No. 55. Report of Colonel Roy Stone, One hundred and forty-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.
CAMP NEAR POLLOCK'S MILLS, VA.,
May 9, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that the brigade under my command marched on the afternoon of April 28 from camp, near Belle Plain, to position near Pollock's Mill, distant 7 1/2 miles. Halted for the night. Moved down to the bank of the Rappahannock next morning, where it remained until the morning of May 2.
My command took no active part in the operations at this place, but manifested a creditable coolness and steadiness during the heavy shelling by the enemy on April 30 and May 1.
At 8 a. m., May 2, we marched for Chancellorsville, arriving at 2 a. m. in position on the Ely's Ford road, near Hunting Run; distance, accurately measured, 22 1/2 miles. This march was an extremely severe one, the day being hot and the men burdened with eight days' rations, and having no halt longer than twenty minutes, but it was accomplished without the loss of a man saving a few sick, who were excused by the surgeons.
Immediately upon getting into position, the construction of abatis and rifle-pits was commenced, and by 9 a. m. a very good line for defense was completed. Pickets were thrown out to the front, and at dawn of day scouts and sharpshooters were sent out to the front, under the efficient command of Lieutenant A. Row, One hundred and forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers. The enemy's pickets were encountered at a distance of three-fourths of a mile, shots were exchanged, and many prisoners captured. This work of feeling for the enemy was continued during the time spent in that position, and was of great advantage in discovering the enemy's strength, position, and nature of the ground in our front. Captain J. H. Bassler and Lieutenant D. A. Fish, One hundred and forty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Captain H. Bell, One hundred and fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, with scouting parties from their respective regiments, did excellent service of the same character.
At 6 p. m., on May 4, I was ordered to reconnoiter with my brigade the Ridge road leading south from General Robinson's left, to ascertain the enemy's position and whether it was held in force. I advanced cautiously, the ground being densely wooded, with skirmishers thrown out on the front and flanks of the main body, until I had gained the distance of a mile, when I found the enemy in force in front and to the left. It was growing dark, and as my command moved with the most perfect quiet and caution, scouts were enabled to approach undiscovered until they could hear the enemy's voices, roll-calls, work upon the fortifications, and all indications of the presence of a heavy force, extending along a front of at least 400 yards. As my orders were peremptory to return before dark, and the object of the reconnaissance was fully accomplished, I did not attack, but retired, undiscovered by the enemy, having captured 4 prisoners, who confirmed my information regarding the enemy's force.
I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of my officers and men on this reconnaissance, and generally in their scouting and picket duty. Their perfect self-possession, together with the utmost watchfulness, preserved us from needless alarms, while it secured us against surprise. While the pickets on our right and left were being continually stampeded, no false alarm, even, occurred in our front.