forward with the same vigor that marked the conduct of their companion-division on the left. Parts of the brigades of Tyler and Owen gained the rebel works, but for reasons identical with those that forced back Barlow's troops, they also were compelled to give up what they had won. Gibbon's division, too, lost very heavily. General Tyler, before reaching the works, was carried off the field, shot in the ankle. One of his regimental commanders, Colonel Porter, of the Eighth New York Heavy Artillery, was killed; immediately after, the Lieutenant-Colonel (Bates) fell dead. Another of his regimental commanders, Colonel McMahon, of the One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York, was struck while planting his colors on the rebel works, and was left a prisoner in the enemy's hands — his troops not supporting him after he was wounded. Owen's brigade lost two entire companies, taken prisoners inside of the enemy's intrenchments. In giving way, Gibbon's division also was far from losing all the ground it had gained. It took up an advanced position close to the enemy, and just over the crest, the rearward slope of which was held by the rebels. This position it has retained during the day, and McKean's brigade has held all day a position within fifteen yards of the enemy's works. Not until the splendid attack of Hancock's corps had been made, not until after its blood-bought victory had been wrested from our hands, was he or any man in this army aware of the supreme importance of the position this morning carried and lost. The keypoint in the battle of Gaines' Mill, two years ago, it is strange and mortifying that no one should have appreciated its value. This position is a bald bill, named “Watts' Hill,” dominating the whole battle-ground, and covering the angle of the “Despatch road.” Along this ridge the rebel works formed a salient, and in front of it was a sunken road. Of this road Hancock got possession, and the brigades of Miles and Brookes actually struck and carried the work directly on the salient I Had we held this point, we would have had a position whence the entire rebel line might have been enfiladed; and I think it is not too much to say that the day would have been ours, and Lee pushed across the Chickahominy. Had we even known in advance its commanding importance, very different disposition for attack would have been made. We would have massed on the left, and made the victory a certainty. The considerations certainly inspire bitter regrets; but who does not know that it is on precisely such contingencies that the fate of battles often hangs? Simultaneously with the attack of the Second corps, the Sixth, under Wright, connecting on the left with Hancock, made a general advance at a quarter before five o'clock--each division assaulting on the entire line. Of this corps, the Second division (McNeill), held the right; the Third division (Ricketts), the centre, and the First division (Russell), the left. Five batteries, under charge of the Chief of Artillery of the Second corps, Colonel Tompkins, namely: Adams' First Rhode Island battery, Cowan's First New York (Independent), Hahn's Third New York (Independent), McCurtin's First Massachusetts, and Rhodes' First Rhode Island, were planted in good positions, and did effective service in covering the advance. The assault of the Sixth corps was made with the utmost vigor, and succeeded in carrying the first line of rebel rifle-pits along its entire front, and got up within two hundred and fifty yards of the main works. Smith's corps, connecting on the right with the Sixth, had advanced in conjunction with it; but the left division, that of Martindale, who led the attack in heavy, deep columns, got disarranged, and was repulsed. General Smith made three different attacks to relieve Martindale, but his last supports did not get up in time to allow him to hold on. The effect of this repulse on the left of Smith had a disastrous effect upon the position of Wright. It uncovered the right flank of the Sixth, and exposed Ricketts' division, which was stoutly holding the advanced position, to a savage fire on the prolongation of its line. In this state of facts, to retain possession of a position somewhat in advance of his point of starting, was the utmost General Wright could possibly do. Operations along the fronts of Warren and Burnside were of an importance quite subordinate to that of operations on the left. No results were achieved except the carrying of the line of rifle-pits occupied by the rebel skirmishers. The Fifth and Ninth corps nowhere struck the enemy's main work. Burnside kept up a furious cannonade for some hours ; but it was nothing — vox, et preterea nihil. From the tenor of one of Burnside's morning despatches, it was at one time hoped that he would be able to turn the enemy's left; but this hope also was doomed to disappointment. Returning from the ride along the lines at eight A. M., I found that Generals Grant and Meade had established their personal headquarters in advance of that occupied during the night, and had taken their station on the site of Cold Harbor, where General Wright's headquarters were fixed-he himself, however, having gone forward with his corps. The rain of the early morning had ceased, and the sun was struggling through the clouds. The fate of the day was like the aspect of the heavens above — mingled light and shade, a clear issue nowhere. The first terrible climax of the battle was over. Would the assault be renewed? To those looking into the face of Grant for answer to this query, there was no legible response. His is a face that tells no tale — a face impassive in victory or defeat; face of stone; a sphinx face! Not of him can it be said, as Lady Macbeth to her lord: “This face, my thane, is as a book, wherein one may read strange things.” Rather it is a palimpsest, whose obscured characters
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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