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Recollections of Fredericksburg.—From the morning of the 20th of April to the 6th of May, 1863.

by General B. G. Humphreys.
[The following are extracts from the ‘Mississippi State War Records,’ by General B. G. Humphreys, ex-Governor of Mississippi, and Colonel of the Twenty-first Mississippi regiment, Confederate States army.]

* * * * * During the winter of 1862-3, General Burnside had been superseded by ‘Fighting Joe Hooker,’ who was making gigantic preparations, just across the Rappahannock, for the fourth ‘On to Richmond,’ and boasted that he had the ‘finest army on the planet,’ and would soon ‘pulverize the rebellion.’ General Lee was not idle. Though cramped by his limited means and resources, both in men and appliances of war, he stood firm and unawed by the mighty hosts that confronted him.

During the night of the 20th of April the Federals attacked some North Carolina pickets, drove in their reserves, laid down pontoon bridges, and crossed the river below Deep Run, near the Bernard house. The alarm was soon conveyed to Barksdale's pickets at Fernahough's house. The ‘long roll’ and the alarm bell at Fredericksburg soon brought Barksdale's brigade into line. During that day General Lee ascertained through General J. E. B. Stuart that General Hooker was moving his main army to cross the Rappahannock and Rapidan, and fall on his left flank and rear through the Wilderness. General Lee immediately moved his main force, and confronted him at Chancellorsville, on the 1st of May. General [416] Early's division was left at Hamilton's station to watch the Federal General, Sedgwick, who was left in the command of thirty thousand troops in front of Fredericksburg. Barksdale's brigade was left at Fredericksburg to picket the Rappahannock, from the reservoir above Falmouth to Fernahough house, below Fredericksburg, a distance of three miles.

Sedgwick lay quietly in our front, and contented himself with fortifying his position below Deep Run, until the 2d day of May, when he commenced recrossing his troops at Deep Run and moving over the Stafford Heights, in full view, up the river, doubtless with the view of deceiving us into the belief that he was withdrawing from our front and going to support Hooker at Chancellorsville, by the way of the United States ford. The heavy artillery and musketry firing in that direction told but too plainly that a terrible battle was raging there. About the middle of the forenoon Barksdale, in obedience to orders from General Early, moved off with his brigade on the Spotsylvania Courthouse road to reinforce General Lee at Chancellorsville, leaving the Twenty-first regiment to picket the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, the entire distance of three miles. The pickets of the Thirteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth regiments were relieved by the Twenty-first, and the brigade moved off in full view of the enemy. The only instruction I received from General Barksdale was, ‘Watch your flanks, hold the picket line as long as you can, then fall back along the Spotsylvania Courthouse road, and hunt for your brigade.’ I cannot well describe my feelings when I found my regiment thus left alone, stretched out three miles long, with only a small river between us and thirty thousand well-armed and hostile men, purposely displayed to magnify their numbers, on Stafford's Height, with balloons and signal corps observing and reporting our weakness. The mass of the citizens of Fredericksburg were patriotically devoted to our cause, yet I knew that some of the citizens were unfriendly to us, ready and willing to betray us. My nerves were not much strengthened by a message I received from the facetious Colonel Holder, of the Seventeenth regiment, as the brigade marched off: ‘Tell the Colonel farewell; the next time I hear from him will be from Johnson's Island.’ Of course every man in the Twenty-first regiment felt his loneliness and danger, and was on the qui vive, watching front, flank and rear, with his gun loaded, his knapsack on his back, and rations in his haversack.

Immediately after the brigade disappeared behind Marye's Hill, my pickets at Fernahough house reported the enemy preparing to [417] advance from Deep Run. From a cupola of the Slaughter house I could see the enemy's line pouring over the pontoon bridges below Deep Run and moving toward our side of the river. I was now satisfied that the enemy's movement up the opposite side of the river in the morning was a feint; that an advance would be made on Fredericksburg, and that our sojourn in that city would soon be terminated. The enemy's pickets soon advanced from Deep Run, drove General Early's pickets back to the railroad and moved up the turnpike toward Fredericksburg. I immediately threw back the right of my picket line, composed of Company E, under Lieutenant Mc-Neely, of Wilkinson county, and Company G, under Lieutenant Mills, of Leak county, and established it from the gas-house up Hazel Run to the railroad, with videttes along the railroad toward Hamilton station, connecting with General Early's pickets. The enemy's pickets continued to advance and engaged my pickets, but being supported by a line of infantry, failed to drive them from their position. It was now dark. Helpless and alone, the Twenty-first regiment, with four hundred muskets, was facing and resisting thirty thousand veterans. Of course we could not hold the city if the enemy advanced. We were ordered to ‘hold the city until forced out of it.’ If the enemy contented himself with amusing us in front there was nothing to prevent him from flanking the city during the night and placing it in his rear, and the Twenty-first regiment in the condition of ‘rats in a rat-trap’—nothing but the necessity that required him to lay down his pontoons that night in front of the city. This we could prevent unless driven from our rifle-pits; hence I was momentarily expecting a charge that would drive us from the city or relieve me of my sword and start me on my journey to Johnson's Island. I instructed the pickets, if forced, to fall back to the railroad and hold that line until the pickets on the river, between the railroad and the canal, could retire through the city, and all to retire toward Marye's Hill, holding the enemy in check as best they could. Shortly after dark a courier summoned me to report to General Harry Hays, at Marye's Hill, for instructions. He informed me that Havs's brigade was in the trenches on Marye's Hill, and that Barksdale's brigade and the Washington Artillery were returning to Fredericksburg. This news rolled off a mighty load from our watchful and wearied souls, and filled our hearts with joy and gladness. Instantly each man felt as big and as brave as ‘little David’ confronting ‘big Goliath.’ Not a few compliments were paid to our returning friends and General Lee by our boys as the glad tidings [418] passed down the picket lines. ‘Bully for Barksdale! bully for Hays! bully for the Washington Artillery! bully for Old Bob!’ was shouted from a hundred throats. ‘Old Bob's head is level,’ cried one; ‘old Bob will show Hooker that he still holds his trump card!’ ‘Yes, old Bob has given the Yankees hell at Chancellors ville, and is coming to give them hell again at Fredericksburg,’ cried still another.

I lost no time in reporting to General Hays, and found General Barksdale with him at Marye's Hill. I informed him of the situation at Hazel Run, and my instructions to pickets, which were approved, and I was instructed to carry them out. Generals Hays and Barksdale seemed to doubt whether General Early intended to hold Marye's Hill, and left to have an interview with him at Hamilton station, and to receive his orders. I returned to the city to superintend the picket line at Hazel Run, where there was a desultory firing kept up from both sides. Sedgwick seemed to hesitate, and advanced with great caution and circumspection. Whether it was from observing the innumerable bivouac fires Barksdale had kindled on Lee's Hill to signalize his arrival and magnify his numbers—whether it was the confused and startling stories borne to him from Chancellorsville by Hooker's wires concerning the fiery charges of Stonewall JacksonSlocum's routed column, and Howard's flying Dutchmen—or whether it was the stench of Lee's ‘slaughter pens’ at Marye's Hill that annoyed his nostrils and weakened his stomach, the Rebels could only ‘reckon’—leaving the Yankees to ‘guess.’

About midnight I went to Barksdale's bivuoac, on Lee's Hill, to learn the result of his consultation with General Early. I found him wrapped in his war-blanket, lying at the foot of a tree. ‘Are you asleep, General?’ ‘No, sir; who could sleep with a million of armed Yankees all around him?’ he answered gruffly. He then informed me that it was determined by General Early to hold Marye's Hill at all hazards, but that his brigade and a portion of the Washington Artillery had to do it—that General Early was confident that the advance from Deep Run towards Fredericksburg was a feint—that the real attack would be at Hamilton station, and that Hays's brigade had been ordered back to that place. Barksdale then instructed me, when the Twenty-first regiment was forced to retire from the city, to occupy the trenches from Marye's Hill across the plank road towards Taylor's Hill. The Eighteenth regiment, under Colonel Griffin, was ordered to occupy the road behind the stone wall at the foot of Marye's Hill; the Seventeenth and Thirteenth regiments from the [419] Howison Hill to the Howison House, and one of Hays's regiments still further to the right; the Washington Artillery to occupy the various redoubts along the hill. I told him that if the real attack was made at Marye's Hill, he did not have men enough to hold it. He replied with emphasis: ‘Well, sir, we must make the fight, whether we hold it or are whipped.’ I saw he was displeased with Early's arrangement, and I returned to the city to await events. About 2 o'clock a small rocket was seen by Lieutenant Denman, of Company G, Twenty-first regiment, thrown from the top of a building in the city, and immediately three signal guns were fired from the Lacy House, opposite the city. Soon afterwards the picket of Company F discovered a party of pontooners approaching stealthily to the point above the Lacy House (where the upper pontoon was laid on the night of December 11, 1862), and commenced laying down pontoons. Captain Fitzgerald opened fire upon them and drove them off, but drew down on his brave Tallahatchians a shower of shell and shrapnel from the Stafford Heights; at the same time a line of the enemy's infantry charged across Hazel Run upon Company E and Company G. Our brave boys gallantly struggled against the overwhelming odds, but were driven back to the railroad. Finding further resistance impossible, I ordered the pickets on the river, below the canal, to fall back through the city, as the enemy advanced, to Marye's Hill. I then crossed the canal at the factory; destroyed the bridge at that point, and withdrew the pickets from the river above and retired across the canal by the two bridges at the foot of Taylor's Hill. A party was left to destroy the two bridges, but the enemy had crossed at Falmouth, and following us so closely that the party was driven off just as they had stripped off the plank without destroying the frame-work.

