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Battle of Chancellorsville.

Headquarters Lane's brigade, camp Gregg, May 11th, 1863.
Captain,--On the morning of the 1st of May, my brigade moved from its position in the second line near Hamilton's Crossing, along the plank road in the direction of Chancellorsville, and that night formed line of battle, with skirmishers thrown forward to the right of the road, about a mile and a half from the latter place. Next morning, after the artillery fight on our right, it was marched to the plank road above Chancellorsville, by the way of Welford's Iron Forge, and then ordered to move down the road by the flank, while the three lines of battle advanced. After it was ascertained that the enemy were rapidly falling back, it pushed forward with the artillery beyond the third and second lines to within a short distance of the first. Here General A. P. Hill ordered me (at dark) to deploy one regiment as skirmishers across the road, to form line of battle in rear with the rest of the brigade, and to push vigorously forward — in other words we were ordered to make a night attack and capture the enemy's batteries, if possible. Just then the enemy opened a terrific fire, which was responded to by our batteries. As soon as this was over, I deployed the Thirty-third North Carolina troops forward as skirmishers, and formed line of battle to the [490] rear — the Seventh and Thirty-seventh to the right, the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth to the left — the left of the Thirty-seventh and the right of the Eighteenth resting on the road. I had moved forward the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth to within a short distance of our line of skirmishers, and was about to move the Seventh and Thirty-seventh to a corresponding position before ordering the whole line forward, when Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, of a Pennsylvania regiment entered our lines with a white flag and wished to know if we were Confederate or Union troops. Considering this an illegitimate use of the white flag, as he expressly stated it was not his object to surrender, and not wishing to let him return, I sent Lieutenant Lane to General A. P. Hill to know what I should do. Our skirmishers on the right soon after fired upon a few of the enemy who had approached tolerably near, and a few random shots were fired by the Seventh and Thirty-seventh regiments without orders, which appears to have drawn the enemy's artillery and infantry fire. I understand from the official report of the commanding officer of the Eighteenth North Carolina troops, that General A. P. Hill, staff and couriers, were in the road in advance of them at the time, and to avoid the enemy's fire some of them dashed into the woods over the Eighteenth regiment, which fired into them, mistaking them in the dark for the enemy's cavalry. After this unfortunate mistake, I received information that a body of troops was moving on our right. I at once sent Lieutenant Emack and four men to reconnoitre, and they soon returned with a Pennsylvania regiment which had thrown down their arms and surrendered themselves prisoners of war. This regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, who had commenced to remonstrate with me for allowing it to be captured while he was in my lines with a white flag, when the enemy's artillery opened upon us again. I at once sent the regiment to the rear under Captain Young--his company having been detailed as a guard — and turned Lieutenant-Colonel Smith over to Captain Adams, signal officer, to be taken to General A. P. Hill.

General A. P. Hill being wounded, the night attack was not made as at first contemplated. I withdrew the left wing of the Thirty-third, which formed on the right of the Seventh, and extended our line still further to the right with the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth regiments--the right of the Twenty-eighth resting on a road running obliquely to the Plank road, with two of its companies broken back to guard against a flank movement.

Between twelve and one o'clock that night the enemy could be heard marshaling their troops along our whole front, while their artillery [491] was rumbling up the road to our right. Soon after their artillery opened right and left, and Sickles' command rushed upon us with loud and prolonged cheering. They were driven back on the left by our skirmishers, but the fight was more stubborn on the right, which was the main point af attack. The Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth, and left wing of the Thirty-third, engaged them there, and gallantly drove them back, although they had outflanked us and encountered the two right companies of the Twenty-eighth, which had been deflected in anticipation of such a movement. A subsequent attack, made about half an hour later, was similarly repulsed. The Twenty-eighth captured a staff-officer, and the colors of the third Maine volunteers were taken by Captain Clark's company of the same regiment. The Eighteenth also captured an aid to General Williams. A number of field and company officers, and a large number of men were captured along our whole line. After the enemy were repulsed, General McGowan was ordered forward with his brigade, and took position on our right.

On Sunday morning, about sunrise, the whole brigade was wheeled a little to the left, that the line might be perpendicular to the Plank road, and then, in obedience to orders, it moved gallantly forward with shouts, driving the enemy's skirmishers, and handsomely charging and carrying their breastworks. The left of the Thirty seventh passed entirely over the works, capturing a number of prisoners, and the gallant old Seventh eclipsed all of its former glories.

These works were on a hill, commanded by the Chancellorsville hill, which was fortified with a line of earth-works for twenty-eight pieces of artillery, running nearly parallel to our position, and between four hundred and five hundred yards distant, with a stream of water intervening. As soon as we had dislodged their infantry, these guns with others opened a murderous fire of shell, grape and canister upon us. A fresh column of their infantry was thrown against us, and, with our right flank completely turned, we were forced to fall back with the loss of about one-third of the command.

The Twenty-eighth regiment, commanded by its gallant young Colonel Lowe, fell back a few hundred yards, and was ordered to give assistance wherever needed, while I superintended the reforming of the rest of the brigade still further to the rear. Colonel Lowe informs me that the Twenty-eighth behaved well throughout the remainder of the day, that it made two more charges under the heavy artillery firing, and was led in each by Major General Stuart.

