Through the Wilderness.
by Alexander S. Webb, Brevet Major-General, U. S. A.
In 1861, 1862, and 1863, the Army of the Potomac, under McClellan
, and Meade
, had by constant attrition worn down Lee
's command until, in the minds of many officers and men who were actively engaged in the front, there was confidence that Lee
would not hold out against our army another year.
On April 9th, 1864, General Grant
instructed General Meade
's army would be his objective.
had with him, according to his report of April 30th, 95,952 enlisted men, 3486 officers, and 274 guns.
's corps contained 26,676 men; Warren
's, 24,125 men; Sedgwick
's, 22,584 men ;1
controlled 12,525 in the cavalry.
To guard all the trains there was a special detail of 1200 men. General Grant
had also attached the Ninth Corps (an independent command) to the army operating under his eye. The total force under General Grant
, including Burnside
, was 4409 officers and 114,360 enlisted men. For the artillery he had 9945 enlisted men and 285 officers; in the cavalry, 11,839 enlisted men and 585 officers; in the provost guards and engineers, 120 officers and 3274 enlisted men. His 118,000 men, properly disposed for battle, would have covered a front of 21 miles, two ranks deep, with one-third of them held in reserve; while Lee
, with his 62,000 men similarly disposed, would cover only 12 miles. Grant
had a train which he states in his “Memoirs” would have reached from the Rapidan
, or sixty-five miles.
's army, Longstreet
's corps (two divisions) numbered about 10,000; Ewell
's corps about 17,000. A. P. Hill
went into the Wilderness
with about 22,000 men for duty in the ranks; “Jeb
's cavalry numbered about 8000, and the artillery about 4800.
's total strength, as estimated by General Humphreys
, was 61,953 men, and the number of field-guns 224.
's aggregate over Lee
was therefore 94 guns and 56,819 enlisted men; but then Lee
had, at the outset, his position in the Wilderness
, and Grant
did not know at that time, as did General Meade
and General Hooker
, to what advantage Lee
could turn the Wilderness
, with its woods, ravines, plank roads, and dirt roads.
The Army of the Potomac began to cross the Rapidan
at midnight of May 3d, after due preparation on the part of Sheridan
's cavalry to cover our front.
A canvas and a wooden pontoon bridge were laid at Germanna Ford, similar bridges at Ely's Ford, and a wooden bridge at Culpeper
Relative positions of forces, morning and evening, May 4, 1864.|
These three fords cover about seven miles of the Rapidan River
,which in general flows south-east.
, preceded by Gregg
's cavalry, crossed at Ely's Ford and moved to Chancellorsville
, which placed him on the left, or south-east, side of the Wilderness
, with Wilson
's cavalry in front (and followed by Sedgwick
), crossed at Germanna Ford and followed the Germanna Plank road, due south-east, to Wilderness Tavern.
encamped for the night three miles south of the ford.
The sixty-five miles of trains were until 2 P. M. of May 5th in passing over Culpeper Mine Ford and Germanna Ford.
, who was Meade
's chief-of-staff at the time, states that the halt of the infantry on the 4th at Chancellorsville
and the Wilderness
was caused by the difficulty in moving the trains across the Rapidan
General Law, who commanded a brigade under Longstreet
, states that on the 2d of May General Lee
, in the presence of a number of his officers,
expressed the opinion that the Union
army would cross the river at Germanna or Ely's Ford.
[See p. 118.] General Lee
's headquarters were at Orange Court House
, with his corps, was distant at Gordonsville
was near at hand on the Rapidan
, above Mine Run
; and A. P. Hill
was on his left, higher up the stream; and it seems that Lee
intended to move with his whole force against Grant
's right flank as soon as Grant
was far enough advanced into the Wilderness
on the road to Richmond
As for the Wilderness
, it was uneven, with woods, thickets, and ravines right and left.
Tangled thickets of pine, scrub-oak, and cedar prevented our seeing the enemy, and prevented any one in command of a large force from determining accurately the position of the troops he was ordering to and fro. The appalling rattle of the musketry, the yells of the enemy, and the cheers of our
own men were constantly in our ears.
At times, our lines while firing could not see the array of the enemy, not fifty yards distant. After the battle was fairly begun, both sides were protected by log or earth breastworks.
For an understanding of the roads which shaped the movements in the Wilderness
, cross the Rapidan
from the north and imagine yourself standing on the Germanna Plank road, where the Brock
road intersects it, a little south of Wilderness Tavern, and facing due west.
In general, the Union
right wing (Sedgwick
) held the Germanna road, and the left wing (Hancock
) the Brock
road, while the center (Warren
) stretched across the obtuse angle formed by them.
At the Lacy house
, in this angle, Grant
, and Warren
established their headquarters during the day of the 5th.
If, standing at the intersection of these roads, you stretch forward your arms, the right will correspond with the Orange turnpike
, the left with the Orange Plank road.
Down the Orange turnpike
, on May 5th, Lee
, while two divisions of A. P. Hill
advanced by the Orange Plank road to check Hancock
Nearly a day later, Longstreet
reached the field on the same road as Hill
The engagements fought on May 5th by Ewell
on the Orange turnpike
, and by A. P. Hill
on the Orange Plank road, must be regarded as entirely distinct battles.
received orders from Meade
at 7:15 in the morning to attack Ewell
with his whole force.
, with Wright
's division and Neill
's brigade of Getty
's division, was ordered to move out, west of the Germanna Plank road, connecting with the Fifth Corps, which was disposed across the turnpike in advance of Wilderness Tavern.
At this time also, General Hancock
, at Chancellorsville
, was warned by General Meade
that the enemy had been met on the turnpike, and he was directed to halt at Todd
's tavern until further orders.
's division of Warren
's corps, between the turnpike and plank road, in advancing, found Wilson
's cavalry skirmishing with what he supposed to be the enemy's cavalry.
At 8 A. M., under
Relative positions in the Wilderness, May 5: for the most part the troops are indicated by divisions, and when a name designates a brigade it is inclosed in parentheses.--editors.|
halted, and, hearing that our cavalry, at Parker
's store, almost directly south of him, was in need of support, he sent out skirmishers to assist them.
Those skirmishers struck Hill
's corps, moving down the Orange Plank road toward the Brock
Thus at 8 A. M. General Grant
and General Meade
had developed the presence of Hill
on their left and Ewell
on their right.
's division of Sedgwick
had reached Wilderness Tavern; and when it was learned that Hill
was coming down the Orange Plank road, Getty
was directed to move out toward him, by way of the Brock
road, and drive Hill
back, if possible, behind Parker
On our right Johnson
's division of Ewell
was driven back along the Orange turnpike
in confusion by General Griffin
were delayed in reaching their position on the right of Warren
, and for lack of such support Griffin
's right brigade under Ayres
was forced back and two guns were abandoned.
, with his division of Warren
's corps, supplemented by Dennison
's brigade of Robinson
's division, of the same corps, had started forward in a westerly direction, until he found himself with his left toward the enemy.
's brigade of Crawford
Throwing up breastworks in the Wilderness.
From a sketch made at the time.|
division (also of Warren
's corps) had endeavored to obtain a position on the left of Wadsworth
, but lost its bearings in the entangled woods so that its left came in contact with Ewell
's right, and it, as well as Wadsworth
's left, was driven in by Daniel's and Gordon
's brigades, forming the right of Ewell
was left with his left flank in the air, and he of necessity was drawn in about 2 o'clock and posted about a mile south-west from the Lacy house
, facing toward his first position at Chewning's house.
finally took position on the left of Crawford
, facing toward the south and west, with his back toward the Lacy house
, on Crawford
's right, reached to the Orange turnpike
's division of Sedgwick
formed on the right of Griffin
, with the left of Upton
's brigade resting on the pike; then came the brigades of Penrose
, then Neill
's brigade of Getty
Soon after getting into position Neill
were attacked by Johnson
, who was repulsed.
Still farther to the right, toward the Germanna Plank road, Seymour
, of Ricketts
's division, came up and took position.
The entire Union front line was now intrenched.
At this time on the center and right Warren
were securely blocked by Ewell
's single corps.