I arrived at Marye's Hill before daylight, and found that portion of my regiment that retired through the city safe in the trenches to the left of the hill, having sustained a small loss. Just then I received orders from General Barksdale to report my regiment to him on Lee's Hill. I moved immediately, and when I reported to him he seemed much chagrined at the mistake made in transmitting his orders, and ordered me to move back rapidly to the position assigned me, as the enemy was advancing. I moved back double-quick all the way. As I crossed Marye's Hill, in the rear of Marye's House, I saw the enemy's line advancing to charge the Eighteenth regiment behind the stone wall. A heavy artillery fire was directed at the Twenty-first regiment, but we gained our position with only a few [420] wounded, among whom was that noble soldier and gentleman, Lieutenant Martin A. Martin, of Sunflower county, who was never able afterward to join his company. The Eighteenth regiment and the artillery, repulsed with great slaughter that and two other charges made in rapid succession, with small loss to our side. In the meantime Colonel Walton, of New Orleans, had placed one section of the first company of Washington Artillery (two guns) under Captain Squiers, in the same redoubts occupied by them on the ever memorable 13th of December, 1862. One gun of the third company, Captain Miller, was placed in the position near the plank road, and two guns belonging to the fourth company, under Lieutenant Norcum, were placed in position near the extreme left of the Twenty-first regiment between the plank road and Taylor's Hill. The second company, under Captain Richardson, was posted near the railroad on our right; Frazier battery and Carlton battery in rear of Howison House on Lee's Hill. One gun of Parker's battery was posted on the point known as Willis's Hill, under the command of Lieutenant Brown.

Between 7 and 8 o'clock the fog lifted so as to reveal the heavy masses of the enemy that had crossed at the various pontoon bridges laid down during the night. His troops could be seen in every portion of the city, and his lines stretching down the turnpike for a mile below the Bernard House. The position of the enemy seemed to justify the suspicions of General Early, that the real attack would be at Hamilton station, and that the attack at Marye's Hill was only a feint and a feeler. Soon, however the enemy's line could be seen moving up toward the city. At the same time a column was discovered moving from the city up the river towards Taylor's hill. I sent a courier to General Barksdale, then on Lee's Hill, and he to General Early, then at Hamilton station, informing him of these movements of the enemy. To my mind it was now clear that Marye's Hill was to be the point attacked by the whole force of the enemy. From my observations of the topography of the country around Fredericksburg, I had long before regarded Marye's Hill as the weakest and most vulnerable position along the whole line occupied by General Lee on the 13th of December, 1862, for the simple reason that it is not a salient, but it is the only point on that whole line that a line of infantry can be massed within one thousand yards of the hills. At that point a line of infantry can be massed and masked in the valley between the city and the hill within four hundred and fifty yards, and at the railroad cut and embankment within six hundred yards [421] of the hill. It was the part of wisdom in Burnside to attack at that point. It is true he failed, but he would have failed at any other point. General Lee had a dozen other ‘slaughter pens’ along his line that would have proved more disastrous than Marye's Hill. Besides, Marye's Hill, on the 3d of May, 1863, was a weaker position to defend than it was on the 13th of December, for the reason that the out-houses, plank-fences, orchards, and other obstacles to a charge, that existed at that time, were all removed or destroyed by the army during the winter, and nothing remained on the open plain to break the lines of an assaulting column. I could not doubt that the same acumen that prompted Burnside to attack that point would lead Sedgwick to renew it. I sent at the request of Colonel Griffin, who realized his perilous situation, three companies from the Twenty-first regiment—Company F, under the command of Captain Fitzgerald, Company C, under command of Captain G. W. Wall, and Company L, under the command of Captain Vosberg—to reinforce the Eighteenth. General Barksdale applied to General Pendleton, who had control of a large train of artillery on the telegraph road on Lee's Hill, not a mile off, and not in position, to send a battery to Taylor's Hill, to command the two bridges that spanned the canal. Instead of sending a battery from his train, that lay idle during the whole engagement, he ordered a section of the Washington Artillery from the redoubt on the plank road, where it was needed. Barksdale also applied to General Early to reinforce Colonel Griffin, but received none. General Hays was sent to Taylor's Hill with three regiments of his brigade. These three regiments, and the section of Washington Artillery, behaved nobly, and drove back the column that advanced against Taylor's Hill—if, indeed, the movement of this column was not a feint to draw off troops from Marye's Hill. While these movements were going on, the Federals sent a flag of truce to Colonel Griffin for the humane purpose of removing his wounded that had fallen in the assaults made in the morning. With that generous chivalry, characteristic of that battle-scarred veteran—not suspecting a ‘Yankee trick’—this truce was granted, and the enemy, with one eye on their wounded, and the other on our trenches, discovered that our redoubts were nearly stripped of their guns, and our infantry of the Eighteenth regiment stretched out to less than a single rank, along the line defended by Cobb's and Kershaw's brigades and thirty-two guns on the 13th of December, 1862.

The discovery emboldened him, and as the last wounded Federal was taken from the field, a concentrated fire, from thirty or forty [422] pieces of artillery posted in the city and on Stafford's Heights, was directed on Marye's Hill, and three columns of infantry seemed to rise out of the earth, and rushed forward with demoniac shouts and yells—one from a valley in front of Marye's Hill, one from the city on the plank road, and up the valley of Hazel Run. The Twenty-first regiment and Miller's gun repulsed the column on the plank road, and drove it back twice. The right wing of the Eighteenth regiment, the two guns of the first company, and Parker's gun on Willis's Hill, drove back the column that advanced up Hazel Run. The centre column that advanced from the valley, directly in front of Marye's Hill, moved steadily forward until it passed the point where it could be reached by Miller's gun, and proved too much for the left wing of the Eighteenth regiment, and three companies of the Twenty-first regiment, and, by an impetuous charge, broke through the battle-worn ranks of the ever-glorious Eighteenth, and overwhelmed the line at the stone-fence by jumping into the sunken road, and bayoneted and shot down many of our boys after they surrendered. Colonel T. M. Griffin, of Madison county; Lieutenant-Colonel W. Henry Luse, of Yazoo county, and Lieutenant J. Clark, of Jackson, were captured. Major J. C. Campbell, of Jackson, was wounded, but made his escape, and died in a few days. Lieutenant Mackey, of Madison county, was wounded, and died in Fredericksburg. Adjutant Oscar Stuart, of Jackson, Lieutenant H. T. Garrison, Lieutenant S. T. Fort, and William Cowen, were killed by drunken soldiers after they surrendered. One-half of the Eighteenth, and three companies of the Twenty-first, were killed or captured in the road. The enemy rushed forward up the hill, and taking advantage of a ravine, between Marye's Hill and the redoubt occupied by the first company of Washington Artillery, gained the rear of the company while in the act of pouring shell and cannister upon the mass advancing over the field before them. Many of the enemy were drunk, and shot down some of the artillerists after they surrendered. The first company lost two guns. Sergeant W. West, a gallant soldier, killed while placing his gun in position; Private Florence and others killed after surrendering. Captain Earnest and nine others wounded. Captain Squiers, Captain Edward Owen, and Lieutenant Galbreath, and about twenty-five others, were captured. Parker's Battery lost its gun and half the men.

