previous next
[346] own 40,000 men, was reenforced, the night before, by two divisions (Kearny's and Hooker's own) from Hooker, raising his command nearly to 55,000. At least half our entire force across the river was thus with Franklin on the left, where the main attack manifestly should have been made, and where Burnside appears to have purposed that it should have been made. But it was after 7 A. M. of the fatal day when Franklin received his orders; which, if they were intended to direct a determined attack in full force, were certainly very blindly and vaguely worded,1 whereas, a military order should be as precise and clear as language will allow, and as positive as the circumstances will warrant. it is very certain that a Massena or a Blucher could have found warrant in that order for attacking at once with his entire corps, leaving Hooker's men to defend the bridges and act as a reserve; but, if hot work is wanted of a Franklin, it should be required and prescribed in terms more peremptory and less equivocal. He asserts that he expected and awaited further orders, which he never in terms received; at least, not till it was too late to obey them with any hope of success.

Franklin's grand division consisted of the two corps of Reynolds (16,000) and W. F. Smith (21,000), with cavalry under Bayard, raising it nearly or quite to 40,000. At 9 A. M., Reynolds advanced on the left; Meade's division, in front, being immediately assailed by Rebel batteries (J. E. B. Stuart's) on his left flank, which compelled him to halt and silence them. At 11 A. M., he pushed on, fighting; while one of Hooker's divisions in reserve was brought across, and Birney's and Gibbon's divisions were moved up to his support. Reynolds's corps being thus all in line of battle, Meade again gallantly advanced into the woods in his front; grappling, at 1, in fierce encounter, with A. P. Hill's corps, crushing back the brigades of Archer and Lane, and, forcing his way in between them, took some 200 prisoners. Here, in attempting to rally Orr's rifles, which had been disorganized, fell Brig.-Gen. Maxcy Gregg,2 mortally wounded.

But the enemy rallied all their forces; Early's division, composed of Lawton's, Trimble's, and his own brigades, which, with D. H. Hill's corps, had arrived that morning from Port Royal, after a severe night-march, and been posted behind A. P. Hill, rushed to the front; and Meade's division, lacking prompt support,


Gen. Hardie will carry this dispatch to you and remain with you during the day. The General commanding directs that you keep your whole command in position for a rapid movement down the old Richmond road, and you will send out at once a division, at least, to pass below Smithfield, to seize, if possible, the heights near Capt. Hamilton's, on this side of the Massaponax, taking care to keep it well supported and its line of retreat open. He has ordered another column, of a division or more, to be moved from Gen. Sumner's command up the plank road to its intersection of the telegraph road, where they will divide, with a view to seizing the heights on both of those roads. Holding these heights, with the heights near Capt. Hamilton's, will. I hope, compel the enemy to evacuate the whole ridge between these points. He makes these moves by columns. distant from each other, with a view of avoiding the possibility of a collision of our own forces, which might occur in a general movement during the fog. Two of Gen. Hooker's divisions are in your rear at the bridges, and will remain there as supports. Copies of instructions to Gens. Sumner and Hooker will be forwarded to you by an Orderly very soon. You will keep your whole command in readiness to move at once as soon as the fog lifts. The watchword, which, if possible, should be given to every company, will be “Scott.”

I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John G. Parke, Chief of Staff. Major-Gen. Franklin, Commanding Grand Division Army of Potomac.

2 Governor elect of South Carolina.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: