War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0504 N. VA., W. VA., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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Numbers 167. Report of Captain James F. Huntington, First Ohio Light Artillery, Chief of Artillery.


May 8, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the batteries of this division in the late action near Chancellorsville on May 2 and 3:

The batteries crossed the river at the United States Ford about noon on Friday, the 1st instant, and moved up and parked near the headquarters of General Couch.

Remained at that place until the afternoon of the following day, when, in obedience to orders, we followed the division up the Plank road, and halted in the open field to the left of the woods bordering that road. While the infantry went on to the front, a considerable body of cavalry drew up near us on our left as we faced while in park. While resting there, the attack was made on the Eleventh Corps. The firing grew nearer, and though we could see nothing, it was evident that our troops were giving way. Captain Puttkammer being absent at the time, I ordered the three batteries to wheel into battery. They had hardly done so when a torrent of our retreating infantry tore through our line, frightening the horses and producing a temporary confusion. The enemy opened a heavy fire from our front, and, advancing through the woods between us and the Plank road, enfiladed our lines. This rendered it necessary to retire a little and make a partial change of front. The execution of this maneuver was much impeded by the cavalry before alluded to, which rode round and round on the ground we wished to occupy. The Tenth New York Battery, which was close to the edge of the woods, exposed to a severe fire, being unable to make the change of front, limbered up and retired, taking a new position farther to the rear and right.

Battery H, First Ohio, was then swung round so as to rake the woods on our right, and continued to fire in that direction, while the Eleventh New York Battery maintained the front until the enemy fell back and our infantry returned. The men lay by the guns all night, and early on Sunday morning all the artillery was withdrawn, except the pieces of Battery H, which were to remain and hold that position. Two regiments of infantry also remained, one on each flank. The enemy soon advanced in strong force from the woods in front, where they also had a battery, which played on us, while another body moved round our left flank. The battery was served as rapidly as possible and kept the front clear, but though the infantry on our left fought gallantly, it was forced back. Seeing our flank turned and the enemy already in our rear, I ordered the battery to limber to the rear, and moved off. Our only line of retreat was down over the hill, on the brink of which we were, through a piece of marshy ground and over a bad ditch, and through a narrow space to the left of the line of breastworks thrown across the ravine. Two of the pieces got out, but the horses of the others being shot and unable to get them over the ditch, and being exposed to the fire of our own men as well as that of the advancing enemy, they were necessarily abandoned. I was with the last piece, and speak from personal knowledge. One gun was afterward recovered. The remains of this battery were then sent to the rear.

After the Tenth and Eleventh New York Batteries left the position