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Chapter 38:

  • After the 18th of June General Beauregard is no longer in command of the Army around Petersburg.
  • -- enemy's raids to Interrupt our communications. -- no material advantage gained. -- completion of Confederate lines. -- General Beauregard's forces occupy works in front of Petersburgh. -- rumors concerning the mine. -- the salients upon General Beauregard's lines. -- he orders countermines, and Establishes batteries Commanding exposed points. -- his instructions to the officers there posted. -- Elliott's salient the Point selected by the enemy. -- mining commenced on the 25th of June, and completed on the 23d of July. -- when the explosion took place. -- the Federal column of assault: how composed. -- denudement of Confederate lines in consequence of the threatened movement of the enemy North of the James. -- Bushrod Johnson's division. -- its position along the works. -- Elliott's brigade. -- General Elliott wounded. -- Colonel McMaster. -- General Beauregard in front. -- his orders carried out. -- is present with General Lee, pending the action. -- prompt and accurate firing of the Confederate troops. -- raking fire of their batteries. -- the enemy demoralized. -- is unable to advance.-his critical position. -- General Grant acknowledges the impossibility of success. -- suggests the order to withdraw. -- General Meade issues it. -- arrival of General Mahone with part of his division. -- Throws forward his brigade. -- North Carolina and South Carolina regiments join in the movement. -- separate action of Wright's brigade. -- its repulse. -- combined attack under Generals Mahone and Johnson. -- slight resistance on the part of the enemy. -- crater and lines abandoned by the Federals. -- ours and the enemy's loss. -- General Badeau's opinion of this affair.

From the hour of 12 M., on the 18th of June, General Beauregard ceased to be first in command of our forces at and around Petersburg; and, though he continued on that day to direct, to some extent, the movements of the troops, he did so only because General Lee had not yet become sufficiently familiar with the position of our various commands on the new line occupied.

Comparative quiet now prevailed in both armies, and Federals as well as Confederates were actively engaged in strengthening their defensive works.

On the 21st, however, the 2d and 6th Federal Corps were withdrawn from the lines and sent on a flanking movement to the [257] left, with a view to encircle the besieged city farther towards the west, and, if possible, to seize the Weldon road. The 2d Corps (Hancock's), now temporarily under General Birney, had the lead. It established itself west of the Jerusalem plank road, and soon formed a junction with a division (Griffin's) of the 5th Corps, which had been posted on the east side. The other corps (the 6th) came up during the night, taking position on the left and rear of the 2d; and Wilson's and Kautz's cavalry were then sent to cut the Weldon and Southside railroads.

General Lee divined the intention of the enemy, and countermovements were immediately ordered to thwart his purpose. By some misunderstanding between the Federal officers commanding this expedition, the 2d Corps became separated from the 6th, thereby leaving a wide gap between them, which exactly served the purpose of the Confederate movement; for part of A. P. Hill's corps, rapidly marching in columns by brigades, came up with its usual alacrity and occupied this interval. The attack on the left of the 2d Corps was so vigorous that Barlow's division gave way in disorder; so did Mott's, soon afterwards. The Confederate troops now struck Gibbon on the flank and rear, carried his intrenchments, and captured a battery and several entire regiments of his command. Barlow and Mott; also lost several hundred prisoners. Gibbon's intrenchments were held by us until the captured guns were removed, when the Confederate column withdrew, carrying with it many standards and nearly 3000 prisoners, including several hundred from the 6th Corps. General Badeau 1says the Federal loss on this occasion was ‘four guns and about 1600 prisoners.’ He rebukes those who give a higher number, and accuses them of always exaggerating ‘the National losses.’ Mr. Swinton, whose account of this expedition agrees with ours, puts the Federal loss at 2500, exclusive of several hundred from the 6th Corps.2 The result of this movement to attempt interruption of our communications was in nowise beneficial to the enemy, and merely extended his line to the left, with no further advantage to him.

During the several weeks that followed the regular investment of Petersburg cavalry raids were organized to cut and destroy the [258] various railroads by which supplies were brought to our army. Wilson and Kautz, acting separately, succeeded in tearing up and otherwise damaging many miles of very important roads, including the Weldon, at Reams's Station, the Southside and the Danville roads. The raiding columns then formed a junction at Meherrin Station, but, upon reaching the Roanoke bridge, were checked in their further advance by a force of Confederates. The return of Wilson's column became, at that time, a difficult problem. At the crossing of Stony Creek, on the 28th, a severe engagement took place, forcing Wilson to make a considerable detour to the left. His effort was to reach Reams's Station, which he believed to be still in possession of the Federals; but he was attacked by both cavalry and infantry, under General Hampton, and now fell back, ‘with the loss of his trains and artillery and a considerable number of prisoners.’3 Wilson barely succeeded in bringing his shattered forces within the Federal lines. These raids, though damaging and harassing to us, proved so unsatisfactory to the enemy that further efforts of the kind were finally abandoned.

During this period of relative inactivity Generals Lee and Beauregard had so completed their lines of defence that assault upon them ‘had been pronounced impracticable by the [Federal] chiefs of artillery and engineers.’4 Beginning south of the Appomattox, these lines encircled the city of Petersburg, east and south, and extended, in a westerly direction, towards and beyond the left flank of the Federal army. A similar system of defence extended north of the Appomattox, guarding Petersburg and the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, against the Federal forces under Butler, at Bermuda Hundreds. Notwithstanding the reports of the Chief of Artillery and the Chief-Engineer of the Federal army, the Confederate lines, running from the southwest of Petersburg to the north-east of Richmond, and extending over a length of fully thirty-five miles, were vulnerable at more than one point. It must not be forgotten that the Appomattox was fordable a little above the permanent bridge, and it is very doubtful whether we could have prevented a vigorous and well-directed [259] movement of the enemy from breaking through that part of our lines. General Grant, or General Meade, could also have ordered a powerful attack on the salient formed by the junction of our new lines with the old ones, east of the Jerusalem plank road, the ground in that locality being very favorable for such a movement. It is easy to understand how a success at that point would have enabled the Commander of the Federal army, strong as it then was (for it numbered at that time not less than 115,000 men, exclusive of cavalry), to take in reverse and thus command both of our lines, which we would have had to evacuate at once. Or, General Grant could have occupied his lines with about 50,000 of his forces, and used the remainder—60,000 men, and perhaps more—as a column of active operations which would have been fully strong enough to meet any emergency.

General Badeau asserts that most of these operations were ‘conducted exclusively by Meade, to whom Grant now intended to allow a more absolute control of the movements of his own army than he had hitherto enjoyed.’5 It is none the less a fact that, whoever the Federal commander then was, and though General Lee may have been ‘outmanoeuvered’ previous to the arrival of his army in front of Petersburg, since that time, or, rather, from the 15th of June to the 30th of July, and even later, the Federal Commander—whether Grant or Meade—never proved himself a match for either General Beauregard or General Lee.

During the 18th and 19th of June, General Lee's troops, as they arrived, were extended on the right of General Beauregard's, which were now contracted somewhat from their attenuated development. General Beauregard remained in immediate charge of the Petersburg lines already held by his troops; that is to say, from the Appomattox to about half-way between the Baxter road and the Jerusalem plank road. The small portion of the Army of Northern Virginia not within the lines was held as a general reserve.

About the beginning of July it became apparent, from the Northern newspapers and from accounts of deserters and prisoners, that the Federals had undertaken to direct a mine against some point of the Confederate works at Petersburg. General Beauregard, believing that the operation was aimed at his lines— [260] for upon them were three salients (Colquitt's, Gracie's, and Elliott's), the ground in front of which was favorable for such an enterprise—directed countermines to be sunk from each of them. This work, however, did not reach an efficient state; the troops had no experience in that special service; they lacked the proper tools, and, besides, were so exhausted from heavy duty in the trenches, that the work was not carried on with the necessary activity.

In all other respects ample preparations for the event of the explosion of the mine were carefully made by General Beauregard. Batteries of 12-pounder Napoleons, 8 and 10 inch and Coehorn mortars, were erected on well-selected elevations in rear of and commanding the exposed points, assuring both a cross and front fire. Gorge-lines were also constructed in rear of these salients, for the troops to retire into in the event of a breach in the exterior line by the springing of the mine. Finally, and as the probable period approached, minute instructions were given by him to the officers in the menaced quarters, so as to prevent confusion or a panic from the explosion, and to insure a prompt, vigorous concentration of the troops and of the fire of the batteries for the repulse of any assaulting column that might attempt to enter the breach.

