With characteristic gallantry, Sickles now proposed to regain the Fairview crest with his corps, attacking the enemy with the bayonet; and he thinks it could have been done. But, Hooker having been temporarily disabled, his successor or executive, Couch, did not think fit to license the attempt. And shortly after, Hooker recovered strength sufficient to order the withdrawal to the new lines at White House; and Chancellorsville was reluctantly given up to the enemy, who had won it so fairly and at such fearful sacrifice.
In retiring from the Chancellor clearing, Sickles states that he took, instead of losing, prisoners and material. This appears to be true, and shows how Stuart had fought his columns to the utmost of their strength, in driving us from our morning’s position. He says: “At the conclusion of the battle of Sunday, Capt. Seeley’s battery, which was the last battery that fired a shot in the battle of Chancellorsville, had forty-five horses killed, and in the neighborhood of forty men killed and wounded;” but “he withdrew so entirely at his leisure, that he carried off all the harness from his dead horses, loading his cannoneers with it.” “As I said before, if another corps, or even ten thousand men, had been available at the close of the battle of Chancellorsville, on that part of the field where I was engaged, I believe the battle would have resulted in our favor.” Such is the testimony of Hooker’s warmest supporter. And there is abundant evidence on the Confederate side to confirm this assumption.
The losses of the Third Corps in the battle of Sunday seem to have been the bulk of that day’s casualties.
There can be no limit to the praise earned by the mettlesome veterans of Jackson’s corps, in the deadly fight at Fairview. They had continuously marched and fought, with little sleep and less rations, since Thursday morning. Their ammunition had been sparse, and they had been obliged to rely frequently upon the bayonet alone. They had fought under circumstances which rendered all attempts to preserve organization impossible. They had charged through tangled woods against well-constructed field-works, and in the teeth of destructive artillery-fire, and had captured the works again and again. Never had infantry better earned the right to rank with the best which ever bore arms, than this gallant twenty thousand,—one man in every four of whom lay bleeding on the field.
Nor can the same meed of praise be withheld from our own brave legions. Our losses had been heavier than those of the enemy. Generals and regimental commanders had fallen in equal proportions. Our forces had, owing to the extraordinary combinations of the general in command, been outnumbered by the enemy wherever engaged. While we had received the early assaults behind breastworks, we had constantly been obliged to recapture them, as they were successively wrenched from our grasp,—and we had done