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retreat was so rapid, that they could only join in the pursuit. A dense fog settled over the field, increasing the obscurity, and rendering great caution necessary to avoid collision between our own troops. Their movements were consequently slow.” (Lee.)

Early's assault on Howe was made in échelon of battalions, and columns, and was hardy in the extreme. It was growing dark as the attack began, and Hays's and Hoke's brigades (says Early) were thrown into some confusion by coming in contact, after they crossed the plank road, below Guest's house. Barksdale remained at Marye's hill, with Smith on his left in reserve.

The weakness of Howe's long line, obliged that officer carefully to study his ground, and make arrangements for ready withdrawal to an interior line, if overmatched by the enemy; and he stationed his reserves accordingly. To the rear of the centre of his first line, held by Gen. Neill's brigade, and two regiments of Grant's, was a small covering of woods; here a portion of his reserves, and sufficient artillery, were concentrated. The main assault was made upon

his left by Hoke and Hays. Their first onset was resolutely broken by Howe’s firm front, though made with easy contempt of danger. The simultaneous attack upon his right was by no means so severe. It was speedily dashed back, and, by suddenly advancing this wing, Howe succeeded in capturing nearly all the Eighth Louisiana Regiment; but the gap produced by the overadvance of our eager. troops, was shortly perceived by Gordon's brigade, which was enabled to move down a ravine in rear of Howe's right, and compelled its hasty withdrawal.

Meanwhile Neill's brigade, on Howe's left, was overpowered by Early's fierce and repeated onslaughts; but no wise disordered, though we had lost nearly a thousand men, it fell slowly and steadily back to the previously selected rallying-point, where, on being followed up by Hoke and Hays, the Vermont brigade, two regiments of Newton's division and Butler's regular battery, sent to Howe's support by Sedgwick, opened upon them so sharp a fire, that they retired in headlong confusion, largely increased by the approaching darkness. This terminated the fight on the left, and Howe's line was no further molested during the night.

Howe is clearly mistaken in alleging that his division was attacked by McLaws, Anderson, and Early. The position of these divisions has been laid down. It is one of those frequent assertions, made in the best of faith, but emanating solely from the recollection of the fierceness of a recent combat and from unreliable evidence.

XXXI.

SEDGWICK WITHDRAWS.

FORE

TORESEEING from the vigor of Lee's attack the

necessity of contracting his lines, as soon as it was dark, Newton's and Brooks's divisions and the Light Brie gade (Col. Burnham's), were ordered to fall rapidly back upon Banks's Ford, where they took position on the heights in the vicinity, and in Wilcox's rifle-pits. Howe was then quietly withdrawn, and disposed on Newton's right.

In his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, Gen. Howe appears to think that he was unfairly dealt with by Sedgwick; in fact, that his division was intentionally left behind to be sacrificed. But this opinion is scarcely justified by the condition of affairs and subsequent events.

Following are the important despatches which passed, during the latter part of these operations, between Hooker and Sedgwick:

HEADQUARTERS Sixth CORPS,

May 4, 1863, 9 A.M. MAJOR-GEN. HOOKER.

I am occupying the same position as last night. I have secured my communication with Banks's Ford.

The enemy

are in possession of the heights of Fredericksburg in force. They appear strongly in our front, and are making efforts to dri:e us back. My strength yesterday morning was twenty-two thousand men. I do not know my losses, but they were large, probably five thousand men. I cannot use the cavalry. It depends upon the condition and position of your force whether I can sustain myself here. Howe reports the enemy advancing upon Fredericksburg.

JOHN SEDGWICK, Major-General.

SEDGWICK'S HEADQUARTERS, NEAR BANKS's FORD, VA.,

May 4, 1863, 9.45 A.M. GEN. HOOKER.

The enemy are pressing me. I am taking position to cross the river wherever (? whenever) necessary.

J. SEDGWICK, Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

May 4, 1863, 10.30 A.M. GEN. SEDGWICK,

Commanding Sixth Corps. The commanding general directs that in the event you fall back, you reserve, if practicable, a position on the Fredericksburg side of the Rappa hannock, which you can hold securely until to-morrow P.M. Please let the commanding general have your opinion in regard to this by telegraph from Banks's Ford as soon as possible.

S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

CHANCELLORSVILLE, VA., May 4, 1863, 11 A.M. MAJOR-GEN. SEDGWICK.

The major-general commanding directs me to say that he does not wish you to cross the river at Banks's Ford unless you are compelled to do so. The batteries at Banks's Ford command the position. If it is practicable for you to maintain a position south side of Rappahannock, near Banks's Ford, you will do so. It is very important that we retain position at Banks's Ford. Gen. Tyler commands the reserve artillery there.

J. H. VAN ALEN, Brigadier-General and Aide-de-Camp.

Sixth CORPS, May 4, 1863, 11 A.M. MAJOR-GEN. BUTTERFIELD AND GEN. HOOKER.

I hold the same position. The enemy are pressing me hard. If I can hold until night, I shall cross at Banks's Ford, under instructions from Gen. Hooker, given by Brig.-Gen. Warren.

JOHN SEDGWICK, Major-General.

SEDGWICK'S HEADQUARTERS, May 4, 1863, 11.15 A.M. MAJOR-GEN. HOOKER.

The enemy threatens me strongly on two fronts. My position is bad for such attack. It was assumed for attack, and not for defence. It is not improbable that bridges at Banks's Ford may be sacrificed. Can you help me strongly if I am attacked?

JOHN SEDGWICK, Major-General.

P. S. – My bridges are two miles from me. I am compelled to cover them above and below from attack, with the additional assistance of Gen. Benham's brigade alone.

J. S.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

CHANCELLORSVILLE, VA., May 4, 1863, 11.50 A.M. MAJOR-GEN. SEDGWICK.

If the necessary information shall be obtained to-day, and if it shall be of the character he anticipates, it is the intention

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