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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 23, 1863

You are viewing part of our online archive of original Harper's Weekly newspapers. These newspapers are full of incredible pictures and reports on the Civil War. The collection serves as an excellent source of information on the war.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)



General Stoneman

General Stoneman

General Stoneman Biography

Lee's Order No. 59

Robert E. Lee's Order Number 59

Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes

Chancellorsville Map

Chancellorsville Battle Map

Vicksburg Battle Map



Chancellrosville Battlefield

Chancellorsville Battlefield

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Chancellorsville

Jackson at Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson's Attack At Chancellorsville

Fight at Chancellorsville

Fight at Chancellorsville

Fernando Wood

Fernando Wood




MAY 23, 1863.]



Julia, thus pressed, sang one of those songs that come and go every season. She spoke the words clearly, and with such variety and intelligence, that Sampson recanted, and broke in upon the—"very pretty"—" how sweet"—and "who is it by?" of the others, by shouting, "Very weak trash very cleanly sung. Now give us something worth the wear and tear of your orgins. Immortal vairse widded t' immortal sounds; that is what I understand b' a song."

Alfred whispered, "No, no, dearest, sing something suitable to you and me."

"Out of the question. Then go farther away, dear; I shall have more courage."

He obeyed, and she turned over two or three music books; and finally sang from memory. She cultivated musical memory, having observed the contempt with which men of sense visit the sorry pretenders to music who are tuneless and songless among the nightingales, and any where else away from their books. How will they manage to sing in heaven? Answer me that!

The song Julia Dodd sang on this happy occasion, to meet the humble but heterogeneous views of Messrs. Sampson and Hardie, was a simple eloquent Irish song called Aileen aroon. Whose history, by-the-by, was a curious one. Early in this century it occurred to somebody to hymn a son of George the Third for his double merit in having been born, and going to a ball. People who thus apply the fine arts in modern days are seldom artists; accordingly this parasite could not invent a melody; so he coolly stole Aileen aroon, soiled it by inserting sordid and incongruous jerks into the refrain, and called the stolen and adulterated article Robin Adair. An artisan of the same kidney was soon found to write words down to the degraded ditty: and, so strong is Flunkyism, and so weak is Criticism in these islands, that the polluted tune actually superseded the clean melody, and this sort of thing, "Who was in uniform at the ball? Silly Billy!" smothered the immortal lines.

But Mrs. Dodd's severe taste in music rejected those ignoble jerks, and her enthusiastic daughter having the option to hymn immortal Constancy, or mortal Fact, decided thus:

When like the early rose

Aileen aroon, Beauty in childhood glows

Aileen aroon, When like a diadem,

Buds blush around the stem, Which is the fairest gem? Aileen aroon.

Is it the laughing eye?

Aileen aroon, Is it the timid sigh?

Aileen aroon, Is it the tender tone,

Soft as the stringed harp's moan? No; it is Truth alone,

Aileen aroon.

I know a valley fair,

      Aileen aroon,

I know a cottage there,

Aileen aroon.

Far in that valley's shade,

I know a gentle maid,

Flower of the hazel glade,

      Aileen aroon.

Who in the song so sweet?

Aileen aroon. Who in the dance so fleet?

Aileen aroon

Dear are her charms to me, Dearer her laughter free,

Dearest her constancy,

Aileen aroon.

Youth must with time decay,

      Aileen aroon,

Beauty must fade away,

Aileen aroon.

Castles are sacked in war, Chieftains are scattered far, Truth is a fixed star,

Aileen aroon.

The way the earnest singer sang these lines is beyond the conception of ordinary singers, public or private. Here one of nature's orators spoke poetry to music with an eloquence as fervid and delicate as ever rung in the forum. She gave each verse with the same just variety, as if she had been reciting, and when she came to the last, where the thought rises abruptly, and is truly noble, she sang it with the sudden pathos, the weight, and the swelling majesty, of a truthful soul hymning truth with all its powers.

All the hearers, even Sampson, were thrilled, astonished, spell-bound: so can one wave of immortal music and immortal verse (alas! how seldom they meet!) heave the inner man when genius interprets. Judge, then, what it was to Alfred, to whom, with these great words and thrilling tones of her rich, swelling, ringing voice, the darling of his own heart vowed constancy, while her inspired face beamed on him like an angel's.

