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The Battle of Chancellorsville

Chapter 11 (May 2, 1863 - May 3, 1863)

After the charge had been repulsed, a Confederate, who had been badly wounded, lay on the plank road. At one time he would call for help, then he would pray, and again cursing the Yankees, would call for his parents.

Captain Mackey, of Company C, who had command of the skirmishers, advanced the line until we could hear the Confederate officers cautioning their men to keep quiet. We finally reached the wounded rebel, and brought him in, and had him taken to the hospital. We found that a shell had torn all the flesh off his hips. Poor fellow; although an enemy, yet how horrible it made war appear to us. Some time during the night the skirmishers were withdrawn, and they joined their respective companies. About midnight we had a very heavy artillery duel lasting several hours. Stonewall Jackson was killed on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, May 3rd, 1863. Fighting began this morning about 4 o’clock. Stonewall Jackson’s troops attacked the 11th Corps commanded by General O. O. Howard, in front, and flank. Fighting was severe. The rebels slowly pushed our lines, until about 10 o’clock A. M., when there was a general route. The bullets came from front, flank and rear. The onslaught was fearful. Before the battle opened Colonel Pardee made a speech. He said that we were about to go into battle; that he knew the five old companies of the 28th regiment, who had been tried in the fire of battle before, would again prove true to their country, and their flag. As to the three new companies F, G and H, he hoped they would follow the example of the old companies.

We were in our breastworks when the battle opened. We gave “three cheers”, and our color bearer, Sergeant Henry, of Company C, who had taken off his cap and cheered, was just replacing it when a rebel shell killed him. His head was shot away, and his brains were scattered over the old flag he had carried so long. Colonel Pardee, being close by picked up the colors, saying, “We will stick to the old flag to the last, and if we go to Richmond, we will all go together.” The Colonel carried the flag until we were driven off the field.

A braver soldier than Colonel Ario Pardee was hard to find, and I want to say right here that Company G followed our brave commander, thru all our battles to the close of the war. I know that all our regimental officers had implicit confidence in our company.

As I said before, General Jackson attacked our front, right and rear, making it impossible for us to hold our breastworks. We finally abandoned them; moved to the left, only a short distance, when we were halted. Here we formed a line at right angles with our breastworks. Soon the order was given to forward. The regiment charged in grand style, driving the enemy out of our works, and after occupying them but a very short time, we were again driven out. Again we rallied, again we charged, drove the enemy out of our works, when a line of Confederates rose outside the breastworks, where we could see into their very eyes. To show the reader how close we were to the enemy, when this line of rebels arose, Mathias Fox, of Company H, a German, who had served thirteen years in the German cavalry service before coming to this country, reached out over the works, caught a Johnnie rebel by the hair, and pulled him over the works, telling him in German to throw down his gun and accouterments. The rebel, not understanding what he said, and Fox not having any time to spare, gave him a kick on that part of the body that first comes in contact with a chair, and again motioning him to drop his gun and accouterments, he needed no further persuasion, but hurriedly threw down the implements of war and became a prisoner.

The Colonel, seeing this brave act, promoted Fox to Corporal, although he was unable to read or write a word of English. He was pretty well advanced in years, and on the march to Gettysburg, in June, he gave out, and was sent to the hospital and never returned to the regiment. Brave old fellow, we all admired him.

Corporal John R. Reigle was the first man on the right of the company. The writer was his file closer. Soon after the fighting began Reigle was shot thru the shoulder. He went to the rear and I took his place, and was after this at the right of the company until I was promoted to Sergeant.

On our second charge as we again filed into our works, the right of the company ran down two rebels. The writer, being at right of company, ordered them to surrender. This they did by divesting themselves of their guns and accouterments. Captain Davis said to me: “Now, as you captured these men, you take them to the rear”. I said, “No! Captain, I would rather not. Allow someone else to take them back”. Corporal Eby then came up and told the Captain that he would take them to the rear, which he was told to do. Henry J. Doebler was by my side, and can verify the above.

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