Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry Heth, C. S. Army,
Commanding Brigade and Ambrose P. Hill's division, Respectively.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
HEADQUARTERS A. P. HILL'S LIGHT DIVISION,
May 25, 1863.
Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Second Army Corps.
GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of operations of the several commands under my orders at different times in the interval between leaving the vicinity of Hamilton's Crossing, on the morning of May 1, until the termination of the operations at Chancel-lorsville, May 3, 1863:
My brigade moved from Hamilton's Crossing on the morning of May 1, on the Plank road leading to Chancellorsville. When within 3 miles of Chancellorsville, I received an order from Major General Hill to report in person to him. On doing so, I was ordered to take the brigades of McGowan, Lane, and my own, and advance by a cross-road leading from the Plank road to the old Pike, a distance of 1 miles; on reaching the old Pike, to feel my way, and advance in the direction of Chancellorsville. When I reached the old Pike, I found General McLaws, with a portion of his command, some half mile to rear of where I struck the pike. On advancing, my skirmishers became hotly engaged, and, as it had become quite dark, a farther advance was not made that night.
Early in the morning I was ordered to open with a battery, under the immediate charge of Major [W. J.] Pegram, upon the enemy's position, and continue the firing for about half an hour. Our fire was returned by the enemy. Being informed by Major Pegram that his shot were doing the enemy no damage, I directed him to cease firing. Soon after, I received orders to move with my command, crossing the Plank road and following the rest of the division. General Hill, soon after passing the old furnace, directed me to resume command of my brigade.
On reaching a position in rear of Chancellorsville, I was ordered to form line of battle on General Colston's left. General Colston advanced his line before the formation was completed, and rendered a compliance with the order impossible. I then received orders to form on General Pender's left. This was done. I also received orders to go to the support of any general officer requesting aid. After advancing in line of battle about 1 miles on the left of and parallel to the Plank road, I received a message from Brig. Gen. J. R. Jones requesting support. I put my brigade in motion and advanced, passing Melzi Chancellor's house, and entered the thick oak woods on the left of the Plank road. On entering these woods, the enemy opened upon my command a heavy fire of artillery, doing us some damage. It was now becoming quite dark. The undergrowth was so thick and entangled that it was impossible to advance in any order. I ordered the brigade to reform on the Plank road, which had scarcely been done when orders were received from General Hill to move down the road by the flank. On reaching the position in the road occupied by General Hill, he directed me to deploy two regiments, one on the right, the other on the left of the road, to check the enemy, who were then advancing. These movements had not been completed before the enemy opened heavily upon the Fifty-fifth Virginia Regiment. It was here that gallant and promising officer, Col. F. Mallory, was killed. Soon after, General Hill informed me that he was wounded, and directed me to take command of the division. General Lane's brigade at this time was in line of battle on the right of the road, occupying the breastworks from which the enemy had been driven. I directed General Pender to form his brigade in line of battle on the left of the road, occupying the deserted breastworks of the enemy. Before the remaining brigade could be placed in line of battle, the enemy, under Sickle, advanced and attacked General Lane's right. He was handsomely repulsed by the Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth, and a portion of the Thirty-third North Carolina Regiments. This attack was made by the enemy under cover of heavy shelling. These regiments behaved with commendable courage and zeal in repelling at least five times their number.
McGowan's brigade was now ordered on Lane's right, and soon after Archer's brigade on McGowan's right; Thomas' brigade was posted on the left of the road and on Pender's left; Heth's brigade was held as a reserve. In this position the division remained until just after daybreak, when Heth's brigade was ordered up. Two regiments (the Fortieth and Forty-seventh Virginia) were placed on the right of the road, supporting Lane's left, the Fifty-fifth Virginia and Twenty-second Virginia Battalion on the left, to support Pender's right.
Major-General Stuart now ordered me to prepare to advance. I ordered Generals McGowan and Archer to move forward, as the line formed by their brigades was not perpendicular to the Plank road, but inclined to the right and rear. Archer's brigade only advanced a short distance before it became hotly engaged, the enemy being strongly posted behind breastworks making an angle with the Plank road. I now gave the order for a general advance. The Light Division (A. P. Hill's), forming the front line, opened the battle of Chancellorsville. Generals Pender and Thomas, on the left, found the enemy posted behind a breastwork of logs and brush, immediately in their front, at a distance of about 150 yards. The breastworks were charged and carried, the men never hesitating for a moment, driving the enemy before them and pursuing him until a second line was reached, which was in like manner broken. A third line of the enemy was now encountered. After a desperate and prolonged fight, without supports or a piece of artillery to aid them, but on their part subjected to heavy artillery fire of from ten to twelve pieces, these gallant brigades fell back in order to the breastworks from which the enemy had been driven, and which they held until re-enforcements were brought up, when again the attack was renewed and the enemy driven from this part of the field of battle.
Lane's brigade, supported by the Fortieth and Forty-seventh Virginia Regiments (Heth's brigade), and McGowan's brigade advanced and charged the enemy behind his breastworks, who was supported by twenty-nine pieces of artillery. I cannot conceive of any body of men ever being subjected to a more galling fire than this force. The brigades of Lane, McGowan, and a portion of Heth's (Colonel [J. M.] Brockenbrough commanding), notwithstanding, drove the enemy from his works and held them for some time, but were finally compelled to fall back, which was unavoidable from the course that affairs had assumed on the right of the line.
As soon as Archer's brigade commenced to move, it became hotly engaged. General Archer was compelled to conform his line of battle to that of the enemy, which, as I before remarked, in his front was not perpendicular, but formed a considerable angle with the Plank road. McGowan's right thus became separated from Archer's left, and the interval increased as the enemy were driven before them until McGowan and Lane found that their right flanks were seriously threatened. It was not until this occurred that these two brigades fell back to the line of works from which they first commenced to advance. Many valuable officers and men were lost in the charge, and especially when falling back. It was here that General McGowan was wounded the command of his brigade devolving on Colonel [O. E.] Edwards, who was, immediately after assuming command, seriously wounded. The command of McGowan's brigade next devolved on Colonel [D. H.] Hamilton, First South Carolina Regiment [Provisional Army], who commanded the brigade (luring the remainder of the action.
General Archer advanced with his brigade. Conforming his line of battle to that of the enemy, he charged the works in his front, and, without the least halt or hesitation, carried them, driving the enemy before him, who outnumbered him five to one. General Archer succeeded in capturing a battery of four guns. By his gallant attack he secured the key to the enemy's position, clearing a hill and open space in his front, and thus gaining for our artillery a position from which they were enabled to silence the 29-gun battery of the enemy, which had inflicted so much loss upon our lines. From this position our artillery had also a raking fire on the enemy's works on our right. General Archer, after carrying the hill referred to, advanced beyond the open space and attacked the enemy on his right. He was joined by Major-General Anderson.
About this time the enemy threatened to turn Thomas' and Pender's left. Re-enforcements were ordered to them, among which McGowan's brigade (Colonel Hamilton commanding) formed a part. As soon as re-enforcements reached Pender and Thomas, a general advance took place, and, aided by our artillery, which had not been able to assist us in any previous attack, the works of the enemy were cleared; and, retreating rapidly, he fell back in the direction of United States Ford. Thus ended the battle of Chancellorsville.
Where all behaved so well it would appear like unjust discrimination in mentioning individuals. Generals Pender, Archer, and Thomas deserve, for their successful attacks, to be specially mentioned; and, under the murderous fire of artillery to which they were particularly exposed, no officers or men could have done better than Generals Lane and McGowan and Colonel [J. M.] Brockenbrough. The Light Division (A. P. Hill's), although unfortunately deprived of the presence of their gallant commander, showed on this day that the spirit with which he had inspired them by success on so many battle-fields was still present, and each and all did their duty.
A list of killed and wounded has been furnished.
I cannot close this report without adding that my personal staff--Captains [R. H.] Finney and [H. H.] Harrison, Lieutenants [Miles C.] Selden and [Stockton] Heth, and Acting Engineer Officer W. O. Slade--deserve my thanks for their gallantry and coolness on all occasions during the battle. For acts of individual gallantry, I respectfully refer you to the reports of brigade and regimental commanders.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS LIGHT DIVISION,
May 21, 1863.
Maj. A. S. PENDLETON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Second Army Corps.
MAJOR: In obedience to circular of May 12, from corps headquarters, I have the honor to make the following report of standards lost and captured in this command during the late engagements near Chancellorsville, of the 2d and 3d instant:
The Twenty-second Virginia Battalion.--Lieut. Col. E. P. Tayloe reports the loss of the flag of his battalion, with the following circumstances attending it:
After standing the fire of the batteries intrenched in the front of Chancellorsville, and before which three brigades had to fall back, together with the fire of the enemy's infantry, until very nearly one-half of my command was either killed or wounded, I gave orders for the battalion to fall back across the road, under the hill. Since the time the order was given to fall back, I have heard nothing from the color-bearer, who had the colors with him. I heard that a wounded man reported him as having stopped to assist him, and, while doing so, he was taken prisoner, together with one of the color-guard, who is also missing.
The Eighteenth, North Carolina Regiment.--In regard to the loss of the flag of this regiment, Col. John D. Barry (then Major Barry) makes the following report:
On Saturday night (the 2d instant), while marching by the flank upon the Plank road under the severe shelling of the enemy, Color Sergeant [J. E.] Richardson was severely wounded and sent to the rear. Corporal [A. J.] Prophet, of the color-guard, then seized the flag, and at the beginning of the action of the 3d he bore it. During the action he was killed, and Corporal [Owen J.] Eakins, Company E, also of the color-guard, was intrusted with it. He bore it through the first charge upon the enemy's intrenched position until orders were received to fall back. This order, it appears, he did not immediately hear, and Lieutenant [Alfred] Rowland, Company D, seeing that he still remained, went to him and ordered him back. He obeyed, following In the rear of Lieutenant Rowland, and was probably the last man in the regiment to leave the field. He had gone but a few feet when he, too, was killed; but this was not observed by any of the regiment until we were reforming in the rear of the first line of the enemy's works, and they (the enemy) entering the line we had fallen back from; and the position in which the colors had fallen made it impossible to recover them; at least, very unwise to attempt it.
I beg leave to report that one standard and the flag-staff and portion of another were captured, with the following circumstances attending their capture:
Capt. N. Clark, Company E, Twenty-eighth North Carolina Regiment, reports the following in regard to the capture of the standard of the Third Maine Regiment:
I have the honor to report that our company, on the 3d instant, before day, after the repulse of the famous charge of the enemy on our lines, captured 1 officer (who told the man detailed to carry off the prisoners that he belonged to General Hays' staff), 1 lieutenant, 4 or 5 privates, the color sergeant, and standard of the Third Regiment Maine Volunteers.
Lieut. Col. J. H. Hyman, Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment, reports the following concerning the capture of a flag-staff and portion of the flag by Private Monroe Robinson, of Company A, Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment:
The regiment had routed two lines of the enemy (the first in breastworks), and were engaged with the third line, which was soon broken. The cartridges of most of the men were completely exhausted, and as Private Robinson discovered the color sergeant of the enemy tearing his flag from the staff, he rushed upon him, attempting to capture him, and, having no load in his gun to shoot him, he escaped.
I would state that the flag of the Third Maine Volunteers is now in possession of Brig. Gen. J. H. Lane, having been badly torn after its capture.
It is also believed that another standard was captured, which was carried home by Col. E.G. Haywood, of the Seventh North Carolina State troops, who has been written to for report as to the facts of the case.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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