Report of Maj. Gen. John P. Reynolds, U. S. Army,
commanding First Array Corps,
with Itinerary of the Corps, April 19-May 26.
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.--The Chancellorsville Campaign.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXV/1 [S# 39]
HDQRS. FIRST ARMY CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Pollock's Mill, Va., May --, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the First Corps from the 28th ultimo to the 7th instant: The troops left their camp about noon on April 28, and were assembled by nightfall in the position designated for them, in rear of the point of crossing, the mouth of Pollock's Mill Creek.
At 10 o'clock the details called for to assist the engineer officer, Colonel Pettes, in carrying the boats by hand to the river, were furnished, viz, 75 men to each of the forty-four boats, and a brigade of 3,000 men were in readiness to be thrown across in them when they reached the river, to cover the construction of the bridges. These details were under the direction of General Wadsworth, from whose division they were made.
Owing to the distance which the boats had to be carried, and the condition of the road, they did not all reach the river until daylight of the 29th, twenty boats only being in the water when the enemy's pickets, in their rifle-pits, opened with musketry and drove the working parties away. Our sharpshooters, disposed under cover along the bank of the river, were insufficient to dislodge the enemy, who were soon re-enforced in their pits by another regiment. As soon as the fog cleared, and the force of the enemy could be discerned to be only that occupying the pits, General Wadsworth was directed to get the boats below them, and throw over two regiments, so as to flank the pits and clear them. The Twenty-fourth Michigan and Sixth Wisconsin Regiments (Colonels Morrow and Bragg), selected for this purpose, moved down to the river bank at double-quick, were rapidly thrown across in the boats, ascended the bank, and drove off the enemy, capturing some 90 men of the Sixth Louisiana and Twenty third Georgia, including several officers. General Wadsworth crossed with the regiments and directed their movements in person. The remaining regiments of this brigade were then crossed in the boats, after which the bridges were constructed, under the direction of General Benham, who arrived from the upper crossing shortly after daylight.
By 10.30 o'clock the bridges were reported completed, and the other brigades of General Wadsworth's division were crossed and put in position to cover the bridge head. It was necessary, in order to do this completely, to extend the left well toward the mouth of the Massaponax, to occupy the high bluff on the right bank of the river. Our loss reported in this operation was about 60 in killed and wounded. The other two divisions of the corps were then brought down to the vicinity of the crossing and sheltered in the ravines of the creek. The enemy commenced moving into position in great strength from below about the time the bridges were completed, occupying the Bowling Green road with his skirmishers, and in the railroad cut and rifle pits just behind the crest (which was our line of battle on that part of the field December 13, 1862) he was apparently formed in two lines, with reserves in the woods.
The One hundred and thirty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was detailed in the morning to support the batteries (Taft's) on the extreme left, near Mrs. Gray's, where it remained until the corps recrossed the river on the 2d instant, when it rejoined its brigade.
On April 30, the troops remained in position, the division across the river throwing up some light defenses, rifle-pits, &c., and during the day two batteries (Ransom's and Stewart's) were crossed, and placed so as to cover the bridges.
About 5 p.m. the enemy opened fire from their battery on the hill, near Captain Hamilton's, on our working parties and the bridges, which was replied to by our batteries on the north side or the river. The fire was kept up until nearly dark, during which time it became necessary to move the Second Division (massed in the ravines, where it sustained some loss) to the shelter of the river road. One boat of the bridge was struck and disabled. It was, however, promptly replaced. The engineers received orders to take up one of the bridges at dark and move it to Banks' Ford. The One hundred and thirty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was placed at the disposal of the engineer officer for this purpose, and accompanied the train, to the ford, returning about noon the next day. At dark, Ransom's battery was replaced by Reynolds', of rifled guns.
