But whilst the highest credit belongs to the Virginia
brigade for its achievements on this occasion, it must be remembered that bad management in the disposition of the Federal
forces greatly assisted in producing the result.
No troops, crowded as were the Federals
in the Crater and in the trenches on either side, the latter having a perfect net work of traverses and bomb-proofs, which greatly impeded the Federals
in resisting an assault from the west, or Confederate side of our works, could well have met a determined assault made from this direction.
‘These pits,’ says Colonel Thomas
in his Century
article, referring to the trenches at this place, ‘were different from any in our lines—a labyrinth of bomb-proofs and magazines, with passages between.’
How far towards Cemetery Ridge
, that is to say, west of the Confederate
works, did the Federal
forces advance at any time during their four hours occupation of these works, is a question which naturally arises, and was asked several of the witnesses in the official investigation made by the Federal
Extracts from some of the testimony before the court of inquiry, held at the headquarters of General Hancock
on the 1st of September, 1864, will give us some light upon this point:
Brigadier-General S. G. Griffin
, who commanded a brigade of Potter
's division, on the stand:
Ques.—Did your command go beyond the Crater?
Ques.—About how far?
Ans.—I should judge about two hundred yards. It might be more, or it might be less.
It could not have been much less, however; that is as near as I can judge.
Colonel H. G. Thomas
, commanding the Second brigade of Ferrero
's (colored) division, on the stand:
Ques.—Did you get beyond the line of the Crater with your troops?
Ans.—I did, sir.
Ans.—I should say about between three and four hundred yards to the right of the Crater and in front of it. I was ordered to support the first brigade when it made its charge.