Today in History:

189 Series I Volume XXXVI-I Serial 67 - Wilderness-Cold Harbor Part I


occupied a position on the north bank of the Rapidan, confronting the Confederate army under General Lee. The latter, composed of the corps of Longstreet, Ewell, and Hill, with Stuart's cavalry, occupied a strong position on the south bank of the Rapidan well protected in front by field-works, with its left flank covered by the Rapidan and the mountains near Orange Court-House, and its right flank guarded by an entrenched line extending from Morton's ford to Mine Run.

The lieutenant-general commanding having directed a movement to turn the enemy's right flank, the army was put in motion on the 4th of May as follows: The Fifth Corps, followed by the Sixth, was directed to cross at Germanna Ford and advance to the Old Wilderness Tavern on the Orange and Fredericksburg turnpike; the Second Corps, followed by the Artillery Reserve, crossed at Ely's Ford and was directed to take position at Chancellorsville. Each column was preceded by a division of cavalry that were directed to push well out to the front and flanks and feel for the enemy. The park of supply trains was assembled at Richardsville, guarded by a division of cavalry, and crossed after the troops, moving to Chancellorsville. These movements were all executed as directed, and the various corps of the army having crossed the Rapidan without opposition, occupied the several positions assigned them early in the afternoon of the 4th. It having been determined to turn well the enemy's right flank to avoid the entrenchments of Mine Run, the army was put in motion the next day in the some general relative order. About 7 a. m., the head of the Fifth Corps column being near Parker's Store, on the orange and Fredericksburg plank road, information was received tat the enemy had appeared on the Orange Pike.

Orders were immediately sent to Major-General Warren to halt his column, concentrate his command on the pike, and when his troops were in hand to immediately attack any force in his front. At the same time the Sixth Corps was to move and take position to the right of the Fifth, taking such wood roads as could be found and joining in any attack the latter might make. One division (Getty's) of the Sixth was sent to the Orange plank road, where the Brock road intersects it, to hold this crossing at all hazards till the arrival of the Second Corps, ordered up from Todd's Tavern. About noon Major-General Warren had gotten into position on the pike and attacked vigorously with the divisions of Griffin and Wadsworth. This attack was at first quite successful, Griffin driving the enemy (Ewell's corps) some distance back on the pike, but, as, owing to the dense thicket and want of roads, the Sixth Corps had not been able to get into position, Griffin's flank was exposed as he advanced, which the enemy taking advantage of, Griffin was compelled partially to withdraw, having to abandon two pieces of artillery. Wadsworth was also driven back. In the mean time Crawford's division, which had the advance in the morning, was withdrawn to the right toward the pike and was formed on the left of Wadsworth, one brigade advancing with Wadsworth. When Wadsworth was compelled to retire Crawford was for a time isolated, but was drawn in, not, however, without the loss of many prisoners. Getty, on arriving on the Orange plank, found our cavalry being driven in by Hill's corps, and had just time to deploy on each side of the road, delivering a volley into the advancing enemy, which checked his progress until the arrival of the head of Hancock's column