previous next
[451]

The shifting about of troops in the Federal lines, on the 11th, led Lee to the conclusion that Grant was about to draw back from the Spottsylvania Court House field of combat; so he made preparations to meet any new movement he might attempt by ordering all the artillery, placed in difficult positions, to be withdrawn to where it could be quickly assembled for marching. Obeying this order, General Long withdrew the guns from the northern portion of the great salient, so that Edward Johnson's division, at its apex, was left on guard with only muskets and two pieces of artillery. Near midnight, of the 11th-12th of May, Johnson discovered, through the dense foggy mist then prevailing, that the Federal troops were massing in his front, and asked General Ewell to have the supporting artillery returned. Not fully realizing the importance of time under the existing conditions, Ewell gave orders, not for the immediate return of the guns, but that they should be returned at daybreak of the 12th. Before that time arrived, Hancock's superb corps, in solid mass, rushed upon the apex of the salient, expecting to carry it by assault. Johnson's command, a mere remnant of the division that had stormed Culp's hill, at Gettysburg, was on the alert and met this attack bravely; but musketry alone was not sufficient to drive back Hancock's many, massed battalions, which swarmed over the log breastworks and captured Johnson and 2,800 of his men. Just then, the batteries that had been ordered back came forward at a gallop, but only in time to fall into Hancock's hands and add their twenty cannon to his captures.

Flushed with victory, the Federal columns prepared to continue their assault, by dashing forward, through the salient, to the southward; but Lane's brigade, on Ewell's right, which had not been involved in the capture, as had Steuart's on its left, faced about, and, pouring a rapid and well-directed fire upon Hancock's advancing left flank, forced it to recoil. Promptly forming his men across the base of the salient, and taking direction from the noise of the advancing fire of the Federals, Gordon made ready to go forward and meet and drive back the Federal onset. At this juncture, Lee, roused from his quarters in the rear of the salient, by the mighty roar of the conflict in progress, came riding rapidly to Gordon's line and quietly took position to lead it forward. Gordon, in a tone clear, but not loud, spoke out: ‘This is no place for General ’

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.
Culp's Hill (Pennsylvania, 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.
Edward Johnson (4)
Hancock (4)
John B. Gordon (3)
Richard S. Ewell (3)
Fitz Lee (2)
George H. Steuart (1)
Armistead Lindsay Long (1)
Lane (1)
U. S. Grant (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 12th (1)
11th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: