Chancellorsville: 3rd division, 5th corps

Chancellorsville: division report

Report of Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division.

COLONEL: I have to submit the following report, in compliance with the circular from headquarters of the Fifth Corps, of the 7th instant, by which division commanders were directed to send in their reports of the part taken by their commands in the recent operations of the army on the south bank of the Rappahannock.

On April 27, in obedience to orders, I marched from camp near Falmouth, my division, of two brigades, consisting of 3,481 enlisted men and 203 commissioned officers, exclusive of general and general staff officers. Of these, 1,616 enlisted men and 95 commissioned officers composed the First Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. E. B. Tyler, and 1,865 enlisted men and 108 officers formed the Second Brigade, commanded by Col. P. H. Allabach, One hundred and thirty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Having received orders on the morning of April 29, at the bivouac near Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, to cross that river with my division in the rear of all commands and trains, and to bring up the trains of the corps and of the pontoons, the supervision of the crossing of that stream by the trains and forces on the north bank was turned over to me by Major-General Meade as soon as the First and Second Divisions of the Fifth Corps had passed over.

It was nearly 8 o'clock in the evening before my division was able to cross, and 11.30 before the pontoon train was ready to move. At that hour I set my column in motion for Ely's Ford, on the Rapidan, but the length of the trains of pack-mules, cattle, &c., the bad condition of the [page 546] road and the heavy rain made the march very slow, and at about 3 a. m., just as our guide discovered that he was not on the road he had traversed twice the day before, it became so dark that nothing could be seen, and I was forced to halt until daylight.

About sunset, I had received a communication from the major-general commanding the corps, advising me of the importance of having the pontoon train at Ely's Ford at the earliest possible moment, and about 1 a. m., on the march, Captain Comstock, U. S. Engineers, received similar directions from the headquarters of the army. The pontoon train was, therefore, sent forward in advance, under escort of two regiments, as soon as there was light enough to see, and the column resumed its march as soon as the pontoon train reached its head.

At 7 a. m. [sc. of 30 April 1863] I received directions to leave the trains under escort of one regiment and bring up the rest of my command as quickly as possible.

I reached Ely's Ford between 12 and 1 o'clock, but found my troops so much exhausted, that, after fording the river, I bivouacked on Hunting Creek, 3 miles from Chancellorsville, having marched at least 18 miles.

On the morning of May 1, my division was at Chancellorsville at 7 o'clock, it having been delayed one hour by the tardiness of the First Brigade, a tardiness that General Tyler attributed to the fatigue of the men. Here I received instructions from the major-general commanding the corps to follow Sykes' division to the ridge between Mott's and Colin Runs, and mass, under cover, in rear of and between Sykes on the right and Griffin on the left; to open communication to each, so as to be able to send support to either, and to place Randol's battery on the left bank of Mott's Run, prepared to move to Sykes, Griffin, or myself as occasion might require. These instructions were subsequently so far modified that I was to follow Griffin instead of Sykes.

In accordance with these, I marched close in rear of Griffin, on the Mott or River road, about 3-1/2 miles, when I was ordered by Major-General Meade to return to Chancellorsville, which was promptly done, and the division massed in that vicinity.

By General Meade's directions, I examined the position commencing at Chandler's house and running along the Mineral Spring road to the Rappahannock, and immediately occupied the left of that position, which commands the approach to the United States Ford by Mott's or the River road and its branches.

The next day (May 2), before midday, the position was intrenched, three roads under cover were opened, communication with as many to the United States Ford, and twenty-six pieces of artillery, Randol's, Martin's, and Hazlett's batteries on the left, and Barnes' and Phillips' on the right, were placed in position, rendering it impossible for the enemy to debouch from the woods on the high, open plain, Childs' farm, opposite the heights, occupied by my division. These facts are highly creditable to the zeal and energy of the officers and men of the command.

At my request for a regiment of sharpshooters, Col. Louis R. Francine, Seventh New Jersey Volunteers, Mott's brigade, Berry's division, reported to me with his regiment for duty, and was assigned to the rugged ground on the extreme left, extending to the narrow bottom land of the river.

The enemy's mounted pickets were visible along the edge of the woods, about 1,000 yards distant, where the River road debouches from the woods.

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Having been directed by the major-general commanding the corps to ascertain whether the enemy was in force in my immediate front, Colonel Francine, by my order, sent out 50 picked men to reconnoiter. This duty was handsomely performed. The enemy's infantry pickets were ascertained to commence on the river 1-1/2 miles below our left, and to extend obliquely from our line toward the Plank road. Colonel Francine returned to his brigade the night of the 2d instant.

About daylight on the morning of the 3d, I received orders to march my division to the vicinity of the junction of the Mineral Spring road (running along the front occupied by the Fifth Corps on the 2d instant) with the road from Chancellorsville to Ely's Ford, leaving the artillery in position and a staff officer to point out the details of the position to the troops that were to occupy it; but just as my column was being put in motion, the head of the Eleventh Corps made its appearance, and at the same time I received orders not to move until I was relieved by that corps.

As soon as Major-General Schurz had relieved me, about 6.10 a. m., I marched, and about 7 o'clock massed my division in rear of the center of Griffin's position, on the Ely's Ford road, being instructed to support Griffin, Sykes, or French, on the left of Griffin, as circumstances might require.

About 8 a. m. Allabach's brigade, the Second, of my division, was placed in line from the left of Griffin (Chandler's house), along the Ely's Ford road to the woods intervening between Chandler's and Chancellor's houses, the ground previously occupied by a part of French's division, engaged with the enemy in the woods on our front.

At about 9 a. m. I received orders to send a brigade to the support of General French, and directed General Tyler to support him. Lieutenant-Colonel Webb, assistant inspector-general, Fifth Corps, and a staff officer of General French, conducted General Tyler to the position he was to take. He had scarcely moved into it when the enemy in strong force opened a fire upon him. It was returned with spirit, and a warm engagement ensued, which was continued for about an hour, when the enemy in increasing numbers began to outflank the right.

The greater part of the 60 rounds of ammunition of the brigade had by this time been nearly expended, as reported to my by General Tyler, who asked for a new supply. This it would have been impracticable to distribute had it been with the brigade, and it would probably have fallen into the hands of the enemy had it been sent, so closely was the brigade pressed by them. General Tyler was, therefore, directed to withdraw when his ammunition was expended, which he did soon afterward. General Tyler states that the conduct of the officers and men was admirable.

The loss incurred in this spirited engagement was 1 officer (Capt. John Brant, One hundred and thirty-fourth Pennsylvania) killed; 7 officers wounded, 20 enlisted men killed, and 158 enlisted men wounded, and 3 officers and 51 men missing, making a total of killed, wounded, and missing in the brigade of 11 officers and 229 enlisted men. Among the officers wounded I regret to mention Col. E. M. Gregory, Ninety-first Pennsylvania, seriously, and Maj. Joseph Anthony, One hundred and twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, severely.

Ammunition was supplied to the brigade immediately upon its withdrawal from the woods in which it had been engaged. At about 11 a. m. I received directions to place two regiments of Allabach's brigade at the disposition of Major-General Couch, commanding Second Corps, and one of his staff officers at the same time requested me to place them [page 548] perpendicular to the road leading to Chancellorsville, one regiment on each side, and advance them to the edge of the woods bordering the open ground of Chancellorsville, then held by the enemy. The object was to hold the enemy in check until the two corps of Major-Generals Couch and Sickles were placed in the new positions they were to occupy. This duty fell to the One hundred and thirty-third and One hundred and fifty-fifth Regiments Pennsylvania Volunteers, who, under the command of Colonel Allabach, advanced their skirmishers, engaging those of the enemy, to the ground they were directed to occupy. Upon their near approach to it, the enemy opened upon them with shell and cannister. The new positions of the two corps having been taken up, the two regiments retired slowly through the wood and rejoined their brigade, having performed the duty in a creditable manner, losing 1 officer and 3 enlisted men killed and 1 officer and 30 enlisted men wounded. Having accompanied Colonel Allabach until his regiments occupied the ground assigned them, I returned to my command, by direction of Major-General Meade, and, as soon as the ammunition supplied to General Tyler's brigade was distributed, massed my division in rear of the center of General Sykes' division, under instructions to support him and General Griffin.

Before daylight on Monday, the 4th, I received directions to support Major-General Sickles, on the left, in a certain contingency, and immediately opened a route for my division through the thick underbrush to the ground I should occupy in such a contingency. During the day I likewise received directions to support Major-General Reynolds, commanding the First Corps, on the right, and opened a similar route to the rear of his position.

On the morning of Tuesday, the 5th instant, the pioneers of my division, and subsequently two regiments of it, were detailed for fatigue duty with the engineers of the army, in constructing intrenchments and opening roads. These regiments rejoined the division about midnight. In the afternoon, by direction of Major-General Meade, I formed Allabach's brigade in line of battle 150 yards in rear of Sykes' left and Tyler's brigade 100 yards in rear of Allabach's. My instructions were, in the event of the enemy entering the intrenched line, to charge with the bayonet. This position my division occupied until the march to the United States Ford began.

At nightfall two regiments were detached to aid the passage of the artillery as far as the United States Ford. One of these regiments rejoined the division on the march, the other at the United States Ford.

At about 1 a. m. on the 6th instant, my division commenced the march to the United States Ford, but was halted and massed on the right of the road, after marching 1 mile.

At daylight the march was resumed, and a position taken up at the United States Ford, the left resting on the brick house on the Mott or River road, and the right on the outbuildings on the United States For road. In this position it remained until Griffin's division took up a position in its rear, when my division crossed the Rappahannock by the upper bridge simultaneously with Sykes' division on the lower bridge, and marched to our camp, which it now occupies, reaching it before dusk.

