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The enemy is gradually forcing his way towards headquarters. Hancock's artillery helps keep him in check for a limited period; but the batteries of Stuart, Anderson, and McLaws, all directing a converging fire on the Chancellor House, make it, under the discouraging circumstances, difficult for him to maintain any footing.
When Couch had assumed command of the army, Hancock, before Geary was forced from his intrenchments by Anderson, disposed the Second Corps, with its eighteen pieces of artillery, in two lines, facing respectively east and west, about one mile apart. But Geary's relinquishment of the rifle-pits allowed the flanks of both the lines to be exposed, and prevented these dispositions from answering their purpose. Hancock clung to his ground, however, until the enemy had reached within a few hundred yards. Then the order for all troops to be withdrawn within the new lines was promulgated, and the removal of the wounded from the Chancellor House was speedily completed, — the shelling by the enemy having set it on fire some time before.
Hancock's artillery at the Chancellor House certainly suffered severely; for, during this brief engagement, Leppien's battery lost all its horses, officers, and cannoneers, and the guns had to be removed by an infantry detail, by hand.
The Confederate army now occupied itself in refitting its shattered ranks upon the plain. Its organization had been torn to shreds, during the stubborn conflict of the morning, in the tangled woods and marshy ravines of the Wilderness; but this had its full compensation in the possession of the prize for which it had contended. A new line of battle was formed on the plank road west of Chancellorsville, and on the turnpike east. Rodes leaned his right on the Chancellor House, and Pender swung round to conform to the Federal position. Anderson and McLaws lay east of Colston, who held the old pike, but were soon after replaced by Heth, with part of A. P. Hill's corps.
In the woods, where Berry had made his gallant stand opposite the fierce assaults of Jackson, and where lay by thousands the mingled dead and wounded foes, there broke out about noon a fire in the dry and inflammable underbrush. The Confederates detailed a large force, and labored bravely to extinguish the flames, equally exhibiting their humanity to suffering friend and foe; but the fire was hard to control, and many wounded perished in the flames.
THE NEW LINES.
stock, in which the Army of the Potomac might seek refuge from its weaker but more active foe, lay as follows:
Birney describes the position as a flattened cone. The apex touched Bullock's, (White House or Chandler's,) where the Mineral-Spring road, along which the left wing of the army had lain, crosses the road from Chancellorsville to Ely's Ford.
Bullock's lies on a commanding plateau, with open ground in its front, well covered by our artillery. This clearing is north of and larger than the Chancellor open, and communicates with it. The position of the troops on the left was not materially changed, but embraced the corps of Howard and Slocum. The right lay in advance of and along the road to Ely's, with Big Hunting Run in its front, and was still held by Reynolds. At the apex were Sickles and Couch.
The position was almost impregnable, and covered in full safety the line of retreat to United States Ford, the road to which comes into the Ely's Ford road a half-mile west of Bullock's.
To these lines the Second, Third, and Twelfth Corps retired, unmolested by the enemy, and filed into the positions assigned to each division.
Only slight changes had been made in the situation of Meade since he took up his lines on the left of the army. He had, with wise forethought, sent Sykes at the doublequick, after the rout of the Eleventh Corps, to seize the cross-roads to Ely's and United States Fords. Here Sykes now occupied the woods along the road from Bullock’s to connect with Reynolds's left.
Before daylight Sunday morning, Humphreys, relieved by a division of the Eleventh Corps, had moved to the right, and massed his division in rear of Griffin, who had preceded him on the line, and had later moved to Geary's left, on the Ely's Ford road. At nine A.M., he had sent Tyler's brigade to support Gen. French, and with the other had held the edge of Chancellorsville clearing, while the Third and Twelfth Corps retired to the new lines.
And, when French returned to these lines, he fell in on Griffin's left.
About noon of Sunday, then, the patient and in no wise discouraged Union Army lay as described, while in its front stood the weary Army of Northern Virginia, with ranks thinned and leaders gone, but with the pride of success, hardly fought for and nobly earned, to reward it for all the dangers and hardships of the past few days.
Gen. Lee, having got his forces into a passable state of re-organization, began to reconnoitre the Federal position, with a view to another assault