give you as full an account as possible of all our doings since we crossed the Rapidan. The cavalry corps is composed of three divisions, and numbered at the time we crossed the river several thousand mounted men. General Torbert, commanding the First division, was taken sick, being entirely disabled by an abscess in his back, so that the command of his division had to be given to General Merritt. Brigadier-General D. McM. Gregg commands the Second division, and General J. H. Wilson, recently of the Cavalry Bureau, the Third. Each division had two batteries, numbering in all about thirty guns. On the morning of Wednesday, May fourth, General Gregg's division crossed the Rapidan at Ely's ford, driving in and capturing a portion of the rebel picket stationed there. This movement was accomplished by Major Hugh H. Janeway, with a battalion of the First New Jersey cavalry, and by sunrise we had taken up our line of march toward the battle-field of Chancellorsville. We bivouacked two miles beyond the famous Chancellorsville House, and awaited the arrival of General Sheridan with the First division. In the meantime General Wilson, with the Third division, had crossed the river at Germania ford and started upon a reconnoissance in the direction of Spottsylvania Court-house. At noon of the fifth we also marched in the direction of Spottsylvania, and when we arrived at Todd's tavern, which was the left flank of Hancock's corps, we encountered General Wilson in full retreat with his division, having been driven back some five miles by Fitz Hugh Lee, and handled rather roughly. General Gregg, who never allows his division to be driven under any circumstances, at once started for the front with General Davies' brigade, and, putting in the First New Jersey and one squadron of the First Massachusetts, drove the enemy steadily, compelling him to fall back across the Po and behind his fortifications. Our loss in killed and wounded in this sharp fight was between seventy and eighty. Here Captain Hart and Lieutenant Mitchner, of the First New Jersey, were wounded, and Captain Lawrence Hopkins, of the First Massachusetts, had his horse killed by a shell, and himself wounded in the foot, as he was gallantly leading his squadron into the fight. We held the battlefield that night. On the morning of the sixth, at daylight, General Hancock opened upon the enemy on our right, and the musketry firing was the most terrific and incessant that I ever heard. The battle raged furiously for five or six hours, at one time approaching seemingly near to us, and then receding, indicating that we not only held our own but were pushing the enemy back. Late in the day Stuart made a demonstration upon both our right and left flanks, but was handsomely repulsed by Curtis' brigade, of the First division, on the right, and Colonel Gregg's brigade, of the Second division, on the left. General Custer went into the fight with his usual impetuosity, having his band playing patriotic airs in front, himself charging at the head of his brigade, and the artillery playing into the enemy at the same time. The attack on the left was very stubborn, and looked for a time as though it would be successful; but General Gregg, who is the coolest man under trying circumstances I ever saw on the field, ordered Colonel Gregg to send in the First Maine and drive “those people” away. The General always speaks of the enemy as “those people.” Besides the First Maine, the Second, Fourth and Eighth Pennsylvania regiments were engaged on the left. I forgot to mention that on the fifth, Brigadier-General Davies, who was in front with his skirmishers, was at one time in the hands of the enemy. They made a sudden dash upon our line, temporarily driving us back and leaving the General a prisoner, but Captain Thomas, of his staff, seeing his critical condition, rallied a squadron and charged, bringing the General safely out. Through a misapprehension that Longstreet had succeeded in turning the right wing of General Hancock, and thereby exposing his flank, we were ordered at three o'clock of the sixth, to abandon our position and fall back some four miles to Aldrich's corner. The enemy at once occupied the position we left, but did not attempt to annoy us in falling back. In the morning the error was discovered, and we were again ordered forward to occupy our old position. The enemy had done all in his power to strengthen his position during our absence, and fought us with great stubbornness. The First division had the left, and the Second the right and centre. Both sides fought dismounted, in consequence of the dense timber. It was the hardest fight we had yet had, but our men were determined to win. The rebel loss of officers was very heavy. Colonel Green, of the Sixth Virginia, was killed, and also Colonel Collins, of Philadelphia, who graduated at West Point four years ago, and took sides with the South. There were many of our regular officers present who had known him intimately. They buried him and marked the place of his interment. The losses of the First New York dragoons, Sixth Pennsylvania, and First regular cavalry were quite heavy. Here, also, the gallant Captain Joseph P. Ash, of the Fifth United States, was killed. He died in the thickest of the fight, and is deeply lamented by all who knew him. By night we had driven the enemy some four miles, and had taken their first line of breastworks. The artillery practice of Captain Martin's Sixth New York independent battery, as well as the other batteries of the corps, was of the most brilliant character. The Sixth New York has the reputation of being one of the best light horse batteries in the service. They certainly did great execution during the succession of
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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