previous next

Doc. 69. operations of General Lee's Army.

Diary of a Confederate officer.

Wednesday, May 4, 1864.--Received orders at 2:15 P. M., to move by plank-road to front. Enemy reported crossing at Ely's Ford, near Chancellorsville. Camped two miles below Orange Court-house, marching thirteen miles, at a very rapid rate, over a good plank-road, which has been repaired to Unionville.

Thursday, 5th.--Moved, at sunrise, down to Mine Run, at Verdiersville, reaching there at half past 10 A. M. Stopped to graze and water. Sent Captain D. to Morton's Ford to report to General Ramseur, taking two wagons with him. Firing on our right, probably at plank-road. Grant crossed, May 4, 1864, at Ely's and Germania Fords. Cavalry fighting near the river. Infantry fighting commenced. Marched twelve miles.

Friday, 6th.--Colonel John Thompson Brown, formerly Colonel of the First Virginia Artillery, was killed by one of the enemy's sharpshooters to-day, at ten A. M., while examining for position between plank-road and the turnpike, three miles below Locust Grove. Moved up this day (weather very hot), to Locust Grove, Armed the cannoneers with muskets, to resist cavalry. Heavy fighting along our line. Enemy frequently repulsed.

Saturday, 7th.--Moved up near line of battle on turnpike. Put Captain D. in position on turnpike; rode along our picket lines; fired upon by sharpshooters; moved off, after dark, with all the batteries, as we ascertained, that though we had whipped Grant badly on the fifth and sixth, he — was moving toward Richmond. Stopped at Verdiersville, near Colonel N., who had used most of the artillery engaged in this corps — his battalion alone being in.

Sunday, 8th.--About one P. M. moved toward Anticon Church, on Terry's Creek of North Anna, and camped on Po river, near Shady Grove Church-thirteen miles.

Monday, 9th.--Moved on to Spottsylvania New Court-house. Fighting yesterday and today at Court-house. We got between Grant and Richmond. Marched seven miles.

Tuesday, 10th.--At sunrise, put Captain S. in position in Daniels' brigade, and Captain J. in position in Ramseur's line. Captain D. in reserve, but near; Captain G. in reserve, near Court-house. Captain S. was about three hundred yards from a dense pine thicket, with an open field between, and our skirmishers from Dole's brigade being driven back to the rifle pits, we were much annoyed at S.'s guns by sharpshooters. Several were wounded. Went up to the right, at Major General Johnston's, who was to the right of Rodes. While there the Yankees charged. Captain D. was changing position, being relieved by Captain M. (Nelson's battalion) at the time. M.'s men showed good spirit but fired badly. About four P. M. went to Longstreet's line, and saw the charges made by Grant's men on our left. Seven heavy charges made and repulsed. Just before dark they charged the right of Rode's division and broke Dole's brigade, about one hundred yards to the right of S.'s battery. S. and his men acted very gallantly, firing their guns after the Yankees were in their rear. Major David Walton was with this battery. I was on the left, with Captain J. The Yankees came in the rear and right of S.'s battery, capturing the guns, as well as Captain S. and nineteen men — wounding seventeen. Ramseur charged by the right flank. I called out to Lieutenant R. to get some of S.'s men, who had got off, and come up with me to S.'s guns, and we would work them, when re-captured. Advanced with the head of the column, calling out constantly to our reinforcements, who were coming in without any order, and not knowing where to go, “by the right flank, men!” Stopped at S.'s fourth gun, a Napoleon, which I loaded with canister, and Lieutenant R. fired it. After firing seven or eight rounds, I found some of the cannoneers had returned. Told Lieutenant R. to work the Napoleon, and I would work another of the pieces. Got three infantry men to put down [480] their muskets and help me work a three-inch rifle. The dead were so thick around the other Napoleon we could not work it. The Yankees were firing at us from behind our breastworks, on the right, and from pens put up by ambulance men, about sixty yards to our right. This furious musketry continued for one hour and a half or two hours. W., standing by me, had his arm shot through. Took the lanyard from him and gave it to another man. L. was shot on the top of the head and scalped, but not killed. Saw Colonel P. leading in a column of infantry. Ran and asked him to send me up the first cannoneers he could find at a reserve battery He sent Garber's. From this fact a misapprehension arose that S. and his men had abandoned their guns. But I know they acted well. General Daniels complimented them very highly. Major David Watson escaped by jumping over in front and going over to J.'s battery, when S.'s was captured. He returned and assisted Lieutenant R. to work his Napoleon, and was mortally wounded, being shot through the bowels and pelvis. I was very much exhausted, working the guns and serving ammunition. Fired very rapidly and got the guns very hot. Sometimes had to cease firing, and take my men all back to the caissons to search for ammunition. Much of the time had only three men, and an infantry man to sit behind the breastworks and hold friction primers for us, as the implements were gone, and we had to find the extra implements that were necessary. Our works, about thirty yards to the right, had a second line run back to the rear about eighty yards long, to protect the hollow through which the Yankees broke in. When our men from Ramseur's brigade and the left advanced down our works to the right they stopped at this offset, and allowed the Yankees to hold our works until charged by Johnson and Gordon, later at night. The occupation of this offset made it very difficult for us to fire upon the Yankees behind our line without striking our men on the offset, and the blast from the nearest gun on my left, being pointed very obliquely to the right, blew off my hat twice, and seemed as if it would blow off my head. Shots passed through the leg of my pantaloons, the right arm of my coat and right breast of my coat; another struck my spy-glass in my sack coat pocket, which, resting at the time against my thigh, made me think for a moment that my thigh was broken. After recovering from the shock, went back to working the gun. Had nine bullet holes in my clothes this night. Surely I should praise God for his mercy. For one hour and a half the Yankee infantry, at sixty yards distance, behind breastworks, tried to silence these gnns, and I was standing up all this time except when fusing shell. The Yankees also brought up a battery, six hundred or eight hundred yards in our front, and fired upon us during this time. General Lee rode up to my battalion next morning, saluted me by raising his hat, pulled off his gauntlet, and shook hands with me, thanking me for my “gallantry and coolness,” as he was pleased to say. I represented to him in proper light the good conduct of S. and his men, telling him forty men were put out of action in that company alone, and twenty-two horses. Four hundred Yankees were killed in our lines in this assault. A colonel and about twenty men were killed very near S.'s guns. They held the outer rifle-pits or breastworks for about two hours, until driven out by Gordon, commanding Early's division. General Johnson drove them to the breastworks by charging through the woods. Generals Ramseur, Rhodes, Gordon, and Johnson charged at the head of their troops, I know. General Ewell also led a charge.

