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LEE PREPARES FOR BATTLE.
ericksburg, Sedgwick caused pontoon bridges to be laid on the night of the 28th, and before daylight Brooks's division crossed near the
April, 1868. place of Franklin's passage,' and captured and drove the Confederate pickets there. Wadsworth's division also crossed. Breastworks were thrown up, and there was every appearance of preparations for passing over a larger force. Pursuant to orders, Sickles now
0 April 30. moved his corps stealthily away, and, marching swiftly, crossed the river at the United States Ford, and hastened to Chancellorsville.
When Lee discovered Hooker's real intentions, he did not fly toward Richmond, as his antagonist supposed he would, but prepared to fight. He
had called “Stonewall” Jackson's large force up from Moss Neck and its vicinity when Sedgwick made his demonstration, and now, with his 'army well in hand, from Hamilton's Crossing, on the railway, to the Rappahannock near the ford just above Falmouth, he determined to strike Hooker immediate and vigorous blows. His object was twofold: First, to secure the passage of the river at Banks's Ford, and thus widen the distance between Sedgwick and the main army; and, secondly, to compel Hooker to fight in his disadvantageous position at Chancellorsville, which was in the midst of a region covered with a dense forest of shrub-oaks and pines, and tangled undergrowth, broken by morasses, hills, and ravines, called The Wilderness, and which extended from a little eastward of Chancellor's house to Mine Run on the west, and several miles southward from the Rapid Anna. With these designs, Lee left General Early, with about nine thousand men and thirty pieces of artillery, to hold his fortified position at Fredericksburg against Sedgwick, and at a little past midnight on the first of May, he put Jackson's column in motion toward Chancellorsville. It joined Anderson's (which, as we have observed, had fallen back from Chancellorsville on the approach of the National forces) at eight o'clock in the morning, near the Tabernacle Church, half way between
1 See page 489, volume II.
? This is a view of the Rappabannock just above Falmouth, as it appeared when the writer sketched it, in June, 1866, looking from the south side of the stream. The river is shallow here, with a rocky bottom, and broken by rocky islands. Nenr the white building seen on the left was Hooker's head-quarters tent (see page 24), at near the close of April. The river is always fordable here at low water.
BATTLE NEAR CHANCELLORSVILLE.
Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, where strong intrenchments were thrown up. There a plank road and a turnpike diverged, and met again at
a Chancellorsville. Along tỉese Jackson ordered a general advance, Owen's cavalry leading. Jackson commanded in person the column on the plank road, and that on the turnpike was led by General L. McLaws.
Hooker had also disposed his army for battle. He was aware of the peri? of fighting with the Wilderness at his back, and had directed his army to move out along the two roads just mentioned, and another leading to Banks's
Ford, to give battle in the open country toward Fredericksburg. a May 1,
In a circular issued that morning," he said head-quarters would be 1863.
at the Tabernacle Church after the movement should commence; but Jackson was there before him, for Hooker's columns did not move until eleven o'clock. At that hour the divisions of Griffin and Humphreys, of Meade's (Fifth) corps pushed out on the left toward Banks's Ford, while Sykes's, of the same corps, supported by Hancock's division, and forming the center column, moved along the turnpike. Slocum's entire corps (Twelfth), with IIoward's (Eleventh) and its batteries, massed in its rear, composing the right column, marched along the plank road.
The left column reached a point in sight of Banks's Ford without opposition, and the right column penetrated an equal distance eastward, without serious resistance. The center was not so fortunate. A little more than a mile in advance of the National works at Chancellorsville its cavalry met the vanguard of the Confederates, and a spirited contest ensued, in which the former were driven back. Then Sykes brought up his entire column, with artillery, and after a severe struggle with McLaws, whose force was deployed in line of battle across the turnpike, with Jordan's battery on the Mine road, he pushed his foe back. At about noon, he gained the advantageous posi
tion of one of the ridges, back of
army. This movement some of the commanders were anxious to make, but circumstances compelled the chief to withhold his sanction. Slocum and Jackson had met on the plank road, and struggled fearfully, until at length the latter was making a serious movement on the flank of his antagonist, and strong columns were overlapping Sykes's flanks. Informed of this, and fearing his army might be beaten in detail
THE FORCES AT CHANCELLORSVILLE.
before he could successfully resist the furious onset of Jackson, Hooker ordered its withdrawal behind his works at Chancellorsville. The retreat was made in good order, the Confederates following close upon the rear of the Nationals. That night the respective chief commanders held councils of war, Hooker at his head-quarters in Charcellor's house, and Lee at his head quarters under some pine trees where the Confederate line crossed the plank road.
