Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/90
- 80 Southern Historical Society Papers.
obliged to quit the field, and the command devolved on Major- General Field.
To the members of my staff I am under great obligations for their valuable services. They conducted themselves with their usual distinguished gallantry. 'Much of the success of the move- ment on the enemy's flank is due to the very skillful manner in which the move was conducted by Lieutenant-Colonel Sorrel.
I have the honor to forward the accompanying reports of subor- dinate commanders of corps.
I am, Colonel, with great respect, your obedient servant,
J. LONGSTREET, Lieutenant- General. To Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. TAYLOR, A. A. G.
Operations of Kershaw's Diyision.
On the 4th of May, 1864, in camp near Gordonsville, Virginia, I received orders from the Lieutenant-General Commanding to put my division in motion to join the First and Third corps, between Orange Courthouse and Fredericksburg. On arriving within ten miles of the scene of action at the Wilderness, we bivouacked on the Catharpin road on the afternoon of the 5th. At 1 o'clock A. M. of the 6th, put the command in motion and reached General Lee's position on the Orange Plank road with the head of the col- umn, and reported to Lieutenant-General Longstreet, who directed me to relieve the division of Major-General Wilcox, in our front. Proceeding with a staff officer of General Wilcox, who was to in- dicate the position, I moved the column down the road by a flank, preceding them by some four hundred yards. During this move- ment the enemy attacked in our front on the Plank road, and be- fore I reached the scene of action, our entire line in front of me fell back in confusion. Returning immediately to the head of my column, which had then arrived about opposite the position occu- pied by the Commanding-General, I directed Colonel J. W. Hen- negan, commanding Kershaw's brigade, to file to the right and form line of battle with his left resting upon the Plank road. Be- fore this movement could be completely executed, the retreating masses of Hetb/s and Wilcox's divisions broke through my ranks and delayed Colonel Hennegan until they had passed to the rear. Almost immediately the enemy were upon us. Ordering Colonel Hennegan forward to meet them with the right of his command, I threw forward the Second South Carolina regiment on the left of the road, and deployed and pushed forward Brigadier-General Humphreys with his brigade also on the right of the road, with his right resting on it General Hennegan having passed sufficiently to the right to admit of the deployment of General Humphreys to his left. This formation was made successfully and in good order