Wednesday, 11th--Day comparatively quiet. Just before dark, Colonel C. informed me that General Long had ordered all the guns out at dark. I informed General Ramseur, and went over to General Lee's headquarters to find General Long. He (General Lee) told me he did not intend for the guns to be brought out until the troops left. I then sent word back to General Ramseur and Captains D., J., and G., not to move until the troops moved, but the orders for N., P., and C. were not changed, and all moved out that night, and left the troops on Johnson's line without artilllery. [This was the cause of the disaster which happened next morning to Johnson's division.--Editor.] Just at night General Ramseur had a report from Major O., commanding his sharpshooters, that the enemy were using axes in our front.

Thursday, May 12--Morning foggy. At daybreak, Grant charged over our lines, at Dole's position, capturing eight guns of Cutshaw's and twelve of Page's, just going into position, from which they had moved the night before. Page lost his horses and men, Cutshaw did not lose his horses. I had been at my wagons, which were with Captain Graham's battery that night, (the eleventh) and had received orders to put Graham in position, as we heard heavy cheers and no artillery firing on our side. I was told by Major Venable to open fire from about the Court-house. Went over to see Lieutenant-Colonel Pegram, who opened fire as directed by Enable. The enemy charged from Dole's on Wilcox's lines. Our men fought well. Wilcox drove the enemy three hundred yards in front of our breastworks. Edward Johnson was captured and his men scattered badly. Loss heavy. Our lines were drawn in to throw out the point which had been occupied by Johnson. This was a ridge making off from the main ridge on which the Court-house is situated, and made a weak point in our lines, as it could be occupied by Grant if we left it out of our lines, while, if we took it in, it was scarcely tenable against a heavy assault directed upon Dole. The artillery having been removed, it was indefensible. We held our new line. The Yankees shelled furiously. Started to go round to that part of our line to see how matters were progressing. In the orchard, just back of General Lee's headquarters, I was struck on the collar-bone and [481] shoulder by a fragment of shell, which disabled me. The infantry firing had lulled, and we had repulsed the enemy. This was about ten o'clock in the morning. The Yankees had cut off General Edward Johnson's division, capturing him, and probably most of his men, but were unable to penetrate our lines at any other point, or to break the line which was established after Johnson's was broken.

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 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.
Edward Johnson (9)
Ramseur (8)
U. S. Grant (6)
R. E. Lee (5)
Dole (5)
Gordon (3)
Wilcox (2)
Eli Long (2)
David Graham (2)
N. Daniels (2)
Cutshaw (2)
David Watson (1)
David Walton (1)
Venable (1)
A. M. Stopped (1)
Rodes (1)
Rode (1)
Rhodes (1)
Pegram (1)
Thomas S. Page (1)
John Nelson (1)
Napoleon (1)
Longstreet (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Garber (1)
Ewell (1)
Jubal A. Early (1)
Doc (1)
John Thompson Brown (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 4th, 1864 AD (2)
May 12th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: