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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 812 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

could, to detain the enemy and check his advance, and when it could do this no longer should retire - the guns by the Telegraph road, the infantry I was not then informed where. You expressed objection to this movement on the ground that it would all occur in full view of the enemy, whose force was obviously still great; that changes and reductions of force would have to be made, even in the most advanced line, and that it would thus invite a powerful advance against the small remnant, with its extended front, weak everywhere. I also submitted one or two similar suggestions. General Chilton replied, all this the general-in-chief had considered, but he was satisfied the great battle had to be fought upon the left, and had determined to get all the available force there, without contending much for Fredericksburg; and, having defeated General Hooker there, he would return and drive the enemy from Fredericksburg. More artillery he did not need near Chancellorsville, as the ground was unfavorable for, it, and hence it must be sent toward Chesterfield, and be out of danger. I reminded General Chilton that the force left could really make no fight on such a line and against such odds, and that all we could do would be to make a show of fighting as long as possible, and then get away as sagaciously as we might. I also asked him how long he expected us to hold the ground if the enemy pressed with all his force. He replied, long enough to let the artillery and trains sent to the rear get beyond danger.

It was now, as nearly as I recollect, between 11 and 12 o'clock. You expressed your purpose to have the movement made, and I immediately sent orders, General Chilton being present, to Colonel Nelson, whose position was least exposed to observation, to withdraw his batteries, and march them to the rear on the Telegraph road; also for the three 20-pounder Parrot guns to be relieved by light guns of Patterson's battery, in rear of Howison's house, and of Fraser's, on Lee's Hill, and proceed to the rear with Colonel Nelson. You kindly promised to have the Whitworth gun, then near your lines, also sent to report to Colonel Nelson, and the four guns of the Washington Artillery sent to report to me. Colonel Cabell was also directed to withdraw Carlton's battery from the right of the front ridge, and prepare it for going to the rear.

We had thus left in position about midday six guns of the Washington Artillery on Marye's Hill and the plateau to the left, and Parker's two Parrotts on the same front, with Fraser's three guns and one of Patterson's on Lee's Hill, and three of Patterson's on the ridge back of Howison's, in all, fifteen guns, while twenty-two, including all the heaviest, were marching to the rear, and eleven others were waiting orders to march in the same direction. Simultaneously the withdrawal of infantry was going on all along the line, under the full gaze of the enemy. Toward relieving appearances as the guns were withdrawn, I had quite a display mae of artillery and carriages conspicuously moving forward, as if bringing up instead of taking away guns, while those leaving were to be withdrawn as much under cover as possible. Whether this deceived the enemy, or he feared some other miss-chief, he moved not for an hour or two.

About 2 o'clock you rode by Lee's Hill, and took leave of us. Somewhat later General Barksdale did the same, and we were left in a most trying situation, bound to a position untenable by a small force, with a handful of men and a few guns, confronting a numerous and heavily armed enemy. The enemy soon showed signs of accepting the invitation, so plainly given, to move forward and occupy. His line of skirmishers, that had hitherto lain far off, scattered and few, received considerable accessions, and pressed forward. Our weakened line met


Page 812 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 25, Part 1 (Chancellorsville)
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