Jennings C. (Jennings Cropper) Wise.

The long arm of Lee; or, The history of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia; with a brief account of the Confederate bureau of ordnance (Volume 02) online

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THE LONG ARM OF LEE

VOLUME II



THE

LONG ARM OF LEE

OR

THE HISTORY OF THE ARTILLERY OF THE
ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA

With a Brief Account of the Confederate Bureau
of Ordnance

BY

JENNINGS CROPPER WISE



ILLUSTRATED



TWO VOLUMES
VOLUME El



1915

J. P. BELL COMPANY, Inc.
LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA



COPYRIGHT, 1915
J. P. BELL CO., INC.






TABLE OF CONTENTS



VOLUME II



CHAPTER



PAGE



XXVI. CHANCELLORSVILLE SUNDAY, MAY 3o 505

XXVII. CHANCELLORSVILLE,, CONTINUED - FREDERICKS-
BURG AND SALEM CHURCH MAY 3o 515

XXVIII. CHANCELLORSVILLE MAY 4 . 530

XXIX. PREPARATION FOR THE SECOND MARYLAND IN
VASION DEATH OF J A c K s o N BRANDY

STATION 556

XXX. FROM FREDERICKSBURG TO GETTYSBURG 598

XXXI. GETTYSBURG JULY 1 616

XXXII. GETTYSBURG JULY 2 635

XXXIII. GETTYSBURG JULY 3 660

XXXIV. GETTYSBURG THE RETREAT 695

XXXV. REORGANIZATION AFTER GETTYSBUR G THE

WINTER OF 1863-61 706

XXXVI. THE ARTILLERY COMMANDERS OF THE ARMY

COMPARED 742

XXXVII. THE WILDERNESS 760

XXXVIII. SPOTSYLVANIA 775

XXXIX. THE NORTH ANNA 799

XL. COLD HARBOR 812

XLI. COLD HARBOR TO PETERSBURG 834-

XLII. PETERSBURG THE SIEGE COMMENCES 842

XLIII. THE TRENCHES IN JULY 847

XLIV. THE CRATER 859

XLV. THE SECOND CORPS IN THE VALLEY 876

XLVI. PETERSBURG THE WINTER OF 1864 895

XLVII. THE BEGINNING OF THE END 1865 919

XLVIII. "LE DEBACLE" 928

GENERAL INDEX 959

BATTERY INDEX 980

BATTALION INDEX__ _ 992



* A



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

VOLUME II

FACING
PAGE

SHEPPARD S "VIRGINIA 1861" Frontispiece

MAJOR JOHN PELHAM, CHIEF HORSE ARTILLERY 512

COLONEL ROBERT FRANKLIN BECKHAM, CHIEF HORSE ARTIL
LERY 544

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT PRESTON CHEW, CHIEF HORSE

ARTILLERY 576

MAJOR JAMES BREATHED 608

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT ARCHELAUS HARDAWAY 640

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WlLLIAM THOMAS PoAGUE 672

MAJOR JAMES WALTON THOMSON 704

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DAVID GREGG MclNTOSH 736

MAJOR JOSEPH WHITE LATIMER 768

COLONEL WILFRED EMMET CUTSHAW 800

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN CHEVES HASKELL 864

MAJOR DAVID WATSON__ _ 928



CHAPTER XXVI

CHANCELLORSVILLE SUNDAY, MAY 3D

WHEN Stuart arrived and took command, he was
entirely ignorant of the situation except as to its
general features. Rodes plan to wait for the morning
was approved by him and all activity was postponed
until dawn. Stuart then set about making a personal
and general reconnaissance and directed Col. Alexander,
in his capacity as Chief of Artillery, to examine the
ground for artillery positions.

A careful reconnaissance extending throughout the
night convinced Alexander that a frontal attack through
the dense woods against the enemy s works and artillery
position would prove most costly to the Confederates,
even if successful. The Federal infantry in the far
edge of the forest not only lay behind exceptionally
strong breastworks, with the approaches well protected
by abattis, but a powerful artillery was massed behind
individual epaulments on the crest of the hill behind and
within easy canister range of the woods, through which
an attack would have to be made. He soon found that
there were but two possible outlets by means of which
the Confederate artillery could be brought to the front.
The first was the direct route of the Plank Road de
bouching from the forest beyond the schoolhouse and
the junction of that road with the Bullock Road at a
point not over 400 yards from the position of the hostile
guns, part of which enfiladed the roadway for a long
distance towards the woods. In advance of their main
artillery position, the enemy had placed three pieces of
Dimick s Battery behind an earthwork across the road
and abreast of the infantry line. Even a casual ex
amination of this route was sufficient to convince Alex
ander of its impracticability for the advance of artillery,
which could only move up the narrow road in column of
pieces and would, therefore, be destroyed piecemeal be-



506 THE LONG ARM or LEE

fore it could be thrown into action. The utmost dash
and gallantry of the gunners would simply be sacrificed
in such circumstances.

The second outlet was a vista, some 200 yards long, a
lane cleared on both sides to a width of 25 yards, which
ran parallel to the Plank Road about 400 yards to the
south. This vista terminated at its eastern end in the
narrow dirt road leading from Hazel Grove to the
Plank Road and it was in this clearing that Col. Winn s
men had abandoned the two guns and three caissons,
which they had captured from the train of the 3d Corps
about 6 P. M., subsequently recovered by Sickles. It was
reached from the Plank Road not only by the dirt road
running to Hazel Grove 1,000 yards to the south, over
which route Pleasonton had dispatched the regiment of
cavalry to Howard s assistance, but by a second road
half a mile to the rear of the Confederate infantry
line. Pegram had from the first appreciated the value
of the opening, and, as we have seen, had posted Cham-
berlayne with a section in it the evening of the 2d in
support of McGowan s right, from which position
Chamberlayne had been able to deliver a more or less
random fire through the woods when Sickles left col
lided with McGowan s right, about midnight.

At dawn, Alexander posted 17 guns as follows:
Capt. E. A. Marye, of Walker s Battalion, with two
Napoleons and two rifles in the clearing about the school-
house, at which point Pender s line crossed the Plank
Road, and a short distance in rear, and also on the road,
Capt. Brunson with his battery of four rifles, of the same
battalion. It was necessary for the latter to fire over
Marye s head, for in no other way could the guns be
placed. Capt. R. C. M. Page, of Carter s Battalion,
was placed with three Napoleons in the thin woods some
300 yards south of the Plank Road and on the dirt road
leading to Hazel Grove, to fire upon the enemy s infan
try lines until ordered elsewhere. Lieut. Chamberlayne
of Walker s Battalion, with two Napoleons, was masked
in the pines at the eastern end of the vista to assist the



THE LONG ARM OJB LEE 507

infantry in its advance and then accompany it, while
Maj. Pegram, with Davidson s and McGraw s batteries
of Walker s Battalion, took position at the western end
of the vista. Placing four Napoleons on a small cleared
knoll 400 yards to his rear to fire over the trees at the
enemy s smoke, he held his entire command well in hand
to advance down the vista and the dirt road towards
Hazel Grove, when circumstances should permit the oc
cupation of that position. Alexander s, Brown s,
Carter s, Jones , and Mclntosh s battalions were held
in the rear in column along the Plank Road.

Col. Alexander convinced Stuart that the Hazel
Grove position, which commanded Fairview Heights,
was the key to the Federal line, and Archer s Brigade
which had come up during the night and formed on
McGowan s right, thus occupying the extreme right of
the Confederate line, was ordered at daylight to seize
the hill, which Sickles had all but abandoned. Archer
at once advanced through the woods, driving the hand
ful of Federal skirmishers before him, and charged
about 400 yards across the open fields in front of the
Hazel Grove position. Pressing up the slope, his men
seized the hill and captured the four pieces of artillery.
Within 90 minutes after the attack commenced, Hazel
Grove was in possession of the Confederates, its wanton
desertion by Sickles having destroyed all chance of a
successful resistance by Hooker, in the lines then oc
cupied by his troops.

Stuart was now to reap the benefit of Alexander s
judicious disposition of the artillery, for at 5 A. M. the
latter ordered Maj. Pegram to move forward and oc
cupy Hazel Grove, and Col. Carter to move as many
of his pieces as possible up to the schoolhouse. Pegram,
all in readiness, responded, and before 6 A. M. had placed
Chamberlayne s Battery of his own battalion and
Page s of Carter s Battalion in position on the forward
crest of Hazel Grove. The sight that met his eyes was
one to fill the soul of an artilleryman with joy. Less
than 1,500 yards to the northeast the enemy s position



508 THE LONG ARM or LEE

lay before him, and his own guns almost completely en
filaded those of the enemy in the road and were able to
deliver an oblique fire upon the others on Fairview
ridge. Meantime, Col. Carter had moved up to Marye s
position at the schoolhouse, with six pieces of his own
battalion. Without hesitating a moment, Pegram
opened with his eight pieces upon the enemy, joined by
Carter s group of ten on the road, thus at the outset
subjecting the enemy s guns to a cross fire.

But until the Artillery opened fire, Stuart had not
recognized the vast importance of Archer s capture, and
while Pegram and Carter were getting into position, a
useless sacrifice of Lane s and Ramseur s men had been
made by furiously hurling them against Berry s and
Williams intrenchments in the woods, from which the
Federals were, however, driven back upon their main
line just in front of Fairview. After an hour of
desperate fighting, Stuart s whole line was in turn
driven out of the works, and Archer himself was forced
to fall back to Hazel Grove, where he took up a position
in support of Pegram s guns. It was clear now that
extreme efforts would be required to drive the Federals
from their strong position, for Hooker had established
the 1st, 2d, and 5th corps on his line, threatening to turn
the Confederate left where a desperate conflict was
raging.

Meanwhile Stuart had seen the value of Pegram s
position, to which Alexander had, meantime, ordered
Moody s and Woolfolk s batteries and Parker s section
of his own battalion, with ten guns under Maj. Huger,
and Brooke s, Smith s, and Watson s batteries of
Brown s Battalion under Capt. Watson, Lusk s, and
Wooding s batteries of Mclntosh s Battalion under
Maj. Poague, and Tanner s and Carrington s batteries
of Jones Battalion, all of which immediately went into
action. Mclntosh with a rifled section of Thompson s
Louisiana Battery of Jones Battalion moved down the
road to Brunson s position, while Maj. Jones with
portions of W. P. Carter s, Reese s, and Fry s batteries



THE LONG ARM OF LEE 509

of Carter s Battalion, Tanner s Battery of his own, and
a section of Taylor s Battery of Alexander s Battalion,
twelve pieces in all, moved further to the front and to
the left of the schoolhouse group of ten pieces, now
under Maj. Braxton. Col. Carter about this time as
sumed control of his own, Huger s, and Poague s bat
teries at Hazel Grove and Col. Walker of Brown s,
Pegram s, and Jones batteries at that same point.

Alexander states that perhaps 50 guns were engaged
at Hazel Grove, though not over 40 at any one time,
as the batteries had to be relieved from time to time to
replenish their ammunition. The fire which Pegram,
then Walker and Carter, conducted from this point was
perhaps for an hour the most continuous and rapid ever
delivered by the Confederate Artillery. Every caisson
had to be well filled during the night, yet many of them
were emptied within the hour, some of the better-served
pieces, those under Pegram, firing as rapidly as three
rounds a minute, which was an exceptionally rapid rate
for the time.

As an artillery position, Hazel Grove was ideal and
Alexander s battalion commanders made the best of
it. Somewhat greater in elevation than Fairview, its
bushy crest all but obscured the Confederate guns, well
drawn back from the view of the enemy, whose shells
bursting beyond the narrow ridge, or in the depression
in front, were quite harmless. Few reached their diffi
cult target, while the Federal position presented an ex
tensive and easy target to the Confederate guns. It is
remarkable how the Federal cannoneers managed to
maintain their fire against such odds, yet they did so and
although severely punished by Alexander s artillery,
their guns formed the rallying point for Hooker s
troops below them in the woods, and they inflicted
terrible losses upon Hill s attacking infantry. Had the
Confederates been provided with good ammunition for
their guns, it is doubtful if the Federal Artillery could
have made the stand it did. An extraordinarily large
percentage of the Confederate shells failed to burst, and



510 THE LONG AKM OF LEE

many were even more ineffective by reason of premature
explosions. With the very best ammunition the error
of the fuse, and consequently the area of dispersion, is
large, but the mean burst is easily ascertained and rang
ing becomes fairly simple and accurate. On the other
hand, ranging with the Confederate ammunition was
extremely difficult. The writer has heard this point dis
cussed by numerous Confederate artillery officers, who
declared that ranging with them was ordinarily mere
guess work, and that frequently a dozen bursts gave
them no knowledge whatever of the true range. In
deed it was most discouraging to the Confederate gun
ners to fire and fire upon a perfectly visible target under
the easiest conditions, and see not a sign of effect from
their shells, and this is a fact which must be considered
by the artillery student of the war.

Soon Anderson united with Stuart s right, the former
moving his left up to Mine Creek from the furnace,
while Hardaway followed with three rifles of Jordan s
Battery. Before moving off, Hardaway left Capt.
Dance with one rifle of Jordan s Battery, one Napoleon,
and one howitzer of Hupp s and two howitzers of
Hurt s, with instructions to follow Mahone s advance
along the Plank Road to the east. Dance at once oc
cupied a fine position on a knoll to the right of the road,
and about 900 yards from the enemy s breastworks.

Proceeding along the ravine, Hardaway encountered
Gen. Lee, who had selected a position on a wooded hill,
which the Major was directed to prepare for his three
guns, and from which he opened an active fire upon the
Fairview guns, after the axmen with great labor had
cut a roadway thereto.

By 9 A. M. the Federal artillery fire had appreciably
slackened, many of the guns having exhausted their am
munition since no provision was made to resupply them
in spite of the urgent requests of the officers. Besides,
the Federal Artillery had suffered severely from the
terrible cross fire, which Carter, Pegram, and Mclntosh,
now reenforced by Hardaway s guns, had been directing
for nearly two hours upon Fairview.



THE LONG ARM OF LEE 511

It was at this juncture that the veteran commander
of the Richmond Letcher Battery, Capt. Greenlee
Davidson, received his mortal wound at the very mo
ment of victory. In the words of Maj. Pegram, he
was "one of the most gallant, meritorious, and efficient
officers in the service."

About this time Col. Walker assumed the active
direction of his battalion, of which Pegram had sent
Davidson s and Chamberlayne s, together with Page s
of Carter s Battalion, to the rear to replenish their am
munition. Col. Brown also assumed active control of
the artillery of the 2d Corps.

Concerning the Federal artillery position and the ef
fect of the Confederate fire, Capt. Clermont L. Best,
4th United States Artillery, Chief of Artillery, 12th
Corps, after explaining how his guns had been in
trenched during the night of May 3d, had the following
to say: "Our position would not have been forced had
the flanks of our line of guns been successfully main
tained. An important point, an open field about a mile
to our left and front, guarded by a brigade of our
troops (not of the 12th Corps) and a battery was
seemingly taken by a small force of the enemy and the
battery captured and turned on us with fearful effect,
blowing up one of our caissons, killing Capt. Hampton,
and enfilading Gen. Geary s line. It was most un
fortunate. My line of guns, however, kept to its work
manfully until 9 A. M., when, finding our infantry in
front withdrawn, our right and left turned, and the
enemy s musketry so advanced as to pick off our men
and horses, I was compelled to withdraw my guns
to save them. We were also nearly exhausted of am
munition."

The remarks of Capt. Best are much more conclusive
of the service rendered by Alexander and his batteries
than anything the Confederate gunners themselves
might have said. The effect of Alexander s fire Gen.
Hunt also characterized as fearful.



512 THE LONG ARM OF LEE

The Federal line of battle was now along the heights
below and a short distance west of Fairview. Sickles
Corps connecting with Slocum s on the left, occupied
this line to the Plank Road and across it. On his right
was a portion of the 2d Corps and beyond behind breast
works thrown up during the night along the Ely s Ford
Road, and separated by a small interval from Couch,
lay the 1st Corps under Reynolds. On Slocum s left
and facing towards Fredericksburg the 5th Corps op
posed McLaws, while the remnants of Howard s Corps
was massing beyond Meade. Thus Hooker still had 60,-
000 infantry in line while the combined strength of
Stuart, Anderson, and McLaws, after the losses of the
1st and 2d, was not over 40,000. But the elan of
Stuart s men had not waned in spite of the unsuccess
ful attempts of the morning to drive the enemy from
their strengthened line, and each minute the efforts of
the Confederate Artillery became more telling. There
was nothing for Stuart to do but to organize a fresh at
tack. The spirit of the brave leader as he rode the lines
encouraging his men was contagious. Entirely relieved
of anxiety for his right flank by the union with Ander
son s line in that quarter, he now massed his infantry on
the left to drive the enemy out of the position from
which they were threatening his flank, to the support of
which Ramseur s Brigade had been sent. Finally,
about 9 :30 A. M., a third assault was made and the Fed
eral line was broken by the sheer valour of Jackson s
infantry. The Artillery had meantime crushed the
Fairview batteries, the very keystone of the whole
structure of resistance.

As the Confederate infantry surged forward through
the woods, Carter, Jones, and Mclntosh dashed down
the road and up the slopes of Fairview to the crest,
while the batteries at Hazel Grove crossed the valley in
their front, and, joining with the others in action, poured
a whirlwind of fire upon the retiring Federals and their
batteries, the latter withdrawing to their ammunition
trains.





MAJOR JOHN TELIIAM

CHIEF HORSE ARTILLERY

Killed at Kellysville. 1S(>::



THE LONG ARM or LEE 513

The Federals now endeavored to make a stand near
the Chancellorsville house, but without success. En
filaded from the west by Carter s group, fired upon
from their right front by Pegram s batteries and from
their front by Jordan s guns, which Hardaway had
meantime brought upon the southern edge of the
plateau, and entirely without breastworks, their re
sistance was gallant but brief. At this juncture,
Hooker, while standing on the porch of the Chancellor
house, was put hors de combat by a fragment of brick
torn from a pillar by one of Jordan s shells, and did not
recover for several hours. For a time his defeated army
was without a leader.

About 1 A. M., Lee joined Stuart near the Chancellor
house and directed that both infantry and artillery re
plenish ammunition and renew the assault. The enemy
having stubbornly fallen back to a line of works pre
pared by Warren, running along the Ely s Ford and
United States Ford roads, with its apex at the White
House, thus covered their avenues of retreat.

When the Federals fell back to their works after be
ing shelled for about an hour, the Confederate batteries
at once advanced to the turnpike and threw up hasty
intrenchments from which a desultory fire was main
tained upon that portion of the line near the White
House. About 3 p. M. Colston s Division, which had
been temporarily withdrawn, reformed, and, resupplied
with ammunition, was ordered by Gen. Lee to move for
ward towards the United States Ford for the purpose of
developing the enemy s position. Page s Morris Bat
tery of Napoleons accompanied Colston. Hardly had
Colston s men been set in motion when the enemy
opened upon them with twelve pieces of artillery from a
barbette battery on an eminence, and although Page re
plied to this fire for half an hour or more, nothing
serious was attempted and Colston was directed to draw
off and intrench. Meanwhile Maj. Hardaway with thir
teen rifled pieces, including two of Fry s, two of
Marye s, and two of W. P. Carter s, Jordan s four rifles



514 THE LONG ARM OF LEE

and three of Hurt s, was ordered to accompany Gen.
Anderson to the river for the purpose of shelling the
enemy s wagon trains on the north bank near Scott s
Dam, about 1^ miles below the United States Ford.

The Confederates had before noon practically come
to a standstill on the Chancellor plateau, for disquieting
news had reached Gen. Lee from the rear. Sedgwick
had finally forced Early s flimsy line and compelled the
Confederates opposite Fredericksburg to fall back.
Operations about Chancellorsville were perforce sus
pended while Gen. Lee s attention was directed to the
new danger.



CHAPTER XXVII

CHANCELLORSVILLE, CONTINUED FREDERICKSBURG AND

SALEM CHURCH MAY 3D

WE left Early and Pendleton on the morning of the
2d disposing their men and guns to oppose as best they
could Sedgwick s advance, the Federals pretty much in
the same position and attitude they had assumed the
evening before. Before 10 A. M. Gen. Early, however,
directed Maj. Andrews to feel the enemy with his guns,
and accordingly Maj . Latimer opened with two rifles on
that portion of the hostile line near Deep Run, while
Graham s and Brown s Parrotts on Lee s Hill directed
their fire upon the infantry and batteries massed near
the Pratt house, driving them to cover. Latimer drew
no fire, but two batteries on the north bank and several
on the south side of the river responded with energy to
that of Graham s and Brown s guns. Soon after this
affair, Early rode to the left to confer with Pendleton,
who was directing the disposition of Walton s guns
along the Stansbury Hill, with a view to firing upon the
enemy s masses about Falmouth. While he was with
Pendleton, Col. Chilton, Gen. Lee s Ad jut ant- General,
arrived with verbal orders for him, directing that he
move at once to Chancellorsville with all his infantry
but one brigade, and that Gen. Pendleton should with
draw all the artillery along the Telegraph Road,
especially all the heavier pieces, to Chesterfield, ex
cept eight or ten guns which were to follow the rest when
forced by the enemy to do so. Early and Pendleton
both advanced many objections to the withdrawal of
their forces at such a time, which in their opinion would
only invite the advance of the enemy, but were informed
that the commanding general was convinced of the
wisdom of crushing Hooker s force and that, having
done so, he could then return to Fredericksburg and
drive Sedgwick off if necessary. To do this, all his



516 THE LONG ARM or LEE

infantry was needed, but more artillery about Chancel-
lorsville would be superfluous, and the small detaining
force was only expected to delay Sedgwick long enough
for the Artillery and trains to withdraw. Such was the
substance of Chilton s remarks. The orders as de
livered to Gen. Early left him no discretion and, much
against their will, he and Pendleton, about noon, set
about executing them. Hays Brigade was directed to
relieve Barksdale s Regiment in the town and to remain
with Pendleton s artillery force. It was late in the
afternoon, however, before the infantry column moved
off from Early s line along the military road from
Hamilton s Crossing to the Telegraph Road, and then
along a cross road leading into the Plank Road, fol
lowed by Maj. Andrews with his own battalion and
Graham s Battery.

Pendleton had, before noon, ordered Nelson s Bat
talion to withdraw first since it was least exposed to the
view of the enemy. The three 20-pounder Parrotts of
Rhett s Battery were replaced by the lighter and less
valued pieces of Patterson s and Eraser s batteries.
Lieut. Tunis with the Whitworth moved over from
the extreme right and with Rhett s Battery and
Nelson s Battalion retired along the Telegraph Road
while Richardson s Battery which Walton had detached
to Early s line rejoined its battalion. Col. Cabell
also withdrew Carlton s Battery from Lee s Hill and
moved to the rear in command of the entire column
of 22 pieces. Pendleton, therefore, retained in position
after noon but 15 guns. Of these six guns of the Wash
ington Artillery and Parker s two 10-pounder Parrotts



Online LibraryJennings C. (Jennings Cropper) WiseThe long arm of Lee; or, The history of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia; with a brief account of the Confederate bureau of ordnance (Volume 02) → online text (page 1 of 43)