Narrative of Events and Observations Connected with the Wounding of
General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson
Major Marcellus N. Moorman, Stuart Horse Artillery, Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
Collated from His Diary and Memory.
Lynchburg, Va., November 15th, 1902.
The afternoon of May 1st, 1863, my Battery, of the Stuart Horse Artillery Battalion, was on the extreme left of our troops, then confronting Hooker's army, near the old Catherine Furnace. Late that afternoon we were ordered to shell a piece of woods in our front. In order to do this we were turned into a very narrow old road, through a dense forest which ran perpendicular to the woods about to be shelled. The leading guns coming up, I at once rode forward to find a position, as I was still so closely confined with the scrub oak, that I could not unlimber. As I reached the guns in front, the Federal artillery opened, apparently all over the woods. Unable to move forward, I returned to my guns, where I found Generals Jackson, Stuart and Wright; shrapnell and canister raining around them from the enemy's guns. Stuart remarked: "General Jackson, we must move from here." But, before they could turn, the gallant Channing Price, Stuart's Adjutant-General, was mortally wounded and died in a few hours. My battery lost six men without being able to unlimber. We retired from this point and bivouacked for the night.
By day the following morning I was ordered to move with General Fitz. Lee's Cavalry. On we pressed through byways and highways, covering the troops of Jackson, until finally reaching the plank road a halt was made, General Fitz. Lee being present. In a short time General Jackson arrived at the head of his columns. Some disposition of troops, both of cavalry and infantry, having been made. General Lee remarked: "General Jackson, if you will ride with me I can show you the enemy's right." They rode off in the direction of Chancellorsville. Soon the order came to move across to the old turnpike, which was done. There the head of the column was turned to the right, and going possibly less than a mile in the direction of Chancellorsville, I was halted, and unlimbered one section--two guns--in the road. General Rodes, who was just behind, was ordered to align his division upon my guns.
The two wings of Lee's army now occupied the same road; Lee upon the east, fronting, and Jackson on the west, in rear of Hooker's army. The cavalry having cleared the front, I was thinking it a little strange to receive no orders (my command being attached to the cavalry) to retire with the cavalry, and seeing General Jackson sitting near by, I approached him, saluted, and asked if I was expected to move with his line. "Yes, Captain," said he, "I will give you the honor of going in with my troops." (Jackson had been my old instructor at the V. M. I.) I remained talking with him during the formation of his lines; Rodes' Division leading, Colston's two hundred yards in their rear, and A. P. Hill only partially deployed, two hundred yards in rear of Colston.
Hearing such heavy artillery firing, just opposite, in the direction of Salem Church, I ventured to ask the General who it was. He asked, "How far do you suppose it is?" I replied, "Five or six miles." He then said, with characteristic sententiousness, "I suppose it is General Lee." He then asked me the time of day. "Five forty, General." "Thank you; time we were moving," was the General's laconic reply. I at once mounted and went to my guns. In a few minutes the clarion notes of the bugle from Major Blackford's skirmish line, some hundred and fifty yards in advance, rang out the command "Forward," when Jackson's twenty-five thousand veterans stepped forth into the dark shadows of the wilderness, in search of the right flank of Hooker's army; keeping two guns with the front line of battle, and two with the second, alternating the sections as the leading guns would come into action. On we pressed through the carnage and destruction we had wrought, till a halt in the line was made.
It was now night, and dark, except the glimmer of the moon through the tangled woods. Being so ordered, I opened my guns down the road in the direction of Chancellorsville, which drew a rapid reply from a six gun battery. During this artillery duel, Rodes's and Colston's Divisions, which had become intermingled during the constant fighting, were ordered to withdraw and reform, and A. P. Hill's Division was sent to the front. General Lane, with the leading brigade of Hill's Division, came up in rear of my guns and halted, withdrawing to the edge of the woods. General Hill seeing his brigades not moving, sent forward his Adjutant-General, Lieutenant-Colonel Palmer, to know the cause of the delay. General Lane, in a letter to me, says: "In reaching the advance guns of Moorman's Battery, both sides opened their artillery and I ordered my command to lie down on the side of the road. General A. P. Hill sent his Adjutant-General, Lieutenant-Colonel Palmer, to know why I did not form my line of battle, and my reply was, because I do not wish to lose my command. I am unwilling to attempt to form my line in the dark, under such a fire and in such woods. Tell General Hill I believe the enemy is simply responding to our guns. If he will order our guns to cease firing the enemy will stop, and I will then form my line. The order was given through Colonel Palmer; your guns ceased firing and so did the enemy's, just as I expected, and I then formed my line. Two regiments on the right of the road, the Thirty-seventh and Seventh North Carolina, two on the left, the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth North Carolina, with one, the Thirty-third North Carolina, thrown well forward to the Van Wort house as skirmishers. My brigade were the only troops in line of battle at the time. Pender's and McGowan's Brigades of A. P. Hill's Division were in the road in rear of mine, and it was there, whilst being carried to the rear, that Jackson gave his order, so often quoted, to Pender: 'Hold your ground, General Pender!' Pender did not form on the left of the road until after Jackson and A. P. Hill had been wounded and I had withdrawn the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth North Carolina Regiments and put them on my right, where they repulsed Sickles's formidable midnight attack and captured the colors of the Third Maine Regiment."
