Report of Col. Henry C. Cabell, First Virginia Artillery,
commanding Artillery Battalion.
April 27-May 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
NEAR FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
May ---, 1863.
Maj. JAMES M. GOGGIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, McLaws' Division.
MAJOR: I respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by my battalion in the recent engagements around and near Fredericksburg:
On Thursday night, Captains [B. C.] Manly and [E. S.] McCarthy received marching orders to accompany Major-General McLaws to meet the enemy near Chancellorsville. Captains [John C.] Fraser and [H. H.] Carlton remained on the heights near Fredericksburg. The defense of Fredericksburg was to be made by Major-General Early's division, including Lieutenants-Colonel [R. S.] Andrews' battalion of artillery ; Brigadier-Generals Barksdale's and Wilcox's brigades, and the artillery of Colonel [J. B.] Walton's battalion, Lieutenant-Colonels [A. S.] Cutts' and Nelson's and two of my batteries, and [A. B.] Rhett's battery, temporarily assigned to me. The two 10-pounder Parrotts of Rhett's battery were turned over, by order of Colonel Alexander, to a detachment from Captain [W. W.] Parker's battery, the commanding officer of the detachment reporting to Brigadier-General Pendleton, who was in command here of all the artillery. Captain Carlton's battery, consisting of three Parrott guns and one 12-pounder howitzer, was in position, as was nearly all the artillery.
These positions were respectively held until about 11 a.m. of the 2d instant, when I was ordered to withdraw my guns to the rear on the Telegraph road. Nothing worthy of note occurred during the occupancy of these positions. Most of the batteries halted, by order, a few hundred yards from their former positions. Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson's battalion, with Rhett's battery, were ordered to proceed to the rear, and took no further part in the subsequent action. About the same time, all but one brigade of Major-General Early's division and all but one regiment of Barksdale's brigade were withdrawn.
Later in the afternoon (about 5 o'clock), the artillery resumed their former positions, with some immaterial changes. Captain Carlton's guns occupied the work near the pines, on the extreme right of the hills running back of Howison's. Captain Fraser occupied the work at Lee's Hill, and between that work and the Telegraph road. The enemy did not prosecute his threatened advance that evening. Our infantry returned in front after sunset.
Early on the following morning, Captain Carlton's battery was actively engaged upon a battery at Ferneyhough's house, and with a force of infantry attacking Major-General Early's line on his right. He exploded one of their caissons, and aided materially in twice repulsing their infantry.
About 11 o'clock that day (Sunday), the enemy attacked and very speedily took and occupied Mayre's Hill. As soon as they appeared on Mayre's Hill, a large force of infantry advanced rapidly from the crest of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, on Howison's farm, obliquely toward the position occupied by Captain Fraser on Lee's Hill. Both of my batteries opened and continued fire upon both lines of infantry, inflicting great loss upon them. The ordnance reports show that a very large amount of ammunition of short-range shell and canister was expended. Captain Fraser defended his position to the last practicable moment. The limber chest of his howitzer was blown up, and he took off the piece with the limber of the caisson. He bore off the body of Lieutenant [F. A.] Habersham, a gallant, brave, and accomplished officer, who fell while courageously defending this position. Captain Carlton left his position only when the enemy had gained so far to the left as to be hid from view by the inequalities of the hill, and he was in imminent danger of being flanked Both batteries were subjected to heavy and continuous fire from artillery during the whole time of their occupying their positions, much intensified after the storming of Mayre's Hill commenced. The infantry had fallen back some time before our positions were left. These two batteries brought up the rear. I desired to bring Captain Carlton's battery to the Telegraph road, in order to open fire upon the enemy from that point, which is near the pump at Leach's house. A line of battle was then formed at that place, and Captain Carlton placed in position, supported by General Barks-dale's brigade. His artillery continued to engage the enemy (now advanced several hundred yards in rear of Lee's Hill) and a battery at the little brick house in rear of Howison's house until his ammunition was exhausted. He dispersed the enemy to the right and left, and checked his advance effectually. He then withdrew down the Telegraph road to Cox's house.
During the engagement at the pump, Captain Carlton lost 1 man killed and 8 wounded, and I wheel to gun-carriage torn to pieces. During the whole day, including these, there were 1 killed, 10 wounded, and 1 horse killed and 2 wounded. A few others of the men were struck, but not hurt. The judgment, courage, gallantry, and good conduct of the officers and men of both batteries deserve the especial mention of their commanding officer.
Captain Fraser's battery occupied its position early the next morning after the enemy were driven from Marye's Heights, and Captain Carlton was placed in position to take part in the fight that evening. Neither of the batteries was engaged.
I desire to call attention to an act of coolness and bravery on the part of Private Richard W. Saye, of Carlton's battery. A shell burst near the battery, the fuse still burning. His attention was called to it by Lieutenant [Thomas A.] Murray, commanding piece. He immediately threw it off, thereby doubtless saving the lives of several of his comrades, as the shell exploded just as it reached the ditch below the parapet.
I submit with my report the reports of Captains Carlton and Fraser. The temporary occupation by the enemy of Marye's Hill and the heights to the right of the Telegraph road is admitted by Yankee accounts to have cost 1,000 men. The people of Fredericksburg estimate their loss as high as 2,000 killed and wounded. This loss was chiefly in front of Lee's Hill and Carlton's battery. This latter loss was inflicted entirely by artillery. I also have the honor to transmit the report of Captain [E. S.] McCarthy, and will transmit the report of Captain [B. C.] Manly as soon as received. Major [S. I.] Hamilton accompanied and commanded these two batteries of my battalion. They acted immediately under the eye of Major-General McLaws. All verbal reports concur in testifying to the coolness, gallantry, eminent good conduct, and efficient service of the officers and men of both of these batteries.
I desire to call attention to the gallant conduct and energy and efficiency of Lieutenant [C.] Grattan, my ordnance officer. My thanks are also due to Captain [W. T.] Hardy, assistant quartermaster, who, in addition to his regular duties, assisted most efficiently in supplying ordnance to the batteries near Fredericksburg.
I will transmit Major Hamilton's report as soon as received.
HENRY COALTER CABELL,
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