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ESCAPE OF THE COEP8. 313
Darkness closed upon the combatants and prevented further pursuit by the enemy, though skirmishing continued for hours afterwards. Never had men watched more eagerly for the going down of the sun, and now that night had spread her sable mantle over the scene, great was the sense of relief experienced.
But the joy at their deliverance is suddenly dispelled by a report that the bridges thrown over the river at Banks' Ford have been destroyed, and thus the way of retreat cut off. During the afternoon the enemy between us and Hooker had succeeded in planting several guns near the ford, and kept pounding away at the bridges for hours. One of them was seriously injured, but before they could complete its destruction, batteries were got into position on the opposite side of the river, and drove them away. Happily, then, this rumor was without foundation.
The scenes of that night vividly recalled the memories of the seven days' retreat on the Peninsula. Though no panic prevailed, there was the utmost confusion. Owing to the darkness and the large number of wounded, and immense amount of war materiel which had to be conveyed over, many of the wounded were left where they fell during the battle, it being impossible to bring them away. This was the case with most of those belonging to the Thirty-third. Lieut. Rossiter died in the hands of the enemy. By morning the entire Corps was safely over, and encamped along the flats on the opposite
314 BE-CR088ING OF THE RIGHT WING.
side. The Thirty-third crossed the bridge about 8 o'clock, A. M.
The next morning the rebels commenced shelling the troops from the west bank, which caused them to draw back immediately from the river. Brooks' and Newton's Divisions moved a few miles to the northward, Howe's remaining in the vicinity. During the following night the main army re-crossed above, under cover of a fierce storm. Wednesday and Thursday were spent in getting back to Falmouth. Howe's Division returned to White-Oak Church during Friday, now for the third time.
The Thirty-third encamped in a field about threequarters of a mile from its former position. It was a sad sight, those thin and decimated ranks; of five hundred and fifty brave men, who two weeks before marched out to meet the enemy, less than three hundred now returned.
GEN. STONEMAN'S EXPEDITION SUCCESSFUL. 315
Gen. Stoneman's Expedition Successful.—Reasons for the Campaign proving a Failure.—Death of Jackson.—His Character.— Geo. Neill's Report.
Gen. Stoneman fully accomplished the object of his expedition by destroying the railroad bridge, but owing to the defeat of the army, no material advantage resulted from his labors.
So terminated the second bloody campaign of the Rappahannock. The reader who has followed us through the various operations, will readily fix upon two main circumstances, as contributing to our defeat—the breaking of the Eleventh Corps at Chaneellorsville, and the failure to take possession of the upper range of hills at the left of Fredericksburg. Gen. Hooker had succeeded admirably in getting the main portion of the army in the rear of the enemy. He had chosen a good position, and skilfully posted his troops. All was going well until the giving away of the Eleventh Corps let Jackson, with forty thousand men, upon his right flank. He was thenceforward compelled to act upon the defensive. Sedgwick was now brought forward upon the board, and assigned the duty of restoring, at least, equilibrium to the contest, by a bold, fearless move. If unsuccessful, the entire army must rapidly retreat