Just as Lane had established his line and come up to the pike in search of General Hill for orders, up rode General Jackson, who said to Lane: "Push ahead, General Lane," and passed on. Colonel Crutchfield, his chief of artillery, halted as they reached my guns, some fifty yards in advance of Lane's line, and said to me: "Captain, you can limber up and mount your men, and as soon as my guns arrive, which I have ordered in, you can retire and join your command."
It will be observed that there was an interval of many minutes between the withdrawal of Rodes and Colston and the establishment of Lane's brigade, during which there were no troops upon the firing line except my battery.
As General Jackson passed on, General Lane at once rode to the right of his brigade to move it forward. Colonel Hill, commanding the right regiment, the Seventh North Carolina, asked Lane to wait a few minutes, as he had heard a noise upon his right flank and must find out what it was. Lane said: "Send down and see." Colonel Hill at once sent Lieutenant Emack and four men in the direction of the noise. He had gone but a short distance through the woods when he walked right into the 128th Pennsylvania Regiment. Emack at once threw up his sword and said: "Men, Jackson has surrounded you; down with your guns, else we will shoot the last one of you." Down went the guns, and the lieutenant marched the captured regiment into his brigade. Now, where was Jackson at this time? He had reached Lane's picket line and was talking with the officer in charge, awaiting Lane's advance, when some Federal soldier on horseback rode up in front of the picket line and asked for General Williams (of Hooker's Army.) The sergeant of the picket upon the right of the road, knowing him to be a Federal inquiring for a Federal General, responded by firing at him, which was taken up both right and left, until the entire picket line was blazing away in the darkness. Now, Jackson turned to move back to his lines, being on the right of the road and the line of battle not coming forward as he had ordered. (Lane having been detained by the noise on his right and the capture of the Federal regiment.) Just at this moment Lane's regiments on the right of the road, the Thirty-seventh North Carolina and Seventh North Carolina opened one sheet of fire into the faces of my horses as they stood fronting the line, I having limbered up to move to the rear, being between the picket line and the battle line, was only awaiting the arrival of Crutchfield's guns; and I will say, just here, that not a gun of Crutchfield's had fired a shot or had arrived at the front, upon this road, up to the wounding of Jackson. My homes wheeled, breaking several poles. I at once rushed to the two regiments firing and asked: "What are you firing at? Are you trying to kill all my men in front of you? There are no Yankees here." The officer in charge gave the command to cease firing. The firing having ceased I returned to my guns, thinking I had quieted the line. Jackson had in the meantime crossed to the left of the road, getting out of the line of fire of the two right regiments, the Seventh North Carolina and the Thirty-seventh North Carolina, and had nearly reached my guns, keeping on the edge of the woods, when Major John Barry, commanding the Eighteenth North Carolina, on the left of the road, for some reason, I know not what, ordered the Eighteenth North Carolina to fire. The Twenty-eighth North Carolina at once joined in the firing. It was this volley from the Eighteenth North Carolina that wounded Jackson. I say so for the reason that he was in front of the right of that regiment, which rested on the pike. But censure not this gallant regiment, who would have laid down their lives for their beloved commander! Remember, we had been fighting for hours, when this new line deployed through a dense forest, and knowing nothing of Jackson's movements, believed they were firing upon the foe. My men informed me at once that General Jackson was wounded, just in the edge of the woods, and that one of my men, John Webb, had the General's little sorrel. A moment or two more, and the Federals opened upon us at least twenty, some say forty, guns, with shell, canister and solid shot, a most terrific fire, carrying a besom of destruction which seemed to sweep the very rocks from the old pike. We, on our side, became quiet, the Yankees slowed down and soon ceased firing. I then replaced my poles and righted up my guns, except one caisson, and seeing Crutchfield's guns moving up, I withdrew some 150 or 200 yards to the rear and halted, sending back Dick Perkins with a pair of horses for the disabled caisson. As I halted, Major Rogers came up, wounded, was taken from his horse and placed in the ambulance. Then came up Colonel Crutchfield (an intimate friend of mine and schoolmate), and recognizing me, said: "Captain, please assist me to dismount." I asked: "How are you wounded, Colonel?" He replied: "My thigh is broken." I had him taken off and placed in the ambulance. Just as I turned to my horse a litter came up, borne by four men, several others following. Knowing that Jackson had been wounded, I asked: "Whom have you there?" The General in his laconic style spoke up, "Tell him it is an officer." At once recognizing his voice, I said: "Hold the ambulance, men; take Major Rogers out and put General Jackson in with Colonel Crutchfield."
A few years ago, Major Hotchkiss asked me if it was my ambulance. My reply was, from the authority I was taking over it, I would suppose it was, but would not say with absolute certainty, for the question had never occurred to me. A few days after, meeting one of my old men, Lud. Hall, I asked him if he was with me at Chancellorsville when General Jackson was wounded, and he replied that he was. Then I made the inquiry, "what do you remember about it?" "Well," he said, "I remember that he was shot right by the battery, John Webb caught the horse, and we put him in our ambulance and sent him to the hospital."
Waiting a reasonable time for the disabled piece, I ordered a sergeant to ride back and ascertain why the caisson was not brought out. The reply was: "The Captain promised to send back a pair of horses, why doesn't he do that?" The sergeant replied: "He did send young Perkins with his team." "Well, he has gone somewhere else, or is killed. We are ready and waiting," was the response. The sergeant rode back, secured other horses and brought out the piece. Some eight months afterward, when Perkins returned to the battery, having been exchanged, I asked him how he was captured. He said: "Captain, I had almost reached our line of battle, when some one stepped out of the bushes and ordered me to halt. I replied: "Don't bother me, I am going after my piece." He sprung at me, seizing my horse, ran a pistol up into my face, saying: "Open your mouth and I will blow your head off." Thinking it prudent to see what this meant, I dismounted, when he took me by the arm, saying: "Take those reins in your hands and come along." We turned right back into the bushes, I leading the horses, and in a few minutes I found myself in the Yankee lines.
But to return, I retained the three horses--Jackson's, Crutchfield's and Rogers'--until we reached the vicinity of Orange Courthouse, some eight or ten days later, where I turned them over to Genera! Stuart; Webb retaining the yellow nose-band from the bridle of the General's little sorrel, as a relic.
This is a plain statement of the facts, recorded in my memory, which passed under my personal observation, and they accord in all material points with the statements of General Lane and Major Hotchkiss.
No action during the war made as indellible an impression upon me as the work of that day and night, May 2, 1863, and I was in it from start to finish.
In a letter written by Major Jed. Hotchkiss, a staff officer of General Jackson's, of date October 8th, 1898, to Dr. Hunter McGuire, Jackson's chief surgeon, a copy of which I hold, he says: "It seems to me that this description of affairs by General Lane, when carefully considered, with the topography, coincides with Major Moorman's description, as well as my own, about as well as any three descriptions could." In a letter to myself from Major Hotchkiss, of date December 3rd, 1898, he says: "I am glad that you confirm my own recollections as to where Jackson was wounded, &c., &c. I think I may say, that we have now the last words upon this subject, and that I can write a condensed account of that sad affair that will be final." Hotchkiss unfortunately died a short time after this date.
M. N. MOORMAN,
Stuart Horse Artillery.
BALTIMORE, November 22, 1902.
Winfield Peters, Esq.:
Dear Sir,--I have read Major Moorman's article (which I herewith return to you) on Chancellorsville with great interest. I have a very great familiarity with the country about which he writes, from the fact not only of my having been in the battle of Chancellorsville on the evening of 2nd of May and morning of 3rd of May, 1863, as adjutant of the Stonewall Brigade, then commanded by General Paxton; but also from the fact that in '96, with four Federal officers who belonged to the Eleventh Army Corps (Howard's Corps) and three Confederate officers--viz.: Major Blackford, Colonel Palmer and General Lane--I visited the field and spent the night at Talley's, which is on the road down which Major Moorman's battery moved and which marked the headquarters at the extreme right wing of Hooker's Army--General Devens having that as his headquarters.
A year or two ago, with one of my sons, I visited Mr. Stringfellow, who lives on the northwesterly side of the Rapidan River. With him we drove across the Rapidan (the Germanna) ford, then over the road followed by Grant in his 1864 campaign to Wilderness tavern and store, and thence over the road across which General Jackson formed his three divisions when he made the attack of the evening of 2nd May, 1863. We went over that road all the way by Chancellorsville to Fredericksburg. The details given by Major Moorman correspond exactly with my general understanding of all that happened at and about the time of General Jackson's being wounded and unhorsed. I was under the very severe artillery fire which occurred later in the evening, perhaps about nine o'clock, our brigade having moved up towards the front and having been aligned on the left-hand side of the Plank road or turnpike, the two roads which run from Orange Courthouse at that point having run together.
Major Moorman gives very interesting details with which, of course, I am not entirely familiar. I recall very distinctly that the fact that General Jackson was wounded was known through the command, certainly by me, with amazing rapidity. During this last summer I met old Sickles at Saratoga and had quite a conversation with him on the events of that night. I asked him what he would have done if General Jackson had attacked him during the night? His reply was, with his usual pomposity of manner, that he would have crushed him. The idea of Dan Sickles ever living to crush "Stonewall" Jackson amused me very much.
I am, very truly,
Late Captain C. S. Army.
Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1902.
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