and expressing such confidence in his ability to carry every thing before him, as to induce him to give the opinion that he did not believe the enemy would remain over night, so completely did he command him. The earnest confidence that General Warren expressed of his ability to carry every thing before him, and the reliance I placed on that officer's judgment, together with the fact that Major-General French had given an adverse opinion to assaulting in his front, induced me to modify my plan so far as to abandon the centre attack, and reenforce Warren's column with two divisions of the Third corps, which would give him six divisions — nearly half the infantry force under my command; orders were accordingly issued to that effect. The batteries of the centre and right were to open at eight o'clock, at which time Warren was to make the main attack, and at nine o'clock Sedgwick was to assault with his column; and when these attacks proved successful, the three divisions of the Third and First corps, left to hold the centre, would assault in conjunction with the others, after making demonstrations in their fronts at eight o'clock. The division of cavalry, commanded by Brigadier-General Gregg, held the plank-road in rear of the infantry, and repulsed several attempts of the enemy's cavalry to break through his lines, for the purpose of reaching our communications. The division of cavalry commanded by Brigadier-General Custer, charged with the duty of holding the upper fords of the Rapidan, was very active, and crossed the river and followed up the enemy wherever he fell back from his works. On the thirtieth, the batteries opened at eight o'clock am.; the skirmishers of the First and Third corps advanced across Mine Run, and drove in the enemy's skirmishers, and every preparation was made by Sedgwick for his attack, having moved his column during the night, and massed them out of view of the enemy. When about ten minutes before nine I received a despatch from General Warren to the effect “that the position and strength of the enemy seem so formidable in my present front, that I advise against making the attack here. The full light of the sun shows me I cannot succeed.” The staff-officer who brought this despatch further reported that General Warren had suspended his attack, and would not make it without further orders. As Sedgwick's attack was subsidiary to Warren's, and as owing to Warren's confidence of the night before, I had given him so large a part of the army, that I had not the means of supporting Sedgwick in case of a repulse, or reenforcing him in the event of success, I was obliged to suspend the attack of Sedgwick on the enemy's left, which I did just in time, and immediately proceeded to General Warren's column, some four miles distant, in the hope of arranging some plan by which the two attacks might yet take place in the afternoon. I reached General Warren between nine and ten A. M., and found his views were unchangeable and that it was his decided opinion it was hopeless to make any attack. It was too late to move the troops back and make an attack on the centre that day, and General Warren was already so far separated from the right, that his movement to turn the enemy's right could not be continued without moving up the rest of the army in support, and abandoning the turnpike road, our main line of communications. Nothing further could be done this day, and at night the two divisions of the Third corps returned to the centre, and the Fifth and Sixth corps returned to their former positions. It was then reported to me that the opening of our batteries in the morning had exposed to the enemy our threatened attack on his left, and that he could be seen strengthening the position by earthwork, abattis, putting guns in position, etc., so that by night-fall the chances of success had been materially diminished; and knowing he would work all night, I felt satisfied that by morning the proposed point of attack, which had been weak, would be as strong as any other part of his line. Under these circumstances, I could see no other course to pursue than either to hazard an assault, which I knew to be hopeless, and which I believed would be attended with certain disaster, or acknowledging the whole movement a failure, withdraw the army to the south bank of the Rapidan. To have attempted any further flank movement would have required the abandoning the turnpike and plank-roads, and involved the necessity of bringing across the river and up to my lines the supply-trains of the army, which till now had remained at Richardsville. I was precluded from attempting this by the knowledge that a day's storm would prevent this train and the artillery from returning, and that in the event of disaster, I should have to abandon both. Besides, an inspection of the map will show that all the roads in this part of the country run nearly east and west, connecting Gordonsville and Orange Court-House with Fredericksburgh; whereas, in moving in around the enemy I should have to take a southerly direction, and would be obliged to make roads across the country, not only the work of time, but at this period of frosts, from the character of the soil, impracticable. In full view of the consequences, after mature deliberation, I determined to withdraw the army. But for the restrictions imposed upon me by the General-in-Chief, I should in retiring have taken up a position in front of Fredericksburgh, and I cannot but think that substantial advantages would have resulted from such a disposition of the army. I am free to admit that the movement across the Rapidan was a failure; but I respectfully submit that the causes of this failure, a careful perusal of the foregoing report will show, were beyond my control. I maintain my plan was a feasible one. Had the columns made the progress I anticipated, and effected a junction on the night of the twenty-sixth, at and near Robertson's Tavern, the advance the next day would either have passed the formidable position of
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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