Hooker's position for defense was a strong one. Around the Chancellor House was a small clearing, within a dense word, filled, as we have observed, with a tangled undergrowth. In the woods he had constructed breastworks of logs, with trees felled in front so as to form a strong abatis. His cannon commanded these woods, and swept the approaching roads. The question at the council was, Shall we contract and strengthen our lines, and wait for an attack? or, Shall we assail the Confederate position in full force in the morning? General Warren, Hooker's senior engineer officer, and others, were in favor of the offensive. Hooker preferred the defensive attitude, and the latter was chosen. Preparations for a struggle in the morning were then made. The National line extended from the Rappahan ock to the Wilderness Church, two miles west of Chancellorsville. Meade's corps, with a division of Couch's, formed the left; Slocum's and a division of Sickles's the center, and Howard's the right, with Pleasanton's cavalry near. The Confederate line extended from the Mine road on their right to the Catharine Furnace on the left, having the Virginian cavalry of Owen and Wickham on the right, and Stuart's and a part of Fitzhugh Lee's on the left, at the Fur
McLaws's forces occupied the ridge on the east of the Big Meadow Swamp, and Anderson continued the line to the left of McLaws. Such was the general disposition of the opposing forces on the morning of the 2d of May.
Lee was satisfied that his situation was a perilous one, and he was unwilling to risk the danger of making a direct attack upon Hooker. His chief counselor was the bold Jackson, who proposed a secret flank movement with his entire corps present, on the National right, so as to fall upon Hooker's rear. Lee hesitated, because he would have only the divisions of Anderson and McLaws left to oppose both Hooker and Sedgwick, should the latter cross the river and attack. To thus
ALDRICH'S HOUSE. divide his army in the presence of superior numbers might imperil its existence; yet, so much did Lee lean upon Jackson as adviser and executor, that he consented, and the bold movement was at once begun. With full twenty-five thousand men,
1 This is a view of Aldrich's house, as it appeared when sketched by the writer, in June, 1866. It was used during the war as head-quarters by Generals Gregg and Merritt, and other officers of both armies. Near it the first skirmish at the opening of the battle of Chancellorsville occurred. It is rather a picturesque old mansion, on the south side of the plank road, about two miles southeast from Chancellorsville.
STONEWALL JACKSON'S FLANK MOVEMENT.
Jackson turned off from the plank road at Aldrich's, not far from Chancellorsville, and moved swiftly and stealthily through the thick woods, with Stuart's cavalry between him and the Union lines, to the Orange plank road, four miles westward of Chancellorsville. At the same time Lee was attracting the attention of Hooker by vigorous demonstrations on his front, as if he was about to attack in full force. The march of Jackson was not perfectly concealed. So early as eight
o'clock in the morning,' General Birney, who was in command of “ May 2,
Sickles's (First) division, between the Catharine Furnace and
Melzie Chancellor's (Dowdall's tavern), discovered a portion of Jackson's column, under Rodes, crossing Lewis's Creek, and moving rapidly
southward. When informed of this, Sickles made a personal reconnoissance, and dispatched a courier to Hooker with the intelligence. The general impression among the commanders was, that Lee's army was retreating toward Richmond, and Hooker directed Sickles to ascertain the real character of the movement. For that purpose the latter pushed forward Birney's division, followed by Whipple's and Barlow's brigades of Howard's corps.
Cannon were opened on the passing column, which threw it into some confusion, and expelled it from the highway; but
it pressed steadily along the wood paths and a new road opened by it. Then Sickles directed Birney to charge upon it. He did so, and cut off and captured a Georgia (Twenty-third) regiment, five hundred strong, when Birney's farther advance was checked by Colonel Brown's artillery and a brigade under Anderson.
