April 27 – May 6, 1863
53rd PVI Casualties
From the Official Records, Report of Lt Col. Richards McMichael:
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.–The Chancellorsville Campaign.No. 80.–Report of Lieut. Col. Richards McMichael, Fifty- third Pennsylvania Infantry.
HDQRS. FIFTY-THIRD PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS,
May 8, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of this regiment in the late engagement on the other side of the river:
The first night after crossing the river (April 30) we encamped a short distance item a white house, afterward used as a hospital.
The next day (May 1), I received orders to move forward in rear of Thomas’ battery, following it until we came near the brow of a hill on a road leading to our left from a certain brick house, used as a hospital, when I was ordered to pass the battery, and form my regiment in column of divisions on the right of the Second Delaware Volunteers and in the rear of the One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. I remained in this position a short time, when I was ordered to move forward to the left and in rear of the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Volunteers, and form line of battle along the edge of a certain wood near a ravine along the left of the line. During all this time we were exposed to the shells from the enemy’s batteries, but received no injury.
I remained in this position a short time, when I was ordered by Colonel Brooke to march by the flank to the rear, and was conducted to the camping-ground I occupied the previous night. I remained there but a short time, when I received orders to again move forward. My regiment immediately got into line, and we started for the front, conducted by Lieut, C. P. Hatch, acting assistant adjutant-general of the brigade. I was ordered to form in line of battle in the woods along the left of our line, some distance in rear of the position I occupied when my regiment was in the front before. I formed the line in rear of the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Volunteers and on the left of the Second Delaware Volunteers.
We remained in this position until nearly morning, when 1 received orders to move by the flank in rear of the Second Delaware Volunteers. We formed line of battle some distance in rear of the former position, my regiment being on the right of the Twenty-seventh Connecticut Volunteers and on the left of the Sixty-fourth New York Volunteers, in the first line. We were ordered to build abatis in the front of our line. My regiment immediately went to work, and had very good and substantial works put up in quite a short time.
I remained in this position, in the first line, until Sunday morning, when I was ordered to move to the right, following the One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers. After we had gone to the right, we were ordered back to our former position, where we arrived in due time.
A short time afterward, we were ordered to move along our line to the right, and occupy the space left by the regiments of General Caldwell’s brigade. During this time we were exposed to a terrible fire from the enemy’s batteries, losing, however, no men. Soon afterward, I was ordered to the right, to support a battery (Pettit’s). We supported the battery, together with the Second Delaware and One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, until we were ordered to fall back. At this time we were quite near the brick house, exposed the greater part of the time to a very destructive fire from the enemy’s batteries, and having 1 officer and several men injured. While we were falling back, in accordance with Colonel Brooke’s orders, 13 of my men rushed forward and took off of the field two pieces of a battery on our right, which had been abandoned and would certainly have fallen into the hands of the enemy had not my men taken the pieces off. They were taken nearly 3 miles to the rear. We formed in line of battle some distance in the rear of our old position, where we remained in the third line until the 5th ultimo, when we were put in the rear of the Irish Brigade, in the second line, where we remained during the day and night, until we started for this side of the river.
The loss of this regiment in all the engagements is 1 line officer and 7 enlisted men wounded and 3 enlisted men missing, supposed to be taken prisoners. During all the actions and march, my officers and men behaved bravely, always acting the part of good soldiers.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Fifty-third Regt. Pennsylvania Vols.
Lieut. CHARLES P. HATCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Brigade.
From the Official Records, Report of Col. Brooke:
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.–The Chancellorsville Campaign.
No. 77.–Report of Col. John R. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade.
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
May 7, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my brigade during the recent movements:
On the evening of April 30, we crossed the Rappahannock at the head of the division, and reached Chancellorsville about 12 midnight, when we bivouacked in line of battle for the night.
On the following day, May 1, at about 11 a.m., I received the order of march from the general commanding, and, forming the rear of the column, marched down the Fredericksburg road to the hill beyond Chancellorsville, where, by his direction, I formed on the left of the batteries, then firing, in the following order: The Twenty-seventh Connecticut and One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania in the first line, the Twenty-seventh Connecticut on the right, and the Fifty-third Pennsylvania and Second Delaware in the second line, the Sixty-fourth New York having been sent, by direction of the general commanding, to strengthen General Caldwell’s brigade, on the right. After standing thus for about one hour, I received orders to retire to Chancellorsville by the road we came, which was accomplished in good order.
At about 2 p.m. I received the order to move down the Fredericksburg road at a double-quick, and form on the left of the road, which movement was accomplished quickly. My line extended into the woods on the right, two regiments forming the second line (the Fifty-third Pennsylvania and Second Delaware). I here, at the suggestion of the commanding general, felled trees and formed an abatis, which I afterward strengthened by a rifle-pit.
An hour before daybreak on the following day (May 2), I received the order from the general commanding to fall back from this position. I immediately marched to the rear, when I was ordered to form on the left of General Caldwell (this was about 150 yards in the woods on the left of Chancellorsville). Here also I felled an abatis and threw up a rifle pit, and, with skirmishers well to the front, awaited the attack. The enemy was engaged feeling our lines all day, but could make no impression.
At about 4 p.m., the attack commenced on the right (the Eleventh Corps), when our front was comparatively relieved from any vigorous assault by the enemy. At about 7 p.m., the general commanding directed me to send the Sixty-fourth New York to report to Colonel Miles, who was in command of the pickets.
During the night, heavy firing occurred, and, early on the morning of May 3, the attack on the right was reopened with great vigor. A large detail of officers and men from the One hundred and forty-fifth and Fifty-third Pennsylvania, and Second Delaware (271), under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel McCreary, was, by direction of the general commanding, sent to re-enforce the pickets. Up to this time my loss was very slight, although we were under a heavy artillery fire. This detail, with few exceptions, was either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners on the outposts. I have no knowledge of them, nor can I ascertain the true facts of the case from those who came off in safety. The detail, I understand, was divided by the commander of the pickets, and part sent to one point and part to another.
At about 8 a.m. the general commanding directed me to send the Twenty-seventh Connecticut to re-enforce the pickets. I sent eight companies, the other two companies being on duty at that time, and not available. This regiment was also lost, as I have heard nothing from them since. At about 9 a.m., our right was evidently beaten back. I received the order of the general commanding to move directly to my rear and meet the enemy. When I arrived upon the ground, General Caldwell’s brigade was interposed, and I was ordered to occupy his old place in the rifle-pits. I remained there until 1 p.m. During this time the whole or a large part of the Twelfth Corps passed to the rear, when, by direction of the general commanding, I moved up to the plain, near Chancellor’s house, and formed line between two batteries–Pettit’s on my left, and a brass battery on my right. Here we experienced a most destructive fire of artillery, many officers being killed and wounded; but the presence of Generals Couch and Hancock seemed to add to the veteran bravery of the troops; none wavered. While lying in this position, Chancellor’s house took fire. It was filled with wounded, and, after strenuous exertions, the wounded were removed by a company of the Second Delaware Volunteers, Lieutenant Wilson, of General Hancock’s staff, having charge of the party. It was in the execution of this duty that the veteran Captain McCullough was dangerously, and the gallant Lieutenant Jordan (both of the Second Delaware Volunteers), mortally, wounded. Major Patton, of the One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania, was also dangerously wounded while occupying this position.
At about 11 a.m., I was directed to move off to the rear and form in the open field occupied on the night of April 30 as a camp for the division. While moving, the general commanding directed that I should send men and draw off the pieces of the Fifth Maine Battery, which were abandoned by the men of the battery. I sent a party of the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, who drew off two of the pieces. They also drew one other as far as the road in rear of the position of the battery, when some men of another regiment took hold and draw it to the rear. After reaching the open field, I was shown by a staff officer the position we were to occupy. I immediately took up the position. Soon alter, the enemy opened upon us with a terrific fire of artillery, which soon ceased.
Nothing of importance occurred after this until the retreat of the army, which commenced on the night of the 5th. I had the honor to cover the retreat of the Second Corps as it moved to the river. As to the conduct of the officers and men, I cannot particularize, as all the regimental commanders and their officers behaved extremely well and bravely.
Of my staff I can say that officers could not behave better; cool and efficient, they deserve the honorable notice of the general commanding. I have the honor to refer to the reports of the regiments for those details which are not here mentioned. I also forward herewith the list of casualties.(*)
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN R. BROOKE,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Maj. JOHN HANCOCK,
From the Official Records, Report of Capt. James S. Hall:
APRIL 27-MAY 6, 1863.–The Chancellorsville Campaign.
No. 8.–Report of Capt. James S. Hall, Fifty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, Acting Signal Officer.
PHILLIPS HOUSE, May 9, 1863.
SIR: The operations of Set F since the commencement of the movement of the army, which has just closed, may be found below.
On the 25th April, I received orders from Lieutenant-Colonel [Charles H.] Morgan, chief of staff, Second Corps, to ration my men and forage my horses for eight days, and to hold my detachment ready for service at any moment. I did as directed, and was ready.
April 27, I received the following order:
I am instructed by the commanding general to direct that your detachment be in readiness to move at sunrise to-morrow, April 28.
FRANCIS A. WALKER,
The same day I received a verbal order from you directing me to remain at the Phillips house to make observations of the movements of the enemy and report the same to you at general headquarters.
April 28, 29, and 30, your orders were complied with, but May 1 I ceased to report to you or communicate through you, in consequence of the following order, to wit:
May 1, 1863.
Captain HALL, Signal Officer :
Telegraph direct to me reports of what you observe.
Major-General and Chief of Staff.
May 1, was directed by you to open communication with Tyler’s battery station, which was done at once. At 4 p.m. was ordered to take the large telescope, and reconnoiter the enemy’s position in front of General Sedgwick, south of Tyler’s Hill. I did so, and reported my observations to General Sedgwick.
May 2, after reviewing the position of the enemy at that point and reporting it to General Sedgwick, I returned to my own station, as per telegram to Captain Babcock. Was directed by General Butterfield to make triplicate reports of observation. We reported to General Sedgwick, General Gibbon, and to General Butterfield.
May 3, opened communication with General Sedgwick from courthouse steeple and brown church steeple. As soon as troops advanced, opened communication with Lieutenants Hill and Brooks to the left of Telegraph road, and right of Plank road with Captain Gloskoski and Lieutenant Marston. Lieutenant Briggs was sent to assist us at this station.
May 4, opened with General Sedgwick through Captains Babcock and Gloskoski, when all other communication was cut off, and the most intense excitement prevailed in officials in consequence thereof. Our success in this respect was marked, and everybody seemed to breathe more freely. In this instance we signally triumphed over the enemies of our corps, and those who had ordered the signals not to be used were the first to avail themselves of our ready means of communication.
The labors of Lieutenant Taylor and myself were incessant and arduous. In addition to our observations and the sending and receiving of dispatches by signals and by telegraph, Major-General Butterfield ordered me to make consolidated reports of our hourly reports in the evening of each day. The importance of our position was evident from the solicitude with which Generals Butterfield, Sedgwick, Gibbon, and others sought and obtained information from this point. In order to make our dispatches certain in case of accident to our telegraph, General Butterfield furnished me with mounted orderlies, who were sent in such force as to enable me to report every five minutes, if necessary, and I find by referring to my reports that less than five minutes intervened in sending of some.
During the different days of the movement we communicated with eight different stations, and, by referring to the number of dispatches and reports sent and received, you will discover that no previous labor of a single set can compare with it. We feel confident that we have done more actual signal labor than all the other officers in this movement.
The indefatigable labors of First Lieut. P. A. Taylor, and his dispatches and correctness in sending and receiving messages, challenge our admiration.
It would be gross injustice did I fail to acknowledge the good conduct of three of my men–Acting Sergeant Chamberlin, Corpl. L. H. Goodenough, and Private G. W. Smith. They were always present, ready for duty, and did it. We have no better flagmen in the corps.
Of my own exertions in carrying out the desires of the chief signal officer and yourself for the welfare of the corps I have nothing to say, save that I endeavored to do my duty.
Accompanying this report, please find the messages(*) sent and received from the 28th of April till the 5th of May, inclosed by myself.
I have the honor to be, very- respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. S. HALL,
Captain and Acting Signal Officer, Commanding Set F.
Capt. SAMUEL T. CUSHING,
Chief Signal Officer.
compiled by Scott Kunkle & Joel Peterson, 1999