Reports of Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson, C. S. Army, Commanding Division.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
NEAR FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
June 6, 1863.
Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,
A. A. and I. G. and Chief of Staff, Army of Northern Virginia,
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the division under my command during the late engagements along the Rappahannock:
Before April 29, the brigades were posted as follows: Mahone's and Posey's, at United States Ford; Wilcox's, at Banks' Ford; Perry's, near the Old Mine road, about 3 miles west of Fredericksburg; and Wright's, at Massaponax Church.
On the morning of April 29, when the enemy crossed the river at the mouth of Deep Run, Wright's brigade was brought up from Massaponax Church, and placed to the left and rear of Major General Early's position.
Later in the day it was ordered to take post near Perry's brigade, and at dark the latter was moved to the river, to relieve such of the troops of McLaws' division as were on duty above Fredericksburg and opposite Falmouth.
About 9 p.m. the same day, I received orders from the commanding general to repair to Chancellorsville, and to make such a disposition of the two brigades (Mahone's and Posey's) which had been posted at United States Ford as to check the advance of the enemy, who had crossed the Rappahannock at the fords above the Rapidan, and were approaching Ely's and Germanna Fords on the latter river. I proceeded to obey these directions, and ordered Brigadier-General Wright to move his brigade to Chancellorsville.
Upon arriving at Chancellorsville at midnight, I found that Brigadier-General Mahone had already occupied that place with the troops from United States Ford, having left a regiment from his own and five companies of the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment, from Posey's brigade, to hold the ford as long as possible. I learned also that the enemy had crossed the Rapidan at Ely's and Germanna Fords, capturing, after a very obstinate resistance, the greater part of a working party and picket which had been stationed at the latter place. After consultation with Brigadier-Generals Mahone and Posey, and an examination of the position at Chancellorsville, I decided upon falling back from that place to the point on the Plank road at which the Old Mine road crosses it, and this was done early on the morning of April 30, Wright's brigade, which had arrived at daylight, and the force which had been left at United States Ford, being withdrawn at the same time. Wright's and Posey's brigades retired from Chancellorsville by the Plank road, and Mahone's by the old turnpike. While they were moving off, and before the pickets had been called in, the cavalry of the enemy, under cover of fog and rain, dashed upon the picket on the Ely's Ford road and captured a part of one company. They subsequently attacked the rear guard of Mahone's brigade, but were so effectually repulsed that we were no further annoyed by them during the movement.
Upon arriving at the intersection of the Old Mine and Plank roads, I met Col. W. P. Smith, chief engineer Army of Northern Virginia, and Captain [S. R.] Johnston, of the Engineer Corps, who had been sent by the commanding general to examine the position and establish a line of intrenchments. The work of intrenching was commenced immediately after the line had been selected, and was continued with great diligence and activity throughout that day, the night following, and the early part of the next morning.
During the day there were occasional skirmishes with the enemy's cavalry, who had followed from Chancellorsville. In the afternoon Colonel [T. H.] Owen, commanding Third Regiment Virginia Cavalry, joined me with his regiment, and threw out pickets to the front and upon each flank.
A little before sunrise on May 1, Major-General McLaws, having come up with his division, strengthened the force immediately in front, and secured our right flank by occupying the trenches along Mott's Run. At 8 a.m. Lieutenant-General Jackson arrived. By his orders the work on the trenches was discontinued, and the troops were put in readiness for an advance, Wilcox's and Perry's brigades, which had been left above Fredericksburg, being at the same time ordered to join their division. The advance commenced at 11 a.m., Mahone's brigade, with [Tyler C.] Jordan's Battery, of [E. P.] Alexander's battalion, leading the movement on the old turnpike, and Wright's and Posey's brigades, with the other batteries of Alexander's battalion, leading on the Plank road. Colonel Owen's regiment of cavalry was employed reconnoitering these roads and others diverging from them. When the troops on the Plank road had advanced about 2 miles, the enemy was discovered in considerable force. They opened on us with artillery, and seemed determined to resist our farther progress. Brigadier-General Wright was directed to follow with his brigade the line of the unfinished Fredericksburg and Gordonsville Railroad, to threaten their right and to compel them to fall back. This was executed with spirit and rapidity, and the enemy fell back with precipitation before our advance, which was resumed soon afterward. General Wright continued to follow the line of the railroad without opposition until he arrived at the Catherine (or Welford's) Furnace, where he had a sharp encounter with a superior force of the enemy. Darkness put a stop to this conflict, without any decided results having been attained, and at 11 o'clock at night, in obedience to orders from Lieutenant-General Jackson, he returned to the Plank road, along which Posey's brigade had in the meantime advanced to within a short distance of the enemy's intrenchments around Chancellorsville. Mahone's brigade had in like manner fought its way along the old turnpike to a point about 1 mile from Chancellorsville. Wilcox's and Perry's brigades, in coming up from Fredericksburg, had been directed to follow the old turnpike, and during the afternoon had co-operated with McLaws' division.
