JACKSON'S ATTACK ON THE RIGHT AT CHANCELLORSVILLE.
MAJOR GENERAL OLIVER OTIS HOWARD, U. S. A.
(Read January 1, 1888.)
In order that the student
of a battle scene may gather any clear views of the story, he must in some
way acquaint himself with the region of country where the battle occurred.
But the country around Chancellorsville, being for the most part a wilderness,
with but here and there an opening, affords a poor tract for neighborhood
descriptions, pencil sketches, or shapely diagrams.
If, however, we consult the recent maps (no good ones existed before the battle), we notice that the two famous rivers, the Rapidan and the Rappahannock, join at a point due north of Chancellorsville; the waters, now in one river bed, the Rappahannock, run easterly four miles till suddenly at the United States ford they turn and flow south for three miles, and then turning, again course to the east and northeast so as to form a handsome horseshoe bend.
Here on the south shore was General Hooker's battle line the morning of the 2nd of May, 1863. Here his five Army Corps, those of Meade, Slocum, Couch, Sickles and Howard, were deployed. The face was toward the south, and the ranks mainly occupied a ridge nearly parallel with the Rapidan. The left touched the high ground just west of the horseshoe bend, while the bristling front, fringed with skirmishers, ran along, the Mineral Spring road, bent forward to take in the cross roads of Chancellorsville, and then stretching on westerly through lower levels, retired to Dowdall's Tavern. Just beyond Dowdall's was a slight backward hook in the line, partially encircling Talley's hill, a sunny spot in the forest between the Orange plank road and
the Pike. This pike is an old roadway which skirts the western edge
of Talley's farm and makes an agle of some forty degrees with the Orange
At dawn of this eventful day General Hooker was at Chancellorsville; Slocum and Hancock were just in his front; infantry and artillery deployed to the right and left. French's division was in his rear. Meade occupied the extreme left, and my corps, the Eleventh, the right. Sickles connected me with Slocum. Our expansion covered between four and five miles frontage, and Hooker was near the middle point. The main body of our cavalry, under Stoneman, had gone off on a raid upon Lee's communications, and the remainder of the Army of the Potomac was under the sturdy Sedgwick nearer Fredericksburg.
Our opponents, under General Robert E. Lee, the evening before, about two miles distant towards Fredericksburg, were facing us. His army was thus between us and Sedgwick. Lee had immediately with him the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, Rodes, Colston and A. P. Hill, and besides some cavalry under Stuart. He held, for his line of battle, a comparatively short front between the Rappahannock and the Catherine Furnace, not to exceed two miles and a half in extent. His right wing, not far from the river, was behind Mott's Run, which flows due east, and his left was deployed along the Catherine Furnace road.
Could Hooker, the first day of May, have known Lee's exact location, he never could have had a better opportunity for taking the offensive. But he did not know, and had decided not to take the offensive, when he had that day disengaged the few troops which had met the approaching enemy, and ordered all back to the "old position," the Chancellorsville line, which I have just described.
On the preceding Thursday the last of April, the three Corps which constituted the right wing of the army, Meade's, Slocum's and mine, had crossed from the north to the south side of the Rapidan, and by 4 o'clock in the afternoon reached the vicinity of Chancellorsville, where Slocum, who was the senior commander present, established his headquarters. I halted my divisions at. Dowdall's Tavern and encamped them there. Then I rode along the plank road eastward the two miles through the almost contiguous forest to the Chancellorsville House. There I reported to Slocum. He said that the orders were for me to
cover the right of the general line, posting my command near Dowdall's
Tavern. He pointed to a place on the map marked "Mill" near there, on a
branch of Hunting Creek, and said:
"Establish your right there." General Slocum promised, with the Twelfth Corps, to occupy the space from his headquarters to Dowdall's clearing; but finding the distance too great, one of his division commanders sent me word that I must take the last three-quarters of a mile of the plank road. This was done by a brigade of General von Steinwehr, the commander of my left division, though with regret on our part, because it required all the Corps reserves to fill up that gap.
The so-called Dowdall's Tavern was at that time the home of Melzie Chancellor. He had a large family, with several grown people. I placed my headquarters at his house. Before us, facing south along a curving ridge, the right of Von Steinwehr's division was located. He had but two brigades, Barlow on the plank road and Bushbeck to my front. With them he covered a mile, leaving but two regiments for a reserve. These he put some two hundred yards to his rear, near the little "Wilderness Church."
Next to Von Steinwehr came General Carl Schurz's division. First was Captain Dilger's battery. Dilger was one of those brave, handsome, hearty, active young men that everybody likes to have near. He aimed his guns to the southwest, and also to the west along the Orange plank road. Next was Krzyzanowski's brigade, about half on the front and half in reserve. Schurz's right brigade was that of Schimmelpfenning, disposed in the same manner, a part deployed and the remainder kept a few yards back for a reserve. Schurz's front line of infantry extended along the old Turnpike and faced to the southwest.
The right division of the Corps was commanded by General Devens, who was our Attorney General in the cabinet of President Hayes. Devens and I together had carefully reconnoitered both the plank road and the old Turnpike for at least three miles toward the west. After this reconnaisance he established his division, the Second brigade, under McLean, next to Schurz's first; and then pushing out on the pike for half a mile, he deployed the other, Von Gilsa's, "at right angles facing west," connecting his two parts by a thin skirmish line. General von Gilsa's brigade was afterward drawn back, still facing west, at right angles to the
main line, drawn back so as to make a more solid connection, and
so that, constituting as it did the main right flank, the reserves of the
Corps could be brought more properly to its support, by extending its right
to the north, should any enemy by any possible contingency get so far around.
A section of Dieckman's battery, which looked to the west along the old
pike, was located at the angle.
The reserve batteries, twelve guns, were put upon a ridge abreast of the little church and pointed towards the northwest with a view to sweep all approaches to the north of Von Gilsa, firing up a gradually ascending slope. This well-marked ridge, where I stood during the battle, was central and, besides, enabled the artillerymen to enfilade either roadway or meet an attack from South, west or north.
Here on the ridge epaulments for the batteries were constructed, and a long line of cross entrenchments for the battery supports dug extending from the little church northeasterly across all the open country which stretched away from the Tavern to the right of Devens' line. The lines of my Corps, including the reserves and cross entrenchments, thus formed a fairly good fort of large dimensions, with an opening towards Chancellorsville House, and this covered by a forest.
To my great comfort General Sickles, who loved to do generous things, came up on Friday, and with his Corps took from our left Von Steinwehr's three-quarters of a mile of plank road. Thus he relieved from the front line Barlow's large brigade, giving me, besides the several divisions reserves, General Barlow with 1,500 men in reserve. These were massed near the cross entrenchments and held avowedly to support the reserve batteries and protect General Devens' exposed right flank.
As to pickets, each division had a good line of them. My aide, Major Howard, assisted in connecting them between divisions, and during the 2nd of May that fearless and faithful staff officer, Major E. Whittlesey, rode the entire circuit of their front to stimulate the pickets and skirmishes to special activity. Those of Devens were *"thrown out at a distance from a half mile to a mile and stretching well around covering our right flank," 'and those picket posts in front on the pike were over two miles beyond the main line.
*See General Devens' report of Chancellorsville.
The nature of the country
in the neighborhood of the three adjoining farms, Dowdall's, Taley's and
Hawkins', was well known to the Army of the Potomac in subsequent experiences,
never to be forgotten. It is the terrible "Wilderness" of Spottsylvania,
where, later in the war, so many brave men fell. Here were stunted trees,
such as scraggy oaks, bushy firs, cedars and junipers, all entangled with
a thick, almost impenetrable, undergrowth and crisscrossed with an abundance
of wild vines. In places all along the southwest and west front, the forest
appeared impassable, and the skirmishers could only with extreme difficulty
work their way through.
To the officers of the Eleventh Corps the position was never a desirable one. It presented a flank in the air. We were more than four miles south from Ely's Ford, where were Hooker's nearest cavalry flankers.
