War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0856 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

the crest of the hill in front of Dr. Taylor's, and near the canal. Two rifled pieces of [Frank] Huger's battery, already prepared to move to Chancellorsville, were ordered into position in the battery across the road from Taylor's.

While these dispositions were being made, our infantry were seen taking position in the rifle-pits near Stansbury's house. Huger's two rifled pieces, being now in position, opened with a fire of shell upon the enemy, who had halted in the road upon the display of our skirmishers. The advanced one of these regiments moved down the river in front of Falmouth, and sought shelter from our artillery fire in the rifle-pits along the river; the other two regiments remained in the road, lying down, the stone knolls on either side of which gave good protection. The enemy being so easily checked by the display of such a small force on our side, I was induced to believe that it was only a demonstration to keep us near Fredericksburg and prevent re-enforcements from going to Chancellorsville. Seeing a group of officers near Stansbury's house, I rode to them, and met Generals Barksdale and Hays. The former informed me that the enemy were in considerable force in and below Fredericksburg (this was the first intimation I had of the fact), and expressed some anxiety as to his right flank, and said that he should have re-enforcements. I now determined not to move my command up the road until I knew definitely the intention of the enemy, and ordered them in the ravine opposite Dr. Taylor's where they would be near and yet out of sigh. I now rode to the vicinity of the Marye house, to see and confer with General Barksdale. While near the house, I saw great numbers of the enemy in Fredericksburg, and a battery in the street running near the cemetary was firing occasional shots at a battery of ours to the left of the Plank road. I returned to my command without seeing General Barksdale, and, on my return, saw several regiments of the enemy's infantry moving out of the upper edge of the town. I had been with my command but a few minutes when one of General Barksdale's staff reported to me that the general was hard pressed, and wanted me to send him a regiment. I instantly ordered the Tenth Alabama to move in the direction of the Marye house, and rode rapidly in that direction myself and when in the open field and high ground between Stansbury's and the Plank road, saw Hays' brigade moving over in the direction of the Plank road. This I supposed to be for the support of General Barksdale, but upon inquiry from one of Hays' regiments learned that the enemy had taken Marye's Hill and a portion of two of Barksdale's regiments, and that Hays' brigade was falling back to the Telegraph road. Soon a courier from General Barksdale confirmed this report, and with a suggestion from General Barksdale that I also had better fall back to the Telegraph road. On the left of the Plank road the ground in rear of Marye's Hill is higher, and overlooks and commands well that hill. Believing that my own, and Hays' brigade could form in line, extending from near Stansbury's house along the crests of the hills toward the Plank road, and contest the field at least for a time successfully with the enemy, I asked General Hays not to cross the Plank road, but to remain with me. This he declined doing, having been ordered to fall back to the Telegraph road, and was soon out of sight.

Thus far I have given a simple narrative of incidents as they occurred. Finding myself alone on the left of the Plank road, with the enemy in full view on the crests of the first range of hills in rear of Fredericksburg, and with three times my own force clearly seen and in line, I felt it a duty to delay the enemy as much as possible in his ad-