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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 25, Part 1 (Chancellorsville)
Page 802 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

relieved from the danger that menaced our rear. It was accordingly resolved still further to re-enforce the troops in front of General Sedgwick, in order, if possible, to drive him across the Rappahannock.

Accordingly, on the 4th, General Anderson was directed to proceed with his remaining three brigades to join General McLaws, the three divisions of Jackson's corps holding our position at Chancellorsville. Anderson reached Salem Church about noon, and was directed to gain the left flank of the enemy and effect a junction with Early. McLaws' troops were disposed as on the previous day, with orders to hold the enemy in front, and to push forward his right brigades as soon as the advance of Anderson and Early should be received, so as to connect with them and complete the continuity of our line. Some delay occurred on getting the troops into position, owing to the broken and irregular nature of the ground and the difficulty of ascertaining the disposition of the enemy's forces. The attack did not begin until 6 p.m., when Anderson and Early moved forward and drove General Sedgwick's troops rapidly before them across the Plank road in the direction of the Rappahannock. The speedy approach of darkness prevented General McLaws from perceiving the success of the attack until the enemy began to recross the river a short distance below Banks' Ford, where he had laid one of his pontoon bridges. His right brigades, under Kershaw and Wofford, advanced through the woods in the direction of the firing, by the retreat was so rapid that they would only join in the pursuit. A dense fog settled over the field, increasing the obscurity, and rendering caution necessary to avoid collision between our own troops. Their movements were consequently slow. General Wilcox, with Kershaw's brigade and two regiments of his own, accompanied by a battery, proceeded nearly to the river, capturing a number of prisoners and inflicting great damage upon the enemy. General McLaws also directed Colonel [E. P.] Alexander's artillery to fire upon the locality of the enemy's bridge, which was done with good effect.

The next morning it was found that General Sedgwick had made good his escape and removed his bridges. Fredericksburg was also evacuated, and our rear no longer threatened; but as General Sedgwick had it in his power to recross, it was deemed best to leave General Early, with his division and Barksdale's brigade, to hold our lines as before, McLaws and Anderson being directed to return to Chancellorsville. They reached their destination during the afternoon, in the midst of a violent storm, which continued throughout the night and most of the following day.

Preparations were made to assail the enemy's works at daylight on the 6th, but, on advancing our skirmishers, it was found that under cover of the storm and darkness of the night he had retreated over the river.

A detachment was left to guard the battle-field while the wounded were being removed and the captured property collected. The rest of the army returned to its former position.

The particulars of these operations will be found in the reports of the several commanding officers, which are herewith transmitted. They will show more fully than my limits will suffer me to do the dangers and difficulties which,under God's blessing, were surmounted by the fortitude and valor of our army. The conduct of the troops cannot be too highly praised. Attacking largely superior numbers in strongly entrenched positions, their heroic courage overcame very obstacle of nature and art, and achieved a triumph most honorable to our arms.

I commend to the particular notice of the Department the brave officers and men mentioned by their superiors for extraordinary daring and merit, whose names I an unable to enumerate here. Among them will


Page 802 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 25, Part 1 (Chancellorsville)
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