previous next

[170] who were moving in the direction of Chancellorsville, in the rear of Lee, across the same river at Bank's ford. At this juncture the fate of our army seemed to hang upon a mere thread—the slightest error or mistake, though only of a feather's weight, might have turned the scale against us. The supreme moment had arrived. Sedgewick must be crushed, for he was already pressing Lee's rear, and was aiming to unite with Hooker, which might prove disastrous. But Lee, like the great and unequalled commander that he was, proved equal to the occasion. He had left General Gordon with several brigades at Hamilton's crossing to guard in the direction of Richmond. Gordon moved in echelon—that is, one brigade behind another at greater or less distance apart, forming a somewhat lengthened line of battle, each brigade ready by a rapid movement to support one another in case of either one meeting too strong resistance. He in this way struck Sedgewick's left flank and rear like a tornado, and poured such a torrent of shot and shell, grape and canister into his strongly massed legions as had seldom or never been seen before on any field of battle, while Lee in person, with McLaw's division, and such other troops as he had at hand, moved quickly in Sedgewick's front at Salem Church, piercing his centre. As his (Sedgewick's) left and rear had already suffered severely from Gordon's well-planned and well-executed attack his entire force was defeated and put to flight and compelled to cross the Rappahannock after midnight. This splendid echelon movement made by Gordon, which proved so successful, seemed to have come to him by intuition. He was a born soldier, and did not realize at the time that he was but repeating a movement that Poshua, Hannibal, Charlemagne and other eminent commandants had used ages before. Of all the brilliant victories achieved by General Gordon this one will be studied and admired by students of military science for coming generations. Certainly to Lee, Gordon, and all the officers and private soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia belong glory, honor, and fame, which will go sounding down the ages with increasing splendor and brilliance, and will inspire the youth of coming generations with patriotism, true courage, and every ennobling virtue that goes to make up the very noblest ideals of perfect, self-sacrificing manhood and devotion to duty.

With no desire to criticise or in the least to depreciate the chivalric valor of magnificent courage and heroism of the gallant troops of our Southern States, nor to underestimate the valor of our opponents, the writer, as a Georgian and commander of a Georgia regiment,


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.
Hamilton (Virginia, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

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.
James B. Gordon (6)
Sedgewick (4)
C. C. Lee (4)
McLaw (1)
Joe Hooker (1)
Hannibal (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: