on the left, the Fifth Maine and One Hundred and Twenty-first New York in the centre.
Before this line was a dense growth of second growth wood; Gen. Brooks
ordered the brigade commander to push on rapidly through the thicket.
Advancing perhaps 500 feet, the brigade came upon the Confederate
line, the men lying down in a bridle road.
They suddenly fired a volley into the ranks of the Union brigade, which the latter returned with interest, driving the Confederates
back to their rifle-pits in the rear of the road.
The road was now filled with the dead.
The Confederates kept up a galling fire from the rifle-pits for twenty minutes, during which time our loss must have been quite 600 men; the whole division was now in action, and Gen. Newton
's Third Division was hotly engaged upon the right.
Our First Division slowly retiring, the Confederates
made a dash from the rifle-pits with great vim upon it. Now the artillery Companies D, Second United States, Lieut. Williston
, First Massachusetts, Capt. W. H. McCartney
, and First New Jersey, Capt. Hexamer
, by excellent service and fine practice repulsed the momentarily successful Confederate lines, and saved the division.
The engagement of our division with the force of Wilcox
commenced at four o'clock, P. M. and shortly after the Third Division of the Sixth Corps came to our support, the Confederates
were pushed back and the church and schoolhouse were in the possession of the Federals
Continued reinforcement of the Confederate
force, enabling them to rally, resulted in staying the progress of our divisions, and, but for the splendid practice of the Sixth Corps Artillery, the end would perhaps have been the destruction of the Federal infantry.
It was now quite dark, and both weary combatants rested upon the field.
After a night of anxiety and suspense, on the part of the rank and file, of uncertainty in regard to the result of the engagement at Chancellorsville
, came Monday morning, May 4.
Our lines were again reformed, and such disposition of the corps was made as would enable it, if possible, to withstand the attack of an overwhelming force, for it was the superior portion of Lee
's army which had now turned to assail the Sixth Corps.
Early had in the meantime returned to Fredericksburg
and retaken possession of the heights, and our devoted corps was hemmed in on three sides by the enemy.