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Commanding Second Army Corps 

March 13 to October 9, 1S62 


Second Army Corps 



ASST. ADJ. -GEN. OF THE CORl'S, OCT. 9, 1862— JAM. 12, 1865 





Copyright, 1886, by 





When, in 1882, after spending much time in collect- 
ing materials, I began to work actively and continuously 
upon the history of the Second Corps, of the five com- 
manders of that illustrious body of troops four were still 
living, and ready to give me their valuable suggestions 
and advice. As I write these closing lines, of the five 
four are dead. Among the prominent staff-of^cers of 
the corps, especially competent to give information of 
value, the losses have been scarcely less remarkable. 
Toward the end, therefore, this work has been pushed 
forward under a painful sense of pressure and emer- 
gency. I have almost felt that my task would never be 
done at all, unless it were done at once. 

The death of General Warren occurred before this 
narrative had reached the period during which that brill- 
iant young of^cer won renown at the head of the Second 
Corps. It was the expressed purpose of General Humph- 
reys, after concluding his •' History of the Virginia Cam- 
paign of 1864-5," for the Scribner War Series, to give 
much time, every hour of which would have been of price- 
less value, to aid the present work ; but before he had 


taken up his pen for this purpose that heroic soldier and 
thrice-accomplished scholar passed away from earth. 
Following close upon these afflicting losses came the 
death, in February last, of that great captain whose 
name all veterans of the Potomac Army delight to utter. 
Since General Hancock's unexpected and startling de- 
mise, I have strained every nerve to bring my arduous 
task to its completion, feeling that, in truth, the " night 
Cometh, when no man can work." 

This history has undergone a great change of plan 
since it was first undertaken, and has come to embrace 
a vast amount of statistical and personal matter, in ad- 
dition to the narrative of battles and marches which was 
contemplated at the outset. I cannot even hope that 
among so many thousands of separate statements regard- 
ing names, numbers, dates, order of events, juxtaposition 
of troops, direction of movements, etc., some mistakes 
have not been committed. I can only plead that great 
pains and labor have been expended in securing accu- 

Even the present degree of success could not have been 
attained but for the information most kindly and cour- 
teously furnished by the accomplished Adjutant-General 
of the Army, General R. C. Drum, and by the officer 
who has, to the great advantage of American history, 
been placed in charge of the publication of the Rebellion 
Records. To the latter gentleman. Colonel Robert N. 
Scott, is due more than words can express. Colonel 
J. B. Batchelder, the Government historian of Gettys- 
burg, has rendered much valuable aid, which is acknowl- 
edged with warm gratitude. 

prp:face. V 

Colonels Fred. C. Newhall, Arnold A. Rand, and John 
P. Nicholson have also given me much assistance. 

For reasons which appear to me good, I do not here 
acknowledge the assistance which I have received from 
many officers of the Second Corps, to whom thanks have 
been personally returned, and whose kindness and cour- 
tesy 1 shall ever bear in remembrance. 

Among Confederate officers Generals Wade Hamp- 
ton, Henry Heth, and C. M. Wilcox ; Colonel William 
Allan, Major Jed. Hotchkiss, and Captain Gordon 
McCabe have given valuable information in response 
to my inquiries. I am indebted to St. George R. 
Fitzhugh, Esq., of Fredericksburg, for topographical de- 
tails regarding that memorable battlefield, now greatly 
obscured by roads opened and houses built since the 

The maps which illustrate this volume have been con- 
structed with a view to giving the greatest possible as- 
sistance to readers not skilled in topography or accus- 
tomed to study elaborate and intricate plans of campaigns 
and battles. Whatever credit is due for their mechani- 
cal execution belongs largely to Mr. Charles L. Adams, 
whose skilful pen drew all but three or four of them, with 
a result in clearness and accuracy which I cannot but be- 
lieve the reader will highly appreciate. 

The list of portraits embellishing this volume would 
have been at points different, but for the lack of good 
pictures of some of the most meritorious officers of the 
Corps, especially among those who fell during the war. 
It seemed best not to present a portrait of any officer, 
however distinguished, unless a fairly good likeness could 


be obtained, many of the ante-war ambrotypes and pho- 
tographs being scarcely less than caricatures. 

Mrs. General Morgan has from the first allowed the 
unrestricted use of the manuscript narrative, and other 
military papers of her distinguished husband ; and to 
this more than to all other causes must be attributed 
whatever merit shall be found in this history of the Sec- 
ond Army Corps. 

Boston, September, 1886. 



