Report of Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, U. S. Army, Chief of Artillery
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
ARTILLERY HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 1, 1863.
Maj. Gen. JOSEPH HOOKER,
Commanding Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL: On April 27, in pursuance of your instructions, I made a reconnaissance of the enemy's position at Banks' Ford, and determined upon the number and position of the guns to be placed there to enfilade the enemy's rifle-pits; to crush the fire of his work on the hill overlooking the river; to cover the throwing of the bridges at that ford, and to protect the crossing of the troops. The necessary instructions to supervise this work; to place the batteries; to prepare cover for those that were exposed, and to take command there in case of my absentee, were given to Maj. A. Doull, inspector of artillery on my staff, who executed them with his customary energy, taking with him two batteries of position (B, First Connecticut, Brooker, four 42-inch guns, and the Twenty-ninth New York, Blucher, four 20-pounders) from the Artillery Reserve. The 20-pounder battery, under Lieutenant Blucher, from the necessity of the case, was placed in a very exposed position, but with the labor of his men he constricted good cover for them. The remaining batteries required for this position were drawn from the Second, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps.
After performing this duty, I returned to select positions for the batteries, to cover the throwing of the bridges at Franklin's Crossing, and at a point just below the mouth of White Oak Run, near Pollock's Mill, the positions were selected, the batteries designated, and on the night of the 28th were placed in position as follows:
Franklin's crossing--Ten guns of position of the Artillery Reserve (Pratt's, M, First Connecticut, four 42-inch guns, and Voegelee's Thirtieth New York, six 20-pounder Parrotts) and twenty-four light rifles of the Sixth Corps (Harn's Third New York, six 10-pounder Parrotts; McCarthy's, C and I), First Pennsylvania, six 10-pounders; Rigby's, A, First Maryland, six 3-inch guns; and Cowan's First New York, six 3-inch guns) on the bluffs back of the crossing; twelve light 12-pounders (Williston's, D, Second United States, six 12-pounders, and Seeley's, K, Fourth United States, six 12-pounders) on the bank of the river, one battery above and one below the position selected to throw the bridges, so as to cross their fire over the enemy's rifle-pits opposite, and prevent his firing on the pontoons; the whole under the command of Col. C. H. Tompkins, First Rhode Island Artillery.
Crossing near Pollock's Mill--Twenty light rifles (Reynolds' L, First New York, six 3-inch guns; Hall's Second Maine, six 3-inch guns; Amsden's, G, First P Pennsylvania, four 3 inch guns, and Cooper's, B, First Pennsylvania, four 3-inch guns) were placed on the elevation just above the mill, and fourteen (Edgell's, A, First New Hampshire, six 3-inch guns; Thompson's Fourth Pennsylvania, four 3 inch guns, and Ricketts', F, First Pennsylvania, four 3-inch guns) below, to which were added in the morning six light 12-pounders (Ransom's, C, Fifth United States); the whole under the command of Col. C. S. Wainwright, First New York Artillery.
A mile below these positions, and near Traveler's Rest, sixteen guns, (Taft's Fifth New York, four 20-pounders; Kusserow's Thirty-second New York, six 3-inch guns, and Hart's Fifteenth New York, six 3-inch guns), raider the command of Lieut. Col. E. R. Warner, inspector of artillery, were stationed to control the bridge across the Massaponax, and to cover the left of the army after the crossing should be effected. These three batteries moved along the banks, following the subsequent movements of the army until, at the close of the operation, they were stationed so as to sweep the streets of Fredericksburg and command the Falmouth Ford. In the course of these operations, Hart's battery was relieved by von Blucher's, which had returned from Banks' Ford. Miller's battery G, Fourth United States, six 12 pounders) was already in position near the Lacy house, and twenty-two light 12-pounders in addition (Randolph's, E, First Rhode Island, six 12-pounders; Kinzie's, K, Fifth [U.S.] Artillery, four 12 pounders; Dimick's, H, First United States, six 12-pounders, and Bruen's Tenth New York, six 12-pounders) were placed in reserve near Falmouth Station, in readiness to move to any point above or below where their services might be required. The disposable horse artillery (Graham's, K, First United States, six 3-inch guns; Meinell's, C, Third United States, six 3 inch guns, and Penninton's detachments, ten 3-inch guns), under Captain Graham, First [U.S] Artillery, was in like manner stationed between White Oak Church and the river, so as to be available at any point near or below the crossings.
