I immediately sent orders to the brigadiers to withdraw their troops in order as soon as relieved. It was not too soon. The enemy were pressing forward on both flanks of my north and south line. The artillery on our front was already mostly withdrawn with empty chests. The troops sent to my relief were checked before they reached our breastworks, and the whole line finally fell back in good order under a severe artillery and infantry fire, which swept the open field as far back as the Chancellor house. At this point, my brigades were halted behind the rifle-pits fronting down the Wilderness Plank road, and after awhile, by order of the major-general commanding the corps line, and formed in the woods to the right, on the cross-road toward Scott's dam.
In the evening my division relieved a part of the Eleventh Corps, and occupied the extreme left of our line near the Rappahannock. Here we were for two days employed in entrenching our position, and on the morning of the 6th marched to the pontoon bridge over the Rappahannock, and recrossed that river, the rearmost division of the army, except the rear guard of the Fifth Corps. The same evening my division reoccupied its old camp at Stafford Court-House.
Two of the small regiments of the First Brigade having been put on duty at the pontoon bridge, the regiments of the Second Brigade were placed under the command of Brigadier-General Knipe, commanding the First Brigade, and have since remained so.
It gives me pleasure to state that all the regiments of my division behaved with marked valor and firmness while in the face of the enemy. But one regiment left its position without orders, which was almost immediately halted by me and returned to the breastworks, where it held its post firmly to the last.
The casualties of the First Brigade on the night of May 2, which could not be foreseen nor anticipated (as the extent of the defection of the Eleventh Corps was wholly unknown to me), operated greatly to weaken my effective force, not only in the loss of a large number of men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, but in the still further loss of the commanding officers of every regiment of that brigade. Of the 31 field officers of my division engaged in our operations around Chancellorsville, 10 were killed or wounded and 4 are prisoners (the condition of whom is not known) in the hands of the enemy. Captains [Richard C.] Shannon and [Henry B.] Scott, assistant adjutants-general, of the Second and Third Brigades, were also wounded, and the former taken prisoner.
I annex herewith a list of the casualties in my division, showing an aggregate of 1,611 killed, wounded, and missing. Deducting those on detached duty and the Tenth Maine, whose term of service expired just before our march, my estimate of the effective force of the division engaged in these operations, taken from the field reports on May 1, does not exceed 5,400 men and 300 officers. This was reduced at least 500 men by the casualties of the night of May 2. With a force, therefore, of less than 5,000 men, my division on May 3 gallantly and persistently withstood the unremitted assaults of far outnumbering columns of the enemy for at least four hours, and, before withdrawing from its position, literally expended every round of ammunition, and were uncovered on bout flanks of its line of battle.
The reports of brigade and regimental commanders and chief of artillery for the division, forwarded herewith, will furnish appropriate commendation of particular regiments and batteries.