Report of Capt. Joseph H. Saunders, Thirty-third
North Carolina Infantry.
SIR: I respectfully beg leave to submit the following report of the
Thirty-third North Carolina Regt. in the
The regiment left camp with 480 men. Very few of the men fell out
or any other cause during the march to Chancellorsville.
The march on Saturday, May 2, was a very fatiguing one. Although
men were on very short rations, they held up remarkably well, and were
in very fine spirits. I never saw the regiment
go into action better than
they did on that evening. While halted in the road, was exposed to the
fire it has ever been under.
About dark, the regiment was deployed as skirmishers on the right and
left of the Plank
road. We then advanced to within short range of the
enemy's skirmishers. Col. [Clark M.] Avery was on the Plank road;
[Thomas W.] Mayhew on the extreme left; Lieut.-Col.
[Robert V.] Cowan on the right, while I commanded the extreme right
After establishing my line, I went to the road for final
instructions. While there, Lieut. [James W.] Gibbs, of Company
reported to me that a flag of truce was on the right. Lieut.-Col.
Cowan and myself both rapidly went in that direction.
When about the
center of the right wing, a heavy fire was opened on us from our own
troops on the left flank and rear.
The skirmishers, to avoid the fire from
the rear, rushed forward, the enemy's skirmishers falling back. This
us a heavy fire from the front and right flank. At this time
Lieut.-Col. Cowan received a painful wound in right arm. I
think at this time most of the men now missing were captured. A good
many men were wounded by this concentrated
fire from all directions.
I restored the line as soon as possible; then, observing a bulk of men on
my right, and having
no available men to send to reconnoiter, went back
to Seventh [North Carolina] Regt. to ask Col. [Edward G.]
for a squad for that purpose. Lieut.-Col. [Junius L.]
Hill came forward and met me, also the officer with the flag of truce,
had run from my right when we were fired upon. At this time you
came up, and sent the squad of men which captured the regiment
At this time we were again fired upon from all sides. Again, for the
third time, I restored my
line of skirmishers. I then went to the left of
the road to report to Col. Avery. Found that he had been relieved,
having been twice fired upon from all sides. The left wing suffered
much more than the right did from this fire.
Mayhew then came to the right wing and took command. The
left wing had then been formed on the right of the Seventh [North
The enemy now made a heavy attack on the right, while the
front was engaged with skirmishers, and exposed to a more severe
if possible, than they were in the evening. The right wing
was again driven back, but in a short time was rallied, and
deployed for the fourth time. The left wing, under Col. Avery, was
engaged in repulsing the attack on the right.
Seeing that there were not
men enough to cover the front, I reported the facts. The troops in rear
were then relieved,
and, under the direction of Maj. Mayhew, marched
to the regiment, where we remained for the remainder of the night.
Sunday morning, moved on the enemy. Both officers and men
behaved gallantly, as our list of killed and wounded will show.
wing reached the enemy's last line of works; the right aid not reach
them, owing to our having lapped on the
Eighteenth [North Carolina]
Regt. We retired with the brigade, and reformed in rear of the
battle-field. Maj. Mayhew
was wounded and captured on the field.
Col. Avery being wounded, I assumed command, being the senior
After reforming, we moved back to the front. Nothing
of interest occurred afterward, except the cheerfulness with which
men worked night and day, and that, too, with scarcely anything to eat,
and being under arms the greater part of
four successive nights. It
affords me great pleasure to be able to state, from the captains' reports,
that the conscripts
acted as well as the old members of the regiment.
I respectfully beg leave to call your attention to First Lieut. E.
of Company B, and Lieut. Isaac L. Farrow, of Company H,
for the great assistance they rendered me in reforming the regiment,
in building the earthwork, and other arduous duties we had to perform.
We lost 4 commissioned officers killed,
14 wounded, 2 missing; and 28
enlisted men killed, 87 wounded, and 66 missing; making a total of 201
Very respectfully, & C.,
JOS. H. SAUNDERS,
Capt., Cmdg. Thirty-third North Carolina Troops.
Gen. JAS. H. LANE.
Source: Official Records, Series I, Vol. 25, Part I, Reports. Serial No. 39