From: Los Angeles
150 Years Ago Today:
South of Vicksburg, U. S. Grant discovered that his son not only wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but but was determined to:
On leaving Bruinsburg for the front I left my son Frederick, who had joined me a few weeks before, on board one of the gunboats asleep, and hoped to get away without him until after Grand Gulf should fall into our hands; but on waking up he learned that I had gone, and being guided by the sound of the battle raging at Thompson's Hill--called the Battle of Port Gibson--found his way to where I was. He had no horse to ride at the time, and I had no facilities for even preparing a meal. He, therefore, foraged around the best he could until we reached Grand Gulf.
[ . . . ]
My son accompanied me throughout the campaign and siege, and caused no anxiety either to me or to his mother, who was at home. He looked out for himself and was in every battle of the campaign. His age, then not quite thirteen, enabled him to take in all he saw...
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant
A brigade of Union cavalry under General John Buford finally made it to the south side of the North Anna river. It wasn't the full cavalry corps under George Stoneman that had been originally planned, but it was enough to begin the work of destroying bridges and alarming the local Confederates. But given that the news was already out that the Army of the Potomac was on the move, it would have no effect on the already-begun Battle of Chancellorsville. (The effect in Richmond was another story.)
In Louisiana, however, a Northern cavalry raid ended in complete success. Colonel Benjamin Grierson and his thousand troopers made it safely into the Union lines at Baton Rouge. It was arguably the most spectacular raid of the war, for Grierson's force had ridden across the entire breadth of the Confederacy, losing only a handful of men. and they were largely responsible for the near-complete confusion of the Confederate commanders in Mississippi.
Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com
Near Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee made perhaps the boldest gamble of his life. He split his already divided army into a third part, in the presence of a superior enemy. One part was kept at Fredricksburg to hold back a Yankee crossing there, one part faced the main body of the Northern army, and the last part under Stonewall Jackson made a march through a little-known track, to attack the exposed Union right flank. It shouldn't have worked, for the 26,000 men under Jackson could not move unobtrusively. The path they took was close enough that the Northerners detected them. But amazingly, there was no effective Union response, so much so that some histories claim that Hooker never heard about the Southerners' march.
In fact, Hooker sent a message at 9:30 a.m. to Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard on his right flank: "We have good reason to suppose the enemy is moving to our right. Please advance your pickets for purposes of observation as far as may be safe in order to obtain timely information of their approach." About an hour and half later, Howard sent back that his command was "taking measures to resist an attack from the west." But in fact, almost nothing had been done. This was extraordinary when one considers that two years into the war, both Johnny Reb and Billy Yank had learned to "dig in", creating rifle-pits and waist-high barriers, in as little as half an hour.
While this was going on, Union general Dan Sickles, commanding III Corps, spotted a piece of high ground to the south called Hazel Grove. Sickles advanced his men and occupied it, effectively cutting Jackson's force off from Lee, but spreading the Northern army out.
And in the late afternoon, Jackson's men hit the Federal flank like a thunderbolt. Many of the Northerners were sitting down to an early dinner with their rifles stacked, and the "Rebel Yell" sent them fleeing for their lives. One division under Major General Carl Schurz managed to shift into a north-south line to resist the attack, but his men were soon flanked on either side by the Confederate onslaught, and had to retreat. Nearly all the remainder of the Union XI Corps was already scattering to the winds.
As darkness fell, Stonewall Jackson was aware that his men had done a good deal of damage, but not scored a knock-out blow. He pushed the advance onward, trying to destroy as much of the Union army as possible. But then occurred a grim lesson in the dangers of night-time combat. As he and his escort returned from personally scouting the Union positions, they came across advancing Southern troops, who simply saw riders coming from the direction of the Northern force.
The Rebel infantry delivered an initial volley, which surprisingly only killed one of the horses in Jackson's party. The rider called on the Confederate soldiers to cease firing. But Major John D. Barry of the 18th North Carolina then did his cause tragically poor service, denouncing the call as a lie and ordering his men to "pour it to them." This they did, and three bullets hit Stonewall Jackson, two in his left arm and one in his right hand. Four members of his staff were killed outright. To add insult to injury, the noise brought Federal artillery fire on the area. The resulting chaos meant that it was not until after midnight when the seriously wounded Jackson was finally brought back to corps hospital.
Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com
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