A little before daylight on May 2, Wilcox's brigade was ordered to resume the position at Banks' Ford from which it had been withdrawn.
The night of the 1st and morning of May 2 passed quietly. At 7 a.m. Posey's brigade moved a little to the rear of the line of battle, having been relieved by that of Brigadier-General Thomas. When Lieutenant-General Jackson's command moved against the enemy's right, the position immediately on the left of the Plank road which had been held by a part of his troops was taken by Wright's brigade. At midday the enemy appeared in some force at the furnace. Posey's brigade was sent to dislodge him, and was soon engaged in a warm skirmish with him. The increasing numbers of the enemy made it necessary to move Wright's brigade to the support of Posey's, and Mahone's was at the same time moved over from the old turnpike to the position just left by Wright's. Posey's brigade gallantly maintained its position against great odds, and checked the farther advance of the enemy. Perry's brigade rejoined me at dark. During the night, Posey's brigade constructed a line of breastworks.
At daylight on the 3d, Perry's brigade was directed to gain the Catharpin road and move toward the furnace.
At sunrise, when it was supposed that General Perry had had time to reach the vicinity of the furnace, General Posey's skirmishers were pushed forward toward it, and it was discovered that the enemy had retired. Soon afterward, in obedience to the directions of the commanding general, my whole force was advanced toward Chancellorsville, Mahone's brigade having its right on the Plank road, and Wright's, Posey's, and Perry's successively forming a line of battle on the left of and nearly perpendicular to that portion of the Plank road between us and Chancellorsville. The troops pressed forward with spirited impetuosity and with as much rapidity as was permitted by the dense thickets and tangled abatis through which they were obliged to force their way. After a short and sharp encounter, they drove the enemy from his intrenchments. Wright's brigade was the first to reach Chancellorsville, at which place it captured a large number of prisoners. The other brigades coming up immediately afterward, the division was placed in line along the old turnpike to the east of Chancellorsville.
A little after midday, Mahone's brigade was detached, by order of the commanding general, to operate with McLaws' division against the enemy, who were then reported to be moving from Fredericksburg up the Plank road. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon I proceeded, in obedience to instructions, with Wright's, Perry's, and Posey's brigades, to the River road, below United States Ford, to watch that road, and to threaten the enemy's communications and his line of retreat from Chancellorsville. Major [R. A.] Hardaway, with fourteen pieces of rifled artillery, was attached to my command. Upon arriving at the River road, I found the enemy strongly posted on Mine Run, and when I had completed a reconnaissance of his position, it was too late to effect anything that evening.
Captain Johnston, of the Engineer Corps, who accompanied me, having discovered large parks of the enemy's wagons and the camps of some of his troops on the opposite side of the river, Major Hardaway was directed to post his guns at daybreak on the 4th at a point indicated by Captain Johnston, and to open a hot fire upon the parks and camps. This was executed as directed, and, I believe, with good effect.
Soon afterward our skirmishers were pushed forward, with orders to drive back those of the enemy, and to discover his position and strength. This was accomplished without delay, the enemy being found in force fortifying a high ridge between Mine Run and the road connecting United States Ford and Chancellorsville. Just at this time, I received orders to march with my division toward Fredericksburg and report to Major-General McLaws, at Salem Church, on the Plank road, being relieved from duty at this point by General Heth's command. I arrived at Salem Church with my command at 11 a.m., and reported, as directed, to Major-General McLaws.
