War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0828 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

those of General Early and three brigades of General Anderson were to attack their right and rear. Orders were given that my troops on the right - Kershaw and Wofford - should advance after it was known that the attack on the right and commenced, which would be indicated by the firing in that direction. I was on the right of my line, straightening it and extending to the right, when notice was given that the attack would shortly be made by Generals Early and Anderson, and that Colonel [E. P.] Alexander - who had established a strong battery on a prominent hill, which commanded one of nearly equal force on the other side, which would take my line in reverse and in a measure enfilade it - should open fire. The orders were given at once. Alexander opened his batteries, and Generals Kershaw and Wofford advanced to the front through a dense woods. Distant firing in the direction of Fredericksburg was heard, indicating that the attack had commenced on the extreme right. Night now came rapidly on, and nothing could be observed of our operations.

It being reported to me from Mahone's position that the noise of crossing on the pontoon bridge at Banks' Ford could be heard, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to throw shells so as to drop them as near as possible about the crossing, which was promptly done.

Shortly afterward General Kershaw's arrival on the Plank road was reported to me, and I requested General Wilcox to assume the direction of it, and with such portion of his own brigade as he thought necessary proceed down the Banks' Ford road, taking a battery with him, to press the enemy, seize the redoubts suitable for shelling the crossing, and open fire with the battery; all of which was done in the most prompt manner, General Wilcox being acquainted with the localities, of which I knew nothing except by report.

I was as yet ignorant whether or not the attack upon the right had been a success, but the noise of their passage over the pontoon bridges convincing me that the enemy were in full retreat, I thought it best to press on in pursuit. After these orders had been given and were in execution, I received a communication from General Lee, dated 10 p.m., from Dwonman's house, informing me of the success of the attack on the right, and his desire that the enemy should be pushed over the river that night. Wofford's brigade advanced as far as the River road, engaging the enemy as he went, and driving them before him. He halted for the night beyond the River road, extending his pickets. Wilcox and Kershaw pushed on, driving the enemy before them, and occupied the redoubts commanding the ford in its approaches, and opened fire with artillery in that direction. As my troops advanced, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to fire on the approaches from the other side only, as I did not wish to risk his shells dropping among our troops. He did as requested, and the fire from all the batteries is reported by citizens about the ford as producing great confusion, and as being very destructive. The enemy, throwing away their arms and breaking ranks, fled across the river in the greatest disorder, as evidence of which the accompanying report of ordnance and ordnance stores* picket up by my own division on this side of Salem Church shows how complete must have been the demoralization. The darkness of the night, ignorance of the country, and of the events transpiring on the other end of the line, prevented that co-operation which would have led to a more complete success; but I believe that all was gained that could have been expected under the circumstances. The enemy had several batteries (sixteen guns) in front of the left of my line, sweeping every approach


*Not found.