The Army of the Potomac's newest commanding officer, General Joseph Hooker, had presented his plans to Washington for his Spring 1863 campaign. Little did he know that his adversary, General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, were not going to just stay idle and allow his plans to become reality.|
General Hooker left a small part of his army in their works before Fredericksburg, to fool the Confederates and crossed the Rapidan River on the night of April 29, 1863. The next day found the Union army at Chancellorsville, just twelve miles from General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. General Lee had been alerted to the Union army's location and put his troops into action, marching hard to intercept the enemy at Chancellorsville.
|General Wofford, commanding a brigade in General McLaw's Division which included the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, was ordered to move up the Plank Road towards Chancellorsville, where at 6:00 AM the morning of 01 May, he positioned his men in the rifle pits around Smith's Hill. He had been ordered to extend his lines right to left, defending the approach from the United States Ford and from the direction of Chancellorsville.|
At about 11:00 AM, the Confederates were ordered to advance along the Turnpike Road. They had not gone very far when enemy soldiers engaged the Confederate skirmishers in front of the Confederate brigades. General McLaws wrote later of this action, "The main column, advancing slowly until the enemy appeared in force, was deployed, and the line of battle formed across the Turnpike road, Semmes brigade on the left and those of Mahone, Wofford, and Perry of Anderson's division in the order here named to the right, extending as to cover the Mine road, Tyler C. Jordan's battery on the main turnpike."|
To the front of General McLaws division, the Union troops could be seen moving forward in force. A Union battery located 400 yards away, opened fire on the Confederate positions. The assault then began, but General Sykes Union troops were repulsed.
|Confederate General Kershaw's brigade advanced in support of the Confederate left and having been alerted to the Union movements on the Mine road, General Wilcox's brigade was moved forward to support General McLaw's right. At about 4:00 PM, the order was given for General McLaws to advance aginst the enemy forces and the counter attack continued, forcing the Union troops to retire and the Confederate troops bivouacked just past the Mine Run which crosses the turnpike.|
General Stuart had alerted General Lee that the Union flank was unprepared and General Lee made one of his daring decisions to split his army and sent General Jackson and 26,000 troops across General Hooker's front and prepared to attack the Union XI Corps, the next morning.
|The 18th Georgia and the rest of General Wofford's Brigade, were ordered to hold their positions along the heights facing the Union army's front. This was to deceive and screen the movements of General Jackson's troops to the left and rear. Two batteries of Confederate artillery were placed between the brigades of General Semmes and General Wofford, as a strong line of skirmishers were sent forward to engage the enemy. The purpose of threatening the enemy positions while not pressing seriously, were to hold the enemy troops in check while General Jackson maneuvered around the flank of the Union army.|
|Later on that evening, the sounds of General jackson's assault could be heard. At that time, General McLaw's troops were to, as he later wrote in his official report of the battle, "advance along the whole line to engage with the skirmishers, which were largely reinforced, and to threaten, but not attack seriously; in doing which General Wofford became so seriously engaged that I directed him to withdraw, which was done in good order, his men in good spirits, after driving the enemy to their intrenchments."|
As General Jackson made his assault against the Union flank, General O.O. Howard's XI Corps crumbled and fled in panic, essentially destroying General Hooker's right flank. It was not until later that night that darkness, fresh Union troops brought forward to counter the attack, and Union artillery brought to bear, that the Confederate onslaught was slowed.
General Jackson and his staff moved ahead of his troops to reconnoiter the Union positions. Upon returning to his own lines, a North Carolina regiment, mistaking General Jackson and his men for Union cavalry, opened fire and grievously wounded General Jackson, A.P. Hill and several others.
General jackson's wounds necessitated the amputation of his left arm and his evacuation from the battlefield. He would later succumb to complications caused by these wounds.
|General J.E.B. Stuart was given command of General Jackson's troops and as 03 May dawned, he continued the assault. General Lee and General Stuart were relentless in pressing the enemy troops and rejoining the divided Confederate army. General Wofford had moved his brigade forward across the valley in front of Chancellorsville Heights, and by so doing cut off a large number of Union soldiers. They surrendered to the Confederates and General McLaws would later credit General Wofford's brigade with the "most credit for their capture, although the Tenth Georgia, General Semmes, and General Wright, of Anderson's division, claimed their share equally."|
At the same time that the Confederates were being victorious at Chancellorsville, General Sedgwick's Union VI Corps had moved on General Jubal Early's troops still holding positions on Mayre's Heights, outside of Fredericksburg. It was his intent to take the heights and move in support of General Hooker at Chancellorsville.
|General Lee, upon hearing of this, ordered Generals Mahone and Kershaw to maneuver their brigades toward Fredericksburg. Once those brigades were on the march, General McLaws was ordered to follow with the remainder of his division. As the division reached the junction of the Turnpike and Mine roads, General McLaws formed his division and ordered them all forward. As he learned of an enemy force coming down the Telegraph road, he formed his line at Salem Church with General Wilcox across the Plank road, General Kershaw's brigade to General Wilcox's right, and placed General Mahone's brigade on the left.|
As things became more intense, General Mahone was ordered still more to the left and General Semmes brigade was placed between his and that of General Wilcox. General Wofford was ordered to move his brigade forward in support of General Kershaw's troops. It would not be long before the troops of General Sedgwick would advance on this Confederate position and try to force them from the field.
|As General McLaws wrote in his report, "Before my command was well in position, the enemy advanced, driving in our skirmishers, and, coming forward with loud shouts, endeavored to force the center (Wilcox) and left center (Semmes), extending the attack somewhat to Mahone's brigade." General McLaws would later realize that his left was strongly threatened and would send two regiments of General Wofford's brigade to strengthen that position.|
|The Union assault was repulsed, about 300 to 400 Union prisoners were taken and the firing stopped, on both sides. General Sedgwick was stopped just a dozen miles short of his goal. On the night of 05 May 1863, General Hooker ordered a general withdrawl across the Rappahannock river, and once again... General Lee had out smarted, out fought, and out Generaled the Northern invaders.|
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863
The Chancellorsville Campaign
Massaponax, Va.,May 20, 1863.
Maj. JAMES M. GOGGIN,Assistant Adjutant-General
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, Brigadier-General, Commanding
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863
The Chancellorsville Campaign
May 10, 1863
Major [W. H.] TAYLOR,
On May 1, instant, at 12.30 o'clock at night, the brigades of Generals Kershaw, Semmes, and Wofford were put in march up the Plank road by orders from your headquarters, the brigade of General Barksdale remaining in Fredericksburg and vicinity, and by 6 o'clock in the morning were in position behind the rifle-pits about Smith's Hill, and extending to the right and left, joining General Anderson's command on the left, to defend the approaches from the United States Ford and from the direction of Chancellorsville.
About 11 a.m. General Jackson, who had arrived with his forces and assumed command, directed me to advance along the Turnpike road, having Mahone's brigade, of Anderson's division, in advance. I collected my own division as rapidly as possible from the rifle.pits, each brigade as it was relieved falling in rear of the others as they advanced in the march. After proceeding but a short distance, the skirmishers became engaged. The main column, advancing slowly until the enemy appeared in force, was deployed, and the line of battle formed across the Turnpike road, Semmes' brigade on the left and those of Mahone, Wofford, and Perry, of Anderson's division, in the order here named to the right, extending so as to cover the Mine road, [Tyler C.] Jordan's battery on the main turnpike. Our skirmishers were driven in. Fire was opened on our lines from a battery 400 or 500 yards in front, and, after skirmishing to the right and left, the main assault was made on the left. (Semmes) by Sykes' Regulars, but they were repulsed at every attempt. Before the first assault, I sent word to General Jackson, by my aide-de-camp, that the enemy were in force in my immediate front, and were advancing, and that a large force could be seen along the heights about I mile or more to the rear, and that the country was favorable for a flank attack from his side. After the first assault, I received answer from General Jackson to hold my position, and that he would advance, or was advancing, his artillery, and if that did not answer he would endeavor to gain the rear of the enemy. General Kershaw coming up, his brigade was placed in support of General Semmes, extending beyond his left. The cavalry reporting that the enemy were advancing along the Mine road, General Wilcox's brigade was ordered and took position (guided by Captain [S. R.] Johnston, of General Lee's staff) to protect my right, taking artillery with him. General Jackson's artillery and his advance, in conjunction with the failure of the attack on my front, forced the enemy to retire, when, by General Jackson's order, my whole line advanced in the same order as they had been displayed as above stated. The order to advance was received at 4 p.m. My line halted at dark, and bivouacked along the heights just beyond the point where the Mine Run crosses the turnpike.
The next morning (the 2d), my line of battle was reformed along the heights in the same order as before, excepting that General Wilcox had been ordered during the night previous to return to Banks' Ford and hold that position, it having been reported that the enemy were moving down the River road, and, besides, were making demonstrations to cross the river at that ford. Two batteries were placed on the heights between General Semmes and Wofford. A strong line of skirmishers was advanced, and were constantly engaged with those of the enemy, General Kershaw's brigade held in reserve. I received orders from General Lee to hold my position, as General Jackson would operate to the left and rear. Not long after, I was directed to replace General Posey's brigade, on my left, by one from my command, and General Kershaw moved to that position on the left of General Semmes. Following this order, I was directed to send the brigades of Generals Ma-hone and Perry to the left, and close in my command so as to connect with General Anderson's right, holding my right at the turnpike, but constantly pressing to the left, so as to be in communication with General Anderson; to do which, as the country was broken and densely wooded, and the direction constantly changing, I ordered.the two brigades on the left (Kershaw's and Semmes') to advance by battalion from the left, so as to form a broken line, but still covering the front and forming the connection.
The batteries opened whenever the masses of the enemy on the hills in my front offered an opportunity, and with marked results.
My orders were to hold my position; not to engage seriously, but to press strongly so soon as it was discovered that General Jackson had attacked. It was not until late in the evening that it was known General Jackson had commenced his assault, when I ordered an advance along the whole line to engage with the skirmishers, which were largely re-enforced, and to threaten, but not attack seriously; in doing which General Wofford became so seriously engaged that I directed him to withdraw, which was done in good order, his men in good spirits, after driving the enemy to their intrenchments.
As General Jackson advanced, the enemy massed in front of the batteries on my line, which opened on them with excellent effect. This continued until darkness prevented any further efforts in my front. Generals Kershaw and Semmes had been pressing to the left and front and engaging the enemy with their skirmishers, which had left an open space, so far as the main body was concerned, between my right and center of considerable distance, but the skirmishers of General Semmes, composed of the entire Tenth Georgia Regiment, were perfectly reliable, and kept the enemy to their intrenchments, so there was nothing to be apprehended from an advance in this direction.
May 3, nothing occurred during the night save the magnificent display caused by the night attack of General Jackson. My skirmishers, well to the front and strong in numbers, engaged the enemy as day advanced. The batteries were run forward, and played upon the masses of the enemy, in good range, producing much confusion. Finally the repeated attacks of the forces on my left forced the enemy to give way from Chancellorsville, and our troops could be seen advancing across the plains.
General Wofford threw a portion o his command across the valley between him and the Chancellorsville heights, and thus prevented the escape of a considerable body of the enemy which had been opposed to his brigade and to his left and front during the morning. I directed a flag of truce to be sent them, and they surrendered. I think that General Wofford is entitled to the most credit for their capture, although the Tenth Georgia, General Semmes, and General Wright, of Anderson's division, claimed their share equally.
Kershaw and Semmes, bearing to the left to cooperate with General Anderson, to unite with the two wings of the army, had now swept around to the plains of Chancellorsville, and I directed them to march down the Plank road and unite with General Wofford's left. As this was in the act of accomplishment, information was received that the enemy had carried the heights about Fredericksburg and were advancing up the Plank road. General Lee here rode up, and ordered that the brigades of Generals Mahone and Kershaw should march at once toward Fredericksburg, with [B.C.] Manly's battery, to meet the enemy, and after their brigades were in march, and had advanced some distance, he directed me to proceed in the same direction with the remainder of my division, which was done so soon as the brigades could be formed.
On reaching the rifle-pits just beyond the junction of the Turnpike and Mine roads, I formed General Mahone's brigade along the rifle-pits; General Kershaw's halted along the road; General Wilcox's brigade was marching to the front. I ordered them all forward, but as I was here informed that the enemy in considerable force were going down the Telegraph road, and as I thought that it was perhaps their intention to march forward by the Plank and Mine roads, which came together just beyond the junction of the Plank and Turnpike roads, now in my rear, I halted General Wofford, with directions to watch the Mine road on his right. I then rode on, and found General Wilcox with his brigade in line across the Plank road at Salem Church, General Kershaw forming on his right and General Mahone on the left. I directed General Mahone still more to his left, as he was acquainted with the country, and placed General Semmes to the immediate left of General Wilcox. General Wofford was ordered forward and placed on the right of General Kershaw.
The batteries which I had brought with me had been engaged all the morning and had but little ammunition left. They had been ordered back in such haste that there was no time for them to replenish their chests, but they engaged the enemy until their supplies were nearly exhausted, and then withdrew, and were posted in the rear to command the ground on the flanks and front. The batteries of the enemy were admirably served and played over the whole ground.
Before my command was well in position, the enemy advanced, driving in our skirmishers, and, coming forward with loud shouts, endeavored to force the center (Wilcox) and left center (General Semmes), extending the attack somewhat to Mahone's brigade. One of Wilcox's regiments gave way, and, with the skirmishers running back, created a little confusion. But General Wilcox himself soon corrected this, and, reforming his men, charged the enemy in conjunction with two regiments of Semmes' brigade, led by General Semmes, and drove them back for a considerable distance. I now strengthened the left of Mahone's, which was strongly threatened, with two regiments from Wofford's brigade, on the right, and closed General Kershaw to the left, strengthening the center, supposing that the attack would be renewed; but no other assault was attempted, and, as night drew on, the firing ceased on both sides, and my command bivouacked in line of battle.
In this engagement 300 or 400 prisoners were taken, and about the same number of the enemy were killed and buried.
Just previous to the assault, I sent my inspecting officer, Major [E. L.] Costin, to try and communicate with General Early, and to bring back information as to his position and designs and the whereabouts of the enemy in that direction. A courier late in the night brought me a note from General Early, informing me that he would concentrate his forces in the morning and drive the enemy from the heights, Marye's Hill included. I sent his note to General Lee, who approving it, I forwarded to General Early, who on the next morning carried the heights with but little opposition. After this, General Early sent me word by his staff officer that, if I would attack in front, he would advance two brigades and strike at the flank and rear of the enemy. I agreed to advance, provided he would first attack, and did advance my right (Kershaw and Wofford) to co-operate with him; but finding my force was insufficient for a front attack, I withdrew to my line of the evening previous, General Early not attacking, as I could hear.
In the meanwhile I had informed General Lee of the plan proposed, and asking for an additional force. I was informed, in reply, that the remainder of General Anderson's division had been ordered forward. I then directed that no attack should be made until General Anderson arrived. General Lee came in person to superintend the movement, arriving about the same time with General Anderson's head of column. General Anderson was ordered to the right with his three brigades. My understanding was that the troops of my own division and the brigades of Wilcox and Mahone were to continue in line facing the enemy, and those of General Early and three brigades of General Anderson were to attack their right and rear. Orders were given that my troops on the right--Kershaw and Wofford--should advance after it was known that the attack on the right had commenced, which would be indicated by the firing in that direction. I was on the right of my line, straightening it and extending to the right, when notice was given that the attack would shortly be made by Generals Early and Anderson, and that Colonel [E. P.] Alexander--who had established a strong battery on a prominent hill, which commanded one of nearly equal force on the other side, which would take my line in reverse and in a measure enfilade it--should open fire. The orders were given at once. Alexander opened his batteries, and Generals Kershaw and Wofford advanced to the front through a dense woods. Distant firing in the direction of Fredricksburg was heard, indicating that the attack had commenced on the extreme right. Night now came rapidly on, and nothing could be observed of our operations.
