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Battle of Chancellorsville—Report of General R. E. Lee.
General Early had been instructed, in the event of the enemy withdrawing from his front and moving up the river, to join the main body of the army, with so much of his command as could be spared from the defence of his lines. This order was repeated on the second; but by a misapprehension on the part of the officer conveying it, General Early was directed to move unconditionally, leaving Hays' brigade and one regiment of Barksdale's at Fredericksburg, and directing a part of General Pendleton's artillery to be sent to the rear, in compliance with the order delivered to him. General Early moved with the rest of his command towards Chancellorsville. As soon as his withdrawal was perceived, the enemy began to give evidence of an intention to advance; but the mistake in the transmission of the order being corrected, General Early returned to his original position. The line to be defended by Barksdale's brigade extended from the Rappahannock, above Fredericksburg, to the rear of Howison's house, a distance of more than two miles. The artillery was posted along the heights in rear of the town. Before dawn, on the morning of the third, General Barksdale reported to General Early that the enemy had occupied Fredericksburg in large force, and laid down a bridge at the town. Hays' brigade was sent to his support, and placed on his extreme left, with the exception of one regiment stationed on the right of his line, behind Howison's house. Seven companies of the Twenty-first Mississippi regiment were posted by General Barksdale between the Marye house and the plank road; the Eighteenth and the three other companies of the Twenty-first occupied the telegraph road at the foot of Marye's hill, the two remaining regiments of the brigade being farther to the right on the hills near to Howison's house. The enemy made a demonstration against the extreme right, which was easily repulsed by General Early. Soon afterwards a column moved from Fredericksburg along the river banks, as if to gain the heights on the extreme left, which commanded those immediately in rear of the town. This attempt was foiled by General Hays and the arrival of General Wilcox from Banks' ford, who deployed a few skirmishers on the hill near Taylor's house, and opened upon the enemy with a section of artillery. Very soon the enemy advanced in large force against Marye's and the hills to the right and left of it. Two assaults were gallantly repulsed by Barksdale's men and the
operations were arrested by intelligence received from Fredericksburg.