The second in a four-part miniseries.
The following is the text from Elizabeth “Beth” Parnicza’s 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville tour covering the action of May 3rd, 1863, in the area between Hazel Grove and Fairview.
The Federals are pushed back, and fighting once more swings back to a Confederate advance—largely Virginians and North Carolinians, along with a few South Carolinians, advancing on the men of Sickles’ 3rd Corps.
Famously, 25-year-old Brigadier General Stephen Dodson Ramseur throws his North Carolinians forward. They literally walked over comrades lying down in their front, blocking their passage to the battlefield. Could it have been men of the Stonewall Brigade?
T. J. Watkins of the 14th North Carolina wrote: “We found the Stonewall Brigade, lying flat on the ground, making no effort to succor our artillery, with the enemy near our guns; it was then Genl. Ramseur—ordered us to run over them; not using Sunday School words.”
The proud Stonewall Brigade goes to great lengths to show later that these Virginians were actually from John R. Jones’ brigade.
Ordered forward, the North Carolinians walked right over the prone line: “The brave, chivalric Virginians lay flat on the ground and the tar-heels whom they so often ridicule walked over them to glory and to victory,” wrote William Calder of the 2nd North Carolina.
Some take greater offense at the Virginians’ refusal to move forward and use creative solutions—like Colonel Bryan Grimes, commander of the 4th NC: “I, myself, put my foot on the back and head of an officer of high rank, in mounting the work, and, through very spite, ground his face in the earth.”
Consider for a moment what it means to be charging forward without support and how angry you might become that your comrades would not attack with you. But then, would you rather be stepped on, or charge into the awful scene ahead again?
A voice called out to Grimes ominously: “You may double-quick but you’ll come back faster than you go!”
Elizabeth “Beth” Parnicza is a West Virginia University graduate and is currently a historian with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Beth, is the supervisor of the Chancellorsville unit.