There was less than twenty-six thousand Confederate infantry present at the first day's battle.
If our estimate of the infantry of the Army of the Potomac be correct, ninety thousand of these were present on this day. Ewell
had about eleven thousand muskets; opposed to these were Griffin
's and Wadsworth
's Divisions, Fifth Corps, supported by Robinson
's Division and McCandless
' Brigade, of Crawford
's Division, of the same corps.
It has been seen that Heth
's Division alone received, on the plank road, the first attack, and bore the brunt of it till the arrival of Wilcox
's brigades (McGowan
's and Scales
'), to be soon followed by Thomas
' and Lane
's Brigades, and that these reinforcing brigades were sent in on such points as were believed to be most sorely pressed, or where they could be best used.
When the battle closed Wilcox
was in front, and his line much disjointed-one brigade had fought nearly parallel to the road.
The historian Swinton
, referring to this contest on the plank road, after it had been going on an hour or two, says: “The heavy firing borne to the ears of Generals Grant
, at the old Wilderness tavern, attested the severity of the conflict that was going on at this important junction of roads (old pike and Brock roads). It was judged that the pressure on Hancock
might be relieved by sending a force from Warren
's Corps to strike through the forest southward, and fall upon the flank and rear of Hill
As there was about one and a half miles between Ewell
, and fully a half mile of this an open field, in full view of the old field, and bald hill near the old Wilderness tavern, and as there was not a skirmish line, nor a piece of artillery, or even a vidette in this space, this move, or one, on Ewell
's right flank, might have been made at any time during the battle; and the chances were that it could have been made successfully if directed with ordinary skill and courage; in fact, with the supposed preponderance of numbers present on the Union
side, both Ewell
could have been attacked in flank and rear at the same time.: About nine o'clock General Wilcox
, from a partial examination made under difficulties-thick woods and darkness of the night-but mainly from reports of his officers, learned that his line was very irregular and much broken and required to be re-arranged.
He repaired to General Lee
's tent, intending to report the condition of his front, and to suggest that a skirmish line be left where the front then was, the troops be retired a short distance, and the line rectified.
, at the time, was not over two hundred yards from the point General Wilcox
had fixed for his own headquarters during the night, and was not over four hundred yards from where the battle had been