Report of Brig.
Gen. Gabriel R. Paul, U. S. Army, Commanding Third Brigade.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
CAMP NEAR WHITE OAK CHURCH, VA.,
May 20, 1863.
ACTING ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
Headquarters First Division, First Army Corps.
SIR: In compliance with orders from headquarters of the First Division, First Army Corps, I have the honor to report the part taken by my brigade during the operations of the Army of the Potomac against the enemy from April 28 to May 6, 1863.
The Third Brigade, consisting of the Twenty-second, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Regiments New Jersey Volunteers and the One hundred and thirty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, left camp, near Belle Plain, on April 28; marched toward the Rappahannock, via White Oak Church, and encamped about 2 miles from the river. Left camp at midnight, and halted near the crossing, several miles below Fredericksburg, where it was held in reserve until about 12 m., when it was ordered forward; crossed the river without opposition on a pontoon bridge, and took post on the crest of the bank on the west side of the river, and at nightfall the Thirty-first New Jersey was moved into rifle-pits in front.
In this position the brigade remained quietly until May 2, when the enemy opened their batteries on us, doing, however, but little damage, the troops being partially protected by the bank. In the midst of the heaviest firing, I received orders from the division commander to recross the river with my brigade, which was done with some loss, the enemy having the exact range of the bridge. Many fragments of shell fell on and around the bridge during the passage of the troops, and one shell struck it, and, exploding, destroyed one of the pontoons and part of the flooring of the bridge, obliging the One hundred and thirty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, about to cross, to return to the shelter of the river bank while the damage was being repaired. After crossing, a few more casualties occurred. The brigade was then marched toward the United States Ford, crossing the river near that point at about 3 a.m. on May 3, and took a position on the right of the army, forming a support for the first Line.
On the 4th, moved to the extreme right, forming with two regiments a continuation of the first line, supported by two regiments in the second line, and on the 5th, at 4 p.m., sent the Twenty-second New Jersey Volunteers about a mile to the right, forming a line near the Rapidan. At about 10 p.m. the same day, during a heavy rain, marched the brigade toward the United States Ford, which point was nearly reached at midnight, when countermanding orders were received. The brigade retraced its steps, and its former position was nearly reached, when order:: were received to march again toward the crossing, and this was finally accomplished early on the morning of May 6. The troops were very much fatigued, having marched and countermarched all night in the mud and exposed to a drenching rain.
It is with pleasure that I can testify to the zeal displayed by the troops of my command, who were anxious for an opportunity to meet the enemy face to face. Although never before under fire, they showed great coolness when exposed to it, and would have given a good account of themselves in a closer conflict with the enemy.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. R. PAUL,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.
RETURN TO CHANCELLORSVILLE ORDER OF BATTLE (AOP) PAGE