Personal Reminiscences of 
the Battle of Chancellorsville 
by Charles H. Doerflinger


Installed in Wis. Hist. Comm. Mar. 18, 1911

Familiar History of The Twenty-sixth Regiment

Wisconsin Volunteers Infantry.

Personal Reminiscences of the Battle of Chancellorsville;

particularly on Hawkins' Field.

By Chas. H. Doerflinger.

First L’t, Co. B and K.- Act. Capt. in command of Co. K on Hawkins' Field.

        In the winter of 1886-87, during a temporary sojourn at our national capital, the beautiful “City of Magnificent Distances", I de­cided to satisfy a long entertained desire to see once more that gory field of sorrow and glory combined, Chancellorsville, and particularly the section embracing the Hawkins Farm and Wilderness Church.
        Taking an early train with my wife, who was deeply interested, to Fredericksburg, we there procured a breakfast of many Old Dominion dishes at the reasonable rate of fifty cents, and as a dessert a book of poetry written by the vivacious hostess on her travels in Europe, for one dollar. The next substantial acquisition was a double team with a carriage that may, have served George and Martha Washington, for all I know, with an intelli­gent and polite colored citizen for a driver, who as a boy of twelve had been one of a posse or army of children detailed after that very battle 24 years before, to collect every vestige of anything having any value, particularly tin canteens, that had belonged to our comrades, many, thousands of whom fell there, most of them never to rise again. He knew well every foot of ground, including the Hawkins field, where he introduced us to one of the survivors of “Old Virginia”, one of the sons of "Old Man Chancellor". Mr. & Mrs. Chancellor Jr. received us pleasantly. Though early in January, we Wisconsinians had found the Virginia sun uncomfort­ably warm, and we were not surprised, but rather envied the lady of the house, when we noticed her lower extremities clad in the biblical, com­fortable, healthy and hearty style which “Salome” has recently modernized; she was taking her noontide rest with her feet before the embers in the old-fashioned fireplace which reminded me of the smaller ones we built into our log-cabins - 6 x 6, two bunks high - in our winter quarters 48 years ago. Near it stood one of the cast-iron tripod skillets with depressed cover for top-embers, such as I used on the great plains in 1860, when creating for our party of Pike’s Peakers some of those solid masterpieces of confectioner's art, " salaratus biskets" beautifully variegated in green and yellow after our cream of tartar had given out; beside these melancholy dispepsia reminiscences of 1860, it conjured up also pleasanter recollections of 1862, when on picket duty we paid a good U. S. dollar for each “Johnny cake” baked by the Virginia beauties whose husbands or brothers were or seemed absent, possibly lying in ambush for us somewhere in the wilderness.
        Our intelligent and genial host took a very sensible and loyal view of the results of the Civil War. I remember particularly this statement of his: “We know very well what ailed us Southerners; we were not taught to work; we have learnt it now, and we are teaching our children that lesson; we are all better for it." This is the spirit that makes us ready to shake the hand of friendship with men who once may have "taken a bead on us."
        The survivors of the Hawkins family still lived in the large two-story frame farm house that was Gen. Schurz’s headquarters during this battle, after which it was used as a temporary field hospital. It seemed to have been moved farther to the North on higher ground and near the timber where some of our seriously wounded comrades had sought shelter and were incinerated when the grove was accidentally set on fire by a shell. We found the three ladies still living who had taken refuge in the cellar during the night of May 1st 1863 and were permitted to make their escape. One of them, upon learning that I was one of the Union men wounded on May 2d, indulged in the following spirited pleasantry, referring to Gen. Hooker's proclamation: “I should think you would not wish to see the place again where you were defeated after boasting so”.
        The Chancellor cottage is near the head of Hunting Creek, just below the grove that surrounded the picturesque little turretet" Wilderness" Church, to the right and left of which the 26th Wis. marched to its fight­ing line in the Hawkins field on the morning of May 2d 1863, after camp­ing on the slope to the East 'and digging rifle pits along the turnpike, on the ridge south of the Church, listening with new sensations to the un­familiar military concert of shells roaring or purring along over our heads at various distances and heights.
