3 - The Chancellorsville Campaign (Series I, Volume 25)


No 206: Report of Major Gen. John Sedgwick, U.S. Army, commanding Sixth Army Corps. May 15, 1863 [Excerpt]

....Nothing remained but to carry the works by direct assault. Two storming columns were formed, composed as follows:

Right column, commanded by Col. George C. Spear, who fell while gallantly leading it: The Sixty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Dawson, and the Forty-third New York, Colonel Baker. This column was supported by the Sixty-seventh New York (First Long Island), Colonel Cross, and the Eight-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Bassett, under command of Colonel Shaler.

Left column: The Seventh Massachusetts, Colonel Johns, who fell, severely wounded in the assault, and the Thirty-sixth New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Walsh.

Line of battle, Colonel Burnham: The Fifth Wisconsin, Colonel Allen, as skirmishers; Sixth Maine, Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, Thirty-first New York, Colonel Jones, and the Twenty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel Ely, this latter regiment volunteering.

The columns moved on the Plank road and to the right of it directly up the heights. The line of battle advanced on the double-quick to the left of the Plank road against the rifle pits, neither halting nor firing a shot until they had driven the enemy from their lower line of works. In the meantime the storming columns had pressed forward to the crest, and carried the works in the rear of the rifle pits, capturing the guns and many prisoners. These movements were gallantly executed under a most destructive fire.


No 239: Report of Maj. George W. Dawson, Sixty-first Pennsylvania Infantry, Light Division. May 10, 1863

Sir: I have the honor to report, in relation to the part taken by the Sixty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers in the late battle, that, agreeably to orders, the regiment broke camp at 10 a.m. of the 28th day of April, and, with the brigade, marched to near Dr. Pollock's house, on the Rappahannock, where it remained bivouacked until about 10 p.m., and was then detailed to carry pontoon boats to the place designated for crossing. The regiment carried down five boats, and it was done in perfect silence and order. After launching the boats, the regiment marched to where their arms had been left, and was then ordered to the banks of the river, where it remained until the bridge was finished. It then marched to a hill a short distance from the river, and remained there, bivouacked, until about 4 p.m. of the 1st of May, and relieved a regiment of Brook's division, doing picket duty, being under artillery and musketry fire several times during the day, until about 6 p.m. when two companies were deployed in addition to the picket force, and the rebels were driven from their lines back and into their intrenchments on the hills.

The regiment was relieved during the evening, and bivouacked about 10:30 p.m., and was by orders "falled in" and ready for the march in one hour and a half afterward.

At 12 midnight the march was taken up for Fredericksburg, arriving there about 4 a.m. of the morning of the3rd. At about 10 a.m. the regiment was moved to Princess Anne street, and left there their knapsacks and haversacks, preparatory to heading a column to storm the heights in the rear of the town. About 11 o'clock, the column was put in motion, the regiment leading. Arriving near the rifle-pits of the enemy, a heavy fire from musketry and artillery was received. The regiment being in column, the proper time for deploying not yet arriving, the loss was heavy, and the fire, one of the heaviest that could be given, caused the regiment to waver for a few moments, when it rallied and successfully gained the crest of the hill, capturing one of the pieces of artillery belonging to the famous Washington Battery, of Louisiana. In this charge, Col. George C. Spear was instantly killed, Captains Crosby and Ellis, and Lieutenants Koerner and Harper wounded, and 10 enlisted men killed and 54 wounded.

The regiment then, under my command, assisted the troops under the command of Colonel Shaler in driving the enemy some 3 miles along the Plank road, and in the direction of Chancellorsville, capturing numbers of prisoners. As no account of them was taken, they being immediately sent to the rear, the precise number cannot be given. The regiment was relieved about 4 p.m. and was a short distance to the rear of the second line of battle during the heavy fight that took place about 5 o'clock. The regiment was moved up, until about dark it was in the first line, and was placed in support to Butler's (Second U.S.) Battery, where it remained until 9 a.m. of the 4th, when, with other regiments of the Light Brigade, it was moved to the right and in the direction of Banks' Ford, to feel for the enemy and keep open the communication with the ford. At about dusk, the regiment with another was sent to support Howe's division, which was being heavily attacked. The regiment was under a heavy fire from musketry, fortunately with little loss, Captain Creps and 5 enlisted men being wounded. The design of the enemy to cut our communications being foiled, and he instead being driven back, the regiment took up its line of march toward the ford, and safely recrossed the Rappanhannock at about 1 o'clock of the morning of the 5th.

On the 8th, the regiment was detailed to assist in hauling the pontoons from the banks of the river to a short distance back, which was done without molestation from the enemy.

On the morning of the 9th, the regiment was marched to its present camp.

Before closing this report, I would state that I am indebted to all my line officers for the hearty, united, and determined support given me during all of this time. Where all did their duty so well and nobly, it would not be correct to particularize. All deserve honorable mention. It gives me great pleasure, however, to call attention to the daring conduct of Private Robert Brown, of Company K, who shot the lead horse of the cannon captured by the regiment, thereby preventing its escape; and Private James Robb, of Company H, who seized the colors when the sergeant was wounded, and bore them until relieved by Color Corpl. William Taylor.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.


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