At 12 m., in obedience to the directions of the commanding general, my division was placed in line of battle on the left of Major-General Early's, which was occupying Marye's Hill and the heights extending west from Fredericksburg. The general direction of the enemy's line was parallel with the Plank road. At 6 p.m., the signal to advance being given, Early's division and my own marched rapidly upon the enemy's position, and drove him from it without much trouble, meeting with but slight resistance. Wright's brigade advanced with great intrepidity across a wheat field, under a hot fire of grape, and drove one of the enemy's batteries from its position. The enemy retreated toward Banks' Ford, and was followed closely as long as there was light enough to continue the pursuit. At daylight on the 5th, reconnoitering parties discovered that he had disappeared from our side of the river.
At 4 p.m. I received orders to return with my command to the vicinity of Chancellorsville, and at dark I halted the head of the column 1 mile from that place, Wilcox's and Wright's brigades lying in bivouac on the Catharpin road; Mahone's, Perry's, and Posey's on the Plank road.
At 8 a.m. on the 6th, the division was moved forward to a position at the junction of the Ely's Ford and United States Ford roads. At 11 a m., in obedience to the orders of the commanding general, I marched toward Fredericksburg, and in the afternoon returned to the position which had been occupied by the division previously to these operations. Wilcox's and Mahone's brigades, after being detached from my command, participated in the fight at Salem Church.
I cannot too highly commend the gallant conduct of the division which I had the honor and good fortune to command. Where all performed their duty with so much zeal and courage, it is almost impossible to make a distinction; but Brigadier-General Posey and his brave, untiring, persevering Mississippians seem to me to deserve especial notice. Their steadiness at the furnace on Saturday evening, when pressed by greatly superior numbers, saved our army from great peril, while their chivalrous charge upon the trenches on Sunday contributed largely to the successes of that day. After three days and nights of incessant occupation, Saturday night was again passed by them in hard work upon intrenchments in front of the furnace, while the others had an opportunity to take some rest.
But it would be doing injustice to Brigadier-General Wilcox to pass unnoticed his own gallant conduct and that of his troops at Salem Church, where they bore almost the whole brunt of the enemy's onset, and successfully repelled it; to Brigadier-General Mahone, to omit to mention his bold, skillful, and successful management, so well seconded by his brave Virginians; to Brigadier-General Wright and his high-spirited, fearless Georgians, whose attack at the furnace on the evening of the 1st, and whose unflinching advance against the enemy's guns under a heavy fire of grape on the evening of the 4th, excited the admiration of all who saw them; and to Brigadier-General Perry and his heroic little band of Floridians, who showed a courage as intrepid as that of any others in their assault upon the enemy in his intrenchments on the 3d, and in their subsequent advance upon Chancellorsville.
Lieutenant-Colonel [John J.] Garnett and Majors [R. A.] Hardaway and [Charles] Richardson, commanders of artillery, distinguished themselves by their activity, skill, and courage.
I beg leave also to mention the meritious services and general good conduct of the members of my staff--Majs. T. S. Mills beg leave also to mention the meritorious services and general and R. P. Duncan, assistant adjutant and inspector generals; Lieuts. William McWillie and S. D. Shannon, aides-de camp, and Messrs. R. D. Spann, James G. Spann, and E. J. Means, volunteer aides-decamp.
Capt. E. N. Thurston, ordnance officer; Surgs. J. McF. Gaston and H. D. Fraser; Maj. J. A. Johnston, chief quartermaster, and Maj. William C. Wingfield, chief commissary of the division, rendered valuable services by their careful and unremitting attention to their duties.
The reports of the brigade and artillery battalion commanders are herewith respectfully submitted.
The loss of the division in these operations was: Killed, 186; wounded, 1,049; missing, 210. Total, 1,445.
I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
R. H. ANDERSON,
Major-General, Commanding Division.
HEADQUARTERS ANDERSON'S DIVISION,
May 18, 1863.
Maj. G. MOXLEY SORREL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, First Army Corps.
MAJOR: I have the honor to forward the flag of the One hundred and second Pennsylvania Regiment. This flag was not actually taken in battle, but was found by General Wilcox's brigade in the river at the point where the enemy had their bridges down.
I also forward another flag, which seems to have been an electioneering flag of the Whig party, used some years ago. It was found on the front of the Fourteenth Alabama, when facing the enemy at the Birch Church. Probably it was taken by the enemy from some house in the vicinity.
I am, major, your obedient servant,
THOS. S. MILLS,
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