        Our interesting excursion gave us in two neighboring habitations and experience of the shades of difference in the sentiments of older and younger generations of our reaffiliated southern compatriots still prevalent in those days, when the recollections of the deadly combat and its fruits of suffering and losses were still fresh in the minds of the survivors. After a pleasant parting accompanied by good wishes, we collected some relics and then devoted out time to a review of the Hawkins battlefield and the timbers to the West and South where Stonewall Jackson’s avalanche first struck the unwarned boys of the right flank of Devens' Division at about 5:15 P.M. on that fatal 2d day of May 1863, to the story of which I will now proceed.
        Gen. Carl Schurz, convinced by the reports of the heroic Capt. Dilger (Leatherbreeches) and other officers who ha-d made reconnaissances, that an attack from the right flank was imminent, on his own responsibility and with the reluctant assent of the corps commander had in the course of the afternoon ordered 5 regiments of his command to change front to the West on the Hawkins field where the 26th Wisconsin, the 58th New York and the 82nd Illinois were placed in line of battle about 75 yards East of the heavy timber, and the 82. Ohio and 157. New York in reserve in the rear near the Hawkins house. The Sharpshooter Company of our regiment, composed of the 10 best riflemen of each of the 10 companies, was then ordered forward into the timber and there deployed as a skirmish line covering the Brigade, Capt. Pizzala in command at the right wing, 1st Lt. A. Wallber at the left wing and 1st Lt. C. H. Doerflinger at the center.
        Soon we were startled-by the boom of cannon and the new experience of the rattle of musketry in a Southwesterly direction. Not knowing whether it came from our own or the confederate forces, our excitement and suspense was intense. Being stationed on somewhat level and low ground. I first detected bodies skipping from tree to tree far back in the dusky forest; a few minutes later I could recognize human figures, still later the gray uniforms; and I sent word to the Captain who warned us not to fire, fearing the gray might be an illusion. Soon, however, the enemy’s dense skirmish line, advancing upon us rapidly, left no doubt, and we began firing, our boys taking cover, as well as possible behind trees; there was no time to send for orders to the Captain, who was on higher ground where he could not yet see the enemy. The enemy's skirmish line in a dense mass was close upon us when we were ordered to rally on our regiment.
        After surprising, crushing and rolling up the “right flank in the air” of our army on the turnpike with the right wing of his army (about 13,000 of his 30,000 men ) Jackson had advanced through the forest with the other 17,000 men of his center and left, formed in column by brigades, to follow up the success with his usual impetuosity. Arriving at the edge of the timber he was evidently surprised to find a hot reception from a line of battle stubbornly holding its ground in the face of overwhelming numbers. Here that dashing and quick-witted fighter and brilliant flanker probably made one of his few mistakes; supposing that our little line of about 20,000 men would not risk such unflinching resistance, firing volley upon volley at the dense mass of his great army assembling at the edge of the field only 75 yards distant. He could easily in a double-quick charge have killed or captured every man of us, but he stopped to reconnoiter, deploying his left and swinging it around our right flank in a large curve. At this time (between 5:45 and 6 P.M. Gen. Krzyzanowski, our Brigade Commander, who was at our right and saw that we were in danger of total annihilation, gave the order to retreat. Co. W. H. Jacobs who proved to be as brave as he had been a good administrator, and who loved and was proud of his Twenty-Sixth, hesitated to give the order to retreat, so that Gen. Krzyzanowski, whom I recollect vividly, galloping along leaning forward on his black steed under the hall of lead in the fashion of his Polish county men, turned to the men directly, crying" For God's sake, men, fall back!" ­As a witness to this I mention Louis Manz, who has served Uncle Sam, faith­fully nearly half a century since the war in the Milwaukee Post Office.
