War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0388 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

could never be disentangled from the mass in which they were suddenly thrown. Fortunately there was only one obvious outlet for these panic-struck hordes after rushing between and over our guns, and this was through a ravine crossed in two or three places by the headwaters of Scott's Run. This was soon made impassable by the reckless crowd choking up the way. A few minutes was enough to restore comparative order and get our artillery in position. The enemy showing himself on the plain, Pleasonton met the shock at short range with the well-directed fire of twenty-two pieces, double-shotted with canister. The rebels pressed up the Plank road rapidly, and, as General Pleasonton justly observes in his report, herewith transmitted-

They advanced in silence, and with that skill and adroitness they often display to gain their object. The only color visible was an American flag with the center battalion. To clear up this doubt my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Thomson, First New York Cavalry, rode to within 100 yards of them, when they called out to him, "We are friends; come on!" and he was induced to go 50 yards closer, when the whole line, in a most dastardly manner, opened on him with musketry, dropped the American color, and displayed 8 or 10 rebel battle-flags.

Lieutenant Thomson escaped unhurt, and our batteries opened on the advancing columns with crushing power. The heads of the columns were swept away to the woods, from which they opened a furious but ineffectual fire of musketry. Twice they attempted a flank movement, but the first was checked by our guns, and the second and most formidable was baffled by the advance of Whipple and Birney, who were coming up rapidly, but in perfect order, and forming in lines of brigades in rear of the artillery, and on the flanks. My position was now secure in the adequate infantry support which had arrived; the loud cheers of our men as twilight closed the combat vainly challenged the enemy to renew the encounter.

While these movements were in progress on the flank, the First and Second Brigades of the Second Division (Berry's), which had been held in reserve at Chancellorsville, were ordered by the general-in-chief to take a position perpendicular to the Plank road and check the enemy's advance.

Captain Poland, General Berry's chief of staff, led the Excelsior Brigade into the woods to the right of the road, except the Fourth Excelsior, Major Burns commanding, which was placed on the edge of the timber to the left.

The First Massachusetts, Colonel McLaughlen, was detached from the First (Carr's) Brigade and posted on the left of the Second (Excelsior) Brigade, prolonging the line to the Plank road.

The remaining regiments of Carr's brigade (First) formed a second line 150 paces of the rear.

These dispositions were made without the steadiness of these veteran troops being in the least disturbed by the torrents of fugitives breaking through their intervals. The remaining of the first line, covered by their skirmishers, immediately threw up a strong breastwork of logs and abatis.

Prisoners captured (among them an aide of General Stuart's, who had come forward with a party to remove a caisson left by the Eleventh Corps) disclosed to us the enemy's lines of battle, about 300 yards in front, in the woods.

Osborn, Berry's chief of artillery, during these dispositions of the infantry, placed Dimick's and Winslow's batteries on the crest of the hill, perpendicular to the road and 300 or 400 yards in rear of the line of battle. A section of Dimick's was thrown forward on the Plank road, near the infantry.