My thanks are due to the officers of my staff for the zealous and efficient performance of the duties they were incessantly called on to perform. I beg leave to mention them by name: Capt. Carswell McClellan, assistant adjutant-general; Lieuts. Henry C. Christiancy and H. H. [page 549] Humphreys, aides-de-camp; Capt. A. F. Cavada, assistant inspector-general and special aide-de-camp; Capts, E. G. Rehrer and E. C. Rice, engineers; Capt. E. Knowledge, commissary of subsistance, and Surg. Isaac D. Knight, medical director.

Hospitals were quickly established in suitable localities at each position that the division assumed.

I cannot close this report without expressing my gratification at the fine spirit that animated my division throughout the recent operations.

Long marches, rapid movements, long-continued labor in opening roads and throwing up intrenchments, exposure to heavy and continuous rain, loss of rest, all combined, did not destroy their cheerfulness nor dampen their spirits. They exhibited the same courage in meeting the enemy that they had formerly shown, and this under circumstances that are recognized as unfavorable to the exhibition of the best qualities of troops. I refer to the fact that their term of service was about expiring. Indeed, one of the regiments, the One hundred and twenty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, should, under the usual rule, have been on the march homeward from camp on the 4th instant. It left here on the 8th instant, the day upon which its term of service expired. During the present week three of the regiments of my division leave it to be mustered out of the service, a fourth leaves on the 17th, and a fifth in a few days after, if not at that time, thus reducing my division to two small three years' regiments, the Ninety-first and One hundred and fifty-fifth PennsylvaniaVolunteers.

In making this my last report of the operations of my division as at present constituted, I trust I may be excused for recurring to the services it has performed. Hastily organized in September last near Washington, the regiments newly raised, it made a long and painful march of more than 23 miles in a dark night to take part in the expected battle of the next day at Antietam. When in camp the officers and men have been zealous in their efforts to acquire a knowledge of the duties of the soldier. They have cheerfully performed every duty required of them, whether that of the working party or armed service. They have been prompt and obedient, and have fought as well as the best troops at Fredericksburg and Chancerllorsville. The task of instruction has been a heavy one to me, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that my efforts have not been without good results.

The reports of Colonel Allabach and Captains Randol and Barnes accompany this.

I submit herewith tabular and nominal lists of the killed, wounded, and missing, [footnote:] Embodied in revised statement, p.181. [end of footnote] and tabular statements of property lost.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
[to] Lieut. Col. FRED. T. LOCKE, A. A. G., Fifth Army Corps.


COLONEL: Understanding that a more detailed statement respecting the crossing of the Rappahannock on the pontoon bridge at Kelly's Ford may be desirable, I have to report that, at the time the supervision of the crossing was turned over to me by the major-general commanding the Fifth Corps, Major-General Stoneman's Cavalry Corps had begun to cross on the bridge, all of which passed over there excepting [page 550] (as I understand) one brigade, that crossed at the deep ford just above. There were two interruptions during this crossing, owing to the partial failure of a part of the bridge. The delay thus caused was from one hour to one hour and a half. As soon as the cavalry passed, two regiments of infantry of the Twelfth Corps and the brigade of infantry of the Eleventh Corps, guarding its baggage, were passed, and during the passage of the cavalry a regiment of the Twelfth Corps was passed over at the earnest solicitation of the colonel, who represented himself to have received orders to leave the train he was with and join his command. As soon as the infantry of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps was over, the headquarters train of the Twelfth Corps passed, then those of the Eleventh Corps, followed by the supply trains, as I understood them to be, of the Eleventh Corps. Two interruptions occurred during the passage of the latter by the bad management of the wagons, one of which nearly proved fatal to the small bridge across Marsh Run, and the other to a span of the pontoon bridge. These caused a delay of at least half an hour, if not more. The train mentioned consisted of at least 125 wagons and 55 spring wagons and ambulances, belonging chiefly, almost entirely, as reported to me, to the Eleventh Corps.

The trains of the Fifth Corps succeeded immediately, and, when everything had passed, my division of infantry crossed. It was dusk when its head reached the bridge. All the cattle were, by my directions, swum across Marsh Run, and taken across the river at the ford.

The passage across the river on the bridge was continuous; not an instant was lost. By the aid of my staff, the trains were kept closed, and, by the admirable management of the officer in charge of the bridge, ignorant, careless, and stupid drivers were passed safely and rapidly over the bridge, with the exceptions just noted.

The instant my infantry passed, which must have been 8 o'clock, or about that hour, the taking up of the bridge commenced, and at 11.30 p. m. the march for Ely's Ford commenced from the forks of the road, at a house about a half or three-fourths of a mile from the river. The demands made upon me for authority to cross the bridge by various staff officers of the headquarters trains and others out of the order which I had arranged, in consonance with the instructions I received from the major-general commanding the corps, or the order of precedence he had left with me, were incessant and repeated. I need hardly state that I did not yield to them.

I believe that I have mentioned every material fact in my report and this appendix to it.

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

[to] Lieut. Col. FRED. T. LOCKE, A. A. G., Fifth Army Corps.

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revised 1 June 02
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