        It may seem strange that even where grim death has its harvest, it is possible to discover elements of humor such as the following. When our skirmish-line was ordered to rally upon the regiment, each squad of 10 sharpshooters had to report to its company. While we were waiting for the enemy in the forest, the line of battle had been moved some distance by the right flank, and we were somewhat bewildered when emerging from the woods, not to see our regiment or company just where we had left it. I found myself directly opposite the color-guard of the 58th New York when I started on my “home-run” in double-quick across the intervening space of about 75 yards; before I was half-way, the boys of the 58th, seeing the enemy appearing in great numbers at the edge of the timber, began to shout to us to hurry so as to clear the space for their fire; and we did hurry; we then and there annihilated all our previous records for 75 yard runs. At about the same time I felt that some part of my accouterment on the left side had given way; instinctively grasping for whatever it might be, I caught the straps of a leather pouch and of a haversack in my left hand, they had both been severed by a bullet, without halting, I continued in the tallest running match of my life, seemingly swinging my booty, i.e. my own provisions, in triumph, while the sword, in my right in its gyrations seemed thirsting for blood and the metal scabbard on my left was indented and bent by another bullet. Fortunately or unfortunately, no kodaks and kodak-fiends existed in those days to perpetuate such interesting and often ludicrous events for the edification of posterity. The humor of the occasion certainly was at once completely obliterated by the tragic fate of a large number of comrades of our company of sharpshooters who did not live to see the light of the next morning or their cherished regimental colors. Capt. Pizzala was probably singled out by one of Jackson’s marksmen and instantly killed, shot thru the head.
        Passing thru the color guard of the 58th New York during the rally of the sharpshooters. I turned to the right and maintaining my speed reached my company in a few seconds; looking around for my Captain, Schueler, to report to him, I could not find him; he had been hit and carried to the rear; he died two days after amputation of a leg. As was my duty, I immediately took-command of the company, and proceeding to its right wing and front noticed that there was a space of perhaps ten yards between it and the next company to the right; there had evidently been no time after the shift to the right to close up by a "right dress"; the other company was partly hidden from the enemy; but its left wing was exposed particularly to the deadly fire of the enemy's sharpshooters.
        My left ankle having been completely shattered by a bullet, I could not rise; rapidly weakening on account of a great loss of blood, I calmly awaited death; however, I counted 6 ranks of the victors passing over me, then lost consciousness; regaining this during the cool night and suffering from thirst, I fount that my tin canteen had been taking {written line missing} about 17 hours after I was wounded.
        It was there that Neukirch, a young man of noble avid amiable traits, belonging to one of the Milwaukee Old Settlers' families, received the mortal wound of which he afterward died. The wounded boys were carried to the Hawkins farm house which had been Gen. Schurz’s headquarters. The worst cases, mainly belonging to the 26th Wisconsin, covered the floors of all the rooms lying so closely together that our surgeons (there were only two for hundreds of cases) could with difficulty pick their way between them; the majority were housed in little shelter tents, commonly called dog tents, exposed to all kinds of weather, unavoidable, want and neglect, until about eleven days later they were paroled at United States Ford of the Rappahannock River, having their shattered bones shaken in ambulances, that had to make their way over debris, roots and stones, partly where nearly four hundred pieces of artillery had made a hell out of the beautiful forest, and left a scene of destruction now still plainly to be recognized in the crippling of many large trees.
        The above described incidents and others to be related further on left impressions so indelible, that my recollection of them is vivid even now.
        At the time of the surprise at Chancellorsville my eyesight was perfect and its power of adjustment thru miles of distance instantaneous, marvelous compared with present possibilities. This assures the reader that what observations I did make at that remote time, were reasonably reliable, Many comrades tell of simultaneous occurrences which escaped my attention, probably because I was so intent upon my immediate and paramount duty: the observation of my own men for whom I was responsible, and of the enemy who was fast reducing our numbers and might at any time make a charge. Thus, I noticed not a single one of the deer, rabbits, birds, and other animals that had been driven toward us by the advance of the Confederate army thru the timber, and then fled in terror to the North between the two firing lines; nor did I see the perambulant baker with his push-cart who came in the same direction earlier. As soon as he heard Jackson’s first cannon shot along the Turnpike and the following rattle of musketry, he instinctively, notwithstanding his fear, sold out his fresh wheat bread to our boys at “boom” prices and then hurried away to regions unknown "to save his bacon".
        This sketch is written at the request of my distinguished Comrade Chas. E. Estabrook, chairman of the "Wisconsin History Commission”, in the spirit which I understood from his remarks was to pervade the work of that commission, which was appointed under an act of the Wisconsin Legislature, and whose purpose seems to have been to perpetuate a familiar, comradely story of the life, adventures, hardships, deeds and achievements of the Boys in Blue, as a means of stimulating in our descendants that idealistic, patriotism, self-abnegating altruism and enduring fidelity, which prevailed during the time of the American Revolution and again characterized American manhood and womanhood during the long and fearful trial of the great Civil War.
        The writer asks the reader to accept the above plain and simple state­ment as an earnest of his intention to make the following account of the grander and more important phases of the battle of Chancellorsville an expression of his conviction as to the facts and the truth, as a participant in the event, and either an eye-witness or basified transmitter of informa­tion he received from what he considered reliable sources.
        The 26th Wisconsin had for its patron saint, so to say, Major General Franz Sigel; At came into existence like some regiments in other states under a general movement inspired by exiles who had fought for liberty under his command or were otherwise connected with the German republican movement of 1848 and wished to join him in the war against human slavery. It was baptized “Sigel Regiment” and better known by that name than by its number at Milwaukee, where a large majority of its members were enlisted. The European enthusiasm for Sigel had been revived by his early participation in the energetic action of the German-American citizens of St. Louis and Missouri generally, to whose initiative was due the rescue of that doubtful State for the Union.
        The rank and file as well as the officers of this regiment were, with few exceptions of equally good quality of German birth or descent. Its military spirit and good discipline were mainly due to the character of the personal, partly to the fact that so many of our men of maturer age had learnt subordination in the old country, first as boys under the wholesome little stick of their dutiful mothers and well-trained teachers, and later as soldiers of liberty. Partly it was due to the energy and laudable ambition of Col. Wm. H. Jacobs, Lt. Col. Hans Boebel, Major Henry Baetz, Capt. (later Colonel and General) F. C. Winkler, First Lt. (later Capt. and Lt. Col.) Francis Lackner, and a large number of other officers whose spirit was dominated by the determination to do “at least" their full duty at all times, at any sacrifice and at all hazards, a principle inculcated into their nature under the German system of education which considers the development of character and powers of the first importance, though it also gives full attention and by the best rational methods to the imparting of positive knowledge not only in the 3 Rs, but in many other subjects that are equally necessary and indispensable for the development of intelligent., efficient good citizenship and real self-government.
        The ranks of the regiment were nearly completed in August 1862, and after a month of drill, it left Camp Sigel and Milwaukee for the seat of war on the 6th of October 1862. Ladies had supplied their fathers, husbands, brothers, sweethearts or sons, as the case might be, with bouquets fastened in the muzzles of the old English Enfield rifles with which we were then equipped. I remember a noble woman who kept pace on the sidewalk with her only son marching in the street; she was leading two little girls who were smiling and wafting farewells to their big brother; the mother suppressed by an extreme effort her anguish and her tears, in order not to depress the spirit of her boy, who was her and the little girls only reliance. A railroad trip of three days and nights in uncomfortable freight cars brought us to Baltimore and Washington; a large percentage of the boys arrived there with their legs swollen enormously; some of them had to be left behind in a temporary hospital at Baltimore; many of them, the writer included, insisted on continuing with the regiment notwithstanding their elephantic limbs, the delicious and plentiful steamed oysters of Baltimore notwithstanding.
        We then had a short period of constant drill near Arlington Heights, where the first results of "army grub" and indigestion had to be overcome, by frequent and strong doses of some remedies that may originally have been invented for horses, and where, emancipated from the fostering care of woman, we were put thru a full course of the coarsest domestic science before our regiment was considered fit to go into the field, finish its education for picket duty and as part of the guard to protect " our national capital and our national bureaucrats", as some of the boys put it in good natured jest; also for the higher duty of acting as one of the footballs between the Union and Confederate professional coaches who had been for a year or so practicing a new combination of regular game with “hide and seek” all over the territory between the Potomac, Shenandoah Valley and the James River, winding up with the "stuck-in-the-mud" Fredericksburg campaign in December 1862.
        During the winter this military High School added new courses to its curriculum, as for instance the construction of log cabins, bunks, mattresses, sweet-brier pipes and chess figures; and for the esthetic daubing of log-chimneys with that stickiest of all substances, Virginia red clay which was discovered in many varieties and exploited in every possible experiment by Burnside’s artillery and our boys who were kept busy all day at one place or another pulling it out of holes “knee deep”. Arid still we had not seen a genuine “rebel" yet, except an occasional guerrilla posing as a peaceful citizen at his fireside and watching with eager eyes his wife's Johnny-cake gold mine.
        German commanders who had had practical experience in the revolutionary and other wars in the old country, had prevented the complete destruction of our troops at the two Bull Run disasters by courageously and skillfully covering the retreat at important points and moments. It was probably for this reason that the Eleventh Corps under Maj. Gen. Sigel, to which the 26th Wisconsin had been assigned in Brig. Gen. Krzyzanowski’s Brigade and Maj. Gen. Schurz’s Division, was selected for the honor of bringing up the rear. Neither our old country veterans nor we of the younger generation relished the onerous, tedious and dreary task. Like the whole people of the North, we were tired of camping, marching and countermarching in the bottomless clay, the “three days and nights” system of picket service in the mixed rain, sleet and snow of a Virginia winter, with "nothing doing" that could bring to light the “baton of command” which each of us know-like Napoleon's grenadiers- fate had snugly tucked away somewhere in his knapsack. We were weary of sham midnight calls to arms (arranged by Gen. Sigel, of course) to see how quickly we could appear in our company boulevards with all our tin-cups and other accouterments safely strapped on; we were surfeited with the sham tactics of daily drill and sham strategy or tragedies of our knee-deep marches. We knew all about them. We yearned for the real things, such as we got four months later.
        But this was only the reflection of the impatience which pervaded the whole north and brought Abraham Lincoln and his paladins still greater worry, more sleepless nights and it seems like a miracle, a still firmer determination to surmount all difficulties and maintain the Union.
        After Gen. McClellan, a man of great parts in command of the largest force the loyal government had yet marshaled, had failed to achieve the expected results, the general clamor for victories compelled the Washington authorities to undertake the Fredericksburg campaign as a forlorn hope, and our gallant commander Gen. Burnside undertook the task fully conscious that he was offering himself as a victim to circumstances and the popular demand. Our boys of the Twenty-Sixth, though also infected to a slight degree by that general epidemic thru letters and a certain class of newspapers, maintained a good spirit, performing their hard duties in a loyal humor; confidence and good feelings toward officers were the rule, as was also that stern sense of duty on the part of the officers not only in strictly military matters, but in the ever watchful control of the Commissary Department by the Colonel and his staff. Once a general and his suite passing our camp were hailed by some of the boys of another regiment which happened to be near us and was noted for its unruliness with the cry: “Crackers, Crackers”, because the supplies, probably on account of bad roads or threatened raids, had really been insufficient. The “Criers” as far as found out, were put on extra fatigue or picket duty without extra rations, and that closed the dramatic incident.
        Gen. Sigel, probably incited by some injudicious and ambitious friends, took umbrage because he was offered the command of the Army of the Potomac, he being the ranking corps-commander, and he withdrew from the field service. Gen. Sigel never having been given an opportunity to prove his ability to direct independently the operations of so large an army, no-one can ever decide whether or not the government made a mistake in slighting him. We, who had enlisted under his banner, regretted and were displeased that he resigned the command of our Eleventh Corps. We had unlimited confidence in him. We knew from our strenuous drilling, picket and other service that he kept the reins well in hand, that he was conscientiously alert: to his duty, watchful of all approaches, and we loved him because he had always been among the pioneer fighters for and defenders of human liberty in the old fatherland as well as in Missouri. The spirit of bur corps was excellent, and it was a mistake that no special effort was made to induce Sigel to stay, rather than change the command at a time when people were peremptorily demanding a decisive “advance upon Richmond”, foreshadowing events in the near future that would make confidence and a good spirit generally in the various Corps particularly desirable. This was a case of if swapping the horse while crossing the river".
        With the shattered, terribly decimated arid disappointed army which Gen. Burnside, the patriot and hero, the obedient soldier good and true, led into the jaws of death across the Rappahannock, feeling that a probably impossible task had been assigned to him, we returned to the vicinity of our old winter quarters near Stafford Court House, and again took up the necessary but tedious routine of drill, skirmish, tapget and picket practice.
        Though we did not hold Burnside responsible for the Fredericksburg disaster, the necessity of “something new”, “of something doing", of “a change”, was in the air, and when the news came that Gen. Burnside was superseded by Gen. Hooker, whose familiar title “Fighting Joe” carried inspiration, a wave of relief, of new hope, passed thru our long lines of blue traversing the hills, the valleys and plains of Northern Virginia.
        Every one of us green soldiers now became a strategian; euchre, whist, “ramsh", and chess lost some of their charm; in every dog-tent, and log-hut forced marches, grand evolutions, night attacks and other surprises were planned and executed, and great victories marked out and won on the pounded clay floors. Hooker’s energy accomplished a fine reorganization of the whole Army of the Potomac which was in splendid condition and excellent spirit when he had completed his audacious plan to surprise. Gen. Robert E. Lee in his own familiar lair. He succeeded above the most sanguine expectations by well calculated feints to secretly throw nearly a hundred thousand mien across the Rappahannock and thru the dense and difficult “Wilderness if on its southern bank, into what his proclamation, read to us in the forenoon of May 2. 1862, justly termed it an impregnable position leaving Lee only the alternative either to fight the decisive battle, or to fly, Hooker's brilliant strategem was completely successful until May 1st, and is considered a masterpiece of strategy by European authorities. But then began a series of incomprehensible, certainly unexplained mistakes which led to another useless loss of 11,000 killed and wounded.
        That a man of Hooker’s quality and patriotism under the responsibility of such a great impending battle should have indulged in whiskey to an extent so as to impair his mental power, ought not to find credence without positive proof; I prefer to believe there was some other, some accidental, inculpable cause, not fully recognized at the time by the General Staff (who might have applied the remedy) such as the shock the General received when his head was struck by a portion of the veranda of the Chancellor House that had been struck by a cannon ball or shell. His brain may have been affected without recognition by himself or by his staff. It was not at all in accordance with “Fighting Joes" record, that he remained almost inactive on the 30th of April, the 1st of May, and the 2nd of May, while Gen. Rob. E. Lee, recovering from the terrible surprise became very active at once, and with his flanking genius Stonewall Jackson rapidly turned the tables on him, taking from him one by one all the advantages of his truly " impregnable position" 'and making him retreat, if not fly, It ingloriously" with an army fully 50% larger-as well as better fed and equipped than all the forces under Lee's command.
        The Twenty-Sixth Wisconsin belonging to Gen. Krzyzanowski’s Brigade in Gen. Schurz’s Division of the Eleventh Corps, then under Maj., Gen, O.O. Howard, broke camp near Stafford Court House on April 27th; it crossed the Rappahannock River on pontoons at Kelly’s Ford about midnight of April 27th and continuing the march all night, in a drizzling rain much of the time, crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford on the 29th where a small detachment of the enemy was driven off, and after a short sleep in the mud or water between the corn hills of a level field, arrived at Locust Grove, near Chancellorsville early on Thursday, April 30th.
