Reports of Col. E. P. Alexander, C. S. Artillery, Commanding Artillery Battalion,
First Army Corps, and Acting Chief of Artillery, Second Corps.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
MAY 23, 1863.
Maj. G. MOXLEY SORREL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Corps.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my battalion in the recent engagements on the Rappahannock:
Marching from Carmel Church, Caroline County, at 1 p.m. on the 29th ultimo, we reached the Plank road at its intersection with the Mine road at 10 a.m. on the 30th. Captain [Tyler C.] Jordan's battery was here put into position, an attack being threatened, and the rest of the battalion held in reserve near by.
On the morning of the 1st instant, Lieutenant [J. Thompson] Brown [jr.], with his section of [William W.] Parker's battery, was sent to man two 10-pounder Parrotts assigned to Parker from [A. B.] Rhett's battery (then detached from the battalion). These guns, by order of General Lee, were left in position on Marye's Hill, under Lieutenant Brown. About 1 p.m. the general advance toward Chancellorsville commenced. Captain Jordan's battery, detached, was sent with the advance infantry on the turnpike. The rest of the battalion--comprising [George V.] Moody with four guns, [Pichegru] Woolfolk jr. with four guns, Parker with two guns, and Lieutenant [O. B.] Taylor with four guns-moved at the head of the infantry column under General Jackson on the Plank road. Captain Jordan was engaged very obstinately on the turnpike, and suffered in both men and horses, but eventually broke the enemy's infantry by his effective firing, and drove off a six-gun battery which engaged him at short range. On the Plank road the rest of the battalion was slightly engaged, the enemy falling back before our advance, and by night we held the ground immediately in front of his fortified position at Chancellorsville. In this advance Lieut. James Woolfolk rendered conspicuous service, accompanying our advance skirmishers with a howitzer.
On the morning of the 2d, orders were received to fall in, the column marching under General Jackson to turn the enemy's flank, and in the afternoon the battalion was held in reserve during the attack near Wilderness Church, there being no opportunity to use artillery. The advance of the infantry was followed up and the night spent in the field. I was called during the night to the command of the artillery on the field by the wounding of Colonel [S.] Crutchfield.
The battalion, under Major [Frank] Huger, took an active and honorable part in the fight on Sunday morning, the 3d instant, Lieutenant Taylor being detached and fighting on the Plank road, the rest of the battalion in the field to the south, where it was joined during the action by Captain Jordan, who arrived with Anderson's division. After the victory of the morning, I resumed the command of the battalion, and was ordered down the Plank road to the assistance of General McLaws, then fighting near Salem Church. The fighting was over, however, before we arrived. We bivouacked near the field.
On the morning of the 4th, I received orders to post guns to prevent General [John] Sedgwick from forcing his way up the River road to the position occupied by General [Joseph] Hooker, and accordingly posted Captain Jordan's battery (which had returned from shelling enemy's camp at United States Ford) on a commanding bluff, where he intrenched himself. Captain Parker was sent to the assistance of Major [R. A.] Hardaway, who, with several rifled pieces, was directed to drive off a battery of the enemy on the north bank of the river overlooking Banks' Ford, which was done in the afternoon. The rest of the battalion, under Major Huger, was ordered to support General Anderson's attack on the right; followed it up, but was not engaged. During the afternoon, in anticipation of the enemy's retreat that night, I marked points of direction to Banks' Ford for night firing, and notified General Lee. About 10 p.m. orders were received to fire upon the ford over which the enemy was retreating. This was done by Captains Jordan and Parker all night and occasionally by other batteries. The enemy's accounts represent this fire to have been destructive.
On the morning of the 5th, I received orders to accompany Capt. S. R. Johnston, of the Engineers, to reconnoiter a position whence the line of battle of the enemy beyond Mine Run could be reached. I accordingly moved the whole battalion by the River road to the vicinity, and during the night had six pits partially completed by our cannoneers and some infantry, and, at dawn on the 6th instant, I moved into the pits Lieutenant Taylor's four Napoleons and a section of Captain Jordan's battery, under Lieut. J. Donnell Smith, the whole under command of Captain Jordan. The enemy had constructed during the night intrenchments across the river, about 800 yards distant, to prevent the occupation of this point, and at daylight opened a severe fire on the men employed in completing our unfinished works.