In his report after the battle General Schurz says: "Our right ought to have been drawn back towards the Rapidan, to rest on that river at or near the month of Hunting Creek, the Corps abandoning so much of the flank road as to enable it to establish a solid line." Yes, but we were ordered to Dowdall's Tavern and not to the Rapidan, three or four miles to our rear. And our right was fixed for us at the "Mill," which, it is true, no longer existed, but the point required was not doubted. Again, this position, which Schurz recommended in his report subsequent to our battle, was that very one into which Hooker's whole army was finally forced. Hooker was so cramped by it that he did not dare to take the offensive. In that position, "solid" and fortified as it was, our army, more in number than Lee's, was so badly handled by the enemy that Hooker at last decided it safer to take it to the north side of the Rappahannock.
The strength of Hooker's five Corps, and still another, Reynolds', which was not far behind, had on the morning of the 2nd of May about ninety thousand electives. The right Corps, the Eleventh, had in all, artillery and infantry, 12,000 men. Lee faced us with his five large divisions, having on the spot about 40,000 rifles, with considerable artillery.
When a youth, my brother and I had a favorite spot in an upper field of my father's farm, from which we were accustomed, after the first symptoms of a coming storm, to watch the
operations of the contending winds, the sudden gusts and whirlwinds;
the sideling swallows excitedly seeking shelter; the swift and swifter,
black and blacker clouds, ever rising higher and pushing their angry fronts
toward us. As we listened we heard the low rumbling from afar; as the storm
came nearer the woods bent forward and shook fiercely their thick branches,
the lightning zigzagged in flashes, and the deep-bassed thunder echoed
more loudly, till there was scarcely an interval between its ominous crashing
discharges. In some such manner came on that battle of May 2nd to the watchers
at Dowdall's Tavern and Talley's farm house.
The first distant symptom occurred the evening of May 1st. There was the sudden crack of rifle shooting. It began with Von Steinwehr's skirmishers, and then passed on to Schurz. Schimmelpfenning pushed out a brigade straight forward toward the southwest and received a sudden fire of artillery from the intruders. They left him and pushed on.
It was "a rolling reconnaissance" evidently to determine, for Lee's and Jackson's information, the position of our flank. They had, however, some more certain knowledge, gained from one or two of the enterprising residents let loose during that Friday by our general forward movement. We forgot these friends to Lee as we excitedly marched to Friday's battle. When we unexpectedly came back some of these residents, with little baskets of provisions in hand, were gone beyond recall. I suspect that the commander of the "rolling reconnaissance" and the said residents formed part of the famous night conference of Lee and Jackson, where cracker boxes served as seats and chairs. General Lee says: "It was, therefore, resolved to endeavor to turn his (Hooker's) right flank and gain his rear, leaving a force in front to hold him in check and conceal the movement. The execution of this plan was entrusted to Lieutenant General Jackson with his three divisions."
Jackson's movement, a stronger indication of battle, began at sunrise Saturday, May 2nd, Rodes, Colston and A. P. Hill, in order, following the old road by the Catherine Furnace and then shoving off farther south to get beyond sight of our men; and then beginning to sweep around by a crossroad, well known to them, up to the 0range plank; and then on, perhaps a mile farther through the wild forest till the old Orange pike was found
and crossed. The Catherine Furnace, nearly opposite Sickles' right,
and Steinwehr's line two and a half miles distant, gave an open reach and
fully exposed the moving column to view. Except at that point, the entire
Confederate force was completely covered by woods and by Stuart's busy
and noisy cavalry.
About sunrise at Dowdall's I heard cheering. It was a hearty sound with too much bass in it for that of the enemy's charge. It was occasioned by the coming of General Hooker, with Colonel Comstock and a few staff officers, riding along slowly and inspecting our lines. Sickles says of this: "It is impossible to pass over without mention the irrepressible enthusiasm of the troops for Major General Hooker, which was evinced in hearty and prolonged cheers as he rode along the lines of the Third, Eleventh and Twelfth Corps."
I was ready, mounted, and with my officers joined the ever-increasing cavalcade. Hooker observed the troops in position. Barlow, who joined me and filled the cross trenches an hour later, had not yet come out of the front line, so that my reserves just at that time were small. He noticed the breastworks, unusually well built by Schurz and Devens. He passed to the extreme right and then returned by the shortest route. As he looked over the barricades, while receiving the salutes and cheers of the men, he said to me: "How strong! How strong!"
I still had much extension, so that there were gaps along Schurz's and Devens' front. Colonel Comstock spoke to me in his quiet way: "General, do close in those spaces!" I said that the woods are thick and entangled; will any one come through there?" "Oh, they may." His suggestion was heeded.
During the forenoon General Sickles discovered Jackson's moving column. It was passing toward Orange Court House, so everybody said. Sickles and I forwarded all reports to General Hooker, now returned to Chancellorsville. Hooker seemed to divine Jackson's purpose, but was in error, to-wit: Lee, caught between us and Sedgwick, an upper and nether millstone, was surely retreating.
About 12, mid-day Sickles received General Hooker's orders to advance southward cautiously. Soon after, perhaps by 2 P. in., there was a stronger apprehension of a conflict, for there was a sharp skirmish in the direction of Catherine Furnace. The rattle of musketry followed; then in a little time was heard the
booming of cannon. I sent the news to every division, and said: "Be
ready!" Slocum went forward to the aid of Sickles, and Hancock was behind
him with support.
Next, the enemy was reported to be in full retreat. General Hooker so telegraphed to Sedgwick, and Captain Moore, of his staff, who had gone out with Birney to see the attack upon Jackson, came hurriedly to me with an order from General Hooker for my general reserve of 1,500 men, Barlow's brigade, which immediately drew out, all being in readiness. Major Howard rode rapidly to Sickles that he might find out exactly where to locate the brigade. He was also to ascertain the nearest route, so as to save time and not to weary the men by a circuitous march.
It was already past 4 p.m. There was much excitement among the groups of officers at the different points of observation. We, who were at Dowdall's, had been watching the enemy's cavalry, which kept pushing through the woods just far enough to receive a, fire and then withdrawing. Devens and his brigade and regimental commanders gathered, in various ways, all the information possible, while from a high point they obtained glimpses of a moving column crossing the plank road and apparently making off. I sent out scouts who returned with reports that the enemy was not more than three or four miles off and in motion. Schurz was anxious, and, with my approval, moved a part of his reserve to the north on Hawkins' farm into good position to cover Devens' flank. Devens held at least two regiments well in hand for the same purpose, and Von Steinwehr's whole division I knew could just face about and defend the same point. A few companies of cavalry came from Pleasanton. I sent them to the woods. "Go out beyond my right; go far and let me know if an assault is coming." All my staff - Asmussen, Meysenburgh, Whittlesey, C. H. Howard, Captain Skofield, Dessauer, Stinson, Schierer and Hoffman, were keenly on the alert. We had not a very good position, it is true, but we did expect to make a strong fight should the enemy come.
General Hooker's "joint order to Slocum and Howard" neither reached me nor, to my knowledge, did it come to Meysenburg, my Adjutant General. From some confused notion, it was issued to "Slocum and Howard," when General Slocum was no longer within two miles, and had not been in command of my
corps at all after Hooker's arrival at Chancellorsville on the preceding
Thursday. Slocum, naturally supposing that I had a copy, would not think
of forwarding a joint order to me after that, and certainly no such order
came to me. But yet General Devens, Schurz and Steinwehr, my division commanders,
and myself did precisely what we would have done had that order come. The
three reserve batteries were put in position and the infantry reserves
held well in hand for the possible emergency.
My aide-de-camp had now returned from Sickles near the Furnace and reported in substance that he (Sickles) was glad to receive the help; that he was about to make a more general attack, having been for some time driving the enemy and expected soon a brilliant result; that he desired to place my reinforcement upon his right flank in the forward movement.
Such was the state of things when, through Captain Moore, his aide-de-camp, General Hooker directed to Sickles' attack at the Furnace all of my general infantry reserves, consisting of Barlow's staunch brigade. General von Steinwehr and I, with Major Howard as guide, went far enough southward to see what was to be done with our men, and to see if Steinwehr's whole division, as was probable, must not swing up to the right in support of Sickles' promised attack. There was no real battle away out there at the Furnace, and General Steinwehr and I returned rapidly to our posts at the Tavern and dismounted.
Meanwhile the Confederate General Rodes, masked by the thick woods, had been reaching his point in the wilderness. At 4 p. m. his men were in position; the line of battle of his own brigade touched the pike west of us with its right and stretched to the north; beyond his brigade came Iverson's in the same line. On the right of the pike was Doles brigade, and to his right Colquitt's. One hundred yards to the rear was Trimble's division (Colston commanding), with Ramseur on the right following Colquitt. After another interval followed the division of A. P. Hill. The advance Confederate division had more men in it than there were in the whole Eleventh corps, now in position. Counting the ranks deep of this formidable column, beginning with the enveloping skirmish line, we find seven ranks, besides the three of file, closers. The majority were brought into a solid mass by the entanglements of the forest, and gave our men the
idea that battalions were formed in close columns doubled on the
With as little noise as possible, a little after 5 p. m., the steady advance of the enemy began. Its first lively effects, like a cloud of dust driven before a coming shower, appeared in the startled rabbits, squirrels, quail and other game flying wildly hither and thither in evident terror, and escaping where possible into adjacent clearings.
The foremost men of Doles' brigade took about half an hour to strike our advanced picket on the pike. This picket, of course, created no delay. Fifteen minutes later Doles reached our skirmishers, who seem to have resisted effectively for a few minutes, for it required a main line to dislodge them. Doles, concerning the next check he received, says: "After a resistance of about ten minutes, we drove him (Devens) from his position on the left and carried his battery of two guns, caissons and horses." This was the fire which Von Steinwehr and I heard at Dowdall's Tavern after our return from Barlow. Somebody's guns thundered away for a few short minutes, and then came the fitful rattle of musketry; and before I could again get into the saddle there arose the ceaseless roar of the terrible storm.
I sent out my chief of staff, Colonel Asmussen, who was the first officer to mount, saying: "The firing is in front of Devens; go and see if all is in order on the extreme right." He instantly turned and galloped away. I mounted and set off for a prominent place in the rear of Schurz's line, so as to change front to the northwest of every brigade southeast of the front of attack, if, perchance, the attack should extend beyond Devens' right flank, for it was divined at once that the enemy was now west of Devens. Very soon I could see numbers of our men, not the few stragglers that always fly like the chaff at the first breeze, but scores of them rushing into the forest opening, some with arms and some without, running or falling before they got behind the cover of Devens' reserves and before Schurz's waiting masses could deploy at all or charge.
The noise and the smoke thrilled the air with excitement, and to add to it Dieckman's guns and caissons from the extreme right, with battery men scattered, rolled and tumbled like runaway wagons and carts in a thronged city. The guns and the masses of the right brigade struck the second line of Devens before
McLean's front had given way, and, quicker than it could be told,
with all the fury of the wildest hail storm, everything, every sort of
organization that lay in the path of the mad current of panic-stricken
men, as at the close of "Bull Run," had to give way and be broken into
My own horse seemed to catch the fury; he sprang, he rose high on his hind legs and fell over, throwing me to the ground. My aide-de-camp, Dessauer, was struck by a shot and killed, and for a few moments I was as helpless as any of the men who were speeding without arms to the rear. But faithful orderlies helped me to remount. Schurz was yet doing all he could to face regiments about and sent them to Devens' northern flank to help the few which still held firm. Devens, already badly wounded, and several of his officers were doing similar work.
I rode quickly to the reserve batteries. A staff officer of General Hooker, Lieutenant Colonel Dickerson, joined me there; my own staff gathered around me. I was eager to fill the trenches which Barlow with the absent reserves would have held. Bushbeck's second line was ordered to change front there. HIS men kept their ranks, but at first, to my impatience, they appeared slow. "Will they never get there?" Dickerson said:
"Oh, General, see those men coming from that hill way off to the right, and there's the enemy after them? Fire, oh, fire at them! You may stop the fight!"
