91st PA at Chancellorsville


[source: Official Records series 1 volume 25 part 1 pages 550-554]

Report of Brig. Gen. Erastus B. Tyler, U. S. Army, commanding First Brigade.
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, Va., May 10, 1863.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to transmit herewith a list of casualties of my command in the action of the 3d instant, [footnote:] Embodied in revised statement, p.181. [end of footnote] and also to submit the following report of the part taken by my brigade in that engagement.

About 9 a. m. I received an order from Major-General Meade to put [p.551] my command in motion, and go to the support of General French, Lieutenant-Colonel Webb to indicate the position we were to occupy. That officer in person pointed out the line we were to take possession of, directly in the face of the enemy, and on the right of General French's command, in the woods.

The regiments were scarcely in position before the enemy opened fire upon us, which was promptly and effectively returned by our men. I at once saw the enemy outnumbered us, as they were in double line, and extended beyond our right. I immediately asked for re-enforcements, but was informed they could not be furnished. Colonel Webb, who had remained in front for some moments, started back, promising to bring up re-enforcements if he could obtain them, but he returned in a short time without them. The rapid and incessant fire of our men prevented the enemy from advancing, although they made several attempts to do to.

After holding our position for nearly or perhaps quite an hour, reports reached me that our ammunition was being exhausted, many of the men supplying themselves from the dead and wounded. About this time, I discovered that the enemy was receiving re-enforcements; another double line was plainly seen advancing and extending farther to our right. I sent for ammunition twice without being able to obtain it, as, I afterward understood, it had not come up from the rear. I reported the fact to General French, with the further information that the enemy were pressing us, and asked for orders. He replied that he could not furnish me with ammunition, and that we should retire in as good order as we could when we had exhausted what we had. The moment our fire slackened the enemy pushed forward with at least twice our number.

As near as I can tell, we were in position from an hour to an hour and three-quarters before we were forced to retire. During this time the whole line was before my eye, and I have to say that I never saw officers and men behave with more bravery and coolness than did the entire command. The officers were very active, and I saw many of them aiding the men by preparing their cartridges for the guns. The field officers were passing up and down the lines, encouraging their men with great spirit and coolness.

The Ninety-First Pennsylvania Volunteers was on the right, and received the first fire of the enemy. They are entitled to great credit for their conduct during the action. Colonel Gregory received a slight wound early in the engagement, and left the field, yet the men kept well at their work, under Lieutenant-Colonel Sinex.

The One hundred and thirty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel O'Brien, was second in line, and no set of men could have behaved better. The officers, one and all, following the example of their colonel (who was constantly on the alert), were very active, and not a man shirked his duty.

The One hundred and twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieut. Col. D. W. Rowe, was third in line, and for earnest, spirited work it could not be excelled. Colonel Rose exhibited the true characteristics of the soldier--brave, cool, and determined--and this spirit was infused into every officer and soldier of his command.

The One hundred and twenty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was on our left, and no man ever saw cooler work on field drill than was done by this regiment. Their firing was grand--by rank, by company, and by wings, in perfect order. Colonel Frick's stentorian voice was heard above the roar of the musketry, and, with the aid of his lieutenant-colonel and major, his regiment was splendidly handled, doing its duty well.

Too much credit cannot be given the officers and men of this brigade; not a single neglect came under my notice during the engagement. The colors of the different regiments show that they were carried well to the front, and I saw them repeatedly waved in the face of the enemy. The officers of my staff, Captains [Henry C.] Ranney and [William H.] Davidson, and Lieutenants [James B.] Diehl and [Stearns E.] Tyler, rendered me every assistance in their power, under an incessant fire.

Among the officers seriously wounded, I have with regret to mention Major Anthony, of the One hundred and twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, a true soldier and dutiful officer. Lieutenant-Colonels Rowe and Shaw were slightly wounded, as was also Lieutenant Diehl, aide-de-camp.

I am, very respectfully, &c.,
E. B. TYLER, Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.
Capt. CARSWELL McCLELLAN, A. A. G., Third Division.

[Indorsement No. 1]

Respectfully returned to Brig. Gen. E. B. Tyler, who will correct his statement to accord with the fact that he received the order to support Major-General French from Brigadier-General Humphreys, through his assistant adjutant-general, Captain McClellan, with the information that Lieutenant-Colonel Webb would indicate the position to be occupied. In endeavoring to assign a reason why he was not supplied with additional ammunition while his command was under fire, General Tyler undertakes to assign causes for the action of General Humphreys, which it is not his province to do. He will, therefore, erase that part of his report.

By command of Brigadier-General Humphreys:

CARSWELL McCLELLAN, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Indorsement No. 2.]

Respectfully forwarded, with the remark that the order was received from Major-General Meade in the very language used in this report, and upon that order my command was put in motion. The order was received from Major-General Meade in person, and so far as any allusion to General Humphreys or any other officer connected with the command is concerned, I fail to see it, and know there was no intention to reflect in the least upon any one connected with the ammunition. I merely stated it as a fact, the evidence of which I received from General Humphreys, on application to him for ammunition after reforming alongside of the road.

E. B. TYLER, Brigadier-General.

[Indorsement No. 3.]

Respectfully returned to Brigadier-General Tyler, who will state whether he did or did not received from Brigadier-General Humphreys, [page 553] through his assistant adjutant-general, Captain McClellan, an order to support Major-General French, accompanied by the information that Lieutenant-Colonel Webb would point out to him the position to be occupied.

By command of Brigadier-General Humphreys.

CARSWELL McCLELLAN, Assistant Adjutant General.

[Indorsement No. 4.]

Respectfully reforwarded, with the remark that I am informed by one of my staff that while on the march, in the execution of the order received from Major-General Meade, Captain McClellan rode up to me. He may have repeated the order received from Major-General Meade, but I have no recollection of hearing it from him, and I have but a very faint idea of seeing him, the order from General Meade being of such an urgent character that my attention was given entirely to its prompt execution.

E. B. TYLER, Brigadier-General.

[Indorsement No. 5.]

When I reached Brigadier-General Tyler with the order from General Humphreys to move to the support of General French, General Tyler was at or near the right of the regiment nearest the white house. His command had not commenced to move, and did not appear to me to be on the point of doing so. When I delivered the order to him, he asked where he was to take position, and when I informed him again that Lieutenant-Colonel Webb would designate the position to be occupied, he asked where he would find Colonel Webb. I pointed to the colonel, who had already started for the woods, and then returned to General Humphreys. By the time I had returned to the left of the brigade, the movement commenced.

CARSWELL McCLELLAN, Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Indorsement No. 6.]

The facts are simply these: I was beside or close to Major-General Meade when the staff officer of General French asked for support. General Meade turned to me and directed me to send a brigade. Tyler's he knew, was the one available. I immediately gave the order to my adjutant-general, with directions about Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, and including in it the staff officer of General French. My adjutant-general, Captain McClellan, rode directly to General Tyler, and, upon returning, reported that he gave the order. By the time he returned, the brigade was in motion. It had been in line close by the left, not 100 yards distant. General Tyler received the order to support General French from me, and moved his command in obedience to it. Subsequently he [page 554] received instructions how to move it from Lieutenant-Colonel Webb. All this is corroborated by the statement of Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, whose account agrees with that of Captain McClellan.

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

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revised 23 Jun 02
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