his well-known character would have fully justified the expectation that he would say in substance that the foregoing plan of battle, which had been previously prepared, was so far modified, upon the suggestion of General Schofield
and with the concurrence of other commanders, as to order the Twenty-third Corps to a position in rear of our right, from which it could reinforce the main attack on the enemy's left, instead of to the reserve position on the left of the Fourth Corps.
It does not seem to me that a veteran general could have suffered in his own estimation or in that of the world by such an act of justice or generosity to a young subordinate.
But the plain, unavoidable truth is that General Thomas
said in his report, besides his statement about the ‘few alterations’: ‘Finding General Smith
had not taken as much distance to the right as I expected he would have done, I directed General Schofield
to move his command (the Twenty-third Corps) from the position in reserve to which it had been assigned over to the right of General Smith
. . .’—leaving it necessarily to be inferred that ‘the position in reserve’ referred to was that to which it had been assigned in the published orders, and that the Twenty-third Corps moved ‘over’ from that position ‘to the right of General Smith
’ after General Thomas
gave directions to that effect in the afternoon of December 15.
Whereas, in fact, that corps had moved over to the right at daylight in the morning, so as to be ready for the action which General Thomas
finally ordered; otherwise it could not possibly have moved over to Smith
's right before dark.
In fact, one of the divisions (Couch
's) of the Twenty-third Corps advanced with Smith
's corps, ‘keeping within supporting distance,’ as stated in my report, so that Couch
was able to take a very important part in the attack that day; while Cox
, though much nearer than General Thomas
indicated, could not reach the right till near the close of