4REMEMBER?Stonewall Jackson and his men launched a surprise attack on Hooker’s Union Army…The 11th Corps was the first corps to be attacked…
5REMEMBER?The 11th Corps led a disorganized retreat, running away from Stonewall Jackson and his brigade…They crashed through their own lines and never stopped till they crossed the river…
6REMEMBER?Hubert Dilger of the 11th Corps was one of the few men who tried to make a stand, and he received the Medal of Honor…There were a few other soldiers who tried to resist…
7GUESS WHICH SOLDIERS WERE AMONG THEM? We should begin with the valiant Captain of Company A – Doug Fowler…..When the battle began, he was very sick and being held in a field hospital under doctors’ care.
8He insisted that he be released so that he could support and lead his men who were involved in their first battle.After attempts to discourage him, he was finally carried to the battlefield by ambulance!
9When the Rebels burst out of the woods…. The 17th had been divided into two groups.The left wing , under command of Alan Brady, was ordered to protect the four guns of Captain Julius Dieckman's 13th NY Independent Light Artillery.
10The right wing, under Colonel Noble and Lt The right wing, under Colonel Noble and Lt. Colonel Charles Walter, was placed south and west of the Talley house, in the small garden of the residence.The house itself served as Division and Brigade HQ for General Charles Devens and General Nathaniel McLean.
11Those supporting the battery stood their ground until the battery itself was forced to retreat. The artillerymen could not shoot because their guns were facing in the wrong direction!The infantry could not shoot because their own men (retreating Union soldiers) were between them and the rebels!
12In the garden of the Talley house, Lt In the garden of the Talley house, Lt. Colonel Charles Walter (commanding the right wing of the regiment) had ordered his men to lie down behind the modest breastworks they had created behind the garden fence. Walter told the men to stand their ground and not fire until he gave the order.
1317th CT VolunteersWarren heard one volley, followed closely by another, and recalled that he was:"...not surprised, it was evident an attack was imminent. [the enemy] approached on the right flank in columns six or eight deep, firing and yelling. [We] could not return fire due to the pickets retreating. George Wood said 'Pshaw, it's nothing. I'm going to have my dinner.”
14Sergeant Rufus Buttery of Company A "As the rebels came out of the woods they had to come over a level clear lot, and as that traitor flag came out of the woods. a thrill ran through my veins, and I waited for the bearer of it to get near enough for my shot to reach him, about that time we had the order to fire. I drew as close a sight on him as I knew how, and that rebel fell with many others..."
15As regiment after regiment began to give way under the overwhelming Confederate forces, the situation for the Seventeenth was becoming critical. Still holding his position in the Talley garden, Lt. Peck saw a signal officer rip the signal flags down, mount his horse and ride quickly away, as did several other couriers and staff officers at the Talley house. To the rear of the right wing, the left wing under Major Brady was having problems of its own.
16Private Justus Silliman of Co Private Justus Silliman of Co. H, part of the left wing supporting the remaining four guns of Dieckman's Battery, also recalled seeing the exodus from the Talley house as the attack began."...some of our gunners tried to get their guns into position to sweep the rebels, but were unable to. The rebels had excellent range of the road but most of their missiles passed over our heads as we lay close. Some of them killed a battery horse..."
17Unable to bring their guns to bear on the advancing Confederates without firing into the retreating soldiers of von Gilsa's retreating troops, the artillery men harnessed their horses and awaited orders. Justus Silliman wrote:"...presently our two picket guns came dashing in and being unable to get in position, limbered up and started off."
18The sudden withdrawal of the battery seemed to present Major Brady with a difficult problem. Private Silliman continued:“The Major was some excited, said he did not know what to do as he had no orders. We had been placed there to support the batteries but they had left us. The rebels were on our flank so we could neither change front our return their fire."
19Major Brady, standing with outspoken Captain James Moore of Warren's own Company C, told Moore that he could not give any orders, as the Colonel and Lt. Colonel at the Talley house had given him no orders.Private Warren watched as :"...the left wing stood while the enemy came nearer...Captain Moore told Major Brady that if he wouldn't give any orders then he [Moore] would..."
20Said Private Silliman: "...they had nearly reached the house when he ordered us to make for the woods. His order was promptly obeyed though few started before the order was given. Many of us stuck to the major however as he made about as good time as any of us through the woods..."
21MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE TALLEY GARDEN…. “Back in the garden, the right wing of the 17th was unaware of the retreat of Major Brady's wing. After firing off two volleys, it was apparent that it was about to be overrun. Lt. Colonel Walter, lying to the rear of Company E behind the garden fence stood and gave the order to retreat to Captain Douglas Fowler of Company A. Then Walter raised his hand to his head and fell to the ground. He was killed instantly, shot through the left eye.”
22Despite the order to retreat, some men had gotten so caught up in the fight that they never heard the order given. Wrote Sergeant Buttery:"After fighting some time, I looked around to see how things were going on, and to my surprise, there were only three or four of us in the garden. I had heard no order to fall back. All All I heard was one of the men saying, "We will have to fall back," and I told him that we could hold our ground."Sergeant Buttery fired one more shot, then ran towards the Turnpike, where he was captured by a Confederate officer.
23Private Charles Pendleton was still at the fence, firing at the Confederate troops, possibly the last soldier of the Seventeenth to remain at his post. Pendleton was wounded and captured in the garden shortly after.For the soldiers who did hear the order to retreat, the decision to stay and fight or retreat was sometimes difficult. Private Hiram Bishop, also of Company A and one of the "three or four" remaining in the garden, thought:"...to stay was death, to go the same..."
24Private Bishop finally decided that he would run for it, but was captured near the corner of the Talley house. He managed to escape, and ran through the woods. As he did so, an artillery shell hit a nearby tree, and Private Bishop was wounded by a large limb that fell on him.Only 20 minutes after Private George Wood of Company C had told Private William Warren the artillery fire was "nothing", the entire division of General Devens was in shambles and in full retreat. George Wood would spend the next two weeks as a Confederate prisoner.
25General Howard stood among the panic stricken troops of Devens division. Holding a flag dropped by retreating troops, he tried with all his might to head off the flight, and rally his troops. Some of those troops did indeed heed General Howard's pleas, falling into the lines now being held by the troops of General Schurz's 3rd Division.
26Despite being badly broken up upon retreating from the Talley house, a portion of the Seventeenth managed to get together at the rear of the 119th New York along the Plank Road. Colonel Noble's horse was wounded by Confederate gunfire here. The popular Captain Douglas Fowler and Corporal C. Frederick Betts were an inspiring sight to the soldiers of the regiment. Corporal Betts stood waving the regimental colors in one hand and a pistol in the other, while Captain Fowler sword waving over his head, cried "Rally around the flag, Seventeenth!".
27The stand here was brief...Private Silliman wrote that: “We were again broken by one of our batteries driving through us, so the Major ordered us to occupy the rifle pits...our own men came rushing over the rifle pit onto our bayonets and the rifle pit was so crowded that we could do nothing. The right of the rifle pit was first vacated and we left soon after."
28The line was finally overwhelmed as well by the tide of Confederates, and Colonel Noble was wounded in the arm. He dismounted, but was persuaded to remount his wounded horse and was led to the rear. The Colonel’s wound was serious enough to send him home, and his horse died later that day from its wounds.Private John Lewis, Company D wrote:"As I was running, the Rebel balls came around me like hail stones and I thought I should have to be taken prisoner. I was completely exhausted from running so far so I got down behind a large pine tree to keep from getting shot. I had no sooner got behind the tree when a shell burst within six feet of me, plowing and rooting up the ground and cutting down the brush all around me..."
29By 9 PM that portion of the XI Corps that could be was rallied and formed to the left and right of General Hiram Berry's divison of the III Corps. As artillery shells crashed about, the expected attack on the remnants of the XI Corps did not occur, and the weary, demoralized soldiers were withdrawn well to the rear of Chancellor House.For the Seventeenth, their first combat was disastrous, the result of bungled leadership at the brigade, divisional and corps level.
30When news of the battle spread, reporters wrote of the shameful retreat and cowardly rout of the Eleventh Corps. They got all of the blame for the events at Chancellorsville. Because they were part of the Eleventh, the 17th Connecticut Volunteers had to endure the shame as well.It was not until months or even years later that they were finally recognized for their heroic acts and valiant attempts at resistance against the advancing tide of the Confederate Army. By then, they had met Lee once again at Gettysburg.