At daybreak of the 29th, Russell's brigade of infantry crossed the river in boats at Franklin's Crossing, and occupied the enemy's riflepits with but little resistance. The bridges were constructed and Brooks' division crossed, taking with it Williston's battery (D, Second United States, six 12-pounders), which was posted behind the rifle-pits.
On the 3d, Seeley's battery (K, Fourth United States, six 12-pounders) was relieved and joined its division. At the lower (or Reynolds') crossing, the attempts to throw the bridge early in the morning were defeated by the enemy's sharpshooters and the infantry in his rifle pits.
About 8.30 a.m. the fog lifted, and the batteries were brought into requisition. By slow, deliberate, and well sustained fire of great accuracy, the fire of the enemy was completely suppressed, the men taking refuge by lying down in the ditch, and a regiment moving down to reenforce them driven back. Under the protection of the fire, a force was thrown across in the pontoons with little or no loss, and captured about 100 of the men in the pits, the remainder escaping by flight.
The practice of the rifle batteries, especially that of Cooper's (B, First Pennsylvania, four 3-inch guns), was excellent. The bridges were then established, and Wadsworth's division crossed. The three batteries near Traveler's Rest (Taft's Fifth New York, four 20-pounders; Kusserow's Thirty-second New York, six 3-inch guns, and Hart's Fifteenth New York, six 3-inch guns) repulsed all attempts of the enemy to pass the Massaponax from below, and, on the arrival of the enemy's columns from Port Royal, compelled them to make a wide detour and pass round by the hill roads.
For an account of the further operations of the batteries at the crossings, I respectfully refer you to the reports of Colonels Wainwright and Tompkins, chiefs of artillery of the First and Sixth Corps.
On the 30th, 1 received orders to accompany you to Chancellorsville, which place we reached that night. The troops having crossed at United States Ford, the artillery was withdrawn from Banks', and ordered to join their proper commands, with the exception of Brooker's 42-inch battery, which crossed at the United States Ford.
May l.--Soon after General Sykes became engaged, he sent to me for two batteries, one of rifles and one of 12-pounders. Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, chief of artillery Second Corps, kindly furnished me with a battery of rifles (Arnold's, A, First Rhode Island, six 3-inch guns), and I also ordered Crosby's (F, Fourth United States, six 12-pounders), which I found near the Chancellor house, placing both under command of Maj. Alexander Doull, inspector of artillery, to report to General Sykes. Crosby's battery was soon after recalled, and sent to report to its own corps commander, General Slocum, who needed it. I could find no other to replace it.
At 1.30 p.m. I received verbal instructions from you to return to headquarters camp, near Falmouth, collect the disposable artillery, move it to Banks' Ford, and to prevent any attempt of the enemy to cross at that point. In obedience to these instructions, I directed Captain Brooker to recross the river with his siege guns (B, First Connecticut, four 42-inch guns) and resume his position at Banks' [Ford]. From the telegraph station at the United States Ford I sent a message to Major-General Butterfield, chief of staff, requesting him to send to Banks Ford the disposable batteries near headquarters camp, and proceeded myself to reconnoiter the ford and select positions for them. In conformity with my request for infantry, the remainder of General Owen's brigade, a portion of which was on duty at the ford, under the orders of General Benham, reported to me that night.
At 7.30 p.m. the batteries which had repaired (Pennington's, M, Second United States, ten 3-inch guns, and two attached seconds, and Graham's, K, First United States, six 3-inch guns) were placed in position, sixteen guns, and these arriving during the night (Meinell's, C, Third United States, six 3-inch guns; Hart's, Fifteenth New York, six 3-inch guns; Kinzie's, K, Fifth United States, four 12 pounders, and Brooker's, B, First Connecticut, four 42-inch guns) went into park, with the exception of Brooker's, which was placed in position commanding the enemy's work on the hill. No demonstrations were made by the enemy.
On the afternoon of the 3d, he abandoned his rifle-pits opposite us. Major-General Sedgwick having carried the heights above Fredericksburg, and being then on the advance along the Chancellorsville road, I sent Major Doull across (swimming his horse) to communicate with General Sedgwick and report his progress. In the meantime General Benham laid the bridges, and I crossed to inspect the different works of the enemy. The firing between General Sedgwick and the enemy growing into the sounds of a battle, I immediately remained to the north side of the river, in order to send support to Sedgwick. On reaching the bridge, I found Brigadier-General Owen crossing, and directed him to connect with Sedgwick's right, so as to keep up communication with the bridges. I also sent word to General Sedgwick that two horse batteries were at his disposal and more artillery, if he required it.
About this time I received a dispatch from General Butterfield, directing me to report immediately to you at Chancellorsville, and I turned the command of the artillery over to Brigadier-General Tyler, who had just joined the army to take command of the Artillery Reserve. In the meantime the battles of May 2 and 3 had been fought at Chancellorsville. For the particulars of the service of the artillery in these battles, I respectfully refer to the reports of the commanders of the troops to which the batteries were attached. I will only note some of the main features so far as the artillery was concerned.
When the Eleventh Corps was broken up and routed, on the 2d. its batteries are reported as having behaved well. General Pleasonton collected some batteries belonging to different corps (Martin's Horse Artillery, Sixth New York, six 3 inch guns; Clark's, B, First New Jersey, six 10 pounders; Lewis', Tenth New York, six light 12-pounders, Turnbull's, F and K, Third United Slates, six 12-pounders), and with them formed a large battery of twenty four guns. The retreating troops swept through and around this battery, carrying off horses and caissons and even overturning one of the guns; but, as a whole, it held firm, and when the enemy, flushed with success, appeared before it, met them with a storm of canister, first checking and then driving them back into the woods, from which they had emerged at 300 yards distance. It was a desperate combat between artillery and infantry at 300 yards distance, in which the artillery repulsed the infantry, flushed, as they were, with a great success, which they were following up when checked by this battery.
After being driven back, the troops of the enemy (Jackson's corps) tried by two flank movements to dislodge the battery and resume their advance. The first was repulsed by the artillery alone, the second by the artillery aided by the advance of Whipple's and Birney's divisions, which were enabled to reach the ground by the check previously given to the enemy. At the same time a battery of thirty-eight guns (Dimick's, H, First United States, six 12-pounders; Crosby's, F, Fourth [U. S.] Artillery, four 12-pounders; Winegar's, M, First New York, six 10-pounders; Fitzhugh's, K, First New York, four 3-inch guns; Thomas', C, Fourth [U S] Artillery, four 12-pounders; Winslow's, D First New York, six 12-pounders; Hill's, C, First [West] Virginia, one section, two 3 inch guns; Dilger's, I, First Ohio, six 12-pounders--Dilger relieved on Sunday morning, May 3, by Hampton's Third Pennsylvania, six 10pounder Parrotts) was assembled near Fairview by Captain Best, Fourth U.S. Artillery, and stationed so as to reach the enemy by firing over the heads of our own troops, distant 500 yards, as no better position could be obtained, and the use of the guns was imperative. The firing was very effective, and, as far as known, without accident to our own troops. Down to 10 p.m. the cannonade, was at times terrific, and contributed much to checking the enemy. The batteries were then intrenched.
Early next morning (Sunday, the 3d), the enemy renewed the attack, and the battery replied. An open field, about three-.fourths of a mile to the left and front of the battery, occupied by one of our brigades and some guns, was taken possession of by the enemy, who opened with artillery on Best's position with fearful effect, killing, among others, Captain Hampton, of the Third Pennsylvania Battery, blowing up one of the caissons, and enfilading our line of infantry. Best, however, stood to his work manfully till about 9 a.m., when, the infantry having retired, both flanks of the battery being turned, the enemy's musketry picking off men and horses, and the ammunition nearly expended, the guns were withdrawn, to save them.
Toward the close of this affair, Lieut. F. B. Crosby, commanding Battery F, Fourth [U. S.] Artillery, a young officer of high character and great promise, was killed by a musket ball.
In the meantime Sedgwick had crossed the river with his corps; occupied Fredericksburg on the 3d, and assaulted and carried the enemy's works above the town; captured a number of guns, and advanced on the Chancellorsville road to the vicinity of Salem Heights, where the enemy were found in strong force. Here a furious struggle took place, in which the artillery played a conspicuous and important part. On this day and the succeeding one the batteries of the corps were engaged in the desperate struggle maintained by Sedgwick against a largely superior force. Colonel Tompkins, commanding the artillery of the corps, makes special mention of the services of each, and to his report for more extended information, and to that of General Sedgwick for his estimate of the value of the service rendered by the artillery on that occasion, I would respectfully refer you. In the meantime it is but just that the names of the batteries and their commanders be presented: Harn's, Third New York, six 10 pounders; McCartney's, A, First Massachusetts, six 12-pounders; Butler's, G, Second United States, six 12-pounders; Martin's, F, Fifth United States, six 10-pounders; Cowan's First New York, six 3-inch guns; McCarthy's, C and D, First Pennsylvania, six 3-inch guns; Williston's, D, Second United States, six 12-pounders; Rigby's, A, First Maryland, six 3-inch guns, and Parsons', A, First New Jersey, six 10-pounders.
At Banks' Ford, General Tyler, upon taking command, communicated with General Sedgwick, and placed such of his batteries of the Reserve Artillery as might be needed at General Sedgwick's disposal. The batteries, placed in position to command the crossing-places and cover the bridges, engaged with such of those of the enemy as came within their range. In this service 1 man was wounded and a few horses killed, and Sedgwick's corps now crossed, under protection of their fire.
On my arrival at general headquarters, at 10 p.m. of May 3, I was directed by you to take charge of all the artillery, relieving Colonel Wainwright, who had been placed in command of it the day before. Colonel Wainwright informed me that he had made the best practicable arrangement for the lines of defense, but that in the general confusion, from the want of a commander of the artillery, the batteries of the corps had become scattered and mixed with each other.
On examination, I found the line commencing on our left, which rested on the Rappahannock and extended to Hunting Creek, had three large batteries, viz: One of thirty guns, twenty rifles and ten light 12-pounders (Waterman's, C, First Rhode Island, two sections, four 3-inch guns; Barnes', C, First New York, four 3-inch guns; Phillips', E, First Massachusetts, six 3 inch guns; Hazlett's, D, Fifth Artillery, six 10-pounders; Randol's, E, First United States, four 12-pounders, and Martin's, C, First Massachusetts, six 12-pounders), under command of Captain Randol, First Artillery, on the left of the line; one of forty-eight guns, twenty-four light 12-pounders and twenty-four 3 inch guns (Kirby's, I, First [U.S.] Artillery, six 12-pounders; Ames', G, First New York, six 12-pounders; Gibbs', L, First Ohio, six 12-pounders; Bruen's Tenth New York, six 12-pounders; Fitzhugh's, K, First New York, four 3-inch guns; Ricketts', F, First Pennsylvania, four 3-inch guns; Martin's, F. Fifth United States, four 3-inch guns; Waterman's, C, First Rhode Island, one section, two 3-inch guns; Edgell's, A, First New Hampshire, six 3-inch guns, and Amsden's, G, First Pennsylvania, four 3-inch guns), under command of Captain Weed, Fifth U.S. Artillery, commanding the artillery of the Fifth Corps, at the angle in our line near the white house, and one of thirty-two guns, twenty light rifles and twelve light 12-pounders (Hall's Second Maine, six 3 inch guns; Wiedrich's, I, First New York, four 3-inch guns; Knap's First Pennsylvania, four 10-pounders; Reynolds First New York, six 3 inch guns; Ransom's, C, Fifth [U. S.] Artillery, six 12-pounders, and Stewart's, B, Fourth [U. S.] Artillery, six 12-pounders), under command of Colonel Wainwright, First New York Artillery, commanding the artillery of the First Corps, on the right of our line, near Hunting Creek.
After examining these batteries, and giving such instructions as were required, I proceeded to ascertain the positions of the other batteries of the corps, which I found mostly in the open ground near the United States Ford or in the woods behind the line of the army. I had them replenished with ammunition and so placed as to become available should their services be needed.
On the afternoon of the 4th, during a reconnaissance made by Griffin's division, Fifth Corps, a cannonade took place between the large battery at the center of our line, under Captain Weed, and the enemy's artillery. This closed the active operations of the main body of the army on the south side of the river.
At daybreak on the morning of Tuesday, the 5th, I received your instructions to cross all the batteries not in line of battle to the north side of the Rappahannock, under cover of the fog, and to send them by way of Hartwood Church to their old camps. This duty was performed under the immediate direction of Captain Best, Fourth Artillery, commander of the artillery of the Twelfth Corps. By my order he stationed several batteries in the open space on the hill below the ford, so as to sweep the front of the left of our line and to command all the open ground upon which the enemy could place guns to shell our bridge, which he had attempted the previous evening. At the same time, batteries were placed upon the bluffs, commanding the ford both above and below the bridges, to hold the enemy in check should he attempt to follow the army on its withdrawal.
The army passed to the north bank during that night and a portion of the next day. The enemy, as I had foreseen, sent a force to the position from which he, had shelled our bridges, but, after a sharp cannonade, it was driven off, principally by the fire of Knap's and Thompson's batteries (Knap's First Pennsylvania, six 10.pounders, and Thompson's Fourth Pennsylvania, four 10-pounders), with some loss in killed and wounded on our part. The enemy suffered considerably and lost one caisson--blown up.
Our loss in all these operations, so far as I can learn from the imperfect reports furnished me, was 5 officers--Capt. R. B. Hampton, Third Independent Pennsylvania Battery; First Lieuts. F. B. Crosby, Fourth [U. S.] Artillery; F. Dorries, Battery L, First Ohio; B. E. Kelley, Battery G, First Rhode Island Artillery; Lieutenant [William] O'Donohue, Second Independent New York Battery--and 50 enlisted men killed, and 13 officers--Capt. G. F. Leppien (mortally), First Lieut. G. T. Stevens, and Second Lieut. A. B. Twitchell, Fifth Maine Battery; Second Lieutenant [Beldin] Spence, Battery G, First Pennsylvania; First Lieuts. E. Kirby, First U.S. Artillery (mortally), C. Allen, jr., and O. L. Torslow, Battery G, First Rhode Island; J. B. Slauson, Battery B, First New York; J. E. Dimick, First U.S. Artillery (mortally); F. M. Sackett, C, First Rhode Island; J. C. Carlisle, Thirteenth New York Battery ; Jacob Blind and Theodore Tiebel, Second New York Battery; C. A. Atwell, First Pennsylvania Battery--and 268 enlisted men wounded, 53 captured or missing, and 388 horses killed and disabled, horse artillery not included.
I respectfully refer to the reports of commanders of artillery, corps, and of the generals with whom they served for the names of those who have distinguished themselves for gallantry and good conduct.
To the officers of my staff--Lieut. Col. E. R. Warner and Maj. Alexander Doull, inspectors of artillery, who were each charged with separate commands, at different points, as already stated; Capt. J. N. Craig, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. C. T. Bissell, aide-de-camp--my thanks are due for the gallantry and efficiency with which they discharged the duties devolved upon them. Those of Lieutenant Bissell, my only aide, were necessarily arduous and always performed with promptitude.
To Colonel Wainwright, First New York Artillery, who was placed by the commanding general in charge of all the artillery on the 3d; Capt. C. L. Best, Fourth [U. S.] Artillery, who took charge of the batteries not in the line of battle on the 4th, and of the posting and commanding of such batteries as were needed to cover the withdrawal of the army, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan (captain Fourth [U.S.] Artillery) for assistance given me on the field, I beg to make my acknowledgments.
In justice to the artillery, and to myself, I think it necessary to state certain circumstances affecting its condition and losses in these operations. The command of the artillery, which I held under Generals McClellan and Burnside, and exercised at the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, was withdrawn from me when you assumed command of the army, and my duties made purely administrative, under circumstances very unfavorable to their efficient performance. I heard after the movement commenced that, when the corps were put in motion to cross the river, they left part of their artillery in their camps. No notice of this was given to me, and it was only by accident that I learned that the batteries so left behind were afterward ordered to rejoin their corps. As soon as the battle commenced on Friday morning, I began to receive demands from corps commanders for more artillery, which I was unable to comply with, except partially, and at the risk of deranging the plans of other corps commanders. That same morning I was ordered to Banks' Ford, to take command there, and was absent at that place until the night of the 3d from general headquarters.
The promotion of many of the old artillery officers, and the invariable transfer which accompanied it to other duties, weakened the regular batteries exceedingly, and at the same time deprived the divisional artillery of experienced commanders. The limitation of officers of four-gun batteries crippled the volunteer service, and the want of field officers added to the great difficulties under which the arm labored. It will, perhaps, hardly be believed that for the command and management in their operations of the artillery of the army, consisting of 412 guns, 980 artillery carriages, 9,543 men and officers, and 8,544 horses, besides their large ammunition trains, there were but five field officers of artillery in the army, and from the scarcity of officers of inferior grades these officers had miserably insufficient staffs. Add to this that there was no commander of all the artillery until a late period of the operations, and I doubt if the history of modern armies can exhibit a parallel instance of such palpable crippling of a great arm of the service in the very presence of a powerful enemy, to overcome whom would require every energy of all arms under the most favorable circumstances. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at that confusion and mismanagement ensued, and it is creditable to the batteries themselves, and to the officers who commanded them, that they did so well. Fourteen guns were lost, but the most of these losses (eight)occurred in the rout of the Eleventh Corps, and all of them before Colonel Wainwright or myself was placed in command of the whole artillery.
HENRY J. HUNT,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac.
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