previous next

[391] being master of the situation, and all the necessary steps were not taken on his arrival at Chancellorsville to ensure complete success.

The country around Chanoellorsville was too cramped to admit of our whole army being properly developed there, and two corps, the Eleventh and Twelfth, should have been thrown, on the night of the thirtieth of April, to Spottsylvania Court-House, with orders to intrench, while the remainder of the army should have been disposed so as to support them. This would have compelled General Lee to attack our whole force, or retire with his flank exposed — a dangerous operation in war — or else, remain in position, and receive the attack of Sedgwick in rear and Hooker in front; a still worse dilemma.

In the third day's fight at Chancellorsville, General Hooker was badly stunned by the concussion of a shell against a post near which he was standing, and from which he did not recover sufficiently during the battle to resume the proper command of the army. The plan of this campaign was a bold one, and was more judicious than was generally supposed, from the large force General Hooker had at his command. There is always one disadvantage, however, attending the sending off of large detachments near the day of battle. War is such an uncertain game, it can scarcely be expected that all of the details in the best-devised plans will meet with success, and unless a general is prepared and expects to replace at once, by new combinations, such parts of his plans as fail, he will be defeated in his campaign; and as these changes are often rapid, he cannot include his distant detachments in his new plans with any certainty, and the doubt their absence creates reduces the army he can depend on to the actual number of men he has in hand. If General Hooker had not been injured at the commencement of the final battle, I am not certain his splendid fighting qualities would not have won for him the victory. It was in this battle that, with three regiments of cavalry and twenty-two pieces of artillery, I checked the attack of the rebel General Stonewall Jackson, after he had routed the Eleventh corps.

Jackson had been moving his corps of twenty-five or thirty thousand men through the woods throughout the day of the second of May, 1863, from the left to the right of our army, and about six o'clock in the evening he struck the right and rear of the Eleventh corps with one of those characteristic attacks that made the rebel army so terrible when he was with it, and which was lost to them in his death.

In a very short time he doubled up the Eleventh corps into a disordered mass, which soon sought safety in flight.

My command of three cavalry regiments and one battery of six guns happened to be near this scene, and perceiving at a glance that if this rout was not checked the ruin of the whole army would be involved I immediately ordered one of my regiments to charge the woods from which the rebels were issuing, and hold them until 1 could bring some guns into position; then, charging several squadrons into our flying masses, to clear ground for my battery, it was brought up at a run, while staff officers and troops were despatched to seize from the rout all the guns possible. The brilliant charge of the regiment into the woods detained the rebels some ten minutes, but in that short time, such was the energy displayed by my command, I placed in line twenty-two pieces of artillery, double-shotted with canister, and aimed low, with the remainder of the cavalry supporting them.

Dusk was now rapidly approaching, with an apparent lull in the fight, when heavy masses of men could be seen on the edge of the woods, having a single flag, and that the flag of the United States, while at the same time they cried out: “Don't shoot, we are friends!”

In an instant an aide-de-camp galloped out to ascertain the truth, when a withering fire of musketry was opened on us by this very gallant foe, who now dropped our ensign, displayed ten or twelve rebel battle-flags, and with loud yells charged the guns. I then gave the command, “Fire!” and the terrible volley, delivered at less than two hundred yards' distance, caused the thick, moving masses of the enemy to stagger, cease from yelling, and for a moment discontinue their musket fire; but they were in such numbers, had such an indomitable leader, and they had so great a prize within their reach, that they soon rallied, and came on again with increased energy and force, to be met by the artillery, served well and rapidly, and with such advantage that the rebels were never able to make a permanent lodgement at the guns, which many of their adventurous spirits succeeded in reaching. This fight lasted about an hour, when a final charge was made and repulsed, when they sullenly retired to the woods.

It was at this time that General Jackson was mortally wounded; and as the rebel authorities have published that he had been killed by his own men, I shall mention some facts of so strong a character as to refute this statement.

Soon after the last attack, I captured some of the rebel soldiers in the woods, and they told me it was Jackson's corps that had made this fight; that Jackson himself had directed it, and had been mortally wounded, and that their loss was very heavy.

I have since met rebel officers who were then engaged, and they corroborated the above statement, and they added that it was known and believed by Jackson's men that he had been mortally wounded by our fire. Again, one of my own officers, who had been taken prisoner in that engagement, told me, after he was exchanged; that he had been taken up to Jackson soon after his capture; that Jackson questioned him about our force, and that he was then not far from our lines. This clearly proves that Jackson was on the field in command, and had not

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.
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Chancellorsville (Virginia, United States) (2)
United States (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.
Stonewall Jackson (7)
Joe Hooker (4)
John Sedgwick (1)
R. E. Lee (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 2nd, 1863 AD (1)
April 30th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: