網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

sane order to retreat, had been surrendered to them. Various explanations have been given of Hooker's actions on the afternoon of the 1st of May. The writer has always believed that they were due partly to lack of that firm moral stamina which is so often found to accompany a spirit of arrogance and boastfulness, but chiefly to a nervous collapse occasioned by the excitement and fatigue of the four preceding days. Drunkenness, once alleged, certainly was not any part of the cause. The morning of the 2d of May found General Hooker's army in the position he had chosen, and with which he still declared himself entirely satisfied. In an order, dated 4.20 P.M. of the 1st, he had said: “The Major-General commanding trusts that a suspension in the attack to-day will embolden the enemy to attack him.” In little more than twenty-four hours he was to learn what emboldening Lee and Jackson to attack him might imply. Sickles's corps was now all up ; Howard's was on the extreme right at Dowdall's Tavern; Hancock's division and the Fifth Corps formed the left, stretching across the Fredericksburg pike and the river roads; the Third and Twelfth held the center. In this attitude, behind breastworks, the army waited and wondered. By noon it was forty-eight hours since the turning column reached Chancellorsville; yet here the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps still were, though re-enforced by their comrades of the Second and Third, the whole advantage of surprise thrown away, the enemy given every opportunity either to strengthen their own positions or to seek some weak spot in the Union line on which to deliver an attack. This last was what Lee and Jackson were actually preparing ; for, while our troops continued to wait and wonder, Lee's chief lieutenant had, since early morning, been on the march with a powerful column of twenty-six thousand men, to reach, by a long detour, a position opposite Hooker's right, where he might deliver an unexpected and crushing blow. In order to occupy Hooker's attention, the Confederate skirmishers, strongly supported, were pushed forward against our left, making the liveliest demonstrations. The heaviest firing was on the front of Hancock, along the Fredericksburg pike, his skirmishers being assailed with great spirit. Probably at this hour no serious purpose of an attack from that side was entertained; but, whether to make the demonstration so vigorous as to draw Hooker's attention entirely off from what might be going on in Howard's quarter, or to push Hancock's line back nearer to the Chancellor House, with a view to taking the utmost advantage of the coming crash at Dowdall's Tavern, the enemy certainly made most unusual efforts. Yet all the while Hancock's intrenched skirmish line, under the command of Colonel Miles, remained as steady as a rock.

during the night and which was fed by Hancock with fresh troops just as fast as needed, held its ground and kept the enemy at bay. Again and again the Confederates brought lines of battle down into the slashing, and again and again they had to go back. Rarely in the history of war has anything finer been seen. Rightly does Mr. Swinton say: “Amid much that is dastardly at Chancellorsville, the conduct of this young but gallant and skillful officer shines forth with a brilliant luster.” So delighted was Hancock at the splendid behavior of his skirmish line that, after one repulse of the enemy, he exclaimed : “Captain Parker, ride down and tell Colonel Miles he is worth his weight in gold”; while Couch, turning to the major generals who commanded his two divisions, said, in his quiet, emphatic way: “I tell you what, gentlemen, I shall not be greatly surprised to find myself some day serving under that young man.” Thirty-one years later (1894), “that young man,” a volunteer of the great war, is now within three years of commanding the armies of the United States. While Hancock was thus holding the enemy off from the Chancellor plain, where even a momentary collapse of our line would have been disastrous, Sickles and Pleasonton were straining every nerve to bring Jackson to a stand in his terrific movement down the road from Dowdall's Tavern. Batteries from the reserve galloped into position; troops from the Third and other corps hurried to the threatened point, and formed line with an alacrity and confidence not a whit diminished by the mass of fugitives who still continued to pour along the road, calling out for “the pontoons,” or fairly howling with fright.* All observers of that field on that disastrous afternoon agree that the stampede did not in the slightest degree affect the self-possession and discipline of the troops on the Chancellor plain, who, indeed, were rather disposed to chaff their unfortunate brethren from Dowdall's Tavern, and, for themselves, showed no sign of alarm as Jackson's victorious divisions closed in from the west. But, much to the surprise of all, the worst proved to be over. Jackson's men had become disordered by the very greatness of their success and by their rapid movements; they had suffered not a little from the stand made by some of the Eleventh Corps brigades; night was coming on to embarrass their further advance; at any moment they might, so far as they knew, receive a blow on their left flank; while in front of them a grim line of batteries, supported by infantry and cavalry, barred the way to Hooker's headquarters. After their first onset had been repelled by canister from a score of guns, they contented themselves with feeling our line here and there in the growing darkness, and at last came to a complete halt. An hour later the adventurous and daring captain who had organized this great stroke fell mortally wounded by the fire of his own men while riding back from a reconnoissance of Hooker's position. This great disaster would alone have put a stop to any attempt on the part of the Confederates to push further their advantage that night. The morning of the 3d of May (Sunday) found the Union forces at Chancellorsville in no degree discouraged, except for the strange, uncanny feeling which the conduct of general headquarters had created. The rout of the Eleventh Corps, which to the Confederates had seemed a great victory, had, in fact, affected the real Army of the Potomac scarcely at all. Indeed, after the first shock there was more of a disposition to make a jest of it than to treat it as an important matter. The Eleventh Corps had never been regarded as belonging to the Army of the Potomac. It had come up only after the battle of Fredericksburg, and had then encamped far in the rear of the army, so that almost no intercourse had taken place between these troops and the older divisions. The venerable joke about “fighting mit Sigel ” had gone the rounds so many times that it was difficult to take Sigel's men very seriously when

* Some of the fugitives were so completely beside themselves with fear that they ran past the Chancellor House, down the Fredericksburg pike, through Hancock's line, and into the hands of the Confederates, without being stopped. One ingenuous German approached Hancock and begged to be directed to the pontoons. The answer he received has been handed down by tradition ; but it is best not to put it into cold and unsympathetic type.

« 上一頁繼續 »