The first intimation I had of the disaster at the stone-wall was from a sharpshooter's minnie-ball striking the vizor of my cap, and driving it back against and blinding for the time my left eye. This attracted [423] my attention to Marye's Hill, and though I could only ‘go one eye on it,’ I saw enough to satisfy myself that I was cut off from the brigade, with the enemy on my right flank. I attempted to change front, and form on the plank road facing Marye's Hill, but soon found that road enfiladed by a battery near Mary Washington's monument, which forced us to retreat. Lieutenant Price Tappan, of Vicksburg, and Frank Ingraham, of Claiborne county, both accomplished soldiers and gentlemen, were killed and left on the hill. Lieutenant Mills, of Leake county, lost his leg, and was captured. The third company of the Washington Artillery lost its gun and some of the men. The fourth company lost its two guns. Lieutenant De Russy was knocked down by a fragment of shell and badly contused. Privates Lewis and Maury killed, and several captured.

The whole story of the 3d of May, 1863, at Marye's Hill, was fully told, though not amiably expressed, by a noble son of Louisiana, who gallantly stood by his gun on the hill, until the last hope of holding it had vanished. Passing to the rear by some artillerists belonging to Pendleton's train, with his face covered with sweat and blackened with powder, and his heart saddened by defeat, he was asked, ‘Where are your guns?’ He replied with irritation, ‘Guns! I reckon now the people of the Southern Confederacy are satisfied that Barksdale's brigade and the Washington Artillery can't whip the whole Yankee army.’

The rapid movement of the enemy, advancing over Marye's Hill and on Hazel Run, made me despair of reaching the brigade. My only hope was to reach the main army, then at Chancellorsville, engaged in a furious battle. When, however, I reached Gest's Hill on the plank road, I discovered the enemy had been checked by the Thirteenth and Seventeenth regiments, Frazier's battery from Georgia, Carloton's battery from North Carolina, and the second company of Washington Artillery, then on Lee's Hill. I saw that it was possible for my regiment to cross Hazel Run above Marye's Hill and rejoin the brigade, which move was made and accomplished. General Barksdale, as soon as he saw that Marye's Hill was lost, the Eighteenth regiment shattered, the Washington Artillery captured and the Twenty-first regiment cut off, ordered the Thirteenth and Seventeenth regiments to fall back to Lee's Hill. Adjutant Owen, of Washington Artillery, rallied the second company, under Captain Richardson, to the Telegraph road on Lee's Hill, and opened fire upon the blue mass on Marye's Hill. Barksdale rallied the remnant [424] of the Eighteenth regiment and the three companies of the Twenty-first regiment, and posted the Thirteenth regiment on the right of the Telegraph road; the left wing, under Major Bradley, resting its left company under the brave Captain G. L. Donald immediately on the road; the right wing under Colonel Carter, Lieutenant-Colonel McElroy and the accomplished adjutant, E. Harmon, in rear of the redoubts on Lee's Hill occupied by Frazier and Carloton.

Colonel Wm. D. Holder, of Pontotoc, posted the Seventeenth regiment on the left of the Telegraph road, the right wing under the chivalrous Lieutenant-Colonel C. Fiser, of Panola county, and the left wing under the command of the brave Major W. R. Duff, of Calhoun county, and immediately engaged the advancing enemy. This timely and judicious disposition of our troops, and their stubborn daring, checked the enemy, and enabled me to reach the Telegraph road, with the Twenty-first regiment. The enemy, however, pushed forward his troops under cover of the brow of the hill and concealed by the smoke of the artillery, almost to the muzzles of the guns of the second company of Washington Artillery, shot down some of the horses, wounded several of the men and forced them to limber to the rear, leaving one gun.

The ranks were rapidly wasting away under the deadly fire. General Sedgwick was pushing his blue lines over Marve's Hill and up the plank road. His serried lines were fast encompassing Lee's Hill, and it was apparent that the Thirteenth and Seventeenth would soon be enveloped and crushed. Barksdale yielded before the impending shock and ordered a retreat.

