Confederates down the plank road had caused Crawford
to halt before it was reached, Generals Grant
had (according to Mr. Swinton
) just reached the old Wilderness tavern, and each of these generals believed Warren
had but a small force in his front, for General Lee
's flank having been turned, he could not, in their opinion, have the boldness to assume the offensive.
It was under such impressions that Warren
received a peremptory order “to brush away the small force in his front” --and thus the battle began.
The same historian states that at about nine A. M. General Meade
, addressing some officers near him, said: “They have left a division to fool us here, while they concentrate and prepare a position toward the North Anna
; and what I want is to prevent those fellows from getting back to Mine run
If General Meade
was correctly quoted, it is evident that Mine run called up disagreeable reminiscences; he had been much criticised in the Northern
press-and many think justly — for not attacking the Confederates
while in position on that stream the December preceding.
But had Generals Grant
so willed, by being a little more active, they could have had the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps, probably ninety thousand infantry, all on Mine run
, where it crossed the plank road, by or before sundown on the fourth, and would have been within a short distance of Hill
's two divisions and in rear of Ewell
failed “to brush away the small force in his front,” and it was only this failure that corrected the errors into which Generals Grant
had fallen in supposing General Lee
would retire toward Richmond
without a battle; and after this failure on the part of Warren
to carry out his orders, Hancock
, who had moved to Shady Grove
, was recalled, and ordered to rejoin the other corps, and Sedgwick
to take position on the right of Warren
arrived at three P. M., and formed in double line in front of the Brock
road, and began to intrench at once
; but before completing the work was ordered to attack the enemy on the plank road, and drive him back to Parker
It will be seen that Hancock
, like Warren
, failed in carrying out his orders.
There was some interval, near two and a half hours, between the fighting on the old pike and that on the plank road.
Artillery and musketry had been heard on the former and ceased, leaving the result not satisfactorily known; but as the firing had receded in Ewell
's front, the inference was that he had the better of Warren
There was no communication between Hill
's two divisions on the plank road and Ewell
's Corps on the old pike, and the intervening distance was uncertain.
The head of Hill
's column had been brought to a halt a little