May 1 was passed with the troops occupying the same position. The enemy's force opposite us was very much diminished, though still strong on their extreme right, where their battery was posted. Their pickets along the Bowling Green road showed the same. The order for the demonstration at 1 o'clock did not reach me until 6 p.m. The troops were at once put under arms, and a division of the Sixth Corps moved down in the direction of the lower bridge, the skirmishers on the left being advanced to the Massaponax, in which position they remained until dark.
At 7 a.m. on May 2, I received orders to withdraw the forces from the right bank of the river, take up, the bridge, and proceed, with my command, to report to the commanding general, near Chancellorsville. The divisions of Doubleday and Robinson were at once put in motion up the river, while General Wadsworth was ordered to withdraw his to the left bank and follow the route of the other divisions. During the withdrawal of this division, the enemy opened fire from the battery on the right of his line, again striking and disabling a boat of the bridge while the troops were passing, which made it necessary to suspend the crossing for a short time to replace the boat. This was speedily effected, and the passage of the troops continued. Our batteries replied from both sides of the river, Captain Reynolds' battery doing effective service on the south side. The enemy soon ceased firing. I left General Wadsworth at this juncture and proceeded to the head of the column, by way of Banks' Ford, on intimation that probably I might find that the shortest line by which to communicate with the commanding general. On arriving at the ford, and finding there was no bridge thrown across, I continued the march of the column to the United States Ford, where it arrived at sunset. I preceded the command, and reported in person to the commanding general at Chancellorsville at 6 p.m., receiving his instructions for placing my corps.
On returning to the ford, I was joined by Captains [William L.] Candler and [William H.] Paine, of his staff, and conducted the troops under their guidance to the position designated, in which two divisions of the corps were established before daylight of the 3d, though much delayed by the crowded condition of the road from the ford to Chancellorsville, which required the exertions of every officer of my staff to clear for the advance of the column. The First Division, under General Wadsworth, which arrived shortly after daylight on the 3d, was soon gotten into position, and the line established by sunrise. Before the artillery of the corps reached the field, some of that of the Eleventh Corps was assigned to me, and I regret to report that two batteries, or parts of two, left the position assigned them without orders, and disgracefully retreated in the direction of the United States Ford. Colonel Schirmer was the officer who reported to me, in command of all the batteries of that corps. Two others were placed in different parts of the line, and retained their position until properly relieved by batteries of my own corps, Captain Wiedrich's (First New York) artillery remaining until the position was evacuated. Three batteries--Leppien's, Cooper's, and Amsden's--went into action with the troops of other corps. The Fifth Maine, Captain Leppien's, suffered severe loss in men, horses, and material.
The report of the chief of artillery of the corps (Col. C. S. Wainwright, First New York Artillery) is referred to for the services of the batteries actively engaged with the enemy, as he also was detached at this time, under orders of the commanding general, for duty to the left and center of the position.
During the action of the morning, our pickets and scouts thrown out were constantly bringing in prisoners from the woods in front. The troops were actively engaged in strengthening their position and in clearing the ground for placing the artillery.
On Monday, the 4th, the corps remained in position, the skirmishers on the left of the line occupied by the corps joining General Meade, being engaged more or less during the day. Later in the day those on the right, in front of the division of General Robinson, became engaged for a short time, when an attack was threatened.
During the afternoon, two regiments of infantry, with a section of artillery, General Robinson in command, were sent out, under orders from the commanding general, to reconnoiter the road to Ely's Ford, who reported the position occupied by the enemy in force.
Toward 5 o'clock, a brigade of the Third Division, under Colonel Stone, was sent out to follow up Hunting Creek, in the direction of the Plank road nearly due south, which, after having driven in the enemy's skirmishers, found itself in the presence of what appeared to be a brigade of infantry, with the road which it had followed barricaded by fallen trees. It being nearly dark at this time, the brigade returned to its position. It having been decided on the night of the 4th to recross the river, the troops during the 5th were occupied in opening roads and building bridges over the small streams in the direction of the ford. The ambulances, wagons, artillery, &c., not required were sent across the river.
On the morning of the 6th, between 1 and 2 o'clock, the troops of the different divisions were withdrawn by separate routes, and arrived in the vicinity of the ford about daylight, when, finding the bridges occupied by the troops of other corps in their passage, I drew up such portions of my corps as had not crossed--the entire First Division, the pickets, which had been withdrawn, under the direction of a staff officer from each division, and two batteries of artillery, Ransom's and Stewart's, detained when the bridges were reported as interrupted the night previous, and remained with them until all the troops had crossed, save the Fifth Corps, under Major-General Meade, to whom had been assigned the duty of covering the passage of the army. As soon as the bridges were clear, the passage of the troops continued.
The divisions of Generals Doubleday and Robinson were ordered to encamp for the night near the Wallace house, on the Falmouth and Belle Plain road, the division of General Wadsworth at Hamet's, on the Warrenton road.
The next day the corps was assembled in rear of the place where we had thrown our bridge, near Pollock's Mill.
Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.
Report of killed, wounded, and missing during the operations of the First Corps, from April 29 to May 5, inclusive.
Command Officers Killed Men
Officers Wounded Men Wounded Officers Missing Men Missing Total Officers Total Men Aggregate First Division 2 19 9 114 1 9 12 142 154 Second Division 3 9 4 53 --- 6 7 68 75 Third Division --- 1 2 22 1 37 3 60 63 Total 5 29 15 189 2 52 22 270 292
JOHN F. REYNOLDS,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
Itinerary of the First Army Corps, April 19-May 26, 1863.
On April 19, the Third Division, General Doubleday, marched to Port Royal, returning the p.m. of the 22d.
On the 22d, the Twenty-fourth Michigan and Fourteenth New York State Militia Regiments left camp, near Belle Plain, at 2 p.m., under command of Colonel Morrow, Twenty-fourth Michigan Volunteers, and marched to Port Royal, on the Rappahannock River.
At daybreak on the 23d, crossed the river, and entered Port Conway, capturing and destroying rebel property and mail. Recrossed river and marched back to camp same day.
April 28, broke camp and moved to mouth of White Oak Creek, near Pollock's Mill, where bridges were thrown across the Rappahannock River during the night.
On morning of the 29th, First Division crossed bridge, Second and Third Divisions remaining in position on north side of river.
April 30, position the same.
May 1, the First Division remained on the south side of the Rappahannock River, below Fredericksburg. The Second and Third Divisions lay on the road, on north side of the river, near the lower pontoon bridges, at Pollock's Mill Crossing.
May 2, First Division recrossed and marched to United States Ford, a distance of 26 miles, leaving about 9 a.m., the enemy shelling as it was leaving. Crossed the river at that point on the pontoons, and about 11 p.m. the remaining divisions (Second and Third) reached the scene of action.
May 3, about I a.m., took position in line of battle on the extreme right of the army and on road leading to Ely's Ford. The First Division, having come up at daylight, during the day constructed breastworks.
May 4 and 5, remained in same position. A part of the Third Division made a reconnaissance.
May 6, marched back to United States Ford, and recrossed the river at same place; thence to near Berea Church, and bivouacked for the night.
May 7, marched to the present camp.
May 21, at daylight, the Second and Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, Nineteenth Indiana, and Twenty-fourth Michigan Volunteers marched down the Northern Neck as a support to the Eighth Regiment Illinois Cavalry, then scouting in the lower part of that section of the country. Bivouacked for the night at Millville.
May 22, marched to Mattox Creek and rebuilt the bridge over that stream; thence to Leesville, and bivouacked for the night.
May 23, marched back to Oak Grove and in the direction of Westmoreland Court-House.
May 24, marched to Westmoreland Court-House, where the command joined the Eighth Illinois Cavalry on their return.
May 25 and 26, marched back to camp, arriving there at 12 m. of the latter day.
RETURN TO CHANCELLORSVILLE ORDER OF BATTLE (AOP) PAGE