Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, C. S. Army, Commanding Brigade.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
HDQRS. KERSHAW'S BRIG., Massaponax, Va., May 20, 1863.
Maj. JAMES M. GOGGIN,
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command during the recent engagements in this vicinity:
At 7.30 o'clock, April 29, the firing of artillery and small-arms along the river announced an attack, and in a few minutes more my command was moved to the front. Arrived at Lee's Hill, I displayed my troops in the trenches and in reserve near the three points, as directed by the major-general commanding.
With little variation, we remained in that position until midnight of the 30th, when, under the direction of the major-general commanding: I moved to Major-General Anderson's position on the Plank road, where we arrived about daylight, and were placed in the trenches extending to the right of the Turnpike road, and covering the way from Emory's Mills to the Plank road. About noon I received an order from the major-general commanding, through Major [E. L.] Costin, assistant inspector-general, to move up the Turnpike road to the front, but not to cut the line of General Jackson's march, then occupying the Plank road. Arrived at that road, the march was delayed by General Jackson's columns until I received an order through Major Costin to hasten to the front. Having all the troops on the way, I moved at once to a position a half mile beyond Zoar Church, and, under direction of the major-general commanding, formed a second line of battle to the left of the turnpike, in support of Generals Semmes and Mahone, then both engaged with the enemy, who, however, was soon repulsed. The whole line was then advanced to the heights in front of Chancellorsville, where we bivouacked at nightfall.
The next day (May 2) I formed line of battle on the front line, extending from Semmes' left to the Plank road, and threw out thirteen companies in the dense wood in my front, under Maj. D. B. Miller, of James' battalion [Third South Carolina Battalion], who, during the day, under orders from the major-general commanding, was directed to press the enemy continually, to keep him in position.
The next day a similar force was sent out, under the command of Capt. G. B. Cuthbert, Second South CaroIina Regiment, with similar orders. Early in the day, Captain Cuthbert was wounded in two places, and has since died. He was succeeded by Maj. F. Gaillard, of the same regiment. About 9 a.m. the whole line advanced to the attack of Chancellorsville, and by 11 o'clock our troops were in possession of that position, the skirmishers only having been engaged. Moving over to the Turnpike road to form a new front, under orders from the Major-general commanding, I was directed by General R. E. Lee, in the presence of the major-general commanding, to move with General Mahone toward Fredericksburg, to check the advance of a column of the enemy reported coming up from that point, along the Plank road. Arriving at the intrenchments near Zoar Church, the major-general commanding came up, and directed the march to Salem Church. Upon our arrival, the enemy was shelling that position, then held by Wilcox's brigade. My brigade was formed to the right of Wilcox, along a cross-road running out in the direction of the Spotsylvania road. General Wofford's brigade formed on my right. I formed a second line 100 paces in rear of my left, composed of the Second South Carolina Regiment, Colonel [J. D.] Kennedy, and James' battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel [W. G.] Rice. The line had scarcely been formed before the enemy vigorously attacked the front of General Wilcox and the troops to his left. The Third South Carolina Regiment and part of James' battalion became engaged, but Wilcox's brigade soon repulsed the enemy.
The next day the line of battle of the enemy was discovered in our front, extending along a road from the toll-gate to a house about a half mile from the Plank road where a battery was placed in position. From that point the line extended at an obtuse angle down Hazel Run, and facing that stream. Late in the evening, my brigade was wheeled to the left, nearly at right angles to our former line of battle. General Wofford formed on my right, and we were ordered at a signal (the firing of three guns in rapid succession in the direction of Fredericksburg) to attack the enemy. About 6 p.m. the signal was given, and we moved on continuously, with skirmishers in front, commanded by Capt. Stewart Harrison, Seventh South Carolina Regiment. Having to march through a dense thicket of tangled brushwood and fences, harassed by a constant fire of shell and canister from the battery in our front, and another far to our left, which nearly enfiladed our lines, and having to oblique constantly to the right to maintain communications with Wofford's brigade, our progress was necessarily slow and difficult. Upon emerging from the woods into the open ground, I had the satisfaction to find my line in perfect order, and moved rapidly forward, directing the colors of the Seventh Regiment (the directing battalion, the second in line) immediately upon the battery in front. Simultaneously with our debouching from the wood, the enemy fled precipitately. Night having overtaken us by the time we reached the ground lately held by the enemy, I moved by the left flank to the toll-gate, on the Plank road, and communicated with General McLaws. I dispatched Lieutenant [R. S.] Brown, Second South Carolina Regiment, and 10 men down the Plank road to ascertain the position of the enemy, and, if possible, to communicate with the troops of Major-General Anderson. General Wilcox soon arrived with a portion of his brigade, and Captain [G. B.] Lamar, aide-de-camp, from General McLaws, with information that the enemy had retreated toward Banks' Ford, and I was directed to press them in that direction, changing front over that advance. General Wilcox sent out his regiment toward Banks' Ford, and in a short time the enemy opened a fire of musketry on his skirmishers. I immediately advanced my regiment to a point some 300 yards in front of the woods occupied by the enemy, where I found General Wilcox's troops in position. At the suggestion of General Wilcox, I halted here while Captain [B. C.] Manly's battery was brought into position, and, under the direction of General Wilcox, who was perfectly acquainted with the ground, with great accuracy and rapidity shelled the woods along the river and the ford for about half all hour. At the expiration of the time, with General Wilcox's regiments and the Seventh, Third, and Fifteenth Regiments, we thoroughly brushed the woods and hills about Banks' Ford, but found no enemy except straggling prisoners.
