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[347]

In the report1 of General Sheridan there are three imputations against me — the first of which is vaguely made, in the following:

Had General Warren moved according to the expectations of the Lieutenant-General, there would appear to have been but little chance for the escape of the enemy's infantry in front of Dinwiddie C. H.

If such expectations were formed, they were not reasonable, according to the facts. I acted during the night under orders from General Meade, which, with my dispatches to him, and other facts, will be given. It will appear that the enemy held all the roads necessary for his. escape; that he withdrew from General Sheridan's front to Five Forks early in the night, and that the swollen state of Gravelly Run and a broken bridge prevented my troops from reaching General Sheridan till daybreak. It also will appear that the tenor of my orders from General Meade were, not that I was to prevent the escape of the enemy, but to use every exertion to succor General Sheridan, who could “not maintain himself at Dinwiddie C. H. without reinforcements.” My dispatches show that it was my own suggestion to attempt to intercept the enemy if he remained in General Sheridan's front, and not fall back, as I was at first ordered.

The second imputation is contained in the following:

General Warren did not exert himself to get up his corps as rapidly as he might have done, and his manner gave me the impression that he wished the sun to go down before dispositions for the attack could be completed.

The facts of the movements of the troops in coming up to this point are all given in the statements of Brevet Brigadier-General Bank-head, who carried my order to the troops to move up while I rode forward to examine the ground on which they were to form; and in the letters of Generals Crawford, Griffin, and Ayres, who commanded my three divisions. I present them here in their proper place in the narrative, and they are conclusive that I and my troops exerted ourselves to form for the attack as rapidly as possible.

While the troops were forming I told General Sheridan it would occupy till four P. M., at which time they were formed, and at which time the sun was two and a half hours high. Certainly I could not have expected the sun to go down before the “dispositions for the attack could be completed,” nor have given him reason to think I wished it. I had at the time confidence in the success of our proposed attack, and the kindest feelings toward General Sheridan under whom I was glad to serve. I am utterly at a loss to account for the misapprehension he labored under in imputing such baseness to me, and I trust my conduct throughout the war has shown to those by whom I am best known that I am incapable of it.

The third imputation is contained in the following:

During this engagement portions of his line gave way when not exposed to a heavy fire, and simply from want of confidence on the part of the troops, which General Warren did not exert himself to inspire.

I had, at the time of the engagement, to control the movements of an entire corps d'armee, fighting and changing front as it advanced through the forests. It is clearly a case for the exercise of a corps commander's judgment, how far he shall at any time give his personal efforts to the general control of his corps, or assist his subordinate commanders in their commands, and whether he shall use his staff and himself to rally troops who break under a not very severe fire, from want of confidence, or to so direct other portions of his command as to thereby remedy the evil which this giving way produced. Whatever is vital to the success of the whole is the thing deserving the corps commander's attention, and to that, throughout, I gave mine. On account of the forest, General Sheridan saw but one flank of the operations of my command, and was no further cognizant of my exertions. He saw nothing of the fighting of General Crawford's division, which suffered more from the enemy's fire than any other. There was no part of my command that did not witness my exertions at one time or another, and my horse was fatally shot close to the enemy's breast-works. To those who served under me I refer for proof of my exertions, and, as they represent every section of our country, any one who wishes can verify my assertion by those around him.

If General Sheridan had stated which of my troops misbehaved for want of my presence, I could bring the evidence of their commander to bear in my defence. But how this exertion could have been specially required of me I am at loss to understand; for he says himself, “I cannot speak too highly of the troops in this battle and the gallantry of their commanders.”

The duty of every soldier to obey has its correlative which entitles him to the protection of those under whom he serves, and this I have been denied.

General Sheridan says:

I therefore relieved him from the command of the Fifth corps, authority for this action having been sent to me before the battle, unsolicited.

From the time that authority reached him he, apparently, sought occasion to use it. I say this with regret; but the tone of the report toward me, and his hasty action, indicate that it was so. If a victory won by my command, under my direction, could not gain me credit, where the plans made were, as he says, “successfully executed,” and where my efforts and directions were known to almost every one, then nothing could.

General Grant, while giving the above authority to General Sheridan, had never signified to me, in the remotest manner, any dissatisfaction


1 Extracts from this report giving all that relates to me, are placed in tho appendix to this narrative.

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Philip H. Sheridan (11)
G. K. Warren (3)
George G. Meade (2)
Allen Crawford (2)
Charles Griffin (1)
Ulysses S. Grant (1)
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