THE GREAT BATTLES IN THE VICINITY OF CHANCELLORSVILLE.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE FIGHT.
GEN. JACKSON FLANKING THE ENEMY
THE YANKEES DRIVEN FROM THEIR ENTRENCHMENTS.
DESPERATE FIGHTING ON SUNDAY
HEAVY LOSS ON BOTH SIDES.
&c., &c., &c.,
For the present when all is confusion, it is somewhat difficult to give anything like an accurate or connected account of the series of battles which have taken place on the Rappahannock within the past week, and which have again crowned the arms of our infant Confederacy with undying renown. Such information as we have been able to gather, we lay before the reader this morning, and think we hazard nothing in saying that it approaches nearer to accuracy than any account yet published of the grand series of movements which has rolled back once more the tide of fanatical invasion, and hurled, discomfited and dismayed, across the Rappahannock the boasting hosts of the enemy.
As early as Thursday of last week information was received at headquarters that the enemy was crossing in force at Germanna and Banks's ford, when infantry were at once sent up to the vicinity of Tabernacle Church to co-operate with our cavalry in that neighborhood. On Friday, at an early hour in the morning, it became apparent that the main force of the enemy had crossed at the above fords, and that his principal demonstrations were to be made from that quarter. Consequently all of our troops, with the exception of Early's division and Barksdale's brigade, left the lines in front of Fredericksburg and marched towards Tabernacle Church. On arriving at the plank road the troops were hailed, and partial line of battle formed, and reconnoitering parties and skirmishers sent in advance to ascertain the position of the enemy. Pretty soon the guns of the skirmishers were heard, indicating the near presence of the enemy, who, however, retired, with little resistance, pursued by our own forces along the plank road, where at intervals there was heavy firing of artillery and musketry, but no general engagement. That night our troops gained the summit of a ridge running nearly at right angles with the plank road, and within a mile and a half of Chancellorsville, a commanding position of the enemy. This point is at the intersection of the plank road with the old Catharine Furnace road. On the same day the division of General McLaws engaged the enemy near Banks's ford, driving him from his position there, forcing him to move by the right flank up the river until a junction was formed with the main body of his forces, near Chancellorsville.
On Saturday the divisions of McLaws and Anderson, remained on this line, and in the enemy's front, while Gen. Jackson, at the head of his corps moved to the left along the Furnance road, passing around the enemy's right, and gaining the plank road in his rear. Crossing the plank road, he assailed and carried the enemy's first line of entrenchments by a flank movement, capturing several pieces of artillery, and a number of prisoners. The enemy, driven out of these retreated in the direction of Chancellorsville, followed by our forces who had dislodged them, until they reached the top of a hill some three hundred yards distant, where they again offered resistance, but finding themselves too hotly pressed, soon yielded, and fell back about a mile to their second line of rifle pits, of entrenchments, which were constructed of heavy timbers with earth thrown over them. In approaching these works, which occurred about nightfall, our troops had to encounter almost insurmountable barriers. The ascent for two hundred yards was very slight, a small sluggish stream running at the foot of this ascent, between which and the works the ground was of a marshy character, covered with an undergrowth of thick shrubbery—the heavy timber around having been felled so as to form a kind of abattis, over and through which our forces had to climb.
The works were, however, carried about 8 o'clock P. M., and held for a short time. As our troops were moving along the plank road near this point heavy volleys of musketry from ambuscades were poured upon them, and finally a battery of four guns, posted on a hill some two hundred yards in advance of the head of the column, opened upon them with grape and canister, fora time checking their advance and wounding a number of officers and men. The enemy then rallied and repossessed himself of the works from which he had been driven, our forces falling back a short distance during the night. On the same day a portion of the corps of Gen. Jackson gained possession of several fords on the river, in rear of the enemy.
On Sunday the battle opened early in the morning Gen. Paxton, of the Stonewall brigade, was killed before a gun had been fired by his command. The line of works regained by the enemy the night previous were a second time assaulted and carried about 8 o'clock. Our columns pushing on, the enemy was driven from his third line of breastworks, in charging which, at some points, our loss was very severe, the troops being exposed not only to a heavy discharge of musketry, but also to a terrible and destructive fire of artillery, from the ridge at Chancellorsville, distant about half a mile, where the enemy had strongly entrenched himself. About the middle of the day, however, he was driven from this position, after desperate and criminate resistance. At one point, rather commanding, the struggle was truly desperate—three times was the enemy driven from his position, and as often regained it; but after the fourth charge of our invincible soldiery, they yielded the position without further effort to maintain it.
Falling back some distance beyond Chancellorsville, their lines were reformed, and position taken on the summit of an eminence in a northerly direction from the village, and near the old turnpike road. Very soon the guns of the skirmishers were again heard, followed by the artillery of the enemy, directed at our columns then leaving Chancellorsville. They, however, gave way without risking another general engagement, and on this end of the line the heavy fighting of the day was ended. Nothing, beyond the events here described, has since transpired, with the exception of occasional artillery duelling.
Whilst these operations were in progress on the upper line, Gen. Early's division was hotly engaged in front of Fredericksburg. During the afternoon of Sunday the enemy succeeded in carrying Marye's Heights, where they captured some 200 of our men belonging to a Mississippi regiment, and several pieces of the Washington Artillery. The next morning Gen. E. was reinforced by the division of Gen. McLaws and part of the division of Gen. Anderson, when the heights were assailed and car-
ried, and our artillery recaptures. Soon after our troops regained possession of the town which at last accounts was held by Gen. Law ton's brigade. The fighting on the end of the line of Monday was very Maryland prisoners who were captured report that they lost in the several engagements three Major-Generals viz: Slocum, Birney and Howood.
Since Monday there has been no heavy fighting on either end of the line. The following telegram from Gen. Lee will beat explain the present whereabouts of the enemy.
To His Excellency President Davis:
After driving General Sedgwick across the Rappahannock, on the night of the 4th inst. I returned on the 5th to Chancellorsville. The march was delayed by a stores, which continued all night and the following day. In placing the troops in position on the morning of the 6th to attack Gen. Hooker, it was ascertained he had abandoned his fortified position. The line of skirmishers was pressed forward until they came within ange of the enemy's batteries, planted fort of the Rappahannock, which, from the configuration of the ground, completely commenced the side. His army therefore, escaped with the loss of a few additional prisoners.(Signed) R. E. Lee. General.