Numbers 279. Report of Brigadier General Joseph B. Kershaw, C. S. Army, commanding division, of operations May 4.-6.
On May 4, 1864, in camp near Gordonsville, Va., I received orders from the lieutenant-general commanding to put my division in motion to join the First and Third Corps between Orange Court-House and Fredericksburg. On arriving within 10 miles of the scene of action at the Wilderness we bivouacked on the Catharpin road on the afternoon of the 5th.
At 1 p.m. of the 6th put the command in motion and reached General Lee's position on the Orange plank road with the head of the column, and reported to Lieutenant-General Longstreet, who directed me to relieve the division of Major-General Wilcox, in our front. Proceeding with a staff officer or General Wilcox, in our to indicate the position, I moved the column down the road by a flank, preceding them by some 400 yards. During this movement the enemy attacked in our front on the plank road, and before I reached the scene of action our entire line in front of me fell back in confusion. Returning immediately to the head of my column, which had then arrive about opposite the position occupied by the commanding general, I directed Colonel J. W. Henagan, commanding Kershaw's brigade, to file to the right and form line of battle with his left resting upon the plank road. Before this movement could be completely executed the retreating masses of Heth's and Wilcox's divisions broke through my ranks and delayed Colonel Henagan until they had passed to the rear. Almost immediately the enemy were upon us. Ordering Colonel Henagan forward to meet them with the right of his command, I threw forward the Second South Carolina Regiment on the left of the road and deployed and pushed forward Brigadier-General Humphreys with his brigade, also, on the right of the road, with his right resting on it, General Henagan having passed sufficiently to the right to admit of the deployment of General Humphreys to his left. This formation was made successfully and in good order under the fire of the enemy, who had so far penetrated into the interval between Henagan and the road as to almost enfilade the Second Carolina, which was holding the left of the road, and some batteries which were there stationed. Humphreys was pushed forward as soon as he got into position and made for a time steady progress.
In the mean time General Bryan's brigade coming up, was ordered into position to Henagan's right. That officer, in obedience to
orders, had pushed forward and driven the enemy in his front for some distance through the dense thicket which covered the country to the right of the plank road; but they being heavily re-enforced, forced him back to the line which Humphreys had by this time reached. Here the enemy held my three brigades so obstinately that I endeavored to bring up General Wofford's brigade to extend my right, but that officer not having arrived-marching as rear guard to the wagon train, and urged forward by the lieutenant-general commanding-I placed myself at the head of the troops and led in person a charge of the whole command, which drove the enemy to and beyond their original line and occupied their temporary field-works some half mile or more in advance. The lines being rectified, and Field's division and Wofford's brigade, of my own, having arrived, upon the