About 9 a.m., the enemy's firing being still kept up and proving very annoying, I endeavored to drive him off with Captain Moody's battery. Captain Parker's battery, and a 24-pounder howitzer of Captain Woolfolk's; seven guns in all. They took position in front of enemy's batteries, and opened, assisted by the guns in the pits. The enemy returned the fire of the guns on the field from their pits, and opened two new batteries on our right, against which none of our guns could be brought to bear. The duel was kept up for a half hour briskly, when, finding that the enemy were too well sheltered in the pits to be run off (though his fire was much reduced), and his two batteries on the right of our pits punished them severely, exploding two ammunition chests and destroying a third, while we could make no reply to them, I ordered the firing to cease.
It was discovered in the meantime that the enemy had evacuated their line of battle behind Mine Run, and our work was consequently useless. I accordingly withdrew the guns not in pits to camp; those in the pits remained silent under occasional but most accurate shots from the enemy until dark, when Captain Jordan withdrew them successfully.
During the day one of Lieutenant Taylor's guns had a wheel shot off, but another was immediately substituted. Lieutenant Brown's section of Parker's battery was captured on Marye's Hill, where it was left by order, as heretofore stated, after a severe and gallant fight, protracted until after the enemy's flag was within our works, and in which there is evidence that they suffered loss. The bodies of 1 of the men and 7 of the horses were found where it fought.
Our total loss is 6 killed, 35 wounded, 21 prisoners and missing, and 46 horses killed, disabled, and captured.
I am, major, very respectfully, yours,
E. P. ALEXANDER,
Colonel, Commanding Battalion.
HEADQUARTERS ARTILLERY, LONGSTREET'S CORPS,
East Tennessee, March 7, 1864.
Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry, Army Northern Virginia.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the artillery in the assault on Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863:
Being called to the command of the artillery on the field by the wounding of Colonel [S.] Crutchfield, I reported to you at 10 p.m. on the night of the 2d, and was directed to reconnoiter the ground during the night and post the necessary guns by dawn for an early attack. A careful examination showed that our attack must be made entirely through the dense wood in front of us, the enemy holding his edge of it with infantry, protected by abatis and breastwork s, supported by a numerous and powerful artillery in the fields behind, within canister range of the woods. There were but two outlets through which our artillery could be moved--one the Plank road, debouching within 400 yards of twenty-seven of the enemy's guns, protected by breastworks and enfiladed for a long distance by a part of them, as well as by two guns behind a breastwork thrown up across the road abreast of their line of abatis and infantry cover; the second outlet was a cleared vista or lane through the pines (a half mile to the south of the Plank road), some 200 yards long by 25 wide. This opened upon a cleared ridge, held by the enemy's artillery, about 400 yards distant. This vista Was reached from the Plank road by two small roads- No. 1 leaving the Plank road near our infantry lines and running parallel with and close behind them to the head of the vista, where it crossed them and went perpendicularly down the vista to the enemy's position; thence it bore to the left or north, and, crossing a ravine, came up on the plateau in front of Chancellorsville, at the south end of the enemy's line of artillery breastworks. Road No. 2 left the Plank road a half mile behind our lines, and ran into road No. 1 at the head of the vista.
At dawn I posted seventeen guns as follows: Capt. E. A. Marye, of Walker's battalion, with two Napoleons and two rifles, in the Plank road where it was crossed by our advanced tines of infantry; Captain [E. B.] Brunson, of Walker's battalion, with four rifles, also in the Plank road a short distance in rear of Captain Marye, to fire over his head and to his right and left over our infantry (in no other way could sufficient fire be thrown down the Plank road); Captain [R. C. M.] Page, of Carter's battalion, with three Napoleons, was placed in thin woods on road No. 1,300 yards south of Plank road, to fire upon their infantry lines until the enemy were started from their cover, when he was to advance down road No. I through the vista and join the artillery force which would operate there; Lieutenant [John H.] Chamberlayne, with two Napoleons, was masked in the pines at the head of the vista, to assist the infantry in forcing a passage through it and to advance with them; Major [W. J.] Pegram, of Walker's battalion, was placed with four Napoleons on road No. 2, 400 yards in rear of the vista, on a small cleared knoll, to fire over the pines at enemy's smoke, and advance down road No. 2 through the vista as soon as a start was made in front. The rest of the artillery (Alexander's, Carter's, Jones', McIntosh's, and part of Walker's battalion) was held in reserve in rear.
About daylight the attack was commenced vigorously. Within ninety minutes the enemy were driven from the ridge in front of the vista, and the guns designated for this work (under Pegram, Page, and Chamberlayne) at once moved out and occupied it, having a fine field of fire, both at the enemy's breastworks and artillery, and somewhat of a flank fire upon those of their guns which commanded the Plank road. These guns were immediately re-enforced by ten guns of my own battalion, under Major [Frank] Huger, Captains [George V.] Moody, [P.] Woolfolk [jr.], and[William W.] Parker, and by Lieutenants-Colonel [T. H.] Carter's and Major [D. G.] Mclntosh's battalions, Thompson's battery, and McGraw s and Davidson s batteries, of Walker's battalion. Their fire was assisted by Jordan's battery, of Alexander's battalion, which here came in on the right with Anderson's division. Capt. O. B. Taylor, with four Napoleons and part of Colonel Jones' battalion, was shortly afterward advanced upon the Plank road to re-enforce our fire down it and into the woods on the right and left.
About 9 a.m. the magnificent fire of our guns on the right, and the steady advance of our infantry, which had routed the enemy from the abatis lines, and was beginning to fire upon his intrenched artillery and forming for a charge, proved too much for the enemy's nerve, and with one accord his entire artillery limbered up and abandoned their breastworks, and retreated to the immediate vicinity of the Chancellorsville house, whence they again opened heavily. Our infantry meanwhile followed and occupied their works, firing on their retreat, while all the artillery on the right limbered up and moved forward, taking position under their abandoned breastworks and in the field to the south of them, and reopened upon the position of Chancellorsville, assisted by the artillery on the Plank road. This was accomplished successfully under a hot and enfilading fire, and our guns, when opened, speedily drove the enemy from this his third position. His guns having taken refuge behind the houses, our guns were for a while directed on them, and the large brick tavern was set on fire and burned, General Hooker, who had taken shelter in it, being wounded there.
At 10 a.m. the enemy retreated down the road toward United States Ford, and took refuge behind the heavy works, which served as a tete depont to his crossing, and eventually covered his retreat. This assault must ever be memorable for its fierceness, vigor, and success, against superior numbers and a position that might well be deemed impregnable, and I consider the part borne by the artillery, in its prompt and thorough co-operation with the gallant assaults of the infantry, as the most brilliant page of its history. Its loss was heavy, but I cannot now specify it for the lack of reports of subordinate officers. For the same reason I am unable to mention the names of all of the gallant officers and men who particularly distinguished themselves during the action.
For the earnest and efficient co-operation of Col. R. L. Walker, commanding artillery Second Corps: Col. Thomas H. Carter, Col. H. P. Jones, Major Mcintosh, Maj. William J. Pegram, and Maj. Frank Huger, commanding battalions, and the officers and men of their commands, I desire to express the deep obligation which I feel. Though most of them are veterans of many fields, on few of them can their courage have stood a severer test, and on none brought forth more glorious results. To Major Pegram and Lieutenant Chamberlayne is specially due the credit of the first footing in the field on the right.
By the desire of their commanding officers, I beg to make honorable mention particularly of Captain [Greenlee] Davidson, Lieut. John Morris, ordnance officer, Sergt. Maj. St. G. [R.] Fitzhugh, and Private Mike Rand, orderly, all of Walker's battalion; and Lieutenants [James] Sillers, [Dent] Burroughs, [James] Woolfolk, [Thaddeus C.] Leake, [T. H.] Mercer, and [William D.] Terrell, Sergeants [J. C.] Hallowell, [James] Dwyer, Nick Terrell, E T. Woolfolk and [P A.] Cason, Corporals [John] Slater and [E. H.] Revere, and Privates [Joseph S.] Hurt and [John L.] Dennard, of Alexander's battalion.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. P. ALEXANDER,
Brigadier-General of Artillery.
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