As soon as the rest of the brigade was reformed and replenished with ammunition, they were taken back into the woods to the left of the [492] Plank road to the support of General Colquitt's command, which was then nearly out of ammunition. The woods which we entered were on fire — the heat was excessive — the smoke arising from burning blankets, oilcloths, &c., very offensive — the dead and dying of the enemy could be seen on all sides enveloped in flames — the ground on which we formed was so hot as at first to be disagreeable to our feet. Nothing daunted, however, the men took their positions without a murmur, notwithstanding their previous hard marching, desperate fighting and sleepless nights, and remained under arms again the whole of Sunday night in the front line while heavy skirmishing was going on.

Never have I seen men fight more gallantly, and bear fatigue and hardship more cheerfully. I shall always feel proud of the noble bearing of my brigade in the battle of Chancellorsville, the bloodiest in which it has ever taken part, when the Thirty third discharged its duties so well as skirmishers, and with the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth gallantly repulsed two night attacks made by vastly superior numbers, and when the Seventh and Thirty-seventh vied with each other as to who should first drive the vandals from their works.

Its gallantry has cost it many noble sacrifices, and we are called upon to mourn the loss of some of our bravest spirits. The fearless Purdie was killed while urging forward his men — the gentle, but gallant Hill, after the works had been taken — and Johnnie Young, a mere boy, not yet eighteen, but a brave and efficient captain, fell at the head of his company. Captain Kerr, and Lieutenants Campbell, Bolick, Emack, Weaver, Bouchelle, Babb, Callais and Regan, all fell in the discharge of their duties, as also did J. Rooker Lane of company E, Fifth Virginia cavalry, who at the time was acting as my volunteer aid.

I cannot speak in too high terms of the behaviour of this brigade. Colonel Barbour, though wounded, was from time to time with his command, giving all the assistance he could. Major Morris, wounded in the foot, left the hospital on horseback, and assisted in reforming his regiment. Major Mayhew, after the left wing of the Thirty-third was withdrawn, and Lieutenant-Colonel Cowan was wounded, gallantly commanded the skirmishers in the night attack; was wounded in the charge next day, and is now thought to be in the hands of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Speer was wounded in one of the night attacks, and Colonels Avery and Haywood, Lieutenant-Colonels George and Ashcraft, and Major Davidson in the charge Sunday morning.

After the loss of so many field officers, Major Barry and Captains Harris, Saunders, Brown and Nicholson, rendered me grent assistance. Captain Saunders, in his official report, calls special attention to the [493] efficiency of Lieutenants E. Price and J. L. Farrow of the Thirty-third regiment.

Lieutenant Bryan, ordnance officer, and Lieutenant Nicholson, brigade inspector, discharged their duties well, though the latter had but few “stragglers” and no “skulkers” to drive forward that I have yet heard of. I am specially indebted to my Aid-de-camp, Lieutenant O. Lane, and to one of my couriers, George E. Barringer, for the great assistance rendered me. They both bore themselves well under the hottest fires. My other courier was a paltroon, and has been sent back to his regiment.

The brigade loss is twelve (12) commissioned officers killed, fifty-nine (59) wounded, and one (1) missing; one hundred and forty-nine (149) enlisted men killed, five hundred and sixty-seven (567) wounded, and one hundred and twenty-one (121) missing; making an aggregate of nine hundred and nine (909.)


James H. Lane, Brigadier-General. Captain R. H. Finney, Acting Adjutant-General.

How Stonewall Jackson met his death. An interesting and authentic statement from General James H. Lane.

[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Richmond, Va., January 1, 1873.
Messrs. Editors,--I hope you will allow me through the columns of your popular paper to give to the public some of the circumstances connected with the death-wound of General Jackson, particularly as a recent publication has declared that a night attack was not contemplated at that time.

