt, and a slight fire ensued between the skirmishers. The enemy now brought up artillery, and began a brisk shelling of our lines. At this time Major Goggin, A. A. general to General McLaws, reported to me that General McLaws had sent three brigades to my support, and that they would soon arrive. These brigades were directed to be halted in rear of the church, and out of view of the enemy. In this affair with the enemy, Lieutenant Cobb, of Lewis's battery, received a severe wound in the arm, rendering it impossible to command his pieces longer: they were then ordered to the rear: three of the infantry were killed and fifteen wounded. My command was now ordered back to the church. The conduct of my men during all this time was such as I knew it would be, leaving nothing to be desired, and I felt the utmost confidence in my ability to make a successful stand at the church with the three supporting brigades. At Salem Church line of battle was formed, crossing the road at right angles; two regiments of my brigade, the Eleventh and Fourteenth Alabama, were on the left of the road, the latter on the left of the two; the Tenth Alabama on the right next to the road, and the Eighth Alabama on the right of the Tenth. There was an interval of seventy-five or eighty yards between the left of the Tenth and the right of the Eleventh. In this interval on the road four pieces of artillery were in battery; the Ninth Alabama was in rear of the Tenth, one company of the Ninth being stationed in the school-house to the right of the church, and in front some sixty yards. A second company of this regiment was placed in the church, with orders to fire from the windows of the lower floor, and from the windows of the gallery. (This church being occupied with furniture of refugees from Fredericksburg.) Such was the formation of my brigade for battle. I am thus particular in giving details for the reason that the principal attack was made at the church and its immediate vicinity. Kershaw's brigade was on the right of my brigade, Semmes and Mahone on the left — Mahone to the left of Semmes. The brigades had not been in position long before the enemy were seen advancing up the plank road in line of battle; their lines crossed the road at right angles; a field battery accompanied their advance. This was halted at the gate, about one thousand yards

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Chancellorsville (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Collins (4)
John Lewis (3)
Raphael Semmes (2)
McLaws (2)
William Mahone (2)
Harry T. Hays (2)
William Barksdale (2)
R. Taylor (1)
J. B. Kershaw (1)
James M. Goggin (1)
J. A. Early (1)
Thomas R. R. Cobb (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: