to the hesitation of Colonel McAllister, of the Eleventh New Jersey, to recognize the orders of Captain Poland, chief of staff, lost us precious moments of time, and before I could reach that part of the field from the left, where I was then occupied, the position had been had been yielded by the infantry, the artillery having a few minutes before exhausted its ammunition and retired.
The front line near the Plank road nearly in the morning comprised, beginning on the left of the road, the Third Maryland (Twelfth Corps), First Massachusetts, Fifth Excelsior, One hundred and twentieth New York, the Second, First, and Third Excelsior, and Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania (Second Division, Third Corps). This line gallantly resisted the assaults of the enemy for more than an hour, when its left was turned, and Colonel Stevens, of the Second Brigade, in the absence of General Revere, changed front to repel the advance of the enemy on the flank. Before the movement was completed, this brilliant officer fell, mortally wounded. Captain [H. J.] Bliss and several men who approached to remove him from the field were wounded. Then followed a fierce hand-to-hand struggle for the colors of the regiment (the Third Excelsior); they were seized by the enemy, but every rebel who touched them was either shot or bayoneted, and the brave Stevens saw his colors proudly borne to the next position assigned to the regiment.
With the exception of his artillery, which sustained its fire and advanced toward Fairview, there was nothing like ardor-indeed, there was every indication of exhaustion-in the advance of the enemy after occupying our lines of Fairview.
I took at least 400 prisoners, including many officers, as I retired slowly upon Chancellorsville. There was no serious demonstration by the enemy's infantry on my artillery or supports after it had taken a second position near the brick mansion, which had been occupied as the headquarters of the general-in-chief until it was set on fire by the enemy's shells. It would not have been difficult to regain the lost ground with the bayonet, as I proposed to do, but the attempt was not deemed expedient (for the want of supports to hold it) by the senior officer present upon that part of the field, upon whom the direction of operations in front had devolved in the temporary absence of the general-in-chief.
In conformity with orders, I marched my command in several columns, by the flanks, to the junction of Ely's and the United States Fords roads, taking position as supports to General Meade. These dispositions were afterward changed by order of the general-in-chief, by whose direction I moved to the front of the new lines near the white house, connecting with General Meade on the right and General Couch on the left. Here we intrenched, and, after throwing forward strong lines of supports for the artillery in my front (thirty cannon in position, under the direction of Captain Randolph, my chief of artillery), I massed my reserves in the woods in columns by divisions, opening debouches in all directions. These works were begun under an annoying fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, who were soon handsomely driven by Berdan, to whom the outposts were confided, but not until the brave and accomplished Brigadier General A. W. Whipple, commanding Third Division, had fallen, mortally wounded, while directing in person the construction of field-works in his front.
These dispositions continued until Wednesday morning, a deluging rain-storm intervening, which caused a great and sudden rise in the Rappahannock and its tributaries, endangering our bridges and making the roads impracticable for trains. The supply of rations had become so reduced as to render an advance impossible without our trains.