The salient actually selected by the Federals proved to be that occupied by Elliott's brigade, with Pegram's battery; and the mine, commenced on the 25th of June, 6 was ready to receive its charge on the 23d of July. The work was executed by the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 400 strong, mostly composed of Schuylkill coal-miners, and whose colonel, Pleasants, was himself an accomplished mining engineer.

The mine, starting from the interior of Burnside's line of riflepits, immediately across Taylor's Creek, terminated beneath Elliott's salient, at a distance of one hundred and seventy yards, with lateral galleries beginning at that point, extending on the left thirty-seven feet, and on the right thirty-eight feet, and together forming the segment of a circle concave to the Confederate lines. In both of these lateral galleries were four magazines, one at the extreme end of each, and the remainder at equal distances along the segment of circle, containing in all eight thousand pounds [261] of powder, equally distributed, when charged on the 27th of July.7

The Federal column of assault consisted of the four divisions of Burnside's corps—Ledlie's, Potter's, Wilcox's, and Ferrero's, the latter composed of negro troops—directly supported by Turner's division of the 10th Corps and Ames's division of the 18th, under General Ord—in the aggregate at least 23,000 men. At the same time 10,000 men of Warren's corps, concentrated on its own right—that is, on the left of Burnside—and the 18th, concentrated in the immediate rear of Burnside, were actively to support the movement. Hancock's corps was likewise concentrated as a support, for the same purpose, on the lines temporarily vacated by the 18th; and Sheridan, with all the cavalry assembled in the quarter of Deep Bottom, was to move strenuously against the Confederate right by the roads leading into Petersburg from the south and west. Even the pontoon train was held in readiness, under the Chief-Engineer, Major Duane, to accompany the movement, and Engineer officers were assigned to each corps for the operation. The artillery of all kinds was to open upon those points of the Confederate works covering the ground of movement of the Federal troops.8 The whole force thus made disposable for the operation consisted, according to General Meade's testimony, of nearly 50,000 men,9 exclusive of the cavalry.

The orders were to spring the mine at 3.30 A. M. on the 30th of July;10 but, from some defect in the fuse, its fire died out, and a lieutenant and sergeant of the 48th Pennsylvania boldly volunteered to descend into the mine and ascertain the cause. They relit the extinguished fuse, and at 4.44 the explosion took place.11

In consequence of the withdrawal of troops to meet a threatened movement north of the James the Confederate lines from [262] the Appomattox to Rives's salient (that is, to a point about half-way between the Baxter and Jerusalem roads) were held only by Bushrod R. Johnson's division, less two brigades (Gracie's and Johnson's), which had been detached for the same service. General Beauregard at the time considered this as a most dangerous denudement and extension; and General Johnson, alluding to the same subject, in his detailed statement of the facts relative to this important incident of the siege of Petersburg, uses the following language: ‘General Field's division, which had been holding the part of our line of defences on the right of my division, was taken out of the trenches, and Colquitt's brigade, of Hoke's division, was temporarily transferred to my command in exchange for Gracie's brigade, and I was left to hold, with less forces, defences double the length, or more, of that which I had previously defended. Indeed, my understanding is, that my command was all the troops in our trenches when the mine was exploded, all of the rest of the army having been moved or held ready to meet any demonstration the enemy might make on the north of the James River.’

Elliott's salient was occupied by his own brigade, of Johnson's division, consisting of the 26th, 17th, 18th, 22d, and 23d South Carolina Volunteers, in the order given, the left of the 26th resting on the right of Ransom's brigade,12 near the intersection of the lines with the Norfolk Railroad. Wise's brigade followed on the right of Elliott and connected with Colquitt's brigade.13 The explosion threw up the terre-plein of the salient, burying two guns of Pegram's battery and a part of the 18th and 22d South Carolina regiments, most of the former being in the midst of the upheaval; but the greater portion of the parapets of the main and gorge lines remained standing, the part destroyed being near the angle of their junction on the right.

The rupture of the earth divided the brigade—the remainder of the 22d and the 23d on the right, and the remainder of the 18th, the 17th, and the 26th on the left. A momentary panic seized the men nearest the point of explosion. Thus suddenly [263] aroused from their sleep, they rushed in different directions along the trenches; but soon rallied around their officers, and opened, from their parapets, a rapid and effective fire upon the advancing enemy; while the batteries, so happily provided for this contingency by General Beauregard, also opened with telling effect. Colonel McMaster, who, after General Elliott fell, commanded his brigade during this action, thus describes the firing of our batteries at the time:

‘* * * In less than five minutes time our men recovered from their panic the men of the 18th falling in indiscriminately with mine, and we shot with great rapidity and execution. About the same time the battery on the left of the ravine, a short distance in rear of Ransom's brigade, did great execution and fired about six hundred shots in a short time. This battery I observed specially; the others, in rear and on the right also, did good execution.’

Within ten minutes, or more, Ledlie's division had entered the breach in the parapet of the salient and plunged into the crater—a cavity 135 feet in length, 97 feet in breadth, and 30 in depth,14 with sloping sides, the soil sandy, but filled with great blocks of clay. Wilcox's division immediately followed, and then Potter's, while the Federal artillery—guns and mortars—opened all along their lines, concentrating their heaviest fire on the lines and ground right and left of the crater.

General Beauregard, having no reserves, had instructed each of his brigade commanders that, in the event of a breach and attack, they should close rapidly towards that point, leaving a picket line to hold the trenches elsewhere. This instruction was promptly executed upon the order of Division-Commander Bushrod R. Johnson. General Beauregard, aroused from sleep by the explosion, and immediately informed of its precise locality by Colonel Paul, an officer of his staff, despatched the latter to General Lee to make the report, request assistance, and appoint a rendezvous with him at Bushrod Johnson's headquarters, near Cemetery Hill. He then repaired at once to that point, and, after ascertaining that his previous instructions for the event were being properly carried out, went forward to the Gee House, within 500 yards and immediately in rear of Elliott's salient, and, from that commanding point, took a full view of [264] the scene of combat. Returning soon afterwards to Johnson's headquarters—where, he had been told, General Lee was now awaiting him—he reported the situation, and learned that General Mahone's division had been ordered up. Generals Lee and Beauregard afterwards repaired to the Gee House, where they remained till the end of the action.

Meanwhile, and within ten or fifteen minutes of the explosion, General Elliott had ordered his regiments on the left of the crater to form on the brow of the hill, beyond the gorge-line which crossed the summit, and charge the Federals out of the mine; but he had no sooner reached the open ground, followed by Colonel Smith, of the 26th South Carolina, and half a dozen men, in execution of this movement, than he fell, severely wounded, and was immediately borne to the rear.15 Colonel F. W. McMaster, on whom now devolved the command, despatched Colonel Smith, with the 26th and three companies of the 17th, by the trench and covered way on the left, to hold a shallow ravine in rear of the hill of Elliott's salient, there to resist any direct advance by which the enemy might seek to fall on the rear of the Confederate lines.16

The Federals now attempted to force their way along the trenches. Numbers of them, emerging from the crater, got into the ditch of the gorge-line, where a hand-to-hand fight ensued; while others, creeping along the glacis of the exterior line, got over the parapet into the main trench.17 The troops on the right and left of the crater fought them from behind the traverses connecting with the sinks, and from barricades thrown up at the angles of the trenches; while the adjacent brigades, from their main parapets, the covered ways, and ravines running to the rear, and from piles of earth at their bomb-proofs, concentrated a deadly fire on such of the Federal forces as were moving across from their lines, and on those in and near the crater, whenever they exposed themselves.

