|Third New Jersey Cavalry|
|Diary of Alexander A. Yard|
|this battle will only decide this miserable war it will bring peace and gladness to many ---- and ----- hearts. God grant it. [*Battle of the Wilderness, May 5 & 6, 1864]
Started at 3am. Recrossed the Rapidan. Co. B ordered to unpack saddles and start off on a scout. 7am Oh! the terrible rattle of cannon and musketry. It seems to shake the earth although over 12 miles off. It sounds away to the extreme right and most probably the 9th corps. Heat very oppressive. 9am Ely's Ford - our trains are crossing quietly, firing nearly ceased. 11am - firing of cannon still - no musketry - thro a thick woods for 6 miles to Richard's Ford, a splendid natural fortififcation. Returned to camp at 7pm. Sedgewick's 6th corps cut in two and badly used up. Wagon trains all recrossing the river - the ----- is terrible. God help our men.
Saddled up at 2:30am, left the ford at 7 - I was ordered to guide the regiment to Ely's Ford. Crossed, heard the enemy was coming in strong force and Col. Morrison ordered us to recross. I was again guide to Richard's Ford. Sent ahead with six men to find a crossing at Germanna. Men got ----- scared two "tough boys." They took to the woods thinking I was a ----- I put spurs, thinking they were and overhauled them. They were glad, I was sorry I could not get hold of our ----- Anyhow, arrived at the ford at 2pm. Good crossing. My horse badly jaded - have heard since early morning very hard firing. May God grant that success crown our arms. Left ford at 5pm. Halted 8 men, hard looking cases. Said they were scouts from the 5th NY Cav. Was satisfied and let them pass. Had to wait 1/2 hour to get a ---- across the ford. I have just heard that our right is entirely cut off from the Army and there are grave doubts about our getting "home again' before going to Richmond as prisoners - the men are ignorant of it. Our lines are completely broken and our gallant boys cut down and scattered or prisoners. The fighting is still very heavy, and I think our hope will be that we largely outnumber them. Arrived at U.S. Ford at 6pm. Sent out picket with 25 men. Everything quiet. A deep and dangerous gorge to get to the ford, a beautiful but wild looking scene. Met scouts from Gen. Meade who say our communication is open from here to the Army 10 miles Northwest of Fredricksburg.
Sunday, clear, very warm, started at 6am, came up with the ambulance Corps, all loaded with wounded. A great many from the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, N.J. Glorious new! If! True! our army has possession of Petersburg, Gordonsville, and other important places. Lee is retreating rapidly, much demoralized, losing many prisoners. Gen. Longstreet, wounded, Gen. Wadsworth and Hayes killed. Stuart in our rear tearing up the O and A RR [Orange and Alexandria Railroad]
Ambulances had to bring the wounded back and will have to take another route. Would that our poor men were in comfortable hospitals - I am so anxious to get in a battlefield - will I ----a half. No forage or rations for horses or men. Received an order for the company to rejoin the 3rd Div. Col. Morrison not satisfied. Got plenty of forage and rations. Was detailed by Gen. Wilcox as aide. Reported to him at 11pm. Div. ordered to move at 3am. Very little fighting.
Returned to the company and marched at 4am for Spotsylvania Court House. [Spotsylvania Court House Battle] Ordered to bring up stragglers and guard wagons - 8am - skirmishing about three miles on our left flank. 3rd NJ charged Fredricksburg yesterday. Found rebel pickets on other side. 10am Gen Wilcox commenced the fight with two Brigades. Very heavy firing. Our force much too small and was driven back a short distance, but the rebels were redriven by our artillery. 12 noon - 1st Div. came up and went straight to the front although the men were very much fatigued. The complexion must have changed as they have not fired a shot since. - our artillery must have played pretty hard on them. We have plenty more in reserve. I have charge of road-picket so cannot get down to the front. 7pm - firing on the right (under General Grant) is tremendous. Some say worse than Fredricksburg. All night the firing is going on.
The fight commenced on the right again about 6am and is awful. Our two Divs. (1st and 3rd) have remained silent. 9am Our artillery is slowly firing with an occasional shot from the skirmishers. Gen. Sedgewick and Stevenson are reported killed.
Wednesday - went out on a hill in time to see an advance of our whole line. It was a courageous sight, first a line on the right, then on the left, then in the center and so on until they had moved up a mile and a half. I then went out on the left 1 and 1/2 miles to see a picket. Got there in time to go on a reconnaissance with a company of the 2nd Ohio. Were fired into pretty briskly and retired. In the evening our whole line retired for two miles and after dark advanced again. The movement was very rapid as the first thing I knew I saw a line of battle formed away in my rear. I immediately mounted my men and moved the wagon back. The Capt. moved the company back to the patrol reserve. Raining very hard and everything looks dismal. Tent up, ground very wet. Firing tremendous.
8th day of battle. Fight commenced at daylight, cannonading very brisk along the whole line. Report and confirmation of the capture of 5,000 rebels. This morning rode down to hosp., found everything in confusion. Wounded coming in very rapidly. Arms, legs, hands, and pieces of flesh lying around loose. Legs with shoes and stocking still on, looks horrible. Over
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