The Muster i 

The Peninsula : Fair Oaks, . . - 14 

The Peninsula: The Seven Days, 54 

Antietam, 87 

The Antietam to the Rappahannock, 127 

Fredericksburg 145 

Chancellorsville, 202 

Hancock— Gettysburg 256 



Gettysburg to the Rapidan, 306 

Bristoe Station, 321 

Mine Run, 365 

The Winter Camps of 1863-64— Morton's Ford, . . . 392 

The Wilderness, 407 

Todd's Tavern and Po River, 441 

The I2TH of May : The Salient, 465 

Spottsylvania, May r3TH to 19TH, 480 

North Anna and the Totopotomoy, 49^ 

Cold Harbor — June 2 to 12, 1864, 5^5 

Petersburg, 5^4 



Numbers and Organization, June 30, 1864, .... 548 

Deep Bottom, 555 

Reams' Station, 581 

The Boydton Plank Road, 6^3 

The Winter Siege of Petersburg, 640 

The Fall of Petersburg, 654 

The Pursuit — Appomattox, April 3 to 9, 1865, . . . 673 


Commissioned Officers of the Second Army Corps Killed 
OR Mortally Wounded in Action, 710 


Names of Officers of the Union Armies Mentioned in this 

History, 709 



Names of Confederate Officers occurring in this History, . 723 

Union Corps, Regiments, Batteries, and other Organiza- 
tions Mentioned in this History, 725 

Names of Places, Streams, Houses, etc., occurring in this 
History, 730 

INDEX, 735 


Major-General Edwin V, Sumnei; Frontispiece. 


Major-General Israel B. Richardson ^| 

Brevet Major-General Samuel K. Zook 

Brevet Major-General John R. Brooke \ 14 

Brigadier-General Thomas Francis Meagher 

Brevet Brigadier-General Robert Nugent j 

Major-General John Sedgwick 104 

Major-General D. N. Couch 128 

Major-General O. O. Howard , 

Major-General David B. Birney 

Major-General John Gibbon 

Major-General William H. French j 

\ 145' 

Brigadier-General Charles H. Morgan 208 

Major-General Winfield S. Hancock 256 

Major-General Gouverneur K. Warren 321 




Brevet Major-General William Hays ] 

Brevet Majok-General Ph. R. DeTrobriand 

Brevet Brigadier-General William G. Mitchell, y 407 v 

Brevet Major-General Alexander S. Webb 

Colonel Edw, E. Cross j 

Major-General Francis C. Barlow "] 

Brevet Major-General S. S. Carroll I 

Brevet Brigadier-General James A. Beaver y 475 

Brevet Major-General Alexander Hays 

Brevet Major-General Thomas A. Smyth J 

Major-General Gershom Mott ") 

Major-General Nelson A. Miles 

Brevet Major-General Byron R. Pierce }■ 525 , 

Brevet Major-General Thomas W. Egan I 

Brevet Brigadier-General John G. Hazard J 

Major-General Andrew A. Humphreys 640 



Richmond and Vicinity .facing 23 

Sumner's Fight at Fair Oaks, May 31, 1862 36 

Battle-field of Antietam , 103 

"The Right" at Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862 160 

Marye's Heights, December 13, 1862 163 

Chancellorsville and Vicinity 215 

Chancellorsville, May 2, 1863 226 

Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863 234 . 

Gettysburg and Vicinity .facing 270 

Position taken by General Sickles, July 2 275 

The Wheat-field, July 2, 1864 279 

Attack on Second Corps, July 3, 1863 295 

Line OF Retreat, October n-15, 1863 323 


among whose Generals of Division were numbered Sedg- 
wick, Richardson, Howard, French, Barlow, Birney, 
Miles, Mott, Gibbon, Webb, and Alexander Hays ; the 
corps which crossed the Chickahominy to the rescue of the 
beaten left at Fair Oaks ; which made the great assault 
at Marye's Heights ; on which fell the fury of Longstreet's 
charge at Gettysburg ; which was the rear guard, October 
14th, at Auburn and at Bristoe; which stormed the Salient 
at Spottsylvania, and at Farmville fought the last infantry 
battle of the war against the Army of Northern Virginia. 
One man there was who, of all the soldiers of the Sec- 
ond Corps, should have written its history. That man 
was its Inspector-General. The commanders of the corps 
gladly acknowledged how much they owed to him of the 
success they were enabled to achieve at the head of that 
gallant body of troops; but few of the more than one 
hundred thousand soldiers who, for longer or shorter 
terms, served under its colors while he was chief of its 
staff knew how much of dangers averted, of labors saved, 
of hardships mitigated, of glory won, was due to that 
peerless officer. General Charles H. Morgan ; how many 
blows that would have fallen with fatal effect were warded 
off by his sleepless vigilance ; how many useless marches 
and tormenting vigils his wise and thoughtful prevision 
avoided ; how many lives, in the furious assaults to which 
this devoted corps was summoned, were saved by his judi- 
cious dispositions, in which a thorough knowledge of the 
principles of war mingled with shrewd observation of the 
field, clear insight into character, and sound practical judg- 

' General Morgan, after the close of the war, undertook to write 
the history of the corps, and collected much material for this pur- 
pose. In a letter to me, under date of March 14, 1867, General 


The Second Army Corps was organized March 13, 
1862, by General Orders No. loi, Headquarters Army 
of the Potomac. Three divisions were included in the 
original assignment of troops — those of Richardson, Blen- 
ker, and Sedgwick. On the 31st of the same month, 
however, Blenker's division was detached, not only from 
the new corps, but also from the Army of the Potomac. 
The brief term during which this division remained of 
the