When General Jackson moved so unexpectedly and so successfully upon the enemy's flank at Chancellorsville, his front line was composed of Rodes' division, and his second of A. P. Hill's, with the exception of McGowan's (South Carolina) brigade and mine (which was composed wholly of North Carolinians). Our two brigades moved by the flank along the plank-road immediately in rear of our artillery — mine being in front. When, about dark, we reached the breast works from which the enemy had been driven, we were halted, and remained standing in the road for some time. Gen. A. P. Hill then ordered me to form across the road--two regiments to the right, two to the left, and one [494] thrown forward as a strong line of skirmishers — for the purpose of making a night attack; but soon after the order was given, our artillery opened and the enemy replied. I at once ordered my men to lie down, as I was unwilling to attempt to manoeuvre them in the dark, and in such a woods, under such a deadly fire. Col. William H. Palmer, of this city, gallantly crossed the road to know why I did not move my command. I requested him to tell General Hill that if he wished me to do so successfully he must order his artillery to cease firing. The order was given, and, as I had anticipated, the enemy also ceased firing. I now formed my brigade as I had been ordered, putting the Seventh and Thirty-Seventh on the right of the road, and the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth on the left, the right of the Eighteenth resting on the road, while the Twenty-third, under Col. Avery, was thrown forward as skirmishers. The woods in front of our right consisted of large oaks, with but little undergrowth; in rear of our right there was a pine thicket, and to the left of the road there was a dense growth of “scrubby oaks,” through which it was very difficult for troops to move. Our,skirmish line occupied the crest of the hill, separated, on the right of the road, from the Chancellorsville hill by a deep valley. I cautioned all of my field officers to watch closely the front, as we were then occupying the front line and were expected to make a night attack. After forming my line I rode back to ask General Hill if we must advance or wait for further orders, and on reaching the plank-road I met General Jackson alone, I think, and he at once wished to know for whom I was looking. I told him, and to save further delay I asked for orders. In an earnest tone, and with a pushing gesture of his right hand in the direction of the enemy he replied, “Push right ahead Lane,” and then rode forward. On reaching the right of my command to put it in motion, I found that a Lieutenant-Colonel Smith of the One Hundredth and Twenty-Eighth Pennsylvania regiment, had come up between our line of battle and skirmish line, with a white handker-chief tied to a stick, to learn, as he stated, whether we were friends or foes. This officer seemed surprised at my not allowing him to return after he had gratified his curiosity. I was still further delayed by officers of the Seventh regiment reporting that during my absense troops of some kind had been heard talking on our right. Lieutenant Emack, with five men, was at once sent out to reconnoitre, and he soon returned with the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania regiment, which had thrown down their arms and surrendered on being told that they were cut off. Just as Captain Young (our gallant boy-captain, about eighteen or nineteen years old) was ordered with his [495] company to take this regiment to the rear, the right of the skirmish line fired, as I afterwards learned from Col. Avery, at a person who rode up from the direction of the enemy, and called for “General Williams.” This unknown person escaped, but the firing at him caused the whole skirmish line to open, and the enemy responded. Much heavier infantry firing was heard immediately afterwards in the direction of the plank-road, followed by a reopening of the enemy's artillery. General Pender now rode up and advised me not to advance, as General Jackson had been wounded, and he thought by my command. I did not advance, but went to the plank-road, where I learned that General Hill had also been wounded. I then, moreover, learned from Colonel John D. Barry, then major of the Eighteenth North Carolina regiment, that he knew nothing of Generals Jackson and Hill having gone to the front; that he could not tell friend from foe in such a woods; that when the skirmish line fired there was heard the clattering of approaching horsemen and the cry of cavalry, and that he not only ordered his men to fire, but that he pronounced the subsequent cry of friends to be a lie, and that his men continued to fire upon the approaching party. It was generally understood that night by my command and others that the Eighteenth regiment not only wounded Generals Jackson and Hill, but killed some of their couriers and perhaps some of their staff-officers, as some of them were missing. Colonel Barry, who was one of my bravest and most accomplished officers always thought that Generals Jackson and Hill were both wounded by his command.

After the wounding of these two generals, General Heth assumed command of Hill's division, countermanded the order for an advance, and directed me to form the whole of my brigade on the right of the plank-road. We were the only troops in line of battle on the right of the road until after we had repulsed a night attack made by the enemy, in which we captured a few prisoners and the colors of the Third Maine regiment. McGowan's brigade then prolonged our right, and we rested on our arms until next morning.

On the morning of the 3d we were ordered to make a direct attack upon the enemy's works, which were composed of logs hastily thrown together the night previous, in our front and on the slope of the hill facing the Chancellorsville hill. We carried the works but could not hold them on account of the concentrated murderous artillery fire from the Chancellorsville hill, under which the enemy threw forward fresh infantry. The brigade that was to have supported us did not come to our assistance, and before General Ramseur, then a brigadier, could get [496] up with his North Carolinians, we were driven back with a loss of over nine hundred out of twenty-seven hundred men carried into action. Of the thirteen field officers of my brigade that participated in this charge, only one was left for duty. General Ramseur would go forward, though I advised against it. His command reached the same works, but had to retire with a similar terrible loss.

The enemy was finally driven from the Chancellorsville House by the Confederates carrying the salient to our right, where General Stuart, in command of Jackson's corps, elicited loud shouts of admiration from the infantry as he in person gallantly rushed them over the works upon Hooker's retreating columns.

James H. Lane, Late Brigadier-General C. S. A.

The above article was written at the request of Mr. Moses Handy (then connected with the Dispatch) while I was on a visit to Richmond, and unable to refer to any of my papers.

After the death of Lieutenant-General Thos. J. Jackson and before the Pennsylvania campaign, Major-General A. P. Hill was appointed Lieutenant-General, and Brigadier-General Pender was made Major-General. Pender's division was composed of Lane's North Carolina, Thomas' Georgia, McGowan's South Carolina, and Scales' North Carolina brigades. The other brigades of A. P. Hill's old “Light division” --Archer's Tennesseeans and Brockenbrough's Virginians — formed part of a new division commanded by Major-General Heth.

Soon after Hooker's defeat at Chancellorsville, we were ordered back to our winter quarters at Moss Neck, where we remained until General Lee invaded Pennsylvania.

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