War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0662 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 253. Report of Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfenning, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.

HDQRS. 1ST Brigadier, 3rd DIV., 11TH ARMY CORPS,

May 10, 1863.

GENERAL: The officers and men of this brigade of your division, filled with indignation, come to me, with newspapers in their hands, and ask if such be the rewards they may expect for the sufferings they have endured and the brave they have displayed. The most infamous falsehoods have been circulated through the papers in regard to the conduct of the troops of your division in the battle of the 2nd instant. It would seem as if a nest of vipers had but waited for an auspicious moment to spit out their poisonous slanders upon this heretofore honored corps. Little would it heed were these reports but emanations form the prurient imaginations of those who live by dipping their pens in the blood of the slain, instead of standing up for the country, sword and musket in hand; but they are dated "headquarters of General Hooker," and they are signed by responsible names.

The reports of the officers commanding regiments in this brigade will be sent in to-morrow, and at an early day I shall have the honor to hand in my own; but will you allow me here to mention a few facts, and to ask, in behalf of my brigade, becoming satisfaction?

It is know now, at least, I trust, that first division which gave way on that day (because attacked in front and from the flank and rear) was that of General Devens, Colonel von Gilsa's brigade firing one round per man and General McLean's not firing at all; that it was the second line of your division which, though overrun by the First Division, changed front from the south to the west in less than two minutes' time, the brigade battery, that of Captain Dilger, being on the left, and checked the heavy column of the enemy pouring in upon us from the front and both flanks; that the first line of your division, in conjunction with Colonel Buschbeck's brigade, formed in the rear of two of my regiments-the Eighty-second Illinois, Colonel Hecker, and the One hundred and fifty-seventh New York, Colonel Brown-and manned the rifle-pits, the Second Brigade of the Second Division being, at that critical moment, detached from the corps by order of Major-General Hooker. Your two brigades and that of Colonel Buschbeck, numbering together not quite 4,000 muskets, were the men who stood the brunt of the battle and held at bay the enemy's masses for at least one hour. Colonel von Gilsa's and General McLean's brigades could not be rallied again. Captain [Charles W.] Dietrich, my assistant adjutant-general, seizing the colors of one of the regiments of McLean's, planted in the ground, and endeavored in vain to rally the regiment. These three brigades, though outflanked on both wings, firmly stood their ground until sufficient time had elapsed for the corps behind to come to their support and take up a position in the rear. This is all that under the circumstances could be expected from your command. For the surprise by the flank and from the rear in broad daylight, and that by a force quadruple our own, it is not the Third Division that should whose duty it was to foresee such an event and to prepare for it.

My report will conclusively show that my brigade and the Third Division did everything possible to avert the catastrophe which followed. The only reconnaissances undertaken were those made by my