It being reported to me from Mahone's position that the noise of crossing on the pontoon bridge at Banks' Ford could be heard, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to throw shells so as to drop them as near as possible about the crossing, which was promptly done.
Shortly afterward General Kershaw's arrival on the Plank road was reported to me, and I requested General Wilcox to assume the direction of it, and with such portion of his own brigade as he thought necessary proceed down the Banks' Ford road, taking a battery with him, to press the enemy, seize the redoubts suitable for shelling the crossing, and open fire with the battery; all of which was done in the most prompt manner, General Wilcox being acquainted with the localities, of which I knew nothing except by report.
I was as yet ignorant whether or not the attack upon the right had been a success, but the noise of their passage over the pontoon bridges convincing me that the enemy were in full retreat, I thought it best to press on in pursuit. After these orders had been given and were in execution, I received a communication from General Lee, dated 10 p.m., from Downman's house, informing me of the success of the attack on the right, and his desire that the enemy should be pushed over the river that night. Wofford's brigade advanced as far as the River road, engaging the enemy as he went, and driving them before him. He halted for the night beyond the River road, extending his pickets. Wilcox and Kershaw pushed on, driving the enemy before them, and occupied the redoubts commanding the ford and its approaches, and opened fire with artillery in that direction. As my troops advanced, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to fire on the approaches from the other side only, as I did not wish to risk his shells dropping among our troops. He did as requested, and the fire from all the batteries is reported by citizens about the ford as producing great confusion, and as being very destructive. The enemy, throwing away their arms and breaking ranks, fled across the river in the greatest disorder, as evidence of which the accompanying report of ordnance and ordnance stores picked up by my own division on this side of Salem Church shows how complete must have been the demoralization. The darkness of the night, ignorance of the country, and of the events transpiring on the other end of the line, prevented that co-operation which would have led to a more complete success; but I believe that all was gained that could have been expected under the circumstances. The enemy had several batteries (sixteen guns) in front of the left of my line, sweeping every approach from my left. I am not informed when they were withdrawn, but I suppose they were immediately after dark.
By the next morning the enemy had retired from this side of the river, and my command was employed in burying the dead, attending to the wounded, and collecting arms and accouterments. I received orders during the morning to assemble my division, send General Anderson's brigade to rejoin him, and to send an intelligent officer to the position of General Heth, at or near the junction of the River and Mine roads, to inform himself of the points to be occupied, and, if General Heth had left, to replace him by the brigade of General Mahone and another of my own; but afterward, in conversation with General Lee, he directed me to move one of my brigades (General Kershaw's) to relieve General Heth. The brigade was already in motion, and I joined with it and went to General Heth's position. The march was not delayed for a moment, as the brigade did not halt even once, and it arrived at its destination before the storm. General Heth's main command was posted in rear of the rifle-pits which had been constructed 200 or 300 yards on the Plank road side of the junction of the River and Mine roads, with smaller bodies more to the front. His men and officers had their shelter and other tents pitched, and there were no indications of his moving on my arrival. I think he received orders after my arrival to move when I arrived. General Kershaw had relieved him, and was in position before the storm commenced. General Heth informed me that the strength of the three brigades under his command was about 1,900 aggregate, which was not so numerous as the single brigade of General Kershaw. Colonel [Williams C.] Wickham offered his services to point out the different crossings on the river, and I rode down the River road with him. A terrible storm of wind and rain delayed my return to my headquarters until between 8 and 9 o'clock at night, when I learned that General Semmes had been ordered to join General Kershaw.
The next morning early I rode to the position of Generals Kershaw and Semmes, and, advancing the skirmishers and scouts, discovered that the enemy had gone over the river. Shortly after, I received orders to retire to my former position in front of Fredericksburg, leaving a brigade (Wofford's) at Banks' Ford.
The number of killed, wounded, and missing in my division [is as follows]: Kershaw's brigade, 104, of which 2 are missing; Barksdale's brigade, 592, of which 341 are missing, besides 14 officers; Semmes' brigade, 603, of which 26 are missing; Wofford's brigade, 562, of which 9 are missing; artillery, 28, of which 2 are missing. Total, 1,889.
My inspector-general reports over 1,200 prisoners taken.