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The Soldiers' journal. (Rendezvous of Distribution, Va.) 1864-1865, May 18, 1864, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89038091/1864-05-18/ed-1/seq-1/

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ITuparalelled Slaughter on Both Sides.
Heavy Captures of Artillery and Prisoners.
Abmy of the Potomac, *]
" Marching Along," Wednesday Night, \
May 4, 18G4. j
The grand Army of the Potomac has at last
taken the iniatory stride in the long-expected
advance, and to-night finds our troops again
across the Rapidan. No extraordinary amount
of prescience is necessary to see another san
guinary conflict close at hand ; adventitious cir
cumstances only can delay it.
The 2nd Army Corps, Maj. Gen. Hancock,
forms the extreme left of our army, the 6th oc
cupying the right and the sth the center. The
river was crossed at Germania, Culpepper Mine,
and Ely's Fords without opposition by the ene
my. The 2nd Corps broke camp at about 10 p.
m. last night, and, under cover of tho darkness,
marched toward the Rapidan, the divisions mo
ving in their numerical order. Ely's Ford was
reached at 5 o'clock this morning, where a bat
talion of the 58th New York Engineers, com
manded by Major Wesley Brainard, had, during
the night, constructed two pontoon bridges, over
which our troops immediately passed to the
Houth bank of the river. Gregg's Cavalry Divi
sion preceded the infantry several hours before,
and picked up a dozen or more of the enemy's
pickets. The plank road leading to Fredericks
burg was thoroughly patrolled several miles be
yond Chancellorsville, but no force of the enemy
discovered. The troops of the 2nd reached the
old battle field of Chancellorsville at noon to
day, where they were advangeously disposed on
commanding eminences by Gen. Hancock, and
a halt for the night ordered.
Our crossing the river without opposition oc
casioned some surprise among the troops. That
Grant's Budden advance in this direction was
Dedicated to the Soldiers' Children.
unexpected by the rebel General there is every I
reason to believe. Now that we have a foothold
south of the Rapidan, Lee will undoubtedly use
his best endeavors to fight a battle on ground of j
his own choosing. We have succeeded in com
pletely flanking him on his right, which will of
course compel his evacuation of his works on
Clark's Mountain and at Mine Run. Our caval
ry have patroled the country in the direction of
Orange Court House, and""feport no force of the
enemy this side of Mine Run.
The condition of the troops could not be bet
ter. Although just from their winter huts, and
unaccustomed for a long time to fatigue, they
have never marched so well as they have on this oc
casion. Every one remarked the small number
of stragglers, and, if there is any index to the
true state of reeling among troops, straggling, or
the absence of it, is one. The men seemed to
repose unbounded confidence in Gen. Grant,
whose plans they are to execute, and are aware
of the momentous campaign which has just boon
inaugurated. To-night bivouacking on the spot
one year ago yesterday, made forever sacred by
the blood of brave heroes, and lulled to rest by
the notes of the whip-poor-will, far from homo
and relatives and friends, the soldiers of this
great army, confident in the justice of the cause
in which they are battling, dream but of victory.
Evidences aro visible of the great battle which
occurred here one year ago. The graves of our
men, buried by the enemy in immense trenches,
are visible on every side, and in many places
scores of skulls, grin horribly at the mournful
observer. Trees cut down by solid shot and
shells, and pierced and scarred by bullets, meet
the eye on every side. The remains of a Ser
geant killed in the battle were discovered and
identified by his former comrades to-day, and
with reverential hands and with fitting marks of
respect, consigned to their final resting place.—
The walls and chimneys of the Chancellorsville
mansion are still standing, and only tend to
intensify the desolated aspect of the surrounding
Thursday Night, May 5, 1864.
Darkness closes around the soldiers of this
army, and finds them tired and weary, sleeping
in their war harness, while vigilant sentinels
far in the advance keep watch over tho foe
whom they so nobly and successfully battled to
At an early hour this morning tho march was
resumed in the direction of Todd's Tavern, which
point was reached before noon, and the troops
placed in line of battle. At 12 m., Gen. Wilson,
commanding Kilpatrick's formor cavalry divi
sion, made his whereabouts known by a brisk
cannonading, several miles southwest of " The
Tavern," and in the vicinity of Shady Grove
Church, where for three quarters of an hour ho
was sharply engaged with a large body of cav
alry and a considerable force of infantry, by
iwhom he was gradually forced back upon the
2nd Corps.
The movoments of Lee this morning soon re
vealed his real design—an attempt to cut our
lines by a desperate attack. On discovering his
intentions Gen. Warren was directed to attack
him at once, which he did at about 11 a. m. A
determined musketry fight of an hour and a half
ensued, in which Warren handsomely drove him
from his position with the infliction of great loss.
Griffin's division of the sth corps led the attack
and suffered severely, its loss being nearly 1,000
in killed, wounded and missing.
Finding his efforts to break our centre futile,
the enemy next attempted to interpose an over
whelming force between Warren and Hancock,
the latter of whom, in accordance with orders,
was marching his corps rapidly to form a junc
tion with the former. Fortunately, his advance,
consisting of Birney's Division, came up not a
moment too soon, and j.ust in time to circumvent
the rebel General, who, at 2i p. m., made a des
perate onslaught on the divisions of Birney,
Gibbon, and Getty, the latter of whom had been
temporarily detached to form the extreme right
of Hancock's command. The tight raged hotly
until some time after dark, and resulted in the
repulse of the enemy at all points.
Scarcely any artillery was brought into requi
sition, tho character of the ground rendering it
useless. The battle-field is covered with a thick
growth of underbrush and medium-sized oak
trees, and it is owing to that fact that our losses
are comparatively light.
Friday, May 6, 1864.
Constant picket firing occurred along our en
tire lines throughout the night (Thursday,) and
one or two sovere attacks were made upon Sedg
wick, which were handsomely repulsed.
At a quarter to five a. m., the ball opened in
full blast by tho Rebels assaulting and making
a desperate attempt to turn the position of the
Cth Corps. Artillery was used on both sides,
but owing to the entire ground being covered by
undergrowth of pines, the musket was chiefly
relied upon.
The attack extended rapidly along our entire
line, and at about 7 o'clock was especially severe
on both our right and left flanks, which the foe
seemed determined to break in turn, for which
purpose they adopted their inevitable tactics of
rapidly concentrating and hurling masses of men
upon the point of assault. Owing to the wooded
condition of the entire battlefield, this system has
been more successful to them and damaging to
us than it could be in open ground, where artil
lery could be brought into requisition.
At Hi o'clock a desperate assault was made
upon tho sth Corps, particularly upon the 4th
Division, commanded by Gen* James S. Wads*
worth. While gallantly rallying his men, and
at their head, leading the charge, this noble man
and devoted soldier was shot in the forehead and
fell dead, his body romaining in our possession.

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