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June, 1885 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
The charge of Cooke's cavalry at Gaines's Mill. by Philip St. George Cooke, Brevet Major-General, U. S. A. In The century for June, 1885, there is an article on the battle of Gaines's Mill, signed by Fitz John Porter, in which appear singular errors of statement regarding the action of the Cavalry reserve, affecting also the conduct and reputation of its commander. He says [see p. 340 of the present volume]: We lost in all twenty-two cannon; some of these broke down while we were withr saw a battery or two emerge from the dust, . . . withdrawing from the contest. I then wheeled my squadrons into column of fours, at a trot along the top of the hill, until getting in rear of the batteries — receiving the enemy's fire at a loss of an officer and many men and horses — and, as I then supposed, saving the batteries from further loss. The orders actually given were to support the batteries to the last moment, and then charge, if necessary, to save them. Detroit, June, 1885
April 8th, 1885 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
ur retreat or gather the stragglers, but was peremptorily ordered to cross to the south bank of the river. [Footnote: See Official Records, Vol. XI., Part II., pp. 43, 223, 273, 282.--F. J. P. ] To silence forever the injurious statements and insinuation of the last sentence, I give here evidence of two witnesses who were present, and whose high character is known to all. Major-General Wesley Merritt, colonel Fifth Cavalry, superintendent United States Military Academy, writes me, April 8th, 1885: The cavalry remained, with you in immediate command, on that portion of the field, until after midnight on the 27th of June, 1862. It provided litter-bearers and lantern-bearers for our surgeons who went over the field of battle, succoring and attending the wounded. . . . The cavalry was the last force to leave the field and to cross the Chickahominy, Major William It. Powell, of the 4th Regular Infantry, wrote to the Editors on September 8th, 1885: Probably not much credit a
June 16th, 1879 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
General Fitz John Porter would have been immensely greater than it was; indeed, I believe that the charge, more than any other thing, was instrumental in saving that part of the army on the north bank of the Chickahominy. You were the last general officer of General Porter's command on the field on the left, General Porter himself leaving before you did; you had, therefore, an excellent opportunity of seeing what was going on. Colonel G. A. H. Blake, United States Army, wrote me, June 16th, 1879: About sundown you advanced the brigade under a warm fire and I deployed the 5th and 1st Cavalry in two lines, and a little to the rear of (the interval of) reserve batteries of artillery, which had opened a rapid fire. The infantry of the left wing had then disappeared from the top of the hill. You then rode off to a battery further to the left, where Rush's Lancers had been ordered. The 5th Cavalry soon charged, and I saw no more of them. You had ordered me to support them; th
February 2nd, 1877 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
his calvary; but that movement does not succeed, and his horsemen on their return only increase the disorder. He makes every effort, aided by all who felt a little courage, to stop the panic, but in vain. The Comte de Paris wrote to me, February 2d, 1877: . . . I was with De Hart's battery on the crest of the hill when you advanced on our left. . . . The sacrifice of some of the bravest of the cavalry certainly saved a part of our artillery; as did, on a larger scale, the Austrian cavalry on the evening of Sadowa. . . . The main fact is, that with your cavalry you did all that cavalry could do to stop the rout. General W. Merritt wrote me, February 2d, 1877: I thought at the time, and subsequent experience has convinced me, that your cavalry and the audacity of its conduct at that time, together with the rapid firing of canister at short range by the battery mentioned, did much, if not everything, toward preventing the entire destruction of the Union army at Gaines's
h side we were astonished to find that it was thought we had been captured. We learned afterward that orders had been sent to the 4th Infantry during the action, but the officer who started with them was killed; another who took them was wounded before they could be delivered, and an orderly who was subsequently dispatched — with them did not arrive at his destination, and was never heard of afterward. and the bridge on which it crossed, between 12 midnight on the 27th and 2 A. M. on the 28th of June, was, I think, rendered impassable by your order. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J. P. Martin, assistant adjutant-general United States Army, wrote me from Fort Leavenworth, April 30th, 1885 : The artillery did not drive the enemy from his front; the enemy was not driven from his front, but the charge of your cavalry did stop the advance of the enemy, and this enabled Porter's troops to get off the field. I am by no means alone in the belief that the charge of the cavalry at Gaines's
March 24th, 1870 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
disorganized, into an open field. Instead of finding the way clear before him he was met by a determined charge of cavalry and a heavy artillery fire. In his mind a new line of fresh troops were before him. It was but natural, at that stage of our military experience, that he should hesitate and halt, to prepare for a new emergency. He did so; and that night the cavalry bivouacked as near the scene of these events as the enemy did. Brevet Lieut.-Colonel J. P. Martin wrote to me, March 24th, 1870: It is my opinion that but for the charge of the 5th Cavalry on that day, the loss in the command of General Fitz John Porter would have been immensely greater than it was; indeed, I believe that the charge, more than any other thing, was instrumental in saving that part of the army on the north bank of the Chickahominy. You were the last general officer of General Porter's command on the field on the left, General Porter himself leaving before you did; you had, therefore, an exc
August 13th, 1862 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
atements of eye-witnesses, from different points of view,--men of well-known high character,--to corroborate my assertions and my corrections of the misrepresentations of the part played by the cavalry and myself in the battle, as found in The century article. Next morning, at Savage's Station, the Prince de Joinville approached me with both hands extended, saying with empressement, I saw you make your charge yesterday ; and next day he wrote to the Due d'aumale [see New York times, August 13th, 1862]: . . . Those fresh troops rush in good order upon our left, which falters, flies, and passing through the artillery draws on in disorder the troops of our center. The enemy advances rapidly. The fusillade and cannonade are so violent that the projectiles striking the ground raise a permanent cloud of dust. At that moment General Cooke charged at the head of his calvary; but that movement does not succeed, and his horsemen on their return only increase the disorder. He makes ev
July 19th, 1879 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
You then rode off to a battery further to the left, where Rush's Lancers had been ordered. The 5th Cavalry soon charged, and I saw no more of them. You had ordered me to support them; there was a warm fire, and the smoke and dust made everything obscure. I saw none of the 5th, after it was broken, pass through the battery, which was very near. It was soon forced to retire, and was followed by the 1st in its rear. Finally, General William N. Grier, United States Army, wrote me, July 19th, 1879: The reserve was stationed on the hill, . . . in full view of the slopes of the hill, down to the timber through which the enemy debouched in large numbers. The United States batteries were on the slope of the hill, a little to our right front. You ordered the 5th to make a charge, directing me to make a second charge after the 5th would rally. I never saw that regiment again on that day, after it was enveloped in a cloud of dust, making the charge — but soon after saw a battery
April 30th, 1885 AD (search for this): chapter 7.44
ed with them was killed; another who took them was wounded before they could be delivered, and an orderly who was subsequently dispatched — with them did not arrive at his destination, and was never heard of afterward. and the bridge on which it crossed, between 12 midnight on the 27th and 2 A. M. on the 28th of June, was, I think, rendered impassable by your order. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J. P. Martin, assistant adjutant-general United States Army, wrote me from Fort Leavenworth, April 30th, 1885 : The artillery did not drive the enemy from his front; the enemy was not driven from his front, but the charge of your cavalry did stop the advance of the enemy, and this enabled Porter's troops to get off the field. I am by no means alone in the belief that the charge of the cavalry at Gaines's Mill, on June 27th, 1862, saved Fitz John Porter's corps from destruction. . . . You did not direct your command at once to cross the river. There were no frightened men in your vicinity.
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