        The Eleventh Corps formed the extreme right of the Army of the Potomac, mostly extended in a thin line along the Turnpike, Von Gilsa’s brigade of Devens' division being the Corps' extreme right wing “in the air”, about two miles and one quarter from Hooker's Headquarters at Chancellor House. After having seen again in a calm mood, without any excitement and with nothing to distract me from accurate observation, the battleground on the Hawkins Farm, and having later read the literature on the battle of Chancellorsville available to me, I came to the conclusion that General Carl Schurz’s action in deflecting his troops on the Hawkins Opening to the right and rear, thus presenting to Stonewall Jackson (and his 30,000 men inflamed by their almost miraculous flanking surprise) the only effective battle front, deserves great credit for having prevented by that act of military insight and foresight as well as moral courage before his superior officer, that the euphonious “undecided battle" of Chancellorsville became a disastrous defeat. I am impelled to proclaim this by a sense of justice, though I did not always agree with Mr. Schurz in politics and as to pub1ic po1icy, which was also true in the case of Gen. Sigel.
        Our battle front of 3 regiments on the Hawkins opening embraced only about 2000 men; even including the two reserve regiments (82.Oh. and 157. N.Y.) which were too far in the rear to assist in weathering the Jackson cyclone, there were not more than 3000.
        At precisely 5 P.M. the solid shot fired by the Confederates into the right flank of Devens' Division strung along the Turnpike had given the signal for the vehement general attack which “rolled up” not only that division, but most of the other troops of the 11th and 12th corps stretched out in a single battle front facing South instead of West, except three regiments that had been sent on a “wild goose chase" with Gen. Barlow and several regiments of the 11th corps that had been detailed for picket duty, at various points south of the Turnpike on or near Talley’s and Dowall's farms, and the 5 regiments which thru the intelligence and courageous action of Gen Schurz had the honor to prevent a greater disaster.
        Jackson’s whole army was ordered to advance; but, lo and behold! His Center and left wing (about 17,000 men) were halted by the obstinate resistance of some Yankee skirmishers in the forest and some troops on the Hawkins Farm who maintained a rapid and deadly fire. What did this mean! Had Hooker so quickly succeeded in sending a corps to the succor of his crushed right wing? But no; there were only a few regiments in sight, blocking the way. What did it mean?
        While this enigma was being discussed, Jackson's extreme left which overlapped the right flank of the 26th Wisconsin by at least a quarter­ mile, began to swing around to our rear and threaten the capture or destruction of our entire 5 regiments, when the gallant Gen. Krzyzanowski, saved our thrice decimated brigade by insisting on an immediate retreat.
        But to my best recollection, which agrees quite well with that of other comrades and the time of indications on maps, at least 30 minutes elapsed from the time our sharp shooters line began firing in the forest to the time when the retreat of the brigade was ordered. During that half hour Jackson’s right was prevented from following up its victory on the Turnpike; his whole army lost the force of the impetus given it by the intoxicating success of its flank attack; the delay gave some of our rolled-up and scattered troops along the turnpike time to rally and recover their fighting mood. A half hour in battle is a considerable period; much can develop and happen in 30 minutes, or even 1 minute, to decide the fate of an army,
        It was Deven’s division of the Eleventh Corps, not Schurz’s division that was surprised and rolled up; it had no proper defenses considering its exposed position; the commonest vigilance and cautionary measures against Just such surprises as might be expected when Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were within a day’s march, had been neglected by the headquarters of both the army and the ill-fated corps. The warnings given by reliable officers, that the enemy was moving along our front and toward our right flank were not heeded, they were requited with ridicule and insult at both said headquarters. No troops in the world would have withstood better such a sudden, unexpected onslaught as was made upon our “right flank in the air” by a force three times as numerous.
        Erring is human. The patriotic, loyal and courageous commanding officers, whose errors in judgment alone were responsible for the disaster of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, deserve our compassion, because their conscience was weighted with a terrible burden; but no term of reproach is too severe for those contemptible criminals who conspired in the fabrication of the lies and calumnies heaped upon the Eleventh Corps as a whole and especially its contingent of men and officers of German birth or descent, whom the narrow-minded representatives of prejudiced chauvinism designated as the “Flying-Dutchmen” although their loyalty, their patriotism, their love of liberty, their military spirit and discipline, their culture, their proportion of enlistment and their fighting quality Compared favorably with any other element of our American people.
        To this Battle of Chancellorsville, which was one of the greatest, probably the greatest and saddest disappointment for the friends of the Union during the whole war, the “battle on the Hawkins Field", fought without any effective reserve and with the aid of but one battery by that little band of 2000 " Flying Dutchmen” against 17,000 enthused fighters commanded by the most dashing and fearless of the enemy's generals, Stonewall Jackson, was a glorious overture for which the “Sharpshooter Company" of the Twenty-Sixth Wisconsin had the honor of supplying the prelude
        Thirty-one years later, a lecture before a great assemblage in the Grand Ave. Congregational Church at Milwaukee in 1894, General O. O. Howard spoke with the highest appreciation of the courage and other good qualities of the German soldiers of the Eleventh Army Corps that was formerly under his command.
        During little more than 30 minutes the 26th Wisconsin lost out of less than 650 men 154 killed and wounded, or about one-fourth. Besides, there were some missing, who are supposed to have been wounded and, crawling into the woods to the North were they’re burnt in a fire started by exploding shells. The regiment made an orderly retreat; Adjutant Geo. W. Jones remembers walking up the slope of the hill, east of Hunters' Creek, (also named Gold Run on account of its carrying gold) leisurely with Col. W. H. Jacobs, who bewailed disconsolately the great losses and misfortune of his regiment in its first great battle.
        Every officer, having accepted and often solicited the privileges and emoluments of rank, undoubtedly therewith assumes the full responsibility for those under his command and for his own conduct; he has no shadow of an excuse for cowardice. But the rank and file are not under such special obligations, and new troops are not expected to exhibit much firmness and coolness in their first battles; they are therefore usually favored at first by being placed in positions not very much exposed.
        What is the explanation for the extraordinarily brilliant record of the boys of the Twenty-Sixth Wisconsin in their first battle when attacked by an overwhelming force under one of the most dashing and successful generals of the opposing army?
        After the great French army was completely and quickly vanquished by the German troops at Sedan, the " winged word" was flashed thru all the civilized countries of our terrestrial world, that the German schoolmaster had won that battle and all the scores of battles that had humiliated poor France, the unfortunate victim-of the corruption and malediction of Louis Napoleon's reign. That " winged word" contained the whole truth in a nutshell. It applies with equal force to our case. The German schoolmaster with a "big" but rational stick and method had taught these German -American boys and their ancestors not only knowledge, but obedience to the requirements of duty and the commands of their authorized superiors. I would add another feature; it was not only the German schoolteacher, but still more the German mother who with her hand and a little stick or strap if needed, had always preceded the schoolmaster in teaching those lessons by habituation, beginning almost on the day of birth. In contrast I will state that I frequently heard American-born ex-soldiers boast of having disobeyed and insulted their officers in the field, prolonging our war and increasing our losses.
        General Sherman, I believe said, " War is hell". The civilized nations have long endeavored to obviate that hellish inheritance from savage and barbarous conditions; but until the still uncivilized half of the population of our globe shall have approached a condition and sentiments nearly like those we consider civilized) there can be no general dis­armament, because it might induce Tamerlans and Attilas to again lead their hordes to an onslaught upon the civilized world and its work of culture.
        Therefore we should not risk to rear a population of mollycoddles rolled up in soft cotton to prevent the energizing impacts of life with all its rough edges; and it is to be hoped that the coming generations of Americans will be educated in that respect by their mothers, fathers and teachers as the German soldiers of Sedan were.

Author/Creator: Wisconsin History Commission.
Title: Papers, 1861-1865, 1884-1918.
Quantity: 1.6 c.f. (5 archives boxes)