Today in History:

1012 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I

Page 1012 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

From here I proceeded some 300 or 400 yards outside of our extreme left, to within about 100 yards of the enemy's skirmishers, and about 100 yards from the edge of the woods. The position enabled me to see that an attack on our present front (which had not yet been changed) was wholly impracticable, involving a large loss of life in a division already decimated, and without any certainty of gaining possession of their works, which looked extensive and certainly very formidable. I found their skirmishers, as above stated, about 100 yards distant, drawn across the open field in front of their works, except on the extreme left, where none appeared. They had a triple line of works, however, which faced at right angles to our front. From this triple line two heavy lines of infantry were drawn, with artillery in front, about 50 to 75 yards in rear of their skirmishers, on a line parallel to our advance, and reaching to the woods on their right, or our left. By this arrangement the enemy overlapped our division by from 400 to 500 yards. Having gained all the information I deemed necessary, I returned to General Colston. In going to him, however, and in passing in rear of the Fourth Brigade, I found them breaking badly, and assisted in rallying them; then reported to General Colston, and found he had withdrawn the division from its position and was returning to the Plank road. Thence it was transferred into a line of trenches made by the enemy, but abandoned by them, running at about right angles to the Plank road. The division remained here until next morning. Thus ended May 3.

From what I have subsequently seen of the position last held or occupied by the enemy, I am only confirmed in my previous impression that our division was entirely inadequate for the purpose of attacking in reality the enemy in a position selected by him, and strengthened immensely by the erection of works for both infantry and artillery. That no other division made the attempt proves that it was so thought by the general commanding. The attack, if any at all, should have been made from a position more to the right of us, ranging from half to three-fourths of a mile, from whence the enemy's works might perhaps have been taken in flank, and thus compelled their evacuation.

There may be some inaccuracies in the narrative now submitted, but I believe it to be correct in the main points. It is drawn entirely from memory, and hence liable to mistake. I have confined myself strictly to what I have seen.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant, Corps Engrs., P. A. C. S., and Chief Engr. Trimble's Div.

Brigadier General R. E. COLSTON,

Commanding Division.

Numbers 399. Report of Colonel J. H. S. Funk, Fifth Virginia Infantry, commanding Paxton's brigade.


CAPTAIN: I have the honor of submitting the following report of Paxton's brigade in the late operations around Chancellorsville:

The brigade, under the command of Brigadier General E. Frank Paxton, composed of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-

Page 1012 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.