The Confederate front and flanking batteries, so judiciously located, swept the ground in front and rear of the crater, so that the Federals found themselves obstructed from direct advance or retreat. These batteries also played into the crater itself, where [265] the shells were dropped with such precision upon the huddled mass of Federals that numbers of them preferred to run the gauntlet back to their lines. Wright's battery of four guns, admirably situated and protected, on the left of Elliott's salient, poured its whole volume of fire, with astonishing rapidity and effect, directly into their right flank; while one gun of Davidson's battery, in Wise's line, threw its canister and grape at short range into their left flank, both batteries, as occasion required, sweeping the ground in front of the crater. Major Haskell's battery of four 8 and 10 inch mortars, under Captain Lamkin, in rear on the Jerusalem plank road, and one Coehorn and two 12-pounder mortars of Lamkin's, in the ravine, about 200 yards to the left and rear of the crater, and two 8-inch mortars, were served with unremitting and fatal execution; while a battery of three 8 or 10 inch mortars, on the right of the Baxter road, under Lieutenant Langhorn, fired at intervals with very good effect.

The order for the Federal column of attack was to advance and seize Cemetery Hill. In all subsequent orders of General Meade this was the main objective; but upon their attempt to form for that purpose outside of the crater they were swept by such a fire from the batteries and infantry, including Colonel Smith's force, in the ravine in rear, and the 59th Virginia, under Captain Wood, formed in a ditch on the right of the crater and perpendicular to the main trench, that they rushed back and clung to the protection of the crater, continuing the contest for the possession of the trenches.

About 7.30 o'clock Ferrero's negro division was ordered to push through the breach and carry Cemetery Hill. They moved across the open space between the Federal and Confederate lines into, out of, and beyond the crater; but at this point they broke under the fierce artillery and musketry fire there concentrated upon them; and, after having been partially reorganized, broke again, now fleeing in wild disorder into and out of the crater, back to General Burnside's rearmost lines, within the Federal intrenchments. They carried back, on their way, Bell's brigade,18 of Turner's division, which, having been pushed across from [266] Burnside's lines by Ord to support their assault, was then attempting to press forward from the right of the crater. Such was the concentration of fire upon their front and flanks that the Federals were unable to develop and form their column of attack, and this was their last attempt to charge.

Meanwhile the struggle had continued for the possession of the trenches. On the Confederate right of the crater these were held by the remainder of the 22d and the 23d South Carolina, aided by the 26th and part of the 46th Virginia. Barricades were constructed, and the Federals did not succeed in advancing more than thirty yards. On the left they gradually occupied the trenches for less than two hundred yards, turning the barricades by advancing along and under cover of the glacis, and springing thence into the trench, until Colonel McMaster erected a last barricade19 at the bend, in advance of the covered way leading to General Elliott's quarters. From this point the glacis took a direction which exposed the Federals attempting to use it to a flank fire from the exterior parapet, held by the right of Ransom's brigade; and here the enemy's advance was effectually checked, both in the trench and outside of it.

The entire Federal offensive had now been reduced to an impotent and fractional conflict in the trenches, when, at 9.45, General Meade gave General Burnside a peremptory order to withdraw his troops.20 It even appears, from what General Badeau says of this order to withdraw,21 that it originated with, and was first suggested by, General Grant himself, and not by General Meade. Says General Badeau:

Burnside's despatches to Meade, reporting the fight, were meagre and unsatisfactory in the extreme; and Grant at last rode out to the National line, and there dismounting, walked across the front, under a heavy fire, to a point where Burnside was watching the battle. He took in the situation at a glance, and, perceiving that every chance of success was lost, at once exclaimed, “These troops must be immediately withdrawn. It is slaughter to leave them there.” 22He then returned to Meade's headquarters, and a written order to this effect was sent to Burnside.’

It follows from this that, before Meade's order to withdraw was [267] issued—that is to say, before 9.30 A. M.—General Grant, after coming personally to the front, saw ‘that every chance of success was lost.’ General Burnside, however, considering that a retreat across the open space between the lines could only be effected with great slaughter, asked for and obtained a suspension of the order, to await a more favorable opportunity. It is evident that his object was not to go on with the attack—still less to renew it—but to retire the men with the least possible sacrifice of life. General Meade at first refused, but finally gave him discretion as to the time for withdrawal.23 The remaining Federal supports (Warren and Hancock) took no part in the attack; and they also—General Warren at 9.45, General Hancock at 9.25—received orders ‘to suspend all offensive operations’ and resume their original position. So did General Ord.24

