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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 29, Part 1 (Bristoe, Mine Run)
Page 832 OPERATIONS IN N. C.,VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XLI.

trains. I received, therefore, instructions to move on in the direction of Chancellorsville and ascertain all I could of the enemy's movements, governing my own by his, and to attack any force I might meet with. Instructions were also given for the movement of the trains on a road south of the plank road, so as to keep pace with the troops. After receiving the general's final instructions, I started to rejoin my command, and on the way received information first by a courier that our cavalry pickets had been driven back from Locust Grove, and then by another that General Hays had encountered the enemy's infantry at that place.

I hastened on to General Hays' position and found his line formed at right angles with the old stone turnpike about three-quarters of a mile west of Locust Grove, with skirmishers thrown out in front. I was informed by General Hays that the enemy had reached the grove before he could get there and was in heavy force. A battery had been planted by the enemy on the hill at Locust Grove enfilading the turnpike, which is entirely straight. The enemy had greatly the advantage in position, he having got possession of the high ridge on which Locust Grove is situated. His force was concealed from view by the intervening woods except along the narrow vista made by the turnpike. I found that General Rodes had also come up, and finding the enemy in force, had formed line on Hays' left, extending across the road from Zoar Church and Bartlett's Mill to Locust Grove. Pegram's brigade, coming up at this time, was formed in line on Hays' right angles with it, to prevent a flank movement of the enemy.

After reconnoitering Hays' front, I found it impossible to attack the enemy from this position unless under very great disadvantage. I could see nothing of the enemy's position and could find no place on which to plant a battery. I then rode to the left to General Rodes' line, and found him and General Johnson together. General Johnson in a few minutes was informed that his ambulance train had been fired into on the road from Bartlett's Mill, and he rode to the rear to ascertain the condition of things. I then reconnoitered General Rodes' front, but could see nothing of the enemy from this position, as thick woods intervened here also.

I directed General Rodes to feel the enemy with his skirmishers, and a heavy line of skirmishers was advanced and quite a brisk skirmish took place, but nothing could be accomplished in this way. The enemy opened with artillery upon him from batteries which could not be seen. The enemy had very greatly the advantage in position on all parts of the line, and we could get no suitable place for artillery. If we attacked, our troops would have had to advance from a low position through exceedingly thick woods against the enemy posted on a hill. It would have been a movement altogether in the dark. General Rodes stated that, riding at the head of his column, he had got to the edge of the open fields near Locust Grove and found the enemy deploying into them in very heavy bodies, and before he could get any of his troops up the enemy had possession of the whole position.

I determined as soon as Johnson could get rid of the force which had fired into his ambulances, which I supposed to be a reconnoitering force of cavalry, to advance one of Rodes' brigades along the road to Locust Grove, supported by Johnson's division, so as to give me a position from which I could see something and ascertain how the enemy could be attacked with advantage. While waiting for


Page 832 OPERATIONS IN N. C.,VA.,W. VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XLI.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 29, Part 1 (Bristoe, Mine Run)
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