We fell back along the Telegraph road about two miles to the Mine road. It was now about the middle of the afternoon, and Barksdale's brigade of fifteen hundred Mississippians, and seven guns of the Washington Artillery, with less than two hundred Louisianians, and one gun of Parker's battery, with about twenty Virginians, had been struggling and holding back from Lee's flank and rear Sedgwick's army, variously estimated from eighteen to thirty thousand, from the time he advanced from Deep Run on the 2d to 1 o'clock on the 3d of May. At the Mine road we met General Early with his division, which had been lying all day at Hamilton station, expecting Sedgwick to move that way. General Early immediately formed line of battle on the main road and across the Telegraph road. The enemy did not pursue us. A few wagons, mistaking the road, followed [425] after us, but retired as soon as our artillery fired on them and they discovered our line. We remained in line of battle and bivouacked for the night. Sedgwick moved his main army directly on the plank road to get in the rear of General Lee, who, having received early notice of the loss of Marye's Hill, detached McLaws's division to meet him. General Wilcox, who had been guarding Bank's ford, and General Hays, who had been sent to guard Taylor's Hill, moved back and threw their lines across the plank road at Salem Church. Sedgwick endeavored to push through their lines about sundown, but was repulsed. It now being dark, no further advance was attempted, and both armies bivouacked for the night. At sunrise next morning, General Early, in obedience to orders received during the night from General Lee, moved his division and Barksdale's brigade down the Telegraph road toward Fredericksburg, and found no difficulty in taking possession of Marve's Hill. He ordered Barksdale to reoccupy the trenches at the foot of Marye's Hill and hold back any force that might attempt to advance from the city, while he moved his own division up the plank road to attack Sedgwick in the rear.

Let us now pause and look at the extraordinary position the various portions of the two contending armies found themselves in on the morning of the 4th of May, after six days marching, fighting and counter-marching. A heavy force of Federals—about fifteen thousand—occupied Fredericksburg and Stafford Heights; Barksdale and Early., with their backs to each other on the plank road, with five thousand men, between Fredericksburg and Sedgwick; Sedgwick between Early and Lee, with twenty thousand men; Lee, with Anderson, McLaws and Wilcox, between Sedgwick and Hooker's main army,— with twenty thousand men; Hooker's main army ninety thousand strong—between Lee and Stuart; Stuart, now commanding Stonewall Jackson's corps, with twenty-five thousand men; all stretched along a straight road within a space of twelve miles. Who could foretell the result of this mighty, but unfinished contest? Who could estimate its vast complications? Stonewall Jackson was wounded, and lay languishing upon his litter; Longstreet and D. H. Hill were absent. Robert E. Lee alone, of all the master spirits of the struggling hosts, could comprehend the situation, and by his mastery over that situation successfully worked out the result, and illustrated his vast superiority over all the great captains that opposed him. With the genius that never deserted him in his greatest trials, [426] he boldly issued his orders. Barksdale was ordered to hold back any Federal force left in Fredericksburg, Stuart and Anderson were ordered to threaten Chancellorsville, while, in person, Lee advanced with McLaws and Wilcox and a portion of Anderson's division, composed of Posey's and Perry's brigades, to attack Sedgwick in front, while Early attacked in the rear. Sedgwick, finding himself attacked front and rear by fifteen thousand men, instead of being able to attack Lee in his rear, hurriedly and rapidly retired by his right flank toward Banks's ford, and recrossed the Rappahannock that night. Lee, thus relieved of the presence of Sedgwick, moved McLaws and Early toward Chancellorsville to support Anderson and Stuart, who had been threatening, but were now ordered to engage Hooker. Early on the 5th, Hooker, perplexed by his ‘Dutch entanglement,’ and alarmed by the failure of Sedgwick, declined the fight and retreated toward the Rappahannock and crossed at the United States ford. Thus, Lee, with an army of less than fifty thousand men, all arms—ragged, half-rationed, and badly equipped—successfully met an army of over one hundred and twenty thousand men, magnificently equipped, and on ground chosen by themselves and partly fortified. For five long days he maintained the unequal contest—skillfully foiled every effort of the enemy to gain his rear—drove Sedgwick from his flank—gained the rear of Hooker's ninety thousand men at Chancellorsville by the brilliant movement of Stonewall Jackson, and, by bold and gallant daring and heroic assaults, drove back the ‘finest army on the planet,’ routed and in disorder, beyond the Rappahannock.

The loss of the entire brigade was six hundred and six officers and men; Washington Artillery, about seventy officers and men; Parker's Battery, about ten officers and men.

The battle of Chancellorsville, fought from Fredericksburg to the Wilderness, along two almost parallel roads—the ‘Plank Road’ and the ‘Old Turnpike’—is justly regarded one of the proudest achievements of Southern arms. Military critics are puzzled at the result. Lee knew with absolute certainty that Hooker had over 20, 0000 men. Hooker knew with equal certainty that Lee had less than 50,000 men. Hooker moved over 90,000 to Chancellorsville, and left Sedgwick in front of Fredericksburg with over 30,000. Why did Sedgwick cross a portion of his army over the river at [427] Deep Run on the 29th of April? Was the movement premature, or was it made to threaten and hold Lee at Fredericksburg until Hooker could slip through the Wilderness and fall upon the flank and rear of Lee's army? If so, why did Hooker halt at Chancellorsville, and commence fortifying on the 30th of April? After Lee moved up to Chancellorsville, and confronted Hooker on the 1st of May, why were Hooker and Sedgwick both inactive? They knew that Lee had divided his army. Hooker and Sedgwick each had an army—had they been Confederate soldiers—that could have vanquished either half of Lee's army, if that half had been any other than Confederate soldiers. Yet they both remained inactive until Jackson gained the extreme right flank of Hooker's army on the 2d with fully half of Lee's army, and drove back the right wing of Hooker's army upon his centre. Then Sedgwick began to move in earnest on the 3d of May, and Hooker remained on the defensive with his ninety thousand against forty-five thousand. From the number of men that Hooker knew Jackson had on his right flank, stirring up his Dutch, he must have known that Lee had but few left between him and Sedgwick. Yet Hooker remained defending his ninety thousand as best he could against Anderson's twelve thousand and Jackson's twenty-five thousand, and let Lee turn towards Fredericksburg with two divisions—eight thousand men—on the 4th of May, and in hearing distance of Hooker, drive Sedgwick, with his twenty thousand, across the Rappahannock; and on the 5th became alarmed for the safety of his ninety thousand, and precipitately recrossed the river. That didn't look to the Rebels like ‘pulverizing the rebellion’ much.

Had Hooker been a Lee, and Sedgwick a Jackson, Sedgwick would have moved out of Deep Run with his 30,000, square across the plateau between Barksdale and Early during the night of the 1st of May, and presented himself on the hills on the Mine road; General Early would have been captured or routed back to North Anna, Barksdale would have evacuated Marye's Hill, and, perhaps, made his escape by the plank road and gained Lee, and Jackson would not have made his flank movement to Hooker's right flank. Still, then, nothing but action on the part of both Hooker and Sedgwick would have prevailed. If General Hooker had prudently remained at Chancellorsville, defending his ninety thousand men against half of Lee's army, now reduced by the loss of Early, Stonewall Jackson would have turned upon Sedgwick with the other half of [428] Lee's army and pushed him back across his pontoons at Fredericksburg, and returned toward Chancellorsville and struck Hooker on his left flank, drove in his left wing upon his centre, and Lee would have pushed the whole disordered mass through the Wilderness and across the Rapidan. But if Hooker had been a Johnston or a Longstreet on the morning of the 2d of May, with 90,000 men at Chancellorsville; and had Sedgwick been a Beauregard, a D. H. Hill, or a Hood, with 30,000 men on the hills back of Fredericksburg, a joint, active, closing — in movement would have been made upon Lee, and Lee would have been crushed upon the plank road, and that would have looked like ‘pulverizing the rebellion.’ But Sedgwick was not the real Beauregard, or Hill, or Hood; Hooker was not the real Johnston or Longstreet. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson knew their men. They knew the vain and boastful Hooker, and the courteous and cautious, if not timid, Sedgwick, and upon that knowledge they ventured upon movements that puzzled military science, and by that partial prowess of the ‘Confederate soldier,’ that has placed the name of American above all the names of earth, they worked out a result at once glorious to the now prostrate and down-trodden South, and disgraceful to the numerical superiority of the domineering North. But it is easier to criticise than to convince or perform. The Confederate army is now dispersed, the rebellion is pulverized, and the problem is solved. One Dixie cannot whip ten Yankees, and it is no longer ‘loyal,’ and, perhaps, no longer safe, for an unpardoned ‘rebel and traitor’ so called, to tell his thoughts, except in bated breath and whispers. The sun of the Southern Confederacy has gone down in blood forever. The bright orb of ‘The Union’—that child of destiny, conceived in treason to an established Government, and brought forth in rebellion against a lawful sovereign—is again arising in all its effulgent and aggressive grandeur and glory; and, having shaken from its name the incubus of constitutions and the heresy of rights ‘reserved to the States and to the people,’ now sheds its defiant but ‘rehabilitating’ rays over all nations, tongues, and peoples. ‘It is finished.’

Henceforth let treason become odious; let rebellion stink in the nostrils of the people; let the divine right of ‘The Union’ to rule be acknowledged; let humble, submissive, and silent adoration be given.

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