On the left of the line the situation was this: At 11 A. M. Hancock
, whose advance had passed Todd
's tavern, received a dispatch stating that the enemy was coming down the Orange Plank road in full force, and he was directed to move his corps up to the Brock
road, due north.
He was further informed that Getty
had been sent to drive the enemy back, and must be supported immediately; that on the turnpike Griffin
had been pushed back somewhat, and that he (Hancock
) must push out on the Plank
road and connect his right with Warren
promptly started his column, and met General Getty
at the junction of the Plank
and Germanna roads. Getty
's division was then in line of battle, along the Brock
road, with Grant
's brigade on the left of the Plank
road, and Wheaton
's and Eustis
's brigades on the right of the road which the troops were intrenching.
This was at 2 P. M. of the 5th.
that there were two divisions of A. P. Hill
out in his front, and Hancock
directed the finishing of the works that had been begun, before any advance should be made.
's division on the left of Getty
, in two lines of battle along the Brock
road, and Mott
's and Gibbon
's divisions on Birney
's left; Barlow
's division held the extreme left and formed an angle on the Brock
road overlooking the bed of an unfinished railroad.
Most of the artillery of Hancock
's corps was posted with Barlow
Frank's brigade of Barlow
's division was stationed partly across the Brock
road, near the junction of the Brock
road and a cross-road leading to the Catharpin
All of Hancock
's corps were directed to throw up breastworks of logs and earth, the intrenched line beginning at Getty
's left and extending to Barlow
's left, where it was refused to cover the flank.
The second line, of the Second Corps, also threw up earth-works, and a third intrenched line was formed behind Birney
nearest the Plank
At 4:30 P. M. Getty
started to the attack, and marched but four hundred yards when he struck Heth
's division of Hill
's corps, and found the enemy in force, his right having been reinforced by Wilcox
threw forward Birney
on the left of Getty
, and put a section of Ricketts
's old battery on the Plank
says in his report: “The fight here became very fierce at once, the lines of battle were exceedingly close, the musketry continuous and deadly along the entire line.”
's and Owen
's brigades of Gibbon
's division were sent in to support Getty
, upon the Plank
, an excellent fighting man, was wounded, but remained on the field.
More to the left, Brooke
, of Barlow
's division, attacked the right of Hill
, and forced it back.
About 4 o'clock, also, Wadsworth
, who had been sent from his position near the Lacy house
to strike across the country toward the Plank
road, halted for the night in line of battle, facing nearly south between Tapp's house and the Brock
This ended the operations of May 5th, leaving the Army of the Potomac in close contact with Ewell
During the night of the 5th orders were given for a general attack by Sedgwick
, and Hancock
at 5 o'clock the next morning.
, who, with his corps, had been holding the line of the Orange and Alexandria railroad back to Bull Run
, set his corps in motion the afternoon of the 4th and made a forced march to the field.
The leading division, under Stevenson
, moving from Brandy Station
, crossed at Germanna Ford the night of the 5th, was held in reserve at Wilderness Tavern, and joined Hancock
on the Brock
road at 8 A. M. of the 6th.
, coining from Bealton and Rappahannock Station, reached the field about daylight, and were ordered to fill the gap between Warren
and join in the general attack.5 Ferrero
's colored division, after a forced march of forty miles, was held in the rear to guard the trains.
's arrival on the field was known and reported by General Hancock
to General Meade
at 7 A. M. on the 6th; indeed, it was found that Longstreet
was present when, at 5 o'clock, my brigade (of Gibbon
's division) was ordered to relieve General Getty
When I advanced I immediately became engaged with Field
's division, consisting of Gregg
's, and Jenkins
's brigades, on the north side of the Orange Plank road.
Just before 5 o'clock the right of the line under Sedgwick
was attacked by the Confederates
, and gradually the firing extended along the whole front.
's division fought its way across Hancock
's front to the Plank
road, and advanced along that road.
pushed forward Birney
with his own and Mott
's divisions, Gibbon
's division supporting, on the left of the Plank
road, and soon drove his opponents from their rifle-pits, and for the time being appeared to have won a victory.
His left, however, under Barlow
, had not advanced.
From information derived from prisoners and from the cavalry operating in the vicinity of Todd
's tavern, it was believed at this time that Longstreet
was working around the left to attack the line along the Brock
Instead of attacking there, Longstreet
moved to the support of Hill
, and just as the Confederates
gave way before Birney
's assault, Longstreet
's leading division, under General C. W. Field
, reached Birney
's battle-ground and engaged my line.
Thus at 8 o'clock Hancock
was battling against both Hill
had command on the left.
himself was looking out for the Plank
's Fifth Corps, in front of Ewell
, had obeyed the orders of General Grant
, in making frequent and persistent attacks throughout the morning, without success.
The same may be said of Wright
, of Sedgwick
's Sixth Corps, who was attacking Ewell
's left; but Ewell
was too strongly intrenched to be driven back from his line by the combined Fifth and Sixth corps.
, with the divisions of Willcox
, attempted to relieve Hancock
by passing up between the turnpike and the Plank
Relative positions in the Wilderness, May 6.
For the most part the troops are indicated by divisions, and when a name indicates a brigade it is inclosed in parentheses.
It should be noted that Griffin's line, before connecting with Wright, extended a short distance parallel with the Orange turnpike.
Wadsworth, early in the morning, advanced south from near the Lacy house to the Orange Plank road, and formed across that road as indicated.
Leasure's brigade, of Stevenson's division, coming into the line in Gibbon's first position, advanced north across Hancock's front to the Plank road.
On the morning of the second day Webb, of Gibbon, fought on, and north of, the Plank road, while his other two brigades, Owen and Carroll, were supporting Getty on, and north of, the Plank road.
Gibbon had general charge of Hancock's left, and Birney of Hancock's right.--editors.|
's farm, connecting his right with Warren
and joining the right of Hancock
, now held by my brigade.6 Burnside
's other division, under Stevenson
, moved up the Plank
road in our support, and I placed four of his regiments, taken from the head of his column, on my right, then pressed to the rear and changed my whole line, which had been driven back to the Plank
road, forward to its original line, holding Field
's division in check with the twelve regiments now under my command.
Now, at this very moment, General Wadsworth
(who had assumed command over me because he stated that Stevenson
ranked me, and he must take us both in his command) had given to me the most astonishing and bewildering order,--which was to leave
the twelve regiments under my command at his (Wadsworth
's) disposal, and to go to the left, find four regiments, and stop the retreat of those troops of the left of our line who were flying to the Brock
When I rode off to obey this unfortunate order, General Wadsworth
, in order to stop the enemy's attack upon Birney
upon his left, went to the 20th Massachusetts of my brigade and ordered that regiment to leave its log-works and charge the enemy's line, a strong breastwork on the west side of a ravine on Wadsworth
was told that the regiment could not safely be moved, that I had changed my front on that regiment and held the line by
means of it. Wadsworth
answered that the men were afraid, leaped his horse over the logs and led them in the charge himself.
He was mortally wounded,8
and my line was broken by Field
, and swept
off as by a whirlwind.
's line, as a consequence, was broken to pieces, and back to the Brock
road went the troops.
This attack was directed by Lee
[See also p. 124.] When I came back from endeavoring to carry out the order that Wadsworth
had given me, I found the 19th Maine, under Colonel Selden Connor
, on the Plank
Another regiment also staid with me to hold the Plank
road and to deceive the Confederates
, by fighting as though they had a continuous line.
was shot in the leg after a long skirmish; I offered him my horse, but his wounds being such as to render him unable to mount, he had to be carried to the log-works.
His regiment staid there until I gave the order to break like partridges through the woods for the Brock
had finally become engaged far out on our right front; Potter
's division came upon the enemy intrenched on the west side of a little ravine extending from Ewell
says that after considerable fighting he connected his left with Hancock
's right and intrenched.
was out of ammunition, and had to replenish the best way he could from the rear.
At 3:45 P. M. the enemy advanced in force against him to within a hundred yards of his log-works on the left of the Plank
The attack was of course the heaviest here.
's division came forward and took possession of our line of intrenchments, but Carroll
's brigade was at hand and drove them out at a double-quick.
Now let us return to our right, and stand where General Meade
and General Grant
were, at the Lacy house
The battle was finished over on the left so far as Hancock
had been thoroughly
Distributing ammunition under fire to Warren's Fifth Corps, May 6.
from a sketch made at the time.|
The burning woods, May 6-rescuing the wounded.
From a sketch made at the time.|
defeated in his attempt to walk past General Lee
on the way to Richmond
's brigade of Wright
's division of Sedgwick
's corps had been guarding the wagon-trains, but was now needed for the fight and had returned to the Sixth Corps lines.
It was placed on the extreme right on the Germanna Plank road, due north from where General Grant
's brigade was close up to the enemy, as indeed was our whole line.
was busy building breastworks, when it was struck in the flank, rolled up in confusion, and General Seymour
and General Shaler
and some hundreds of his men were taken prisoners.
But the brigade was not destroyed.
A part of it stood, and, darkness helping them, the assailants were prevented from destroying Wright
kept his men in order.
[See p. 127.]
This is in fact the end of the battle of the Wilderness
, so far as relates to the infantry.
Our cavalry was drawn in from Todd
's tavern and the Brock
The enemy's cavalry followed them.
They were all intrenched, and General Grant
decided that night that he would continue the movement to the left, as it was impossible to attack a position held by the enemy in such force in a tangled forest.
To add to the horrors of war, we had the woods on fire all around us, and Humphreys
estimates that about two hundred of our men were burned to death.
The best possible proof that this was an accidental battle can be found in the movements of the troops.
There was no intention to attack Lee
in the Wilderness
The 6th of May was the last day of the battle of the Wilderness
had most effectually stopped the forward movement of the right wing of Meade
's army, and Hill
defeated our left under Hancock
The fact is that the whole of the left was disorganized.
down through Birney
, each general commanded something not strictly in his command.
had “the left,” Gibbon
“the left” of Hancock
had his own and Mott
's divisions, and Wadsworth
The troops of these division commanders were without proper leaders.
We had seen the mixed Second and Ninth corps driven in, in detail, on our left.
We knew that the Fifth and Sixth corps were blocked, and we felt deeply the mortification consequent upon our being driven back to the Brock
From personal contact with the regiments who did the hardest fighting, I declare that the individual men had no longer that confidence in their commanders which had been their best and strongest trait during the past year.
We are told by General Badeau
in his history that at the very time our men were being tossed about on the Plank
road “General Grant
lay under the trees awaiting Burnside
's advance, and revolving the idea of a movement still farther to the Union
left, thrusting his whole force between Lee
We did move toward Spotsylvania
's Fifth Corps was directed to withdraw from the Wilderness
after dark on the 7th of May, and to move by the left behind Hancock
on the Brock
road, with Sedgwick
(the Sixth Corps) following him, and to proceed toward the court house.
View from near the Wilderness Tavern, looking toward the battle-field--2 P. M., May 7.
from a sketch made at the time.|
Out of the Wilderness, Sunday morning, May 8-the March to Spotsylvania.
From a sketch made at the time.|
p. 167.] This was attempted, but Warren
found that he was required with his corps to help Sheridan
's cavalry, which was detained by J. E. B. Stuart
's tavern, or near that point.
gave the required assistance, driving out of his way Stuart
, who was assisted by infantry.
At 8:30 P. M. Warren
moved by the Brock
road to the left of the Second Corps, and Sedgwick
moved by the pike and Germanna Plank road to Chancellorsville
, thence by the Piney Branch Church road to the intersection of that road with the Brock
At this point Sedgwick
was ordered to leave a division, with another at Piney Branch Church, and a third midway between these two.
started to follow Sedgwick
, but early on the morning of the 8th he was ordered to halt at Aldrich
's, where the Piney Church road leaves the main Fredericksburg Plank road, to guard the trains.
's division of this corps was now detached for this service.
was delayed by the blocking of the Brock
road by the mounted troops of the provost guard, and this delay gave Longstreet
's men, under R. H. Anderson
, the opportunity to reach Spotsylvania
in advance of Warren
's tavern at 3 A. M., he found Merritt
's cavalry engaging the Confederates
had waited for the whole army to pass, and reached the tavern at 9 o'clock on the 8th.9
At 11 A. M.,says General Humphreys
sent his leading brigade under Miles
to make a reconnoissance down the Catharpin
road toward Corbin's Bridge, about two miles distant.”
Miles had his own brigade, one battery, and one brigade
He found Hampton
's cavalry, and held them at bay until 5:30 P. M. While returning, Miles was attacked by Mahone
's infantry, and was compelled to call up reenforcements.
At 1:30 P. M. Hancock
east ten miles to support Warren
About 8 A. M. on the 8th Warren
's leading division, under General John C. Robinson
, deployed into the clearing north of Spotsylvania Court House, and was fired upon by Confederates upon Spotsylvania Ridge. General Robinson
was severely wounded in the first fire.
's division advanced on the right of Robinson
's; but the line, being unable to sustain itself, soon fell back until it was succored by the divisions of Crawford
, which now reached the front.
A line was taken up east of the Brock
road, near Alsop
came up about noon, and the Fifth Corps, supported by Sedgwick
, were at 1 P. M. directed to storm the Confederate
position on Spotsylvania Ridge.
moved south to join Warren
's left; but it was late in the day when Crawford
's division of the Fifth and one of Wright
's brigades under Penrose
assaulted what proved to be Rodes
's division of Ewell
's corps in position and intrenched.
On the morning of the 9th Burnside
's corps moved across from the Plank
road to the Fredericksburg
road at the crossing of the Ny River
This brought him east of the court house one and a half miles. He pushed over the river one division under O. B. Willcox
's division came up at noon. Potter
's division remained a mile in rear on the Fredericksburg
fought a brigade of R. H. Anderson
and some dismounted cavalry.
moved east to the right of Warren
, and intrenched overlooking the Po. On
the morning of the 9th Sheridan
started on a raid around Lee
In front of Hancock
the Po River
ran from west to east, then it turned due south opposite Warren
The Confederate left rested for a time on this south bend, and the bridge over it at the crossing of the Shady Grove Church road was fortified by Longstreet
While the several corps were adjusting their lines on the 9th, General Sedgwick
, our most esteemed general, was killed by a sharp-shooter, and Horatio G. Wright
took command of the Sixth Corps.
had reported to General Grant
on the 9th that he had met the enemy on the east of Spotsylvania Court House, and he had added to his report that he judged, from the indications in his front, that Lee
was about to move north toward Fredericksburg
It was therefore determined that Hancock
should make a reconnoissance toward Lee
's left, crossing the east and west bend of the Po River
, moving south as far as the Shady Grove
road, turning the enemy's left; then to move east, and cross the Po River
again by the Block House
crossed three of his divisions (Mott
was with Wright
) at different points at 6 o'clock in the morning, forcing the crossing, and meeting a very stubborn resistance in front of Barlow
, who was on his left, and but little in front of Gibbon
, who was on his right.
He now laid three pontoon-bridges over the river, it being fifty feet wide and not fordable, and then pushed due south toward the Block House bridge
, but reached that point too late that night to attempt a crossing.
During this night orders were issued from Meade
for the operations of the next day: Hancock
was to endeavor to find the position of the enemy's left, to force him from the position of his (Hancock
The Sixth Corps was ordered to feel the intrenchments near the center.
's division of Hancock
's corps, still kept north of the Po River
, and on the left of the Sixth Corps, was to prepare to join Burnside
, who with his corps (the Ninth) was to attack Early
from the east on the morning of the 10th.
But at dawn on the 10th an examination of the Block House bridge
, made by Hancock
, showed that the enemy was strongly intrenched on the east side of the Po
at that point.
's brigade of Barlow
's division was sent down the Po River
to a point half a mile below the bridge.
discovered the enemy in strong force holding intrenchments extending nearly half a mile below the bridge, their left resting on the Po River
But other arrangements had been made for the movement of the army, and Meade
now ordered Hancock
was directed to arrange for the assault at 5 o'clock, under General Hancock
's command, in the afternoon on the front of Warren
, while withdrawing, was attacked; Hancock
, who had started ahead with Gibbon
to prepare for the attack, recrossed to the south bank of the Po
and joined Barlow
was half a mile south of his bridges.
His left, composed of Miles
's and Smyth
's brigades, was along the Shady Grove
road, facing south, their left rested at the bridge.
's and Brown
's brigades were in front, or south of the Shady Grove
North-east, and to their rear one and a half miles, Field
's guns were planted in intrenchments, sweeping the ground behind them and covering the pontoon-bridge over the Po. Hancock
drew back Brooke
to the right and to the rear; and then Miles and Smyth
retired to the crest south of the pontoon-bridges.
Relative positions of the opposing Corps at Spotsylvania, May 8-21, 1864.|
These troops formed a tete-du-pont
's division, of Hill
's corps, attacked the two right brigades with vigor, but was twice repulsed.
The Union loss was very heavy.
, finding the enemy repulsed and the woods on fire in the rear of his line, crossed to the north side of the Po River
. One gun, the first ever lost by the Second Corps, was jammed between two trees in the midst of this fire, and was abandoned by Birney
's men. Many of our wounded perished in the flames.
Of this battle on our right, General Hancock
said, “The enemy regarded this as a considerable victory.
Had not Barlow
's division received imperative orders to withdraw, Heth
's division would have had no cause for congratulation.”
had determined to make the attack, and at 3:45 he did so, directing it personally and leading in full uniform.11
The assaulting column was composed of Crawford
's division, Cutler
's division (formerly Wadsworths), and Webb
's and Carroll
's brigades of the Second Corps.
The official diary of Longstreet
's corps says that “6 some of the enemy succeeded in gaining the works, but were killed in them.”
We were driven back, however, with heavy loss, including Brigadier-General James C. Rice
, of Cutler
's division, killed.
returned to us at half-past 5, and we were ordered to make another attack at 7 P. M. with Birney
's and Gibbon
's divisions and part
of the Fifth Corps.
We made the assault, but we were driven back a second time.
Our men were demoralized by fruitless work.
Over on our left, in the Sixth Corps, General Wright
had found what he deemed to be a vulnerable place in the Confederate
It was on the right of Rodes
's rebel division and on the west face of the salient.
Colonel Emory Upton
was selected to lead this attack.
's brigade was of the First Division, Sixth Corps.
He had four regiments of Neill
's brigade attached to his command; and General Mott
, commanding a division of the Second Corps, had been ordered by General Wright
to assault the works in his front at 5 o'clock to assist and support Upton
formed in four lines.
The Sixth Corps batteries played upon the left of the enemy's salient, enfilading it, and, as they ceased firing, Upton
Rushing to the parapet with a wild “Hurrah,” heedless of the
terrible front and flank fire he received, his men poured over the enemy's works; captured many prisoners, after a hand-to-hand fight; and, pressing forward, took the second line of rebel intrenchments with its battery.
, who was on Upton
's left, did not support him. The enemy being reenforced, Upton
was ordered to retire, but he carried back with him several stand of colors and 1200 prisoners.12
On the left Burnside
made an attack in conjunction with those on the right.
He pushed close to the enemy, on the Fredericksburg
road, and intrenched.
General T. G. Stevenson
, commanding one of his divisions, was killed in making this assault.
On the 10th of May the Second, Fifth, and Sixth corps lost 4100 men killed and wounded.
Not many were missing.
The Confederates lost probably two
thousand men. On the 11th13
dispositions were made for the grand assault the next day on the “Bloody angle.”
Of that assault I have little to write.
had his back to the north, and enwrapped the V-shaped salient occupied by Lee
. During the night three divisions of the Second Corps were to move to the left behind the Sixth and Fifth, and join the Ninth Corps in an assault at 4 A. M. on the 12th.
were to hold their corps in readiness to take part.
We moved to the attack at 4:35 A. M. on the 12th, and captured Johnson
and four thousand men from Ewell
; also twenty pieces of artillery.
At this time I was shot in the head and went to the rear.
Another will tell of the incidents of our bloody but fruitless assault.
Struggling for the works at the “bloody angle.”