To have withdrawn last night would have been disobedience of orders by our corps commander, since he had been directed by the commanding general
to proceed to Chancellorsville
He had proceeded thus far on Sunday afternoon; the way thence was blocked by an augmented force of the enemy in a stronghold that commanded the route.
The light of that day did not last long enough to permit the dislodgement of the foe, despite the skill of Sedgwick
, and the spirited, persistent attack of his divisions.
He had no alternative as a soldier, other than to wait the morrow and resume his task.
The corps was formed in the three sides of a square enclosing Banks' Ford.
The Second Division faced east toward Fredericksburg
, against Early
, with its left on the Rappahannock
; the Third Division, with one brigade of the First Division, faced west against McLaws
, with its right upon the river; the remaining brigades of the First Division, Bartlett
's and Torbert
's, faced south, confronting Anderson
, touching the other sides of the square.
The first movement on this Monday morn, May 4, was a Confederate attack upon Neill
's brigade of the Second Division, on the left of our line.
Here detachments of the Seventh Maine and the Forty-ninth New York, with Battery F, Fifth United States, Lieut. Martin
, repulsed a whole brigade, captured two hundred prisoners, and the men of the first named regiment bore off the colors of the Fifty-eighth Virginia Infantry.
Thereafter through the day, however, until five o'clock, the situation was unchanged.
Then began perhaps the most fearful struggle of this campaign, which lasted for three hours.
No time was spent by the Confederate
commander in feeling the strength of the Federal
force which yesterday had scaled the heights and driven before it their defenders.
It is said that Gen. Lee
personally marshalled the brigades.
The initial movement of his troops was a furious onslaught upon our lines.
This was repelled with equal vigor; another attack was made, and the advancing Confederate lines received a volley from our artillery that perceptibly thinned their ranks and stayed their progress.
Now a charge was made upon the batteries on our right, and they answer with canister, and the supporting regiments repel the assailants with the bayonet.
Four times their lines were broken and driven back.
Our company guns were twelve-pound Napoleons,