Near 4 o'clock in the morning I halted, and gave the troops the rest they so much needed. Our pickets on the right were fired into afterward, but the camps were not disturbed.
After sunrise in the morning, I sent a detachment, under Major [F.] Gaillard, as far as the red house, on the River road, and occupied other troops in gathering arms and accouterments abandoned by the enemy. At this point they collected over 800 stand of arms. About noon I received orders to proceed to the junction of the Mine road and the River road, near United States Ford, and take position. I was accompanied by the major-general commanding, and arrived about 2.30 p.m., relieving the troops under the command of General Heth at that place. Soon after I got into position, a severe storm of rain came up, which continued into the next day. Late in the afternoon, General Semmes came up and took position on my left. That night a working party and guard were detached from my brigade to report to Captain [S. R.] Johnston, of the Engineers, to erect works on the River road.
The next morning General McLaws directed an advance of the entire line of skirmishers, and it was soon ascertained that there was no enemy left on the south bank of the Rappahannock.
This morning (Wednesday, 6th), there was a furious engagement between Colonel Alexander's artillery and a number of the enemy's guns on the other side of the river, from the effects of which Col. J. D. Kennedy, Second South Carolina Regiment, who supported Colonel Alexander, by judicious selection of his ground, managed to shield his men. In the afternoon I returned to my former camp.
I gratefully acknowledge the hand of Almighty God in the success which attends all the operations of this command and the unprecedentedly small sacrifice of life with which it was achieved.
Among the dead we mourn the death of Capt. G. B. Cuthbert, Second South Carolina Regiment, and Captain [C. W.] Boyd, Fifteenth South Carolina Regiment, both young men of the brightest promise; both of commanding talents, finished education, enlarged by foreign travel, elevated social position, and most attractive personal characteristics. None more gallant, none more patriotic, none more devoted represent the chivalry of the South; together they fell before Chancellorsville, par nobile fratrum.
On the morning of May 2, Colonel [John W.] Henagan, with the Eighth South Carolina Regiment, was ordered to report to General Jackson, and remained detached until the 7th instant. For an account of the operations of his command, I respectfully refer to the report of that officer, which accompanies this.
During this series of engagements, the Fifteenth Regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel [Joseph F.] Gist; the Seventh Regiment by Colonel [Elbert] Bland; the Third Regiment by Major [R. C.] Maffett; the Second Regiment by Colonel Kennedy; James' battalion by Lieutenant-Colonel [W. G.] Rice; the Eighth Regiment by Colonel Henagan.
The conduct of officers and men generally has never been more satisfactory to me during any engagement of the war. The good conduct of the men cannot be surpassed.
A number of prisoners were taken by this brigade, but no accurate account taken of them. Lieutenant [R. S.] Brown, with the scouting party above mentioned, not only succeeded in communicating with General Wright, Anderson's division, but brought in 60 prisoners. Colonel Henagan reports taking 84 prisoners. I estimated that near Chancellorsville the brigade took 50; about Salem Church and Banks' Ford 100; Colonel Henagan, at United States Ford, 100. Total, 250. A number of arms besides those enumerated above were captured and sent off, and 5 horses, which had been turned over in pursuance of orders.
For particular mention of individuals, I respectfully refer to the reports of regimental commanders. To Captain [Charles R.] Holmes, assistant adjutant-general, Lieut. A. E. Doby, aide-de-camp, and Lieut. W. M. Dwight, acting assistant inspector-general, I am again indebted for the most valuable services on the field.
During these operations the troops were daily supplied with subsistence through the untiring and energetic efforts of Captain [Frederick L.] Smith, acting brigade commissary, and Martin, commissary sergeant. The capacity of the command to perform the labors assigned them I consider in great part due to this regular supply of subsistence.
A list of the casualties of the command is herewith appended.
Through the efficient services of Surg. T. W. Salmond and the other medical officers of the command, our wounded have never been so well cared for in the field.
I have the honor to be, major, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. KERSHAW,
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