War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0894 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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Numbers 340. Report of Colonel J. M. Brockenbrough, Fortieth Virginia Infantry, commanding Heth's brigade.


May 18, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade during the late battles of May 2 and 3, in the vicinity of Chancellorsville:

Leaving Hamilton's Crossing at early dawn on the 1st, the brigade halted at 7 p.m. on the Plank road, about 1 miles east of Chancellorsville. The advanced troops of our corps had encountered the enemy near Salem Church, and with slight resistance, they fled to their works.

At 10 o'clock on the following morning, leaving the turnpike to our right and moving upon the old Furnace road, we turned the right flank of the enemy, and at 5.30 p.m. reached the Plank road again, about 4 miles west of Chancellorsville, and in their rear. Here we formed line of battle, and commenced a rapid advance, this brigade occupying the second line. Our approach in that direction seemed to take by surprise and create a considerable panic among the enemy, who, notwithstanding they occupied, superior natural positions, strengthened by works of magnitude, fled at our appearance, night alone of Chancellorsville. The rapid flight of the enemy, the eagerness of our pursuit, the tangled wilderness through which we had marched, and the darkness of the night, created much confusion in our ranks, which, at this point, was increased by a deadly fire poured into our ranks by friends and foes from our right, left, and front. Artillery with their caissons occupied the road abreast of us, and, without drivers, dashed headlong through our ranks. Under these circumstances our troops halted, and the chase ended for the night.

During the night the enemy was not idle, but worked like beavers in erecting the most formidable barricades and breastworks, thus partially relieving themselves of the panic of the previous evening and determining them to give battle.

Early on the morning of the 3rd, the brigade, by General Heth's order, was again deployed in line of battle extending on either side of the road, the Fortieth and Forty-seventh Virginia Regiments on the right following General Lane's brigade; the Fifty-fifth and Twenty-second Virginia on the left, supporting General Pender. The advance of our leading line became irregular, and the turnpike, which separated the brigade, being much more elevated than the ground upon either side, the interval between the two portions became so considerable as not to be seen the one by the other. Being in close proximity to the enemy, our advance line in a few minutes became hotly engaged, and we were exposed to the most deadly fire I have ever experienced. Very soon the troops in advance were forced back through our lines, leaving us without support on either flank. The two regiments on the left of the road had by this time moved within 100 yards of the enemy's intrenchments, and, while fiercely engaging them, had their left turned, and were compelled to retire. The two regiments on the right remained in their position, awaiting support to charge the enemy's works.

Finding no one disposed to move, though many thousands had taken shelter behind the barricade, our line was formed, and, being joined by about 1,200 troops of different brigades, we led the second charge. Upon