previous next

“ [361] of it were very unsteady, but subsequently moved up and bore their part of the action in a handsome manner. After this change of front, the troops were pushed forward and soon came upon the left flank of the enemy, which was thrown back at right angles with his main line, and covered by a strong breastwork, screened behind a dense undergrowth of pines, and about one hundred yards in length. This breastwork my troops charged, and took it at the bayonet's point, capturing, in carrying it, over one thousand prisoners and several battle-flags. Halting there a short time by General Sheridan's order, till it was apparent the enemy were giving away generally, I pushed forward rapidly, holding my men in hand, and r arching steadily in line of battle.”

I have italicised the “halting there,” &c., because it shows that General Sheridan modified his own order not to halt. No order to halt was given by me. What caused the general giving way of the enemy while General Ayres was halted by General Sheridan's order, was due to the operations elsewhere directed.

It will be seen that the rapid change of front by General Ayres, necessitated by the unexpected condition of things, unavoidably threw his flank temporarily “in air.” Had the line gradually swung round, by wheeling, General Crawford would have been on his right, but as it was, the change Lad the momentary effect to leave General Crawford “en echelon,” in rear of Ayres' right. It happened, also, that the right of General Ayres became exposed, too, to a fire from the enemy across the open field, around Sidney's. General Crawford's left encountered this same fire, as it came up on General Ayres' right, and the effect was to cause Crawford's line to oblique somewhat to the right to gain the cover of the woods and ridges, but it kept steadily moving on in the enemy's rear — a threatening movement which made the position of the enemy no longer tenable, assailed as he was both in front and flank besides.

I will now extract from General Crawford's report. After giving a copy of the order to attack that I had furnished him with (see p. 358), he says:

In obedience to this order we crossed Gravelly Run; crossed the White Oak Road, and changed direction to the left and advanced directly west. We encountered the enemy's skirmishers shortly after moving, driving them steadily back. Our way led through bogs, tangled woods, and thickets of pine, interspersed with open spaces here and there. The connection between the Second division and my line, could not be maintained. I received an order from both General Sheridan and General Warren, to press rapidly forward. I urged on the entire command. General Coulter's brigade, from being in support of my rear, was brought to fill the gap between me and the Second division. I pressed immediately on and found myself in the enemy's rear on the Ford Road, which I crossed.

* * “Just at this point the enemy opened on my centre and left flank a very heavy fire. Major-General Warren arriving on the field at that moment, directed me to advance immediately down the Ford Road, and General Coulter's brigade was selected for that purpose. Two regiments, commanded by Major Funk, placed on what was then the left of the road, and the rest of the brigade were on the right, supported by the other two brigades, ‘en echelon,’ I advanced at once, and captured a battery of four guns and the battle-flag of the Thirty-second Virginian infantry. We then changed direction and advanced again in a south-west direction, the enemy flying before us, though keeping up a desultory firing.”

General Griffin's report says:

Immediately after, the order to advance against the enemy was given, with instructions to the division that after it had crossed the road it was to change direction to the left, so as to strike the enemy in flank and rear. After advancing about a mile, and finding nothing in front, save a few cavalry-videttes, and there being heavy volleys of musketry to the left and rear, the division was halted.

This halting under the circumstances, was a commendable exercise of discretion. He says that, a personal examination showing him the enemy on his left, he marched in that direction. To effect this same thing I had sent Major Cope to him, as already stated. A small portion of General Griffin's division became separated in the woods from the rest, and continued on with General Crawford's division, and was used by me on the Ford Road. General Griffin, having made proper dispositions, “moved against the enemy at double-quick,” taking his breast-works and one thousand five hundred prisoners.

As stated by General Crawford, I came up with his division near B. Boiseau's after he had crossed the Ford Road. He had been driving back the enemy's skirmish line all the way, and continually turning the left of any force opposing Generals Ayres and Griffin. I at once directed his line to swing round to face southward, as we had now closed up the outlet for the enemy's escape northward, and to move down upon the position of the enemy at the forks of the road, a point well indicated to us by the firing of some pieces of artillery there by the enemy. General Crawford's troops soon encountered a stiff line of the enemy formed to meet him, and from the fire of which General Coulter's brigade suffered severely. The contest, however, was short, for the enemy, now pressed front, flank and rear, mostly threw down

note.--General Sheridan's report states that he directed General McKenzie. to swing round on the right of the infantry and gain the Ford Road, so as to cut off the enemy's escape that way. As General McKenzie did not succeed in getting there till after the infantry had gained the road, I asked of him the nature of his operations. He informed me that in attempting to execute his order he found himself north of Hatcher's Run, and moving directly away from the battle, which seemed heavy. He therefore (as General Griffin had done) moved back toward the White Oak Road, so as to take part in the action.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Sydney (Ohio, United States) (1)
Hatcher's Run (Ohio, United States) (1)
Gravelly Run (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
S. W. Crawford (8)
R. B. Ayres (6)
P. H. Sheridan (5)
Charles Griffin (5)
Coulter (3)
G. K. Warren (2)
McKenzie (2)
Funk (1)
E. B. Cope (1)
B. Boiseau (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: