definite plan to seize it. It is needless to say that the same thing would have happened had the battle taken place either earlier or later.
The force stationed there when the battle opened had been there all day, and was wholly inadequate to hold it; hence General Meade
's anxiety to hurry up additional troops after the battle had opened, and his congratulation that Sykes
, by throwing forward “a strong force,” was enabled to drive us from it and secure it to the Federals
But why go further with these details?
It is impossible that any sane man should believe that two of my divisions, attacking at any hour or in any manner, could have succeeded in dislodging the Army of the Potomac.
We had wrestled with it in too many struggles, army against army, to prefer, in sincerity, any such claim.
From daylight until dark, not a single Confederate soldier, outside of my two divisions and the three supporting brigades, was advanced to battle, or made to even threaten battle.
The work was left entirely with my men. General Ewell
dates his co-operative move at dusk.
says it was at eight o'clock. In any event it was after my battle had closed, and too late to do any good.
Hence there seems to be no place for honesty in the speculation that my command could have won the field by different battle.
It is equally out of sense to say that if my attack had been made “at sunrise,” Ewell
would have given me the co-operation that he failed to give in the afternoon when the attack really did come off. His orders, given in the morning after it was decided that I should lead the attack, were to remain in line of battle, ready to co-operate with my attack whenever it should be made.
If he was not ready in the afternoon, it is folly to say that he would have been ready at sunrise.
My opinion of the cause of the failure of the battle of the 2d, as given at the time, is very succinctly stated by Colonel Freemantle
, on page 138, of his “Three months in the South
He says, quoting me: “He said the mistake they made was in not concentrating the army more and making the attack on the 2d with thirty thousand men instead of fifteen thousand.”
I doubt now if thirty thousand men could have made a successful attack, if Colonel Taylor
is correct in his idea as to the manner in which General Lee
would have fought them.
He says that General Lee
ordered that the column should go to the attack with its right flank exposed to the enveloping forces on the Federal
Under this disposition I do not think thirty thousand men could have successfully made the attack.