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only result was that Hooker had sent 20,000 men away
from his center, into the tangled wilderness, searching for
Jackson, at the very time that the latter was ready to
throw the weight of his whole corps upon Hooker's
extended and weak right flank.

Jackson led his flanking movement with even fiercer
energy than was his usual characteristic, constantly
urging division commanders to ''Press forward," and


kept all of his staff constantly moving along the line of
march to see that it was closed up, and with map, made
by his topographical engineer on the way, when wanted,
and memorandum, he hourly apprised Lee of his prog-
ress. Dr. Hunter McGuire, his medical director, says
of Jackson at this time :

Never can I forget the eagerness and intensity of Jackson on tliat
march to Hooker's rear. His face was pale, his eyes flashing. Out
from his thin compressed lips came the terse command, "Press for-
ward! Press forward!" In his eagerness, as he rode, he leaned
over on the neck of his horse, as if in that way the march might be
hurried. "See that the column is kept closed, and that there is no
straggling," he more than once ordered; and "Press on! Presson!"
was repeated again and again. Every man in the ranks knew that
we were engaged in some great flank movement, and they eagerly
responded and pressed on at a rapid gait.

By the middle of the day Jackson's advance reached
the plank road, two miles southwest of Hooker's right
flank under Howard. There he detached the Stonewall
brigade to support Fitz Lee's cavalry in an advance
toward Chancellorsville, along the forest enclosed road,
to cover his farther movement, and then pushed on to
the Orange turnpike, to a point northwest of Hooker's
right and about two miles distant, which he reached by
3 of the afternoon, when he sent his last message to
Lee, in these words: "I hope as soon as. practicable to
attack. I trust that an ever-kind Providence will bless
us with great success. "

Fitz Lee, who with a cloud of cavalry had been hover-
ing around Hooker's front and right, and keeping Jack-
son's movement concealed by guarding every road that
approached it, now met Jackson in person and led him to
the summit of a hill, in an open field, whence he could
look over the intervening forest and see Hooker's great
army stretching away to the eastward, along and near
the plank road, to Chancellorsville. Taking in at a
glance the strategic as well as the tactic advantages of
position that he had gained, Jackson, giving no heed to
Fitz Lee's presence, hurried an aide to order Rodes to
cross the turnpike and form at right angles to it, along
the concealed front of the field of observation and through
the forest to the left, with his right extended nearly to
the Orange plank road, which was held by the Stonewall
brigade. Colston's division was formed in rear of Rodes,
in almost equal length of line of battle ; two brigades of


A. P. Hill's division were formed in the rear of Colston,
with their right resting on the old turnpike, while the
remaining brigades of Hill's division were left in column
to follow along the old turnpike as a reserve. At 5 in
the afternoon of Saturday, May 2d, two hours before the
set of sun, just as a magnificent rainbow sprang its pris-
matic arch across the western sky in rear of his lines of
battle, Jackson ordered an advance. With a wild "rebel
yell," that startled the profound silence that had hith-
erto reigned in ' 'the Wilderness, " his veterans-rushed for-
ward through the forest, driving game of all kinds before
them, and in an incredibly short time fell upon How-
ard's corps, holding Hooker's right, which, unconscious
even of the near presence of an enemy, was engaged in
cooking its supper. Thus unexpectedly attacked, a fear-
ful panic ensued, and Howard's men rushed in dismay
along the turnpike toward Chancellorsville, sweeping all
organizations along with them in their flight. Six guns
of Beckham's horse artillery, of Stuart's corps, galloped
at even pace, along the turnpike, with Jackson's men,
and by sections of twos poured canister into the retreat-
ing Federals.

Nothing could stand against the superior numbers that
Jackson hurled against Hooker's flanked line, which he
speedily crumpled up and drove back toward Chancel-
lorsville, but two miles away. Many prisoners were
taken, and it looked as though the whole Federal army
would be routed by the flood of fugitives, followed by
Jackson's fierce soldiery flushed with victory. At this
juncture, Colquitt, commanding Rodes' right brigade in
the woods south of the turnpike, thought he discovered
a Federal force on his flank that required him to halt
and face southward ; and thus was held back, for nearly an
hour, Jackson's forward movement, giving Schurz's
division, which he would have struck in flank had he con-
tinued to advance, time to escape; but Howard's corps
was completely wrecked, and all opposition was speedily
brushed away as Jackson's men, his lines of battle indis-
criminately mixed in finding their way through the
dense forests of second-growth timber and over fields
along the turnpike, sprang over the Federal works that
had been thrown across the road at Dowdall's tavern,
nearly two miles east of where Jackson had formed his
lines of battle, and about the same distance from Chan-


cellorsville. Overcoming the slight opposition of a Fed-
eral rally at this point, Jackson still pressed forward,
driving the Federals before him, until he reached a line
of log breastworks and abatis that Hooker had thrown
up a mile to the west of Chancellorsville, along a cross
road leading to Hazel Grove and through the woods.
Behind these and the divisions of Berry and Williams,
the remnant of Howard's corps found refuge.

When Jackson reached these formidable obstacles the
sun had set and only twilight of the day remained. In
their hot pursuit through the tangled forest his men had,
of necessity, become completely mixed and all organiza-
tion lost. Availing himself of the opportunity offered by
these obstructions to his progress, and at the urgent solic-
itation of Rodes and Colston, he called a halt, and ordered
that the men should sort themselves and the commands
be reorganized. He fell back a little for this purpose, in
order that A. P. Hill might form a new line of battle
with his men, who had, up to this time, been following in
column along the turnpike ; intending to press the pursuit
as soon as he could reform his army.

Jackson now held possession of the field of combat to
within a mile of Chancellorsville, and covered the junc-
tion of the numerous roads that led from the turnpike,
where the Federal works crossed it, and among others
the road leading northeast to Bullock's, where that
crossed the road leading from Chancellorsville to either
Ely's or the United States ford, and immediately in
Hooker's rear, less than a mile north of Chancellorsville.
Another turning of Hooker's right, along the leading of
this road, would cut off his line of retreat and throw him
into the arms of Lee, who, with his two divisions, was
keeping up a bold contention on Hooker's eastern front
and holding the roads against a movement toward Fred-

After urging A. P. Hill to promptness in forming his
line of battle, and giving him the order to "Press them.
Cut them off from the United States ford, Hill. Press
them!" Jackson, accompanied by his staff and escort,
rode forward along the turnpike, through the twilight
intensified by the heavy forest on each side of the road,
and up to his skirmish line to reconnoiter, the accompany-
ing engineers even riding up to a Federal battery which
liad halted in the road, and where one of them. Captain

Va 25


Howard of A. P. Hill's staff, was captured. The ring-
ing of the axes of the stalwart brigade of Federal pio-
neers told Jackson that Hooker was already throwing
obstacles in the way of his advance, so he promptly
turned back and rode at a trot toward his own command.
As he approached Hill's newly formed line of battle,
some one called out, "A Yankee cavalry charge," for
such was suggested by the sudden appearance of Jackson
and the score or more that accompanied him, coming
through the darkness of the forest; when, without
orders, the Eighteenth North Carolina fired a volley, of
ounce musket balls, which desperately wounded Jackson,
killed Captain Boswell, his chief engineer, and one of
his escort.

Jackson's condition required that he be taken at once
from the field to the hospital near the Old Wilderness
tavern, and the command devolved on A. P. Hill, who
was soon after wounded in the firing that the Federals
opened after Hill's men had fired on Jackson. Rodes
now succeeded to the command of the Second corps, but
declined to take the responsibility, and upon consulta-
tion, Stuart, who was guarding the rear against the Fed-
eral cavalry which was on the road leading to Ely's ford,
was sent for, and, as the ranking officer present, he took
command of the corps, at about midnight, and with his
accustomed and well-nigh tireless energy, spent the
remainder of the night getting the command in readiness
to resume offensive operations with the dawn of the
coming day.

Near the time of Stuart's taking command. Sickles
reached the vicinity of Hazel Grove, a farm and farm-
house at the southern end of the Chancellorsville open
plateau, returning from his fruitless advance to Cather-
ine furnace. The heavy condition of the atmosphere and
the dense intervening forests had so deadened the sound
of Jackson's attack, which was mainly one of infantry
and light guns, that neither Lee nor Sickles had heard
the noise of Jackson's battle until it neared Chancellors-
ville; but when the nearby sound reached Lee, he
promptly ordered McLaws to move a heavy skirmish line
along the old turnpike against Hooker's left. Anderson
failed to respond to a like order to attack Hooker's cen-
ter, and suffered Sickles to retire unmolested; but when
he advanced his skirmishers northward from Hazel


Grove toward Jackson's front, they were driven back by
Hill's skirmishers. Sickles then turned the larger part
of his command against the flank of Hooker's retreating
Twelfth corps, and entered into a fight with Slocum's
men, of his own army, claiming that in this fight with
his associates he had recaptured the plank road and that
his men had inflicted the fatal wound on Jackson.

After Jackson had been removed to the field hospital
and his arm had been amputated, and before the arrival
of Stuart, after a consultation with Adjt.-Gen. A. S.
Pendleton, Captain Hotchkiss, guided by a young Doctor
Chancellor, of the vicinage, by a wide detour to the
southward, rode to Lee, informed him of the position of
the Second corps, and of what had happened up to the
time of his leaving. Lee, thus informed, gave orders for
Stuart to incline his lines to the right, while he would
incline those under his immediate command to the left,
and thus form a connected line of battle, which would,
on the morning of the 3d, make a front attack on Hooker
and drive him back from Chancellorsville toward the

Captain Wilboume, signal officer of the Second corps,
reached Lee at about the same time that Captain Hotch-
kiss did, and gave further information from his points of
observation. Choked with emotion, General Lee received
the news of the wounding of Jackson, and sadly
remarked: "Any victory is dearly bought which de-
prives us of the services of General Jackson, even for a
short time." Soon after, having had his arm disabled
by the springing aside of his horse against a tree, Lee
dictated this letter to Jackson :

I have just received your note informing me that you were
wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I
have directed events, I should have chosen for the good of the
country to be disabled in your stead. I congratulate you upon the
victory which is due to your skill and energy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

This letter was read to Jackson the next day, while
the fierce battle was raging in the immediate vicinity of
Chancellorsville. Turning aside his face from the one
who read it, Jackson said: "General Lee is very kind,
but he should give the praise to God. "

Dawn of the morning of Sunday, May 3d, found Lee


ready for an assault upon Hooker in his intrenched posi-
tion around Chancellorsville, and saying to his staff, as
he mounted his horse: "Those people shall be pressed
immediately." No one in the army was more fitted to
take the place of Jackson and lead his hardy veterans to
victory than fearless "Jeb" Stuart, and with the rising of
the sun he promptly ordered forward A. P. Hill's divi-
sion to the south of the plank road, inclining it to the
eastward, while, at the same time, Lee moved McLaws
westward, along the plank road, and Anderson north-
ward and westward, south of the plank road, inclining to
the left, to fill up the line of interval between his left
and Stuart's right.

During the night of the 2d, Hooker was reinforced by
17,000 men of the First corps, under Reynolds, and he
now had concentrated at Chancellorsville some 80,000
men, disposed in a bluntly acute salient, projecting south-
ward from each side of Chancellorsville, with the apex at
Hazel Grove. The western side of this salient extended
for over a mile to the northward from the apex, covering
the approaches from the west and the ground held by
Jackson's corps. The eastern side of the salient extended
about a mile to the northeast, from the apex to the old
turnpike, east of Chancellorsville, then reached about a
mile to the west of north, to near the Bullock house, thus
covering all approaches to Chancellorsville from the east-
ward. Hooker's lines were nearly those he held the
night before, after the retreat of his right from Jackson.
His left, facing eastward, was held by 20,000 men of
Geary's and Hancock's divisions and the remnant of
Howard's corps. In front of these, on Lee's right, were
the i4,ooo«*of McLaws and Anderson. Hooker's right
was held by the 23,000 men in the division of Williams
and the corps of Sickles. Within these two Federal
wings were 37,000 more men of the corps of Meade,
Reynolds and Couch, in reserve, in the open fields, ready
to support either wing. Facing Hooker's right was
Stuart with the 20,000 veterans of the Second corps of
the army of Northern Virginia.

Stuart began the battle at early dawn by moving
against Hooker's right, mainly north of the plank road
and against the heavy line of defenses of timber and
abatis that the active Federal army had thrown up before
and during the preceding night. Stuart, in person, rode


behind the line of battle, his black plume waving as, in
merry mood and clear, sharp voice, he sang, "Fighting
Joe Hooker, come out of the "Wilderness ! ' ' His right
soon took the lead and attacked Hooker's center near
Hazel Grove, capturing four Federal guns and gaining a
position on the south end of the Chancellorsville plateau.
As the light of day increased, Stuart's quick military
eye detected the advantages of this Hazel Grove posi-
tion, and he ordered Walker to concentrate thirty
guns upon that point. These gave him an enfilade, as
he was at the apex of Hooker's salient, along both the
right and the left wing of the Federal army. Ander-
son's guns, under Hardaway, coming forward from
toward Catherine furnace, also secured an enfilading
position, and under the concentrated fire of these well
served big guns, Hooker's position became untenable in
about an hour.

While Lee's artillery was doing this effective work,
McLaws assaulted Hooker's left; Anderson his center,
from the south; while Stuart pressed line after line
against his right. By 8 of the morning, Lee's wings
were joined in front of Chancellorsville, in continuous
line of battle, and a stubborn fight, of stroke and counter-
stroke, began. Three times the bold Confederates took
the Federal line of defenses, and three times were they
driven from them by Hooker's brave fighters. His many
well-handled guns aided in the repulses; but those of
Lee finally overcame those of Hooker. A Confederate
shell striking a heavy brick column of the Chancellor
house, disabled Hooker himself, and Couch was com-
pelled to take the command without having any definite
plan of defense.

By lo o'clock Stuart had broken through the Federal
lines on the westward and gained the central point of the
Chancellorsville plateau, at the little Fairview cemetery,
thus forcing Hooker's men to retreat, driven by the des-
perate courage of inferior numbers, from their strongly-
intrenched positions on three sides of Chancellorsville,
past that burning mansion, into the strong line of
intrenchments (the most formidable the writer ever saw
constructed from timber) which Hooker had thrown up,
as a refuge of last resort, during the preceding night,
extending across from the mouth of Hunting run of the


Rapidan, to the Rappahannock at the mouth of Mineral
Spring run, a line nearly six miles in length.

Lee rode in the midst of his line of battle as his men
pressed forward in pursuit, pouring volley after volley
into Hooker's retreating army, while the shells of the
numerous Confederate batteries were thrown over their
heads, to burst in the Federal ranks and add to their con-
fusion. The surrounding forests were soon in flames,
the accumulated leaves of the preceding autumn having
been fired by the burning cartridges and fuses, while
flames burst from the large Chancellor house and added
to the smoke of the conflict and of the burning forest.
Col. Charles Marshall, Lee's military secretary, describes
the scene, as Lee spurred "Traveler" up to the burning
house, in these words :

Lee's presence was the signal for one of those uncontrollable
bursts of enthusiasm which none can appreciate who has not wit-
nessed them. The fierce soldiers, with their faces blackened with
the smoke of battle, the wounded crawling with feeble limbs from
the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a com-
mon impulse. One long unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of
those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices
of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle and
hailed the presence of a victorious chief. He sat in the full realiza-
tion of all that soldiers dream of — triumph ; and as I looked at him
in the complete fruition of the success which his genius, courage, and
confidence in his army had won, I thought that it must have been
from some such scene that men in ancient days ascended to the dig-
nity of gods.

The victory won and the field of contention in his
possession, Lee turned his first thoughts to rescuing the
Federal wounded and his own from the conflagrations
raging in the forest and at the Chancellor house. Mar-
shall relates that just then there came a message from
Jackson, with congratulations for the great victory Lee
had won, adding: "I shall never forget the look of pain
and anguish that passed over his face as he listened.
With a voice broken with emotion he bade me say to
General Jackson that the victory was his, and that the
congratulations were due to him. ... I forgot the ge-
nius that won the day in my reverence for the generosity
that refused the glory. ' '

Lee at once made preparations to assault Hooker's
new position, when a message came from Early calling
his attention to affairs at Fredericksburg. On Sunday,
May 2d, Early was holding on tenaciously to the posi-


tions in front of Fredericksburg in which Lee had placed
him, and was keeping Sedgwick from making an advance,
when a member of Lee's staff brought him an order,
which he had misunderstood, directing Early to aban-
don his position and march toward Chancellorsville. This
withdrawal of Early from the right which he was hold-
ing with his division, all along Jackson's old position
down to Hamilton's crossing, uncovered Barksdale's
right on Marye heights back of Fredericksburg, and
opened the way for Sedgwick to march against him in
safety. The order to Early was countermanded, and
on the morning of Monday, the 3d, he marched back to
his former position only to see Sedgwick move 20,000
men against Barksdale's flank of 1,000 soldiers with artil-
lery. Sedgwick won the much fought for and much cov-
eted position, but with great loss, as Barksdale clung to
it till overwhelmed by numbers. This capture enabled
Sedgwick to move his corps, of 30,000 men, past Early's
left on to the plateau west of Fredericksburg, and to the
possession of the river and plank roads leading toward
Chancellorsville, thus giving him opportunity to fall on
Lee's rear while Hooker was contending .with his front.

Wilcox, of Anderson's division, who had been left in
observation near Banks' ford, promptly threw his bri-
gade across the plank road, at Salem church, in a strong
position, and informed Lee of the situation. He imme-
diately dispatched McLaws with four brigades down the
old turnpike and the plank road to reinforce Wilcox,
thus meeting the emergency and providing, for a second
time, against a rear attack by Sedgwick. McLaws
marched rapidly to Salem church and at once joined Wil-
cox in an issue with Sedgwick, forcing him back a mile
toward Fredericksburg, beyond the ravine of Colin run,
just as the day closed. Summing up the events of the 3d
of May, Lee sent a message to President Davis, saying :
"We have again to thank God for a great victory."

On Monday, May 4th, leaving Trimble's (Colston's)
and D. H. Hill's (Rodes') divisions in front of the for-
midable works at Chancellorsville, behind which Hooker
had sought safety, Lee in person led Anderson's bri-
gades to Salem church, where by midday he placed a
formidable line of battle in position, with numerous
batteries, covering the front of Sedgwick's lines, which
extended across the bend of the Rappahannock, from


near Banks' ford, southward, along the crest above
Colin run across the plank road, then along, south of
that, to within a mile of Fredericksburg, then north to
the Rappahannock at Taylor's hill. The same morning
Early, marching along the Telegraph road, had recap-
tured Marye heights, and moving westward joined the
right of the troops Lee already had in position. By 6
in the afternoon the Confederate lines had advanced from
the west, the south and the east, and forced Sedgwick
back to the Rappahannock; but McLaws, on the left,
was slow in his movements, and Sedgwick was enabled
to escape, by pontoons, across the river below Banks'
ford and under shelter of the river bluffs. This large
left wing of Hooker's army was thus finally disposed of,
but after a spirited resistance. Lee, late in the day,
returned to Chancellorsville and gave orders to again
concentrate his army for a final assault upon Hooker's
intrenched position.

Tuesday, May sth, was spent by Lee in reassembling
his army at Chancellorsville and making preparations to
assault Hooker's last-held position. He sent the writer
to reconnoiter Hooker's right and ascertain whether his
flank could be turned in that direction. Just at dawn,
on the morning of the 6th, as Lee was about to order an
advance, General Pender came galloping to his field
headquarters under a tent fly at Fairview cemetery, and
informed him that his skirmishers had advanced and
found Hooker's gone. In surprise, he exclaimed: "Why,
General Pender! That is what you young men always^
do. You allow these people to get away. I tell you
what to do, but you don't do it." Then, with an impa-
tient wave of the hand, he exclaimed: "Go after them
and damage them all you can. ' ' A heavy rain (such as
almost invariably followed great battles in Virginia) had
set in during the preceding night, and under cover of
that, and concealed by his formidable intrenchments and
the unbroken forest through which the roads led to the
United States ford. Hooker had safely withdrawn his
army over the pontoon bridges that he had placed across
the Rappahannock below the United States ford, only
leaving behind the d6bris of a well-conducted retreat.

The morning of the 7th found Hooker ordering that
"General headquarters to-night will be at the old camp

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 38 of 153)