the line of General Schurz being a prolongation of my left, it was rapidly forced back after the main body of the enemy finally engaged it. A change of front at this time by the Second Brigade would have been impracticable under so severe a fire, and, even were it otherwise, I should have considered it unwise, as pivoting upon either flank would have separated the two brigades or else cut me off from General Schurz on my left, and in nowise have saved me from being outflanked by the enemy.
Notwithstanding the necessary confusion in which the division was forced to relinquish its first position (no order to retreat having been given), I think that a second line might have been formed within the lines of General Schurz had his division been able to maintain its position. The retreat of my own, however, must undoubtedly have added to the difficulties encountered by the command of that officer.
The Seventeenth Connecticut, under command of Major Brady-its colonel having been wounded and lieutenant-colonel killed-was, in fact, rallied and reformed in that position. A battery of artillery, under Captain Cieckmann, formed a portion of my command. Of this one section, as before stated (posted on the Turnpike road, under command of Colonel von Gilsa), did good service until obliged to retire or be abandoned to the enemy. The other four pieces were stationed at the left of the division. When forced back with my own retreating troops, I did not find them in position. No report has been received by me from the officer commanding.
Another attempt was made to rally the men in the rifle-pits running north and south, at the extreme left of General von Steinwehr's position, and with partial success. As we were forced from this point, which was the last occupied by portions of the Eleventh Corps, I was compelled to quit the field, having received a sever and painful wound in the commencement of the action, against the effects of which I had been struggling for more than an hour.
The command of the division now devolving upon General McLean, he reported to me that the division was not entirely reformed until a late hour in the evening, near General Hooker's headquarters at Chancellorsville. While it is a matter of great regret that the division could not maintain the position assigned to it, it would be unjust to attribute its defeat to misbehavior or causeless panic.
Of about 4,000 men reported that day for duty, the names of at least 1,600 have been forwarded to corps headquarters as killed, wounded, and missing;* and, although of the latter a considerable portion are probably prisoners, that fact itself shows that they did not basely yield their position, but were enveloped by the masses of the enemy while endeavoring to maintain it. The field officers did their duty faithfully, and a majority of the commanders of the regiments are inclined in the lists of killed, wounded, and missing. I especially commend Colonel von Gilsa for his resolute exertions, to which I was a witness during all stages of the action.
I am under especial obligations to the adjutant-general of the division, Captain [Oscar] Minor; to the inspector-general, Major [John F.] Frueauff, and to my aide, Lieutenant Davis, First Massachusetts Cavalry, for gallantry and fidelity, also to Captain von Meusel, from the staff of General McLean, temporarily serving with me.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. DEVENS, JR.,
ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Eleventh Army Corps.
* But see revised statement, p. 1862.