Today in History:

1061 Series I Volume XXV-I Serial 39 - Chancellorsville Part I


mattox. Another party, the Second New York, Colonel Kilpatrick, was to push on to the railroad bridges over the Chickahominy, destroy them and the telegraph, and operate in the direction of Richmond, 4 miles distant from the bridges.

Another force, the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, Colonel Davis, was to strike the two railroads at or in the vicinity of Ashland, on the Fredericksburg, and Atlee's, on the Virginia Central, and do all the harm it could. Another party, the First Maine and First Maryland, with a section of artillery, all under General Gregg, was to follow down the South Anna River, destroy all the road bridges thereon, and, if possible, the two railroad bridges across that river. Another party, the Fifth U. S. Cavalry, under Captain Drummond, was to follow this last, and see that the destruction was complete. Captain Merritt, with a flying party of the First Maryland, was sent out to do what he thought he could accomplish in the way of destroying bridges, &c. These different parties all got off by 3 a.m. on the 3rd.

After all these parties had moved, and outposts established, one of which was to hold the only bridge across the South Anna, which was to be left undestroyed for our own use in case of need, I found myself with but about 500 men of General Buford's brigade and nearly 200 partially broken down horses of General Gregg's division, which was to serve as a nucleus, and upon which the different parties could rally in case of necessity after they had performed the work assigned them to do. Not having heard from General Averell since we left him at Kelly's Ford, nor being able to learn anything of any force of ours in the direction of Gordonsville, I was fearful that he had either been driven back or had been recalled. In either case, we knew that the forces of Lee and Hampton would be free to act against us, and, in case thy should find how weak we were, could easily overwhelm us with numbers.

The day and night of May 3 was passed by myself in no little anxiety. I had give directions for all the parties to endeavor to strike the railroad and telegraph at 3 p.m. of that day, in order that, all striking together and at different points, the enemy should not have time to communicate information by telegraph and be prepared for us at the vulnerable points. Colonels Wyndham, Kilpatrick, and Davis were directed either to return or to push on and bring up at either Yorktown or Gloucester Point. The rest were ordered to return to the reserve with myself.

Colonel Wyndham and Captain Lord returned the same day; General Gregg and Captains Merritt and Drummond the next day. Colonels Kilpatrick and Davis pushed on through to Gloucester Point. What was done by each party, and how well it was done, will be seen by a perusal of the annexed reports of the several commanders.

That night I sent Captain Harrison, with what was left of his regiment, Fifth U. S. Cavalry, about 80 men, to take post at Shannon's Cross-Roads, about 6 miles in our rear, and to watch the movements of the enemy, whom we had reason to suppose was in our vicinity, and the next morning moved with the rest of the available portion of Buford's brigade to join him. Previous, however, to starting, I sent all the prisoners, about 60 in number, after having paroled them, on the road to Richmond, telling them to push on as we should soon overtake them, and they had a long march to make. We heard of them half-way to Richmond, expecting to be overtaken by us every moment.

Before we came to where Captain Harrison was stationed, Lee's brigade, which, together with Hampton's Legion, as we afterward learned,