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March 31st (search for this): chapter 6
ntedly severe, and that all of us would have to help make up for that day's damage. This was in a despatch sent by Grant to Sheridan at about 2 P. M. on the 31st of March, just as I was advancing, after Ayres' repulse. This read: Warren's and Miles' Divisions are now advancing. I hope your cavalry is up where it will be of assWe had a habit, perhaps, drawn from dire experience, and, for which we had also Grant's quite recent sanction, The order to entrench on the White Oak Road, March 31st. See War Papers, vol. i., p. 235. when we had carried a vital point or had to hold one, to entrench. But Sheridan does not entrench. He pushes on, carrying the Southside Road at Sutherland's the day before. The right of the enemy's entrenchments on the Claiborne Road after they were driven in on the afternoon of March 31st was by no means strongly held. Testimony of General Hunton, Warren Court Records, p. 629. Indeed, the very first thing we did the next morning after Five Forks
April 1st (search for this): chapter 6
Chapter 4: Five Forks. After such a day and night as that of the 31st of March, 1865, the morning of April 1st found the men of the Fifth Corps strangely glad they were alive. They had experienced a kaleidoscopic regeneration. They were ready for the next new turn-whether of Fortunatus or Torquemada. The tests of ordinary probation had been passed. All the effects of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, believed to sink the body and exalt the spirit, had been fully wrought in them. At tpatience, pluck, push, persistence, pertinacity, or whatever name beginning with this explosive mute, the excess of which, exhibited by persons or things, is somewhat profanely referred to as pure cussedness. The pleasantries associated with April 1st were not much put in play: none of those men were going to be fooled that day. When we joined the cavalry, some of us were aware of a little shadow cast between the two chief luminaries,--him of the cavalry and him of the infantry; but that
May 9th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 6
n a decisive battle to-day; and the power put in his hands to remove Warren. We could not but sympathize with Sheridan in his present perplexities, and, anxious for Warren, were resolved to do our part to make things go right. The mental attitude of the parties concerned will be understood by reference to the despatches of the Hon. Charles A. Dana to the War Office during the previous summer. They were doubtless known to Sheridan, as to the higher officers of the Fifth Corps. Those of May 9th and 12th, 1864, referring to Warren's movements as slow and piecemeal, so as to fail of the desired effect in the plans of the general commanding the army. He accuses him of not handling his corps in a mass, and even implies a positive disobedience of orders on his part in attacking with a division when ordered by Grant to attack with his whole corps. (Serial No. 67, pp. 64, 68.) Still the Fifth Corps got in enough to lose ten thousand six hundred and eighty-six men in the first two fi
May 12th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 6
battle to-day; and the power put in his hands to remove Warren. We could not but sympathize with Sheridan in his present perplexities, and, anxious for Warren, were resolved to do our part to make things go right. The mental attitude of the parties concerned will be understood by reference to the despatches of the Hon. Charles A. Dana to the War Office during the previous summer. They were doubtless known to Sheridan, as to the higher officers of the Fifth Corps. Those of May 9th and 12th, 1864, referring to Warren's movements as slow and piecemeal, so as to fail of the desired effect in the plans of the general commanding the army. He accuses him of not handling his corps in a mass, and even implies a positive disobedience of orders on his part in attacking with a division when ordered by Grant to attack with his whole corps. (Serial No. 67, pp. 64, 68.) Still the Fifth Corps got in enough to lose ten thousand six hundred and eighty-six men in the first two fights. (Dana's
June 18th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 6
t on, leaving the guns behind them, making no fuss about it, and so very likely to get no credit for it. This little episode, however, was not unobserved by me; for this resolute young commander had been a member of my personal staff, and these two regiments-the 121st and 142d Pennsylvania, now attached to Crawford's Division, were all that was left to us of the dear lost old First Corps, and of my splendid brigade from it in Griffin's Division, in the ever memorable charge of Fort Hell, June 18, 1864. Taking guns is a phrase associated with very stirring action. But words have a greater range than even guns. There is the literal, the legal, the moral, the figurative, the poetic, the florid, the transcendental. All these atmospheres may give meaning and color to a word. But dealing with solid fact, there is no more picturesque and thrilling sight, no more telling, testing deed, than to take a battery in front. Plowed through by booming shot; torn by ragged bursts of shell; ri
June 20th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 6
on. For no despatch of Dana's concerning Warren compares in severity with Dana's to the Secretary of War, July 7, 1864, denouncing General Meade, and advising that he be removed from the command of the army. (Serial No. 80, p. 35.) It now appears that Warren was in great disfavor with Meade also, after arriving before Petersburg. Meade called upon Warren to ask to be relieved from command of his corps on the alternative that charges would be preferred against him. (Dana's despatch, June 20, 1864, War Records, Serial No. 80, p. 26.) Meade was much displeased, too, with Warren for his characteristic remark to the effect that no proper superior commanding officer was present at the time of the Mine explosion, to take control of the whole affair. And now, with Sheridan against him, poor Warren may well have wished at least for David's faculty of putting his grievances into song, with variations on the theme: Many bulls have compassed me about; yea, many strong bulls of Basha
July 7th, 1864 AD (search for this): chapter 6
corps in a mass, and even implies a positive disobedience of orders on his part in attacking with a division when ordered by Grant to attack with his whole corps. (Serial No. 67, pp. 64, 68.) Still the Fifth Corps got in enough to lose ten thousand six hundred and eighty-six men in the first two fights. (Dana's report, War Records, Serial 64, p. 71.) Even more light is turned on. For no despatch of Dana's concerning Warren compares in severity with Dana's to the Secretary of War, July 7, 1864, denouncing General Meade, and advising that he be removed from the command of the army. (Serial No. 80, p. 35.) It now appears that Warren was in great disfavor with Meade also, after arriving before Petersburg. Meade called upon Warren to ask to be relieved from command of his corps on the alternative that charges would be preferred against him. (Dana's despatch, June 20, 1864, War Records, Serial No. 80, p. 26.) Meade was much displeased, too, with Warren for his characteristi
March 31st, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 6
Chapter 4: Five Forks. After such a day and night as that of the 31st of March, 1865, the morning of April 1st found the men of the Fifth Corps strangely glad they were alive. They had experienced a kaleidoscopic regeneration. They were ready for the next new turn-whether of Fortunatus or Torquemada. The tests of ordinary probation had been passed. All the effects of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, believed to sink the body and exalt the spirit, had been fully wrought in them. At the weird midnight trumpet-call they rose from their sepulchral fields as those over whom death no longer has any power. Their pulling out for the march in the ghostly mists of dawn looked like a passage in the transmigration of souls — not sent back to work out the remnant of their sins as animals, but lifted to the third plane by those three days of the underworld,--eliminating sense, incorporating soul. The vicissitudes of that day, and the grave and whimsical experiences out of which we e
April 1st, 1865 AD (search for this): chapter 6
, and march another regiment by the flank on our right, ready to face outwards, and let his other regiment follow in my column. At four o'clock we moved down the Gravelly Run Church Road, our lines as we supposed nearly parallel to the White Oak Road, with Ayres directed on the angle of the enemy's works. Just as we started there came from General Warren a copy of a diagram of the proposed movement. I was surprised at this. It showed our front of Battle-field of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865, and of field of operations: showing the operations of the 5th Army Corps. movement to be quite oblique to the White Oak Road,--as much as half a right angle,--with the center of Crawford's Division directed upon the angle, and Ayres, of course, thrown far to the left, so as to strike the enemy's works halfway to Five Forks. Griffin was shown as following Crawford; but the whole direction was such that all of us would strike the enemy's main line before any of us could touch the White
has taken lodgment in the public mind, is more simple. Taking its rise and keynote from Sheridan's report, somewhat intensified by his staff officers, and adopted by Grant without feeling necessity of further investigation, this story is that Sheridan and his cavalry, with the assistance of a part of Ayres' Division, carried Five Forks with all its works, angles, and returns, its captives, guns, and glory. The widely drawn and all-embracing testimony before the Warren Court of Inquiry in 1879 and 1880, although in some instances confused and even contradictory,--the result, however, in no small degree of the preoccupation in the witnesses' minds by the accounts so early and abundantly put forth, and without rectification for so long a time,--yet reveals some spreading of the plan of battle, a steadfast, well-connected, and well-executed conformity to the ideas under which the battle was ordered. It also affords ample means of understanding the confusions and frictions which were
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