Even Mrs. Dodd, though acquainted with the song, and with her daughter's rare powers, gazed at her now with some surprise, as well as admiration, and kept a note Sarah had brought her, open, but unread, in her hand, unable to take her eyes from the inspired songstress. However, just before the song ended, she did just glance down, and saw it was signed Richard Hardie. On this her eye devoured it; and in one moment she saw that the writer declined, politely but peremptorily, the proposed alliance between his son and her daughter.

The mother looked up from this paper at that living radiance and incarnate melody in a sort of stupor: it seemed hardly possible to her that a provincial banker could refuse an alliance with a creature so peerless as that. But so it was; and despite her habitual self-government, Mrs. Dodd's white hand clenched the note till her nails dented it; and she reddened to the brow with anger and mortification.

Julia, whom she had trained never to monopolize attention in society, now left the piano in spite of remonstrance, and soon noticed her mother's face; for from red it had become paler than usual. "Are you unwell, dear?" said she, sotto voce.

"No, love."

"Is there any thing the matter, then?"

"Hush! We have guests: our first duty is to them." With this Mrs. Dodd rose, and, endeavoring not to look at her daughter at all, went round and drew each of her guests out in turn. It was the very heroism of courtesy; for their presence was torture to her. At last, to her infinite relief, they went, and she was left alone with her children. She sent the servants to bed, saying she would undress Miss Dodd: and accompanied her to her room. There the first thing she did was to lock the door; and the next was to turn round and look at her full.

"I always thought you the most lovable child I ever saw; but I never admired you as I have to-night; my noble, my beautiful daughter, who would grace the highest family in England!" With this Mrs. Dodd began to choke, and kissed Julia eagerly with the tears in her eyes, and drew her with tender defiance to her bosom.

"My own mamma," said Julia, softly, "what has happened?"

"My darling," said Mrs. Dodd, trembling a little, "have you pride? have you spirit?" "I think I have."

"I hope so: for you will need them both. Read that!" And she offered Mr. Hardie's letter with averted head.


WE devote the bulk of our space this week to illustrations of the recent campaign of the Army of the Potomac. On page 324 we give the CAPTURE OF THE HEIGHTS OF FREDERICKSBURG by General Sedgwick—a drawing by Thomas Nast. The following, from the Times correspondence, describes the transaction:

It was now eleven o'clock; continuous fighting had been going on for full six hours, and the rebels still held their works. General Sedgwick now determined on having the "Light Brigade" charge the heights. Colonel Burnham, commanding, moved his forces along under the protection of abandoned earth-works, and the hill-side formed by the sloping down of the plain near the city, until he had arrived directly in front of the most formidable position, known as the "Slaughter Pen." Knapsacks and any article of clothing which might impede their rapid movement were cast aside by the men, and they were deployed out in the following order: one half of the Fifth Wisconsin, Colonel Allen, as skirmish line; Thirty-first New York, Colonel Jones, on the left; Sixth Maine, Lieutenant-Colonel Harris commanding, and the remaining portion of the Fifth, in the rear of and supporting the Thirty-first at the same time. At the same time a force consisting of the Forty-third New York and Sixty-first Pennsylvania, and one or two other regiments, were sent up the road at the right of the stone-wall. Going on to the regiments of the Light Brigade, prepared for a charge, were the Thirty-sixth New York and Seventh Massachusetts, and still further on other regiments. At twenty minutes past eleven the lion-hearted men rose from their feet. Every one of the thousand spectators on the hills in the rear held their breath in terrible suspense, expecting to see them all the next moment prostrate in the dust. "Forward!" cried the General, and they dashed forward on the open plain, when instantly there was poured upon them a most terrific discharge of grape and canister. Many lay dead, but not one faltered. Full 400 yards must be passed over before gaining the stone-wall. As they press forward, delivering the battle-cheer, which is heard above the roar of artillery, the rebel guns further to the left are turned upon them. But they falter not. A moment more they have reached the stone-wall, scaled its sides, are clambering the green bank of the bluff, and precisely as the city clock struck they rush over the embrasure of the rebel guns, and the Heights are ours. The enemy, with the exception of the cannoniers, fled in wild confusion, secreting themselves in the houses, woods, and wherever a place of concealment was afforded. The guns captured proved to be the Washington Artillery, the battery so highly complimented by General Lee in his report of the last battle of Fredericksburg, and which has figured more or less since the outbreak of the rebellion. "What men are these?" was the interrogatory of one of the astonished and terrified members, as our brave boys appeared over the ramparts. "We are Yankees, — — you; do you think we will fight now?" was the response from one of our men. "Boys," remarked the commander of the battery, "you have captured the best battery in the Confederate service." The Sixth Maine were the first regiment to reach the scene. Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, with unparalleled bravery, rushed right up to the mouth of one as it was belching away, and through the mist and smoke his form could just be discerned as he cheered his men forward. He, together with Captain Furlong, were the first to lay hold of the rebel pieces.

On pages 328 and 329 we illustrate the


on May 1, from a sketch by Mr. A. R. Waud. This affair is thus described in the Herald correspondence:

About two o'clock on Friday afternoon the enemy were discovered advancing in force down both the old turnpike and the plank road, thus approaching our position nearly from the east. Although these two roads enter Chancellorsville at right angles—one from the east direct, and the other from the south—they join and make a single road near Tabernacle Church. When the discovery was made of the approach of the enemy, General Hooker immediately returned to his head-quarters at Chancellorsville and made his dispositions to meet them. It was yet uncertain whether the attack would come from the east or south, and it was therefore necessary to be in readiness at both points. With this purpose the Fifth Corps, Major-General Meade, was formed on the front facing the east, Sykes's division of regulars occupying a line north of the old turnpike road, and the other two divisions taking the line of the Banks Ford road, on the left of Sykes. The Second Corps, Major-General Couch, was held in reserve to support the right wing of this line, and the Second Division, Major-General Berry, of the Third Corps, Major-General Sickles, to support the left.

On our south front two corps—the Eleventh, Major-General Howard, and the Twelfth, Major-General Slocum —were deployed, the latter in double line of battle, with its left resting on the plank road, and the former on the right of the Twelfth. The two remaining divisions of Sickles's corps—the First, Brigadier-General Birney, and the Third, Brigadier-General Whipple—were ordered up as supports for this line.

Sykes's division was formed in the open field, directly on the slope southeast of and scarcely a quarter of a mile distant from General Hooker's head-quarters. Immediately behind them, on the extreme elevation of the plain, three batteries of field artillery were planted. General Sykes's skirmishers advanced down the field and into the woods, where they waited the approach of the enemy. Soon the brisk cracking of rifles and muskets announced the rebel proximity, and our skirmishers, in compliance with orders, gradually fell back upon the main line of battle. This manoeuvre drew the enemy outside of the woods, from which they emerged close after our retreating skirmishers, yelling and shouting like a tribe of wild Indians. The sight was both exciting and amusing at first, and all movement on our part was momentarily suspended, while our brave men gratified their curiosity in scrutinizing their gray-backed adversaries. But the charge of the rebels was not a trifling matter, and as column upon column of them, and line after line came dashing out of the woods, it seemed as though that one little division stationed there

to check them would be swallowed up. It was one of those skillful manoeuvres for which General Lee is particularly distinguished—the hurling of an immense body upon a small force of his antagonist. The rebel force, as it charged out of the woods, was certainly three times as large as that of General Sykes; yet the latter showed no disposition to quail; but, after giving a moment's glance to satisfy their curiosity, every soldier brought his musket to his shoulder, and five thousand bullets were sent into the rebel line. Such steadiness appalled them. They were unprepared for it. Their front rank quailed before it. The sudden thinning of their numbers amazed and frightened them. They discharged their pieces recklessly and broke in confusion. But there was no flight for them. The heavy bodies behind them, to whom the front rank had been a bulwark, protecting them from the murderous volley of the Union Regulars, were steady and determined. They absorbed the front rank in the second, and still moved forward —firm, unshaken, confident. Meantime our men had reloaded their pieces, and simultaneously a volley was fired from both sides, and then from the brow above our artillery opened with canister and grape, throwing over the heads of our own men and dealing destruction and confusion to the enemy. And as the loud cannon continued its work with fearful rapidity the order was given to our men to "fire at will"—an order that was copied by the enemy—and the continuous roar of musketry that followed almost deadened the reports of the artillery. It was the first fight of the great battle, and for nearly twenty minutes both parties stood firm, as though nothing should lead them to give the prestige of a first success to the other. But, although outnumbered, we had an advantage in the support of artillery, which, while our infantry held the rebels in check, made huge gaps in their ranks. Still they yelled and shouted defiance, and attempted charges and continued their firing, rank after rank of them being broken and thrown back in confusion, while their officers shouted, and ordered and stormed, and cursed, in the vain effort to rally them to a persistent, determined charge. They fought well. They fought as none but Americans dare fight. But with musketry alone they could not contend against both artillery and musketry. It was simply murder on the part of their officers to attempt to hold them to it, and their officers began to appreciate the fact when nearly half their column had been placed hors de combat; and then the order was given to retire.

And then came our turn to shout. The rebels were retreating. Our force was sadly thinned and broken; but there were enough left to send up a shout after the retreating rebels that made the woods ring with the echo. Even the wounded joined in the glad cheer, many of them staggering into an upright position and throwing up their hats in their excess of gladness at the victory. The charge had been right gallantly met, and the host of the enemy finely repulsed. It was the first achievement of the great struggle—an augury of success in the end. Our men had stood like veterans, and they had a right to cheer.

THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE BATTLE ON SATURDAY, 2D, also from a sketch by Mr. Wand, is illustrated on the same pages. Of this we take the following description from the Times correspondence:

In the morning, as we stood on the balcony of Chancellor's house, the attention was aroused by a sharp rattle of musketry coming from a column of rebels coming up by the main Fredericksburg plank road, directly in front of us. Knapp's Battery, however, which was planted directly in front of the position, opened upon them, and after a few rounds caused them to retire.

Immediately afterward a battery opened from the height which I have mentioned as having been gained by Sykes yesterday, and then abandoned by us. The position was rather upward of a mile distant from the cleared space, and its object was to damage our ammunition train which was visible to the rebels from the tops of trees on the height. One of our batteries was, however, immediately opened in reply. The third shot blew up one of the caissons and a subsequent shot blew up another, and this settled their account.

Subsequently a reconnoissance was sent, on our part, consisting of the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers (Carr's brigade, Berry's division, Sickles's corps), on the same road by which the rebels had approached in the morning, for the purpose of feeling their strength. They went out on the plank road, deployed on both sides in the form of a letter V, chased the rebel skirmishers a couple of miles, till they came to a heavy double line of battle, with artillery in position, when they retired, bringing us that piece of intelligence.

Another reconnoissance was next sent out on our right, consisting of Berdan's sharp-shooters. They met the enemy's pickets, drove them handsomely, and at 4 o'clock returned with fifty prisoners of the Twenty-third Georgia.

At 4 the rebels are moving down in force on the plank road, where we had a little before made the reconnoissance. Geary's division of Slocum's corps is sent in on the double-quick into the woods—their bayonets flashing in the sunlight. A sharp contest ensues, and in a few minutes they come back in disorder. A portion of Kane's brigade, composed of raw troops, had broken and thrown the column into confusion.

An aid from Slocum comes to ask General Hooker if he can have reinforcements. "No! he must hold his own. Howard will, of course, support him from the right. Let Geary's division, however, be thrown to the right of the road, so that the artillery may be able to sweep the enemy on the left." This treatment presently repaired the damage, and checked the hope of the rebels being able to pierce our centre.

