McGowan's brigade was now ordered on Lane's right, and soon after Archer's brigade on McGowan's right; Thomas' brigade was posted on the left of the road and on Pender's left; Heth's brigade was held as a reserve. In this position the division remained until just after daybreak, when Heth's brigade was ordered up. Two regiments (the Fortieth and Forty-seventh Virginia) were placed on the right of the road, supporting Lane's left, the Fifty-fifth Virginia and Twenty-second Virginia Battalion on the left, to support Pender's right.
Major-General Stuart now ordered me to prepare to advance. I ordered Generals McGowan and Archer to move forward, as the line formed by their brigades was not perpendicular to the Plank road, but inclined to the right and rear. Archer's brigade only advanced a short distance before it became hotly engaged, the enemy being strongly posted behind breastworks making an angle with the Plank road. I now gave the order for a general advance. The Light Division (A. P. Hill's), forming the front line, opened the battle of Chancellorsville. Generals Pedner and Thomas on the left, found the enemy posted behind a breastwork of logs and brush, immediately in their front, at a distance of about 150 yards. The breastworks were charged and carried the men never hesitating for a moment, driving the enemy before them and pursuing him until a second line was reached, which was in like manner broken. A third line of the enemy was now encountered. After a desperate and prolonged fight, without supports or a piece of artillery to aid themm, but on their part subjected to heavy artillery fire of from ten to twelve pieces, these gallant brigades fell back in order to the breastworks from which the enemy had been driven, and which they held until re-enforcements were brought up, when again the attack was renewed and the enemy driven from this part of the field of battle.
Lane's brigade, supported by the Fortieth and Forty-seventh Virginia Regiments (Heth's brigade), and McGowan's brigade advanced and charged the enemy behind his breastworks, who was supported by twelve-nine pieces of artillery. I cannot conceive of any body of men ever being subjected to a more galling fire than this force. The brigades of Lane, McGowan and a portion of Heth's (Colonel [J. M.] Brockenbrough commanding), notwithstanding, drove the enemy from his works and held them for some time, but were finally compelled to fall back, which was unavoidable from the course that affairs had assumed on the right of the line.
As soon as Archer's brigade commenced to move, it became hotly engaged. General Archer was compelled to conform his line of battle to that of the enemy, which as I before remarked, in his front was not perpendicular, but formed a considerable angle with the Plank road. McGowan's right thus became separated from Archer's left, and the interval increased as the enemy were driven before them until McGowan and Lane found that their right flanks were seriously threatened. It was not until this occurred that these two brigades fell back to the line of works from which they first commenced to advance. Many valuable officers and men were lost in the charge, and especially when falling back. It was here that General McGowan was wounded, the command of his brigade devolving on Colonel [O. E.] Edwards, who was, immediately after assuming command, seriously wounded. The command of McGowan's brigade next devolved on Colonel [D. H.] Hamilton, First South Carolina Regiment [Provisional Army], who commanded the brigade during the remainder of the action.
General Archer advanced with his brigade. Conforming his line of battle to that of the enemy, he charged the works in his front, and, with-