The Battle of Chancellorsville Ends
Chapter 12 (May 3, 1863)
We now fell back again to the plank road, formed in line, and were ordered to lie down, and we were only a few moments in this position until H. J. Doebler was wounded. Orderly Sergeant B. T. Parks told him to get up and run, and after a little while someone helped him off the field. Again we charged with only a few of our company present, owing to the breaking of our lines, by one of the Ohio regiments of our Brigade, which was driven by the Confederates. The last time we charged with only a remnant of our regiment, and we gained the ground on the right of our regimental line, when to our surprise the Johnnies almost surrounded us, except along left of line of battle, which afforded the only avenue by which to escape. Both Yankees and Rebels had empty guns, having fired them during the charges and unable to reload on the run.
The Rebels charged and we were followed closely and the writer never ran faster in his life, to escape being captured. A long legged Confederate yelled at me: “Halt, you Yankee son of a gun!” I replied in not very complimentary language. He at the same time had his bayonet on his gun and we were running at breakneck speed. He lunged at me with his gun. Just then I happened to look around and saw how close his bayonet was to me, and I want to tell you that on the battlefield at Chancellorsville there was one twenty-year-old boy that was nearly scared out of his boots. I know from that time on I put in my best licks to get out of reach of another lunge from that old Confederate. I often wished I had the record of the time I made. Do you know that made such an impression on me that since then whenever I hear any rattling in the rear, I feel like running away.
Well, we are thankful we got away, even if it was by the skin of our teeth and we believe in the old adage that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. We were driven thru the woods where the explosion of the shells had set fire to the leaves and brush and there many a poor fellow lay wounded, and being unable to get away, was burned to death. Had I been wounded by that confederate with his bayonet it would certainly have put me in a bad shape to make application for a pension.
The loss in Company G during the battle of Chancellorsville, Va., May 1, 2 and 3, 1863, was as follows: Killed, Franklin Knarr and Reuben Miller; wounded, Lieut. William H. Schroyer, Sergeant John R. Reigle, John Calvin Long, Henry J. Doebler; captured, Sergeant Fred H. Knight, Edward Fisher, Michael Schaffer, William McFall, and Elias Miller.
The wounding of Lieutenant Schroyer was rather peculiar. He had his leg hurt while in camp at Dumphries and was compelled to use crutches a long while. The marching to Chancellorsville and the moving about during the battle caused his leg to give him a great deal of pain. The surgeon told him the battle was virtually over and directed him to go to the hospital. When a few hundred yards from the company a stray shell from a Rebel battery struck a horse which he was passing at the time and exploded, killing the horse and threw him on the Lieutenant. From these internal injuries he died on May 15.
To describe a battlefield with all its horrors, especially a panic stricken army, is simply out of the question. You may read war history and look at battle illustrations until you grow gray but no one knows anything about it except those who participated and have learned by cruel experience.
The writer saw men shot in every conceivable manner. A soldier next to me in above battle had an eye shot out. When struck he reached his hand to his face and said, “Well, the eye is gone.” Raising his loaded gun to his shoulder he said, “Here’s one more shot for the Union”, and fired his piece at the enemy. Brave fellow, he was! A number of years after the war he was appointed superintendent or chief of police of Philadelphia, which position he held until his death. This brave fellow was Sergeant Harry Quirkof, of Company E, 147th Regiment.
Now the opposite kind. I saw another fellow (I will not mention his name for he is dead and gone), who at the exploding of a shell very near us left the ranks and ran like a deer down the plank road. Someone called to him to stop but he was not able to draw the brakes tight enough to come to a standstill. Finally, after the battle when he came back someone asked why did he run? He replied that he thought the Colonel had given the command to double quick. Yes, said the other, but you did not obey the command because you went out on a canter. Well, said he, I would not give three cents for my life.
We saw a teamster who had been to the front with ammunition, driven back with the troops who were demoralized and running to get away from the enemy. He had one eye shot out, his wagon was riddled with bullets, and himself covered with blood from head to foot. Yet, like the good soldier that he was, he stuck to his saddle, urging his team on with whip and lines, and yelling at the top of his voice, “Git up! Git up!” They did git and as far as we know this brave driver saved himself and his team.