The Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville.
by Oliver O. Howard, Major-General, U. S. A.The country around Chancellorsville for the most part is a wilderness, with but here and there an opening. If we consult the recent maps (no good ones existed before the battle), we notice that the two famous rivers, the Rapidan and the Rappahannock, join at a point due north of Chancellorsville; thence the Rappahannock runs easterly for two miles, till suddenly at the United States Ford it turns and flows south for a mile and a half, and then, turning again, completes a horse-shoe bend. Here, on the south shore, was General Hooker's battle-line on the morning of the 2d of May, 1863. Here his five army corps, those of Meade, Slocum, Couch, Sickles, and Howard, were deployed. The face was toward the south, and the ranks mainly occupied a ridge nearly parallel with the Rapidan. The left touched the high ground just west of the horse-shoe bend, while the bristling front, fringed with skirmishers, ran along the Mineral Spring road, bent forward to take in the cross-roads of Chancellorsville, and then, stretching on westerly through lower levels, retired to Dowdall's Tavern. Just beyond Dowdall's was a slight backward hook in the line, partially encircling Talley's Hill, a sunny spot in the forest between the Orange Plank road and the pike. This pike is an old roadway which skirts the northern edge of Talley's farm, and makes an angle of some forty degrees with the Orange Plank road. At dawn of that eventful day General Hooker was at Chancellorsville. Slocum and Hancock were just in his front, infantry and artillery deployed to the right and left. French's division was in his rear. Meade occupied the extreme left, and my corps, the Eleventh, the right. Sickles connected me with Slocum. Our lines covered between five and six miles of frontage, and Hooker was near the middle point. The main body of our cavalry, under Stoneman, had gone off on a raid upon Lee's communications, and the remainder of the Army of the Potomac was under the sturdy Sedgwick, beyond Fredericksburg. Our opponents, under General Robert E. Lee, the evening before, were about two miles distant toward Fredericksburg, and thus between us and Sedgwick. Lee had immediately with him the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, Rodes, Colston, and A. P. Hill, besides some cavalry under Stuart. He 
|The old Chancellor house, burned during the battle. From a photograph.
|Map: position of the 11th Corps at 6pm. May 2, 1863.
|Dowdall's Tavern, Howard's headquarters. From a War-time photograph.
|Dowdall's Tavern in 1884.
|The Wilderness Church (in the left middle-ground) and Hawkins's farm (on the right) as seen from the Plank road in front of Dowdall's Tavern.
|The Wilderness Church. From a War-time photograph. See previous page.
|The Confederates carrying Howard's breastworks.
|Major-General Carl Schurz. From a photograph.
|1. Union breastworks in the woods between Dowdall's Tavern and Chancellorsville. 2. Relics of the dead in the woods near the Plank road. 3. The Plank road near where Jackson fell. from photographs taken in 1864.
|Positions of the 12th Corps and part of the 3d Corps, covering the Chancellorsville plateau, May 2 and 3.
Now, as to the causes of this disaster to my corps: 1st. Though constantly threatened and apprised of the moving of the enemy, yet the woods were so dense that he was able to mass a large force, whose exact where-abouts7, neither patrols, reconnoissances, nor scouts ascertained. He succeeded in forming a column opposite to and outflanking my right. 2d. By the panic produced by the enemy's reverse fire, regiments and artillery were thrown suddenly upon those in position. 3d. The absence of General Barlow's brigade, which I had previously located in reserve and en échelon with Colonel von Gilsa's, so as to cover his right flank. This was the only general reserve I had.Stonewall Jackson was victorious. Even his enemies praise him; but, providentially for us, it was the last battle that he waged against the American Union. For, in bold planning, in energy of execution, which he had the power to diffuse, in indefatigable activity and moral ascendency, Jackson stood head and shoulders above his confreres, and after his death General Lee could not replace him.
|Rescuing the wounded on Sunday, May 2d, from the burning woods. From a War-time sketch.