The Eleventh Corps At Chancellorsville
Oliver O. Howard, Major General, U.S.A.
The country around Chancellorsville for the most part is a wilderness, with but here and there an opening. If 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; thence the Rappahannock runs easterly for two miles, till suddenly at the United States Ford it turns and flows south for a mile and a half, and then, turning again, completes a horse-shoe bend. Here, on the south shore, was General Hooker's battle-line on the morning of the 2d 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 horse-shoe 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 northern edge of Talley's farm, and makes an angle of some forty degrees with the Orange Plank road.
At dawn of that 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 lines covered between five and six miles of 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, beyond Fredericksburg.
Our opponents, under General Robert E. Lee, the evening before, were about two miles distant toward Fredericksburg, and thus between us and Sedgwick. Lee had immediately with him the divisions of McLaws, Anderson, Rodes, Colston, and A. P. Hill, besides some cavalry under Stuart. He held, for his line of battle, a comparatively short front between the Rappahannock and the Catherine Furnace, not exceeding 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, on 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 after the few troops advancing toward Fredericksburg had met the approaching enemy he 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 that 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 had reached the vicinity of Chancellorsville, where Slocum, who was the senior commander present, established his headquarters. I, approaching from Germanna Ford, halted my divisions at Dowda11's Tavern and encamped them there. Then I rode along the Plank road through the almost continuous 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 Run, and said, "Establish your right there." General Slocum promised, with the Twelfth Corps, to occupy the space between his headquarters and Dowdall's clearing; but, finding the distance too great, one of his division commanders sent me word that I must cover the last three-quarters of a mile of the Plank road. This was done by a brigade of General 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 Melzi Chancellor. He had a large family, including several grown people. I placed my headquarters at his house. In front of me, facing south along a curving ridge, the fight of Steinwehr's division was located. He had but two brigades, Barlow on the Plank road and Buschbeck on his right. With them Steinwehr covered a mile, leaving but two regiments for reserve. These he put some two hundred yards to his rear, near the little "Wilderness Church."
Next to Steinwehr, toward our right, came General Carl Schurz's division. First was Captain Dilger's battery. Dilger was one of those handsome, hearty, active young men that everybody liked to have near. His guns pointed to the southwest and 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 Schimmelfennig, disposed in the same manner, a part deployed and the remainder kept a few hundred yards back for a reserve. Schurz's front line of infantry extended along the old turnpike and faced to the south-west. The right division of the corps was commanded by General Charles Devens, afterward attorney-general in the cabinet of President Hayes. Devens and I together had carefully reconnoitered both the Orange Plank road and the old turnpike for at least three miles toward the west. After this reconnoissance 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, Gilsa's, at right angles facing west, connecting his two parts by a thin skirmish-line. Colonel Gilsa's brigade was afterward drawn back, still facing west at fight angles to the line, 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 promptly to its support, by extending its right to the north, should an enemy by any possible contingency get so far around. A section of Dieckmann'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 toward the north-west, with a view to sweep all approaches to the north of Gilsa, firing up a gradually ascending slope. This 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 epaulments for the batteries were constructed, and cross intrenchments for the battery supports were dug, extending from the little church across all the open ground that stretched away from the tavern to the right of Devens's line. To my great comfort, General Sickles's corps came up on Friday, May 1st, and took from our left Steinwehr's three quarters of a mile of the Plank road. Thus he relieved from the front line Barlow's large brigade, giving me, besides the several division reserves, General Barlow with 1500 men as a general reserve for the corps. These were massed near the cross-intrenchments, and held avowedly to support the batteries and protect General Devens's exposed tight flank.
As to pickets, each division had a good line of them. My aide, Major Charles H. Howard, assisted in connecting them between divisions, and during the 2d of May that fearless and faithful staff- officer, Major E. Whittlesey, rode the entire circuit of their front to stimulate them to special activity. Those of Devens were "thrown out at a distance from a half-mile to a mile and stretching well around coveting our right flank"; (1) and the picket-posts in front on the pike were over two miles beyond the main line.
The nature of the country in the neighborhood of the three adjoining farms, Dowdall's, Talley's, and Hawkins's, became well known to the Army of the Potomac in subsequent experiences, never to be forgotten. It is the terrible "Wilderness" 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 criss-crossed with an abundance 'of wild vines. In places all along the south-west and west front the forest appeared impassable, and the skirmishers could only work their way through with extreme difficulty.
