Numbers 5. Report of Brigadier General Gouverneur K. Warren, U. S. Army, Chief of Topographical Engineers.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Engineer Office, May 12, 1863.
GENERAL: I present the following report of the operations connected with the battle of Chancellorsville as they came within my knowledge and observation:
Accompanying is a map,* on a scale of 2 inches to the mile, embracing nearly all the field operated upon by our troops, exclusive of the cavalry, from the time they began to leave their winter bivouac, on April 27, until their return, on May 6. The region not included in this map lies between Hartwood Church and Kelly's Mills, and contains a portion of the routes marched over by the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps to turn the enemy's left flank by way of Kelly's Mills, on the Rappahannock and Germanna and Ely's Fords, on the Rapidan.
Accompanying it also is another map,+ on a scale of 1 inch to the mile, containing all our known topography in the entire region from the Potomac to the James River, and from the Blue Ridge to the Chesapeake, a region whose characteristic is a dense forest of oak or pine, with occasional clearings, rarely extensive enough to prevent the riflemen concealed in one border from shooting across to the other side; a forest which, with but few exception, required the axmen to precede the artillery from the slashing in front of the fortifications of Washington to those of Richmond. No pains have been spared to make the forest topography on this map as complete as possible. It will be of great assistance in future operations, and it will aid those seeking un understand why the numerous bloody battles fought between the armies of the Union and of the Secessionists should have been so indecisive. A proper understanding of the country, too, will help to relieve the Americans from the charge so frequently made at home and abroad of want of generalship in handling troops in battle-battles that had to be fought out hand to hand in forests, where artillery and cavalry could play no part; where the troops could not be seen by those controlling their movements; where the echoes and reverberations of sound from tree to tree were enough to appall the strongest hearts engaged, and yet the noise would often scarcely be heard beyond the immediate scene of strife. Thus the generals on either side, shut out from sight or from hearing, had to trust to the unyielding bravery of their men till couriers from the different parts of the field, often extending for miles, brought word which way the conflict was resulting before sending the needed support. We should not wonder that such battles often terminated from the mutual exhaustion of both contending forces, but rather that in all these struggles of Americans against Americans no panic on either side gave victory to the other like that which the French, under Moreau, gained over the Austrians in the Black Forest.
In order to do justice to the sources from which this topographical information was obtained, I will state that, up to the time this campaign ended, the engineering department of the Army of the Potomac had been divided into three parts. The Topographical Engineers formed a distinct branch of the staff, attached to headquarters. The Engineers and regular Engineer Battalion formed another, also attached to the staff
*To appear in Atlas.
13 R R-VOL XXV, PT I