Finally, on page 325 we illustrate the terrible PANIC WHICH OVERTOOK THE ELEVENTH CORPS on the afternoon of the same day. This also is from a sketch by Mr. Waud. The following graphic account of the affair is from the Herald letter:

The Eleventh corps had been ordered to advance on the right of Birney, and moved forward to take the position assigned to them on Birney's flank. One brigade succeeded in getting up the hill, and reported, by its commander (whose name I have unfortunately lost), to Generals Sickles and Birney. The rest of the corps met the enemy in force when about two-thirds of the distance up. Here they had a short engagement, in which it does not appear that they had even as large a force to contend against as that which Williams, with his single division, had fought so bravely. Headed by their commander, the gallant Howard, the German corps charged boldly up to the rebel lines. Here they were met, as the rebels always meet their foe, with shouts of defiance and derision, a determined front, and a heavy fire of musketry. The German regiments returned the fire for a short time with spirit, manifesting a disposition to fight valiantly. But at the time when all encouragement to the men was needed that could be given, then some officer of the division (one, at least, as I am informed) fell back to the rear, leaving his men to fight alone. At the same time General Devens, commanding the First division, was unhorsed and badly wounded in his foot by a musket-ball. Thus losing at a ciritical moment the inspiriting influence of the immediate presence of their commanders, the men began to falter, then to fall back, and finally broke in a complete route. General Howard boldly threw himself into the breach and attempted to rally the shattered columns; but his efforts were perfectly futile. The men were panic-stricken, and no power on earth could rally them in the face of the enemy. Information of the catastrophe was promptly communicated to General Sickles, who thus had a moment given him to prepare for the shock he instantly apprehended his column would suffer. The high land of the little farm that formed the base of his operations was parked full of artillery and cavalry, nearly all the artillery of the Third corps, together with Pleasanton's cavalry, being crowded into that little fifty-acre inclosure. But Sickles was not to be thrown off his guard by a trifle, and any thing short of a complete defeat seemed to be considered by him in the light of a trifle. With the coolness and skillfulness of a veteran of a hundred campaigns he set to work making his dispositions. He had not a single regiment within his reach to support his artillery; Whipple was falling back, and must meet the approaching stampede with his own force in retreat; Birney was far out in the advance, in imminent danger of being completely surrounded and annihilated; the rebel forces were pressing

hard upon the flying Germans, who could only escape by rushing across his lines, with every prospect of communicating the panic to them. It was a critical moment indeed, and one that might well stagger even the bravest-hearted. But it did not stagger the citizen soldier. Calling to one after another of his staff, he sent them all off, one after the other, lest any should fail of getting through, to warn Birney of his danger, and order him to fall back. Then, turning to General Pleasanton, he directed him to take charge of the artillery, and train it all upon the woods encircling the field, and support it with his cavalry, to hold the rebels in check should they come on him, and himself dashed off to meet Whipple, then just emerging from the woods in the bottom land. He had scarcely turned his horse about when the flying Germans came dashing over the field in crowds, meeting the head of Whipple's column and stampeding through his lines, running as only men do run when convinced that sure destruction is awaiting them. At the same moment large masses of the rebel infantry came dashing through the woods on the north and west close up to the field, and opened a tremendous fire of musketry into the confused mass of men and animals. To add to the confusion and terror of the occasion night was rapidly approaching, and darkness was already beginning to obscure all things.

I must frankly confess that I have no ability to do justice to the scene that followed. It was my lot to be in the centre of that field when the panic burst upon us. May I never be a witness to another such scene! On one hand was a solid column of infantry retreating at double-quick from the face of the enemy, who were already crowding their rear; on the other was a dense mass of beings who had lost their reasoning faculties, and were flying from a thousand fancied dangers as well as from the real danger that crowded so close upon them, aggravating the fearfulness of their situation by the very precipitancy with which they' were seeking to escape from it. On the hill were ten thousand of the enemy, pouring their murderous volleys in upon us, yelling and hooting, to increase the alarm and confusion; hundreds of cavalry horses, left riderless at the first discharge from the rebels, were dashing frantically about in all directions; a score of batteries of artillery were thrown into disorder, some properly manned, seeking to gain positions for effective duty, and others flying from the field; battery wagons, ambulances, horses, men, cannon, caissons, all jumbled and tumbled together in an apparently inextricable mass, and that murderous fire still pouring in upon them. To add to the terror of the occasion there was but one means of escape from the field, and that through a little narrow neck or ravine washed out by Scott's Creek. Toward this the confused mass plunged headlong. For a moment it seemed as if no power could avert the frightful calamity that threatened the entire army. That neck passed, and this panic-stricken, disordered body of men and animals permitted to pass down through the other corps of the army, our destruction was sure. But in the midst of that wildest alarm there was a cool head. That calamity was averted by the determined self-possession of Major-General Daniel E. Sickles.

Let me here finish with the Eleventh corps. They did not all fly across Sickles's line. They dispersed and ran in all directions, regardless of the order of their going. They all seemed possessed with an instinctive idea of the shortest and most direct line from the point whence they started to the United States ford, and the majority of them did not stop until they had reached the ford.

Other illustrations of the Army of the Potomac are given on pages 332 and 333. The descriptive matter referring to them will be found in the following brief description by the artist Mr. A. R. Waud:


This sketch represents the brilliant advance of Sykes's division of Meade's corps. Watson's battery is partly seen hurling shells over the heads of our advancing lines at the rebel position on the top of the hill. In three lines, the gallant Second Brigade leading the attack, with that steadiness which the regiments of the regular army have always shown, they moved up the hill, the line of battle being formed across the road. The fire was to a great extent reserved till the crest of the hill was reached, and the enemy driven in confusion. In this affair the old Fifth Corps well maintained its old reputation; and after, when it was drawn back to take its place in the line of battle then forming, it repulsed with slaughter the attack which the enemy in their turn made upon them.


After the attack upon Meade the enemy continued the battle by a vigorous effort to storm our position on the cross-roads at Chancellor's. This was a magnificent scene. The house occupies the right of the picture; about it the orderlies, servants, and pack-mules belonging to head-quarters were grouped—General Hooker and his staff, with Captain Starr's company of the Lancers, forming a brilliant party at the side of the house. Slocum's line of battle is seen formed in front, supporting the batteries in position about the burned chimney, which was surrounded by cherry-trees in blossom. In front are the lines of men moving up to take part in the struggle, which for a short time was very violently contested at this point.


Dowdall's tavern, head-quarters Eleventh Corps, is seen in the centre of this view. The rifle-pits across the field rendered this place impregnable in the hands of good soldiers. It was expected all day that the enemy would attack this wing in force, and there was plenty of time for preparation. The German troops, however, were not equal to the occasion. Some of them fought welt, but tho majority fled in panic without firing a shot, throwing into confusion those troops that were preparing to resist the enemy's advance. In the midst of the skedaddle a noble buck and two does left the woods and fled through the fugitives.


While Sickles was returning with his fine corps on the left, Couch's men on the double-quick took up position across the road to try and stem the course of the runaways and Jackson's rapid advance. The batteries, massed in front of this line, poured into the woods a savage fire over the soldiers in front, while a confused mass of pack trains, wagons, ambulances, guns, caissons, cattle, and broken troops, with all the crowd of army followers, rushed down the road in panic, the enemy pounding at their rear and capturing what they could. This part of the battle was truly terrible. The sun had set, and threatening clouds threatened rain, and some lightning added to the gloomy horror of the scene; but the Second and Third Corps stood nobly to their work, and the rebels were hurled back. They captured cattle and supplies, ammunition, etc., and spent the rest of the evening in plundering our wounded.


On Sunday the rebels made the most determined efforts to capture this position, held by Sickles and Meade, but they had no Eleventh Corps to deal with. Savagely they were repulsed, and Jackson's celebrated column of 40,000 men was decimated and defeated.


In this picture the men of Humphrey's division are represented pouring a deadly fire upon the advancing hosts, whose intention was to capture the rifle-pits and batteries represented in the picture. About this time Humphrey made one of his celebrated charges upon the enemy, driving them with such loss that they never dared to attack in force again.


After the burning of the Chancellor house, and withdrawal of our line from that point, the General bivouacked in the woods near the front, so near that the rebel shells and even the fire of the sharp-shooters came into the camp. Captain Starr's horse was shot quite close to where the General was consulting with his officers.


This was a picturesque spot near the front, used as a hospital for Slocum's corps, and as a rendezvous of skedaddlers.




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