"No, Colonel," I replied, "I will never fire upon my own men!"
As soon as our men were near enough the batteries opened, firing at first shells, and then cannister, over their heads. As the attacking force emerged from the forest and rushed on the enemy's front men would halt and fire, and, while these were reloading, another set ran before them, halted and fired, these in no regular line, but in such multitudes that our men went down before them like trees in a hurricane.
By extraordinary effort we had filled all our long line of cross entrenchments mainly with fragments of organization and individual soldiers. Many officers running away stopped there and did what they could, but others said, 'We've done all we can, and ran on.' Schierer managed the reserve artillery fairly.
Dilger, the battery commander on Schurz's left, rolled his balls along the plank road and shelled the woods. General von Steinwehr
was at hand, cool, collected and sensible. He had, like Blair at
Atlanta, made his men, who were south of Dowdall's, spring to the reverse
side of their entrenchments and face north ready to fire the instant it
Let us pause here a moment and follow Doles, who led the enemy's attack. He states that after his first successful charge: "The command moved forward at the double-quick to assault the enemy, who had taken up a strong position on the crest of a hill in the open field." This position was the one on Hawkins' farm where Devens' and Schurz' reserves began their fight. But wave after wave of Confederate infantry came upon them, and now even their left flank was unprotected the instant the runaways had passed it by. To our sorrow we, who had eagerly observed their bravery, saw them, too, give way, and the hill and the crest on Hawkins' farm were quickly in the hands of the men in gray.
Doles, who must have been a cool man to see so clearly amid the screeching shells and all the hot excitement of battle, says again: "He" (meaning our forces from Schimmelpfenning's and Bushbeck's brigade, and perhaps part of McLean's, who had faced about and had not yet given away) "made a stubborn resistance from behind a watling fence on a hill thick with pine."
Among the stubborn fighters at this place was Major Jeremiah Williams, of the 2th Ohio. The enemy was drawing near him. His men fired with coolness and deliberation. His right rested among scrubby bushes and saplings, while his left was in comparatively open ground. The fire of the enemy as he approached was murderous, and almost whole platoons of our men were falling, but they held their ground. He waited, rapidly firing, till not more than thirty paces intervened and then ordered, he retreat. Out of 323 men and sixteen commissioned officers in the regiment (25th Ohio), 130 (including five officers) were or wounded. Major Williams brought a part of the living to the breastworks near me; the remainder, he said, were carried to the rear by another regimental commander.
By the delays we had thus far occasioned to the first division of our enemy all his rear lines had closed up, and the broad mass began to appear even below me on my left front to
the south of von Steinwehr's knoll. Then it was, after we had been
fighting an hour, that Sickles' and Pleasanton's guns began to be heard,
for they had faced about near the Furnace and moved obliquely toward the
northwest, and were hurrying artillery, cavalry and infantry into position
to do what they could against the attack of Stonewall Jackson, whose skirmishers
were now reaching them.
I had come to my last practicable stand. The Confederates were slowly advancing, firing, at first, with rapidity, but the battery men kept falling from death and wounds. Suddenly, as if by an order, when a sheet of the enemy's fire reached them, a large number of my men in the supporting trenches vacated their position and went off. No officer ever made more strenuous exertions than those which my staff and others about me put forth to stem the tide of retreat and refill those trenches, but the panic was too great. Soon, indeed, our artillery fire became weaker and weaker. I next ordered a retreat to the edge of the forest toward Chancellorsville, so as to uncover von Steinwehr's knoll the only spot yet firmly held. The batteries, except four pieces, were drawn off and hurried to the rear. The stand at the edge of the forest was made but necessarily a short one.