The National troops now held the road over which Jackson had been marching, and preparations were made for a vigorous pursuit of the supposed fugitives. Sickles asked for re-enforcements, when Pleasanton was sent with his cavalry, and Howard and Slocum each forwarded a brigade to help him. But before these forces could be brought to bear upon Jackson, near the Furnace, he had crossed the Orange plank road, and under cover of the dense jungle of the Wilderness, had pushed swiftly northward to the old turnpike and beyond, feeling his enemy at every step. Then he turned his face
toward Chancellorsville, and, just before six o'clock in the May 2.
evening, he burst from the thickets with twenty-five thousand men, and like a sudden, unexpected, and terrible tornado, swept.on toward the flank and rear of Howard's corps, which occupied the National right, the game of the forest-deers, wild turkeys, and hares—flying wildly before him, and becoming to the startled Unionists the heralds of the approaching
DAVID D. BIRNEY.
JACKSON'S ATTACK ON THE ELEVENTH CORPS.
tempest of war. These mute messengers were followed by the sounds of bugles; then by a few shots from approaching skirmishers; then by a tremendous yell from a thousand throats, and a murderous fire from a strong battle line. Jackson, in heavy force, was upon the Eleventh Corps : at the
? moment when the men were preparing for supper and repose, without a suspicion of danger
Devens's division, on the extreme right, received the first blow, and almost instantly the surprised troops, panic-stricken, fled toward the rear, along the line of the corps,
communicating their emotions of alarm to the other divisions.
PLACE OF JACKSON'S ATTACK ON HOWARD." In vain the officers tried to restrain them, and restore order."
The high and commanding position at Talley's, with five guns and many prisoners, was soon in the hands of General R. E. Rodes, who was closely followed by Generals R. E. Colston and A. P. Hill. General Devens was severely wounded, and one-third of his division, including every general and colonel, was either disabled or captured. In the wildest confusion the fugitives rushed along the road toward Chancellorsville, upon the position of General Carl Schurz, whose division had already retreated, in anticipation of the onset, and the turbulent tide of frightened men rolled back upon General A. Von Steinwehr, utterly regardless of the exertions of the commander of the corps and his subordinate officers to check their flight. Only a few regiments, less demoralized than the others, made resistance, and these were
I See Chancellorsville, by Hotchkiss and Allan, page 48.
? Jackson formed his force in three lines of battle perpendicular to the turnpike, and extending about a mile on each side of it. Rodes occupied the front; Colston the next line, two hundred yards in the rear of Rodes, and back of this was A. P. Hill. Two pieces of Stuart's horse-artillery moved with the first line.
3 Howard's corps (Eleventh), as we have observed, occupied the right of the army, and was composed of the divisions of Generals Devens, Carl Schurz, and Steinwehr. Devens was on the right, Schurz in the center, and Steinwehr on the left. Works for the protection of the corps were thrown up parallel to the plank road and the turnpike, facing southward. At the left of these was Steinwehr's division, joining Sickles. Devens, on the extreme right, was west of the intersection of the two roads mentioned, near Talley's house. The mass of his force occupied the works at that place. A portion of the brigades on the extreme right was thrown across the turnpike facing the west, and protected by slight breastworks and an abatis. Two pieces of artillery were on the plank road.
* This was the appearance of the spot when the writer sketched it, in June, 1966. The view is in a little intervale in The Wilderness, through which courses a small tributary of Lewis's Creek, and here crosses the road.
This was General Sigel's old corps, composed of 11,500 men, of whom 4,500 were Germans. Howard had recently taken command of the corps. He was censured at the time, and by General Hooker afterward in his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, for being so illy prepared for an attack in force. This censure seems to be unjust, for the Commander-in-Chief, and General Sickles who had commenced a pursuit of Jackson's column, appear to have been under the impression that the Confederates were retreating toward Richmond. On that afternoon, a short time before the attack, General Hooker wrote to Sedgwick, saying: “We know the enemy is flying-trying to save his trains. Two of Sickles's divisions are among them."-See Swinton's Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, note, page 284. There appears no evidence of any lack of vigilance or skill on the part of Howard, either before or after the attack. No one seems to have suspected the bold and seeming reckless movement of Jackson until the moment when he burst upon Devens with almost the suddedness of a thunderbolt.