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[231] division had advanced on Hoke's left, driving the enemy's skirmishers, fronting his centre, from Downman's house and the upper part of the ridge, but it did not cross to the Plank road until dark, when I saw Posey's brigade moving up the hill on my, then, left from the direction of Downman's house, and it took position above me on the Plank road, the enemy having retired from that road. Wright's brigade was subsequently moved across to the Plank road at eight or nine o'clock and took position on Posey's left. The main attack had been made by my three brigades.1

1 The force which I encountered in front in this action was Howe's division. Brigadier General Howe testified before the Com- mittee on the Conduct of the War.

After speaking of the battle of Chancellorsville as a sharp skirmish, and claiming all the credit for capturing Marye's Hill, though his division advanced against Lee's Hill alone, and further claiming to have done all the fighting on the 4th, he says:

“ The prisoners taken all agreed that it was Early's, Anderson's, and McLaws' divisions that attacked my division, and that the move- ment was led by General Lee, who told them that it would be a good thing to destroy the 6th corps, or capture it; that it would not get out the Chancellorsville way, and that the movements in our rear would cut us off.”

It was my three brigades alone that attacked him, McLaws' division being above confronting Sedgwick's right, and Anderson's advancing against the centre. Again he says:

“ Some time after this movement, after we had returned to our old camps, I met General Hooker, and spoke to him of the movements we had made and the positions we held. I stated to him that after the fight on the 4th of May, I could have gone with my division on to the heights at Fredericksburg, and held them, or, if necessary, could have recrossed that way. He was surprised that those heights could have been held the night of the 4th, and said: ‘If I had known that you could have gone on those heights and held them, and would have held them, I would have reinforced you with the whole army.’ That was the key of the position, and there was no difficulty in holding it. I told him that if I had not received orders to go back to Banks' Ford, but had been allowed to go to the Fredericksburg heights, I could have marched there uninterruptedly after nine o'clock that night; for after the fight we had had, the rebels abandoned the heights, and there was nothing to be seen of them. There was a bright moon that night, and we could see an object of the size of a man or a horse at a great distance.”

Verily General Howe had accomplished wonders according to his own showing. He had with his solitary division routed the greater part of Lee's army, notwithstanding the rough handling it had been able to give Hooker's five corps above. Perhaps if he had made the attempt to march to the heights, he might have encountered the brigades of Gordon and Hoke which occupied a line extending from above Taylor's house towards the Plank road at Guest's house, and which had escaped his observation notwithstanding the light of the “bright moon that night.” He might also have encountered Barksdale's, Hays', and Smith's brigades holding the heights, and disturbed my own headquarters on the left of Lee's Hill, which had been assumed at 12 at night after I had ridden along his whole front with my staff at a late hour, posting Hoke's brigade on Gordon's left and examining the position of the latter. General Howe was either mistaken or he was star gazing.

Hooker, in his examination before the Congressional Committee in regard to the battle, made the following statement:

Our artillery had always been superior to that of the rebels, as was also our infantry, except in discipline, and that, for reasons not necessary to mention, never did equal Lee's army. With a rank and file mostly inferior to our own, intellectually and physically, that army has, by discipline alone, acquired a character for steadiness and efficiency unsurpassed, in my judgment, in ancient or modern times. We have not been able to rival it, nor has there been any near approximation to it in the other rebel armies.

Their artillery certainly surpassed ours far in numbers of guns, weight of metal, and the quality of the ammunition, and at long range their firing was admirable, while ours was defective from the defect in the ammunition, but when we came to close range so that our guns could tell, their gunners lost their coolness and ours surpassed them in the accuracy of the firing, always getting the advantage under such circumstances unless the odds were too great.

Hooker did not complain that he was overpowered by numbers, and he was the first of the commanders of that army who had not made that complaint.

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