Von Steinwehr being now exposed from flank and rear, having held his place for over an hour, drew off his small remnants and all moved rapidly through openings and woods, through low grounds and swamps the two miles, to the first high land south of Hooker's headquarters. Dilger steadily kept to our rear along the plank road, firing constantly as he retired. The Confederate masses, partaking of Stonewall's energy, rushed after us in the forest and along all the paths and roads with triumphant shouts and redoubled firing, and so secured much plunder and many prisoners. It was after sundown when I met General Hiram Berry, commanding a brigade, and growing dark as I was ascending the high ground at Chancellorsville. "Well, General, where now?" he asked. I replied: "You take the right of this road and I will take the left and try to defend it."
Our batteries, with numerous others, were on the crest facing to the rear, and as soon as von Steinwehr's troops had cleared the way a terrible cannonade was begun and continued into the night. The battery men fired into the forest, now replete
with Confederates, all disorganized in their exciting chase, and
every effort of General Jackson to advance in that direction in face of
the fire was effectually barred by the artillery and supporting troops.
It was here that the gallant General Berry met his death. Stonewall Jackson also fell that evening from bullet wounds in the forest between Dowdall's Tavern and Berry's position. It was here that officers of the Eleventh Corps, though mortified by defeat, successfully rallied the scattered brigades and divisions, and, after sheltering the batteries, went eventually during the night to replace the men of the Fifth Corps and thereafter defend the left of the line.
Twenty-seven years ago in my report to General Hooker I wrote substantially:
"Now, as to the causes of this disaster to my corps:
"1st. I was limited by orders to the position to be defended. Though constantly threatened and apprised of the moving of the enemy in a westerly direction, yet the woods were so dense that he was able to mass a large force, whose exact whereabouts neither patrols, reconnaissance nor scouts accurately ascertained. Jackson succeeded in forming a column nearly three times my strength behind the forest opposite to and outflanking my right.
2nd. By the panic produced by the enemy's reverse fire from flank and rear regiments and artillery were thrown suddenly upon those in position.
3rd. The absence of General Barlow's brigade, which I had previously located in reserve and in echelon with Colonel von Gilsa, General Devens' right flank, so as to cover that flank. This was the only general reserve I had."
Stonewall Jackson was victorious. Even his enemies praise him, but, fortunately for us, it was the last battle which, under Providence, he waged against the American Union. For, in bold planning, in energy of execution, which he had the power to diffuse in indefatigable activity, and moral ascendancy, Jackson stood head and shoulders above his confreres, and after his death General Lee could not replace him.
Once I was asked: How can you believe in prayer with two Generals equally sincere both praying, but upon opposite sides?" My response is: "Both were favorably answered." Jackson
doubtless plead for success, and never for his own life. He attained
a wonderful success for himself and for Lee, and that against great odds,
and amid the great joy of victory his spark of life went out in a meteoric
splendor. As for me, I was beaten, mortified beyond expression till, like
Jonah watching Ninevah, I wanted to die; but success followed success from
that time to the end of the war, so far as my corps and my men were concerned
and though I went at Chancellorsville through the valley of the shadow
of death, I lived to see my petition fully and abundantly answered in the
success of the Union cause and the reunion of all the states.
Since preparing the foregoing paper I have had a conversation with General Fitzhugh Lee, who commanded a cavalry brigade at the battle of Chancellorsville. He said that he was reconnoitring when he came upon a wooded knoll opposite Von Gilsa's position. Sitting on his horse he could see von Gilsa's men, who appeared to occupy the right of our line, and also the troops of General Schurz in the open field in his rear. He rode back at least a quarter of a mile to where Jackson had intended to start his left when he should advance upon my position. He begged Jackson to ride with him to the wooded knoll, which he did. He says that on reaching the knoll Jackson took a good look through an opening in the trees and, not saying a word, rode rapidly back and moved the left of his command a quarter of a mile farther, resting it near that knoll; then they all made ready and were advanced as I have described. It was that last move which put so many men beyond my right flank.
Papers Read by Companions of the Commandery of the State of Nebraska, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
Volume 1 Omaha: Published by the Commandery 1902
Copy obtained from the Concordia College Library, Moorhead, Mn