Such was the situation—the Federals unable to advance, and fearing to retreat—when, at ten o'clock, General Mahone arrived with a part of his men, who lay down in the shallow ravine, to the rear of Elliott's salient, held by the force under Colonel Smith, there to await the remainder of the division.25 But a movement having occurred among the Federals which seemed to menace an advance, General Mahone threw forward his brigade with the 61st North Carolina, of Hoke's division, which had now also come up. The 25th and 49th North Carolina, and the 26th and part of the 17th South Carolina, all under Smith, which were formed on Mahone's left, likewise joined in the counter-movement, and three-fourths of the gorge-line were carried with that part of the trench, on the left of the crater, occupied by the Federals. Many of the latter, white and black, abandoned the breach and fled to their lines, under a scourging flank fire of artillery and musketry from Wise's brigade.26

At about 11.30 Wright's brigade, which had then reached the ground, was detached and pushed forward, separately, by General Mahone, to drive the Federals out of the crater, but it suffered a repulse.27 General Beauregard now ordered a concentration of all available batteries to be made upon the crater and adjacent [268] trenches, and, under cover of this fire, a combined movement of the forces of Mahone and Johnson was prepared, ordered by Generals Lee and Beauregard. Saunders's brigade of Mahone's division, with the 61st North Carolina, of Hoke's division, and the 17th South Carolina, of Johnson's division, moved on the left and rear of the crater, under General Mahone; and the 23d and part of the 22d South Carolina on the right, under General Johnson.28 But before this last charge the Federals, thoroughly demoralized under the cross-fires of our artillery and musketry, were running the dread gauntlet back to their intrenchments, so that this last attack met with but little resistance. The fact is that the crater and lines were so rapidly emptied of Federals, at the last moment of the charge, that the Confederate batteries slackened their fire, and only thirty men, with three stands of colors, were captured.29

The total Confederate loss was 1172. Johnson's division (of which 2500 were engaged about the crater), including Colquitt's brigade, temporarily attached to it, bore of this loss 922—66 officers, 856 men—the share of Elliott's brigade therein amounting to 672 in killed, wounded, and missing. A few of these were prisoners, captured during the fight in the trenches, and, of the others, about 256 figured among the victims of the explosion, inclusive of 22 men belonging to Pegram's battery. Mahone's division lost 250 men—killed, wounded, and missing— out of about 1500.

The Federal loss is reported, by Mr. Swinton, at about 4000 men; by General Meade, at 4400 killed, wounded, and missing, 246 prisoners, 2 colors, and 2 guns; and by General Badeau, at 4400. In our opinion the enemy must have lost more than 5000 men.

Thus came to an end this transcendent scheme for the capture of Petersburg, ‘planned with consummate skill’—says General Badeau—‘and every contingency cared for in advance. With the enemy drawn up in force to the north bank; the National troops brought rapidly back, the Army of the Potomac and the Eighteenth corps massed in rear of the mine; artillery prepared to cover the approach; the mine itself a success—there was every reason to anticipate a brilliant conclusion to the operation.’ [269] Whereupon. General Grant is credited with having said in regard to this masterly stroke, in which the highest expectations were centred, ‘Such an opportunity of carrying fortifications I have never seen, and do not expect again to have.’ And yet, writes General Badeau, with a frankness that does him no little honor, this affair proved to be ‘one of the most discreditable to the National arms that occurred during the war.’ This we will not contradict; but when he states that ‘it was more than thirty minutes after the explosion before the rebels recovered from their panic and returned to their lines,’ he is in error. He no less errs when he asserts that ‘the [Federal] advance was not checked; the troops were not discouraged; the ground was clear before them; there was yet no serious resistance; they halted simply because they were not commanded to do otherwise.’ The Confederate officers there present—and foremost of all Colonel McMaster—testify that they rallied their men, restored order, and opened fire not more than five minutes after the mine had exploded. What stopped the Federal troops in their advance and prevented them from reaching the crest of Cemetery Hill—as they had been ordered to do—was the tremendous and raking cross-fire of artillery, prepared by General Beauregard for that very purpose, and the unflinching stand and prompt and accurate infantry fire of our troops, in front, as well as to the left and right of the crater.

Upon this very point General Bushrod Johnson, in his earnest and straightforward manner, says:

The 23d and part of the 22d South Carolina regiments on the right, and the 17th and 18th on the left of the crater, opened a destructive fire from our parapets on the advancing column and on the enemy in the breach. The flanking arrangements of our works, on both sides of the breach, afforded peculiar advantages, and soon the fire along the line of my division extended far out on each flank, wherever the enemy's column could be reached, and swept the ground in front of the crater.

To the men on the left of Wise's brigade, occupying the eminence, south of Baxter road, about two hundred yards from the crater, the enemy's masses presented a most inviting target.

Wright's battery of four guns, admirably located and intrenched on the left of Elliott's brigade, and in rear of our front line, poured its whole column of fire on the enemy's masses and right flank. The position of this excellent battery was perhaps unknown to the enemy, and the superior manner in which it was served, the rapidity of its fire, and the terrible effect on the enemy's forces, no doubt greatly astonished and demoralized them. [270]

Major Haskell's mortar-battery, in charge of Captain Lamkin, consisting of four Coehorns, on the Jerusalem plank road, and one Coehorn and two 12-pound mortars in the ravine, some two hundred yards to the left and rear of the breach, and two mortars to the left of Wright's battery, were all opened promptly on the assaulting columns. The practice of the four mortars on the plank road was admirable. Their shells dropped with precision upon the enemy's masses, huddled in disorder in front of and in the crater. Some three mortars on the right of the Baxter road, commanded by Lieutenant Langhorne, opened and continued, at intervals, with good effect until the close of the engagement.’

This sufficiently explains why the Federals, notwithstanding their thorough state of preparation—‘every contingency being cared for in advance’—did not accomplish what was expected of them. Nor is their failure at all attributable to the absence of their corps and division commanders; for every colonel and every subordinate officer knew—if not every man of the assaulting column—what orders had been issued, and that the work to be done was to carry the Confederate lines and take possession of the hill beyond. The truth is, that, losing sight of the invincible spirit of the veteran troops confronting them, they had counted upon inextricable confusion on the part of the Confederates, and had not anticipated the reception in store for them from the skilfully located batteries of General Beauregard.

1 ‘Military History of Ulysses S. Grant,’ vol. II., p. 384.

2 Swinton's ‘Army of the Potomac,’ pp. 512, 513.

3 Swinton's ‘Army of the Potomac,’ p. 513. The statement is confirmed by General Meade's report.

4 Swinton's ‘Army of the Potomac,’ p. 515.

5 ‘Military History of Ulysses S. Grant,’ vol. II., p. 886.

6 Colonel Pleasants's testimony, in ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), vol. i., p. 112.

7 General Burnside's report, dated ‘Before Petersburg, Va., August 13th, 1864,’ to be found in ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), vol. i., p. 20.

8 See General Meade's orders, July 29th, 1864, to be found in ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), vol. i., pp. 32, 33.

9 General Meade's testimony, in same work, p. 37.

10 General Meade's orders of July 30th, 1864, in ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), vol. i., p. 33.

11 Colonel Pleasants's testimony, in ‘Conduct of the War,’ p. 114. He says, ‘exploded at sixteen minutes to five.’

12 Colonel F. W. McMaster's statement. See Appendix.

13 General B. R. Johnson's statement. See Appendix.

14 General Johnson's statement. See Appendix.

15 General Johnson's and Colonel McMaster's statements. See Appendix.

16 Colonel McMaster's statements. See Appendix.

17 Ibid.

18 General Ord's report, dated August 3d, 1864, in ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), p. 102.

19 Colonel McMaster's statement. See Appendix.

20 See ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), Appendix, vol. i., pp. 229, 230.

21 ‘Military History of Ulysses S. Grant,’ vol. II., p. 482.

22 The italics are ours.

23 ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), Appendix, vol. i., p. 230.

24 Ibid., pp. 234, 238, 240.

25 Colonel McMaster's statement. See Appendix.

26 General Johnson's statement. See Appendix.

27 Ibid.

28 General Johnson's statement. See Appendix.

29 Ibid.

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