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title: 'The Soldiers' journal. (Rendevous of Distribution, Va.) 1864-1865, May 18, 1864, Image 2',
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Image provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA
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A partial lull ensued about noon, when another
desperate assault was made on Gen. Hancock.
His veteran columns temporarily yielded to the,,
shock, but soon rallying recovered their line,
and sent staggering back tho massed columns
of the foe with most frightful slaughter to them.
About the middle of the afternoon the distant
boom of cannon indicated that our cavalry under
Gregg had encountered Stuart, and was engaged
in desperate conflict far beyond our extreme
left advance. This oncounter resulted in a loss
tjo us of about 300, though the enemy were hand
Burnside's corps marched rapidly and hard
during the thickest of the fight, and moved up
to our centre, and sevoral of its brigades took
activo part in the conflict. Other portions of the
9th remained on our extreme right as a support
Up to near dark the hotly and most stubbornly
contested battle swayed to and fro without ma
terial advantages to eithdf side, though in the
main, whatever advantages there might havo
been was on our side; but just as tho darkness
was closing in upon us, tho foo by an admirably
executed flank movement, turned Gen. Sedg
wick's right, and in an instant his rear was
covered and overwhelmed by the Rebel hordes.
Gen. Sedgwick and many of his officers exerted
themselves to the utmost to *rally their men. A
line was soon formed and the onward advance of
of the enemy was checked.
Thus matters remained in a most exciting and
uncertain stato up to about 10 p. m., when the
Rebels made another dash upon our right, yell
ing the while like savages, but our men were on
the alert, and no advantages were gained, while
the Rebels were suffering a heavy loss.
Saturday Morning, May 7.
With the exception of the line occupied by the
6th Corps yesterday, our original positions are
held this morning at 8 o'clock.
Brig. Gen. Barlow, commanding the Ist Divi
sion, occupied the extreme left of tho 2d Corps \
Mott's Division and a portion of Gen. Gibbon's
division held the centre, while Birney, with his
own division, Robinson's of the sth, Stevenson's
brigade of the 9th, and Carroll's and Owens'
brigade of the 2d Corps was stationed on the
right, his line facing westward and extending
across the plank road running from Chancellors
ville to Orange Court House.
At precisely 5 a. m. an advance of the 2d Corps
was ordered, and with cheers our men charged
through a dense thicket, surprising the enemy
while at breakfast, end driving them in confu
sion from their temporary works, literally
strewing the ground with the bodi3S of their
killed and wounded, and capturing a large num
ber of prisoners.
The Rebels, astonished at the celerity of Han
cock's movements, were unable to rally until we
had pursued them two and a halt miles from the
Brock road, running in a north-westerly direc
tion to Parker's store, when, re-enforced by
Longstreet, who the night previous had come up
to within six miles of the battle-field, a stand
was made, and a terrific musketry fight ensued
lasting until noon. Charge after charge was
made by both sides, and as often repulsed up
to that time, when, owing to an accidental cir
cumstance, our tines were forced to fall back to
the Brock road.
At about 12 m. a flanking column of the enemy
charged on the double-quick through tho inter
val between Gens. Mott's aud Ward's commands,
forcing back in some confusion several regiments
of the right of Mott's division. Simultaneously,
a desperate charge was made in front, and our
at last to the terrific onslaught, fell
hack contesting the ground to the Brock road,
where tho troops"Were placed under the shelter
of temporary works constructed of logs and
abatis on the day previous. As the position on
the right of the 2d Corps was evidently the point
which the enemy specially coveted, Maj. Gen.
Birney's command was made to consist of nearly
a whole corps. Against his command has been
hurled all the morning tho combined forces of
Longstreet and Hill in their persistent attempts
to pierce our line.
Pen cannot convey an idea of the gallantry
which our troops exhibited in yesterday's en
gagement. Officers and men concur in the
opinion that the musketry fire was even heavier,
except occasional intervals of 15 or 20 minutes,
than at the battle of Antietam.
The Rebels, in their characteristic manner,
charging with demoniac yells, were each time
gallantly met, and in every assault but one hurl
ed back beyond their original lines.
At 2i p. m., the enemy, massing once more,
charged upon the position along the Brock road,
to which we had been forced to retire at noon,
and with such overwhelming violence that they
penetrated our lines at the intersection of the
road mentioned and the pike leading to Orange
Court House, and planted a color on the work.
For a moment the safety of tho corps was in im
minent danger; many of our men, demoralized,
were hurrying down the pike toward the rear,
and the Rebels, yelling like so many demons,
seemed confident of success.
At this critical juncture, Col. Carroll, whose
brigade had been sent for, came up on the pike
from its position on the right of the pike, and
facing his command into line charged the enemy,
driving him back in a rout to the woods beyond
the road. In his dispatches to Gen. Meade, Gen.
Hancock accredited Colonel Carroll with saving
his own corps, and perhaps the whole army, from
Gen. Getty received a severe wound through
the shoulder in the morning. Gen. Wheaton
succeeded to the command of the division.
Sunday, May 8.
The sth corps has suffered fearfully. It has
been in every engagement during this march—
indeed, what corps has been idle? They
marched most of Saturday night, and wore just
in time to fight Ewell, near Spottsylvania.—
Bartletts brigade, of Griffin's division was in ad
vance, and was shelled considerably. As usual
the rebels who aro acquainted with every inch
of the country, fell back to a suitable spot, where
they calmly awaited our coming. The rebels
posted their artillery near a small run. Battery
C. 31 Massachusetts, and D. sth United States
artillery were planted near the forks of the road,
so they could attend to the rebel batteries near
Nye Run. Robinson was on the right, Griffin
on the left. The battle became general and soon
waxed warm. The light continued from Bto 12
A. M. About two hours before dark a division of
the 6th corps came to the assistance of Warren,
who was very hard pressed by Longstreet and
Monday, May 9.
No movement of our army was intended to
be made on Monday, but a brief period of rest
given to the soldiers after their heavy labors dur
ing the past week.
All was very quiet along the -lines until late
in the afternoon on Monday.
It was thought that the rebels were probably
falling back, or that Gen. Lee had already gone
to Richmond to meet Gen. Smith, who was re
ported as being close to that place, and therefore
a move was determined on, on our part, and our
forces commenced moving at 5. o'clock on Mon
The entire line moved forward, the right, con
sisting of Gen. Birney's and Gen. Gibbon's di
visions of the 2d Corps, and Gen. Carroll's brig
ade on the left, joined Gen. Warren, the latter
being in the center, with the 6th Corps forming
The right crossed a branch of the River Po
and charged on a, light horse battery, which was
posted to cover a small bridge, but which quick
ly limbered up and started off, the skirmishers
supporting it also retreating.
In the front of Warren and on the left of Han
cock quite a lively engagement ensued, the shell
and round shot from one of the enemy's bat
teries placed in the woods coining in rather close
proximity to some lookers-on in an open field
in the rear of Gen. Warren's headquarters, and'
causing a stampede of the crowd there.
Tho enemy were driven back about three
fourths of a mile, and at dark the firing ceased.
A few prisoners were captured during this
skirmish. They belonged to Wilcox's division
of Gen. Hill's corps.
Tuesday, May 10th.
At H o'clock to-day, the most desperate of all
the battles yet fought was commenced. It con
tinued up to nearly 8 o'clock. In dogged stub
bornness, Waterloo and Selferino pale before
the terrific onslaught of Tuesday afternoon on
tho banks of the Po. Two divisions of Burn
side's Corps held the right, the sth, and 6th Corps
the centre, and the 2d Corps the left. Our line
stretched six miles on the north-east bank of the
Po, the Rebels occupying the south-west bank
and tho village of Spottsylvania.
At 2 our artillery gained a good range, and
poured shot and shell, grape and canister into
their ranks, as they, with frantic recklessness of
life, charged forward upon our infantry lines.
The enemy used but little artillery in reply.—
Prisoners state that they were deficient in ammu
nition, and could not.
Gen. Grant and Gen. Meade were in the saddle
constantly, personally directing movements. It
was arranged that the entire 9th Corps should
charge the enemy's right flank, but pending the
severest onslaught made by Lee just before dark,
it was discovered that he had advanced around
our right flank and was moving down in dense
columns for a last and after-dark struggle to
break through our lines and dash upon our sup
ply trains, then known to be parked on the plank
road to Fredericksburg.
This changed Gen. Burnside's purpose, and he
securely held his ground and threatened the en
emy's extreme right, while the 6th Corps charged
his right centre, and (at 7 o'clock) drove him
from his first line of rifle pits, capturing five
guns and between two and three thousand pris
The quick eyes of our chieftains, however, saw
the Rebel manoeuvre, Our men were faced about,
our trains all moved to the rear, new positions
instantly secured for our artillery, and the ene
my's expected coming patiently awaited during
the night, but no demonstrations were made.
In so horrible a strife it must not be supposed
that we escape the severest punishment. Our
losses were much greater than in any of the bat
tles of the previous week. It is true there is a