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 toward the Rapidan, to rest on that river at or near the mouth of Hunting Run, the corps abandoning so much of the Plank 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 in our rear ! And our right was fixed for us at the "Mill." It is true the mill no longer existed, but the point required was not doubted. Again, this position, which Schurz recommended in his report subsequent to our battle, was the very one into which Hooker's whole army was forced two days afterward. He 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, outnumbering Lee's, was so badly handled by the enemy that Hooker at last deemed it safer to return to the north side of the Rappahannock.
The strength of Hooker's five corps, and Reynolds's, which was not far behind, was, on the morning of the 2d of May, about 90,000 effectives. The right corps, the Eleventh, had in all, artillery and infantry, twelve thousand men. Lee faced us with five large divisions, having on the spot about 40,000 rifles, with considerable artillery.
In my 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 blaeker 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 2d to the watchers at Dowdall's Tavern and Talley's farm- house.
The first distant symptom occurred on the evening of May 1st. Then was heard the sudden crack of rifle-shooting. It began with Steinwehr's skirmishers, and then passed on to Schurz. Sehimmelfennig pushed out a brigade straightforward toward the south-west and received a sudden fire of artillery from the intruders. They left him and pushed on.
It was "a rolling reconnoissanee," evidently to determine, for Lee's and Jackson's information, the position of our flank. They probably 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 reconnoissance" and the said residents formed part of the famous night conference of Lee and Jackson, where cracker-boxes served as seats and tables. General Lee says: "It was therefore resolved to endeavor to turn his right flank and gain his rear, leaving a force in front to hold him in cheek and conceal the movement. The execution of this plan was intrusted to Lieutenant-General Jackson with his three divisions."
Jackson's movement, with a stronger indication of battle, began at sunrise, Rodes, Colston, and A. P. Hill, in the order named, following the old road by the Catherine Furnace, there shoving off farther south to get beyond the sight of our men; then sweeping around by a private road, well known to them, up to the Orange Plank road; and thence on, perhaps a mile farther, through the wild forest till the old turnpike was found and crossed. The Catherine Furnace, nearly opposite Sickles's right and two and a half miles distant, gave an open reach and fully exposed the moving column to view. Except at that point the Confederates were 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 General Hooker, with Colonel Comstock and a few staff-officers, riding along slowly and inspecting the lines. General 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 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. Hooker 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's fronts. Colonel Comstock spoke to me in his quiet way: "General, do close in those spaces !"
I said, "The woods are thick and entangled, will anybody 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 forwarded all reports to General Hooker who now returned to Chancellorsville. He tried to Diane Jackson's purpose.
About midday Sickles received General Hooker's orders to advance south cautiously. Soon after, perhaps by 2 P. M., 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; 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 reserve brigade, Barlow's. Major Howard rode rapidly to Sickles, that he might point out exactly where to locate the brigade. The major was also to ascertain the nearest route, so as to save time and not weary the men by a circuitous march.
It was already past 4. 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 reserves to the north of Hawkins's farm into good position to cover Devens's flank. Devens held at least two regiments well in hand, for the same purpose, and Steinwehr's whole division I knew could just face about and defend the same point. A few companies of cavalry came from Pleasonton. I sent them out. "Go out beyond my right; go far, and let me know if an assault is coming." All my staff, Asmussen, Meysenberg, Whittlesey, C. H. Howard, Schofield, Dessauer, Stinson, Schirmer, and Hoffmann, were keenly on the alert. We had not a very good position, it is true, but we did expect to make a good strong fight should the enemy come.
General Hooker's circular order to "Slocum and Howard" neither reached me, nor, to my knowledge, Colonel Meysenberg, my adjutant-general.(2) From some confused notion it was issued to "Slocum and Howard," when Slocum was no longer within two miles of me, and had not been in command of my corps after Hooker's arrival at Chancellorsville. 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 Generals Devens, Schurs, and Steinwehr, my division commanders, and myself did precisely what we should have done had that order come. The three reserve batteries were put in position, and the infantry reserves were held well in hand for the possible emergency. My aide 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 grand attack, having been for some time driving the enemy, and expected soon a brilliant result; that he desired to place my reenforcement upon his right flank in the forward movement.
Such was the state of things when, through Captain Moore, General Hooker directed to Sickles's attack, at the Furnace, all of my general infantry reserves, consisting of Barlow's stanch brigade. 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 division, as was probable, must swing in to the left in support of Sickles's promised attack. There was no real battle there, so we returned rapidly to our post at the tavern and dismounted.
Meanwhile the Confederate General Rodes had been reaching his place 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 away to the north; beyond his brigade came Iverson's in the same line. On the right of the pike was Doles's 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 Colquirt. After another interval followed the division of A. P. Hill. The advance Confederate division had more men in it than there were in the Eleventh Corps, now in position. Counting the ranks of this formidable column, beginning with the enveloping skirmish line, we find 7, besides the 3 ranks of file-closers. Many of them 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 center. 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's brigade took about half an hour to strike our advance picket on the pike. This picket, of course, created no delay. Fifteen minutes later he reached our skirmishers, who seem to have resisted effectively for a few minutes, for it required a main line to dislodge them. Doles says, concerning the next check he received, "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 that Steinwehr and I heard shortly 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,--" 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 rear of Schurz's line, so as to change front to the north-west of every brigade south-east of the point of attack, if the attack should extend beyond Devens's right flank; for it was divined at once that the enemy was now west of him. I could see numbers of our men--not the few stragglers that always fly like chaff at the first breeze, but scores of them--rushing into the opening, some with arms and some without, running or falling before they got behind the cover of Devens's reserves, and before General Schurz's waiting masses could deploy or charge. The noise and the smoke filled the air with excitement, and to add to it Dieckmann's guns and caissons, 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, more quickly than it could be told, with all the fury of the wildest hailstorm, everything, every sort of organization that lay in the path of the mad current of panic-stricken men,(3) had to give way and be broken into fragments.
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, Des-saner, 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 still doing all he could to face regiments about and send them to Devens's northern flank to help the few who still held firm. Devens, already badly wounded, and several officers were doing similar work. I rode quickly to the reserve batteries. A staff-officer of General Hooker, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Dickinson, Assistant Adjutant-General, joined me there; my own staff gathered around me. I was eager to fill the trenches that Barlow would have held. Buschbeck's second line was ordered to change front there. His men kept their ranks, but at first they appeared slow. Would they never get there !
Dickinson 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 flight !"
"No, Colonel," I said, "I will never fire on my own men !"
As soon as our men were near enough the batteries opened, firing at first shells and then canister over their heads. As the attacking force emerged from the forest and rushed on, the men in front would halt and fire, and, while these were reloading, another set would run before them, halt and fire, 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-intrenchments, mainly with fragments of organizations and individual soldiers. Many officers running away stopped there and did what they could, but others shouted, "We've done all we can," and ran on. (4) Schirmer managed the reserve artillery fairly. Dilger, the battery commander on Schurz's left, rolled the balls along the Plank road and shelled the wood. General Steinwehr was on hand, cool, collected, and judicious. Like Blair at Atlanta, he had made his men (who were south of Dowdall's) spring to the reverse side of their intrenchments and be ready to fire the instant it was possible.
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's farm where Devens's and Schurz's reserves began their fight. But wave after wave of Confederate infantry came upon them, and even their left flank was unprotected the instant the runaways had passed it. To our sorrow, we, who had eagerly observed their bravery, saw these reserves also give way, and the hill and crest on Hawkins's farm were quickly in the hands of the men in gray. (5)
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 Schimmelfennig's and Buschbeck's brigades, and perhaps part of McLean's, who had faced about and had not yet given way) "made a stubborn resistance from behind a wattling fence on a hill covered thickly with pines."
Among the stubborn fighters at this place was Major Jeremiah Williams. 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 approaching enemy was murderous, and almost whole platoons of our men were failing; yet they held their ground. Williams waited, rapidly firing, till not more than thirty paces intervened, and then ordered the retreat. Out of 333 men and 16 commissioned officers in the regiment (the 25th Ohio), 130, including 5 officers, were killed or wounded. Major Williams brought a part of the living to the breastworks near me; the remainder, he says, were carried off to the rear by another regimental commander.
During the delays we had thus far caused 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 Steinwehr's knoll. Then it was, after we had been fighting an hour, that Sickles's and Pleasonton's guns began to be heard, for they had faced about at Hazel Grove obliquely toward the north-west, and were hurrying artillery, cavalry, and infantry into position to do what they could against the attack now reaching them.
I had come to my last practicable stand. The Confederates were slowly advancing, firing as they came. The twelve guns of Schirmer, the corps chief of artillery, increased by a part of Dilger's battery, fired, 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 the men in the supporting trenches vacated their positions and went off.
No officers ever made more strenuous exertions than those that my staff and myself put forth to stem the tide of retreat and refill those trenches, but the panic was too great. Then our artillery fire became weaker and weaker.
I next ordered a retreat to the edge of the forest toward Chancellorsville, so as to uncover 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 necessarily a short one.
General 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 ground and swamps, the two miles to the first high land south of Hooker's headquarters.
Captain Hubert Dilger with his battery sturdily kept along the Plank road, firing constantly as he retired. The Confederate masses rushed after us in the forest and along all paths and roads with triumphant shouts and redoubled firing, and so secured much plunder and many prisoners.
It was after sundown and growing dark when I met General Hirman G. Berry, commanding a division of the Third Corps, as I was ascending the high ground above named. "Well, General, where now?" he asked. "You take the right of this road and I will take the left and try to defend it," I replied.
Our batteries, with many others, were on the crest facing to the rear, and as soon as Steinwehr's troops had cleared the way these guns began a terrible cannonade and continued it into the night. They fired into the forest, now full of Confederates, all disorganized by their exciting chase, and every effort of the enemy to advance in that direction in the face of the fire was effectually barred by the artillery and supporting troops.
Stonewall Jackson fell that evening from bullet-wounds, in the forest in front of Berry's position. And here, on the forenoon of the next day, May 3d, the gallant General Berry met his death. It was here, too, that officers of the Eleventh Corps, though mortified by defeat, successfully rallied the scattered brigades and division, and, after shielding the batteries, went during the night to replace the men of the Fifth Corps and thereafter defend the left of the general line.
Twenty-three years ago, in my report to general Hooker, I wrote the following:
"Now, as to the causes of this disaster to my corps: 1st. Tough constantly threatened and apprised of the moving of the enemy, yet the woods were so dense that he was able to mass a large force, whose exact whereabouts (6) neither patrols, reconnoissances, nor scouts ascertained. He succeeded in forming a column opposite to and outflanking my right.
"2d. By the panic produced by the enemy's reverse fire, regiments and artillery were thrown suddenly upon those in position.
"3d. The absence of General Barlow's brigade, which I had previously located in reserve and en echelon with Colonel von Gilsa's, so as to cover his right flank. This was the only general reserve I had."
Stonewall Jackson was victorious. Even his enemies praise him; but, providentially for us, it was the last battle that 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 ascendency, Jackson stood head and shoulders above his confreres, and after his death General Lee could not replace him.
(1) See General Devens's report of Chancellorsville (" Official Records," Vol. XXV. Part I. p. 632).--0. O. H.
(2) Devens states in his official report that at intervals between11A.M..and 6:30P.M. he reported to corps headquarters that the enemy in force was threatening his front and his right flank.--EDITORS
(3) Colonel von Gilsa's report of the crisis is as follows:
". . . A patrol of the 45th New York regiment reported masses of the enemy in an open field opposite my line. I reported this fact at once to the division commander, and at the same moment my skirmishers were driven in by overwhelming forces of the enemy. The whole line at once became engaged furiously, and my brigade stood bravely, fired three times, and stood still until after they had outflanked me on my right.
The enemy attacked now from the front and rear, and then of course my brave boys were obliged to fall back, the 54th New York and the right wing of the 153d Pennsylvania forcing their way back through the enemy's skirmishers in their rear. . . . Retreating I expected surely to rally my brigade behind our second line, formed by the Third Division, but I did not find the second line; it was abandoned before we reached it."
Von Gilsa's brigade lost 133 killed and wounded out of an effective of 1400 men.--EDITORS.
(4) General Schurz states in his report that the masses Which were rallied here were reorganized and led forward two or three times, but were dispersed by the enemy's flank fire.--EDITORS.
(5) In justice to the men of Devens's division who first resisted Doles it should be stated that the offi cial report of the latter shows that his column was engaged at the outset by Union skirmishers, and "subjected to a heavy musketry fire, with grape, canister, and shell."--EDITORS.
(6) General Deven's report is very explicit upon this point, and states as follows:
"Colonel von Gilsa's skirmishers were, between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon, attacked by the skirmishers of the enemy with the evident intention of feeling our position. After this Colonel von Gilsa's skirmishers were pushed farther to the front, and the major-general commanding the corps again rode down the line. After his return a company of cavalry was sent me for the purpose of making further examination of the woods, which examination, though not thoroughly made, was still sufficient to show that the enemy's cavalry were deployed along the front of my First Brigade, accompanied by some pieces of horse artillery. I directed the captain commanding the cavalry to return and report at corps headquarters."
Source: "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" Article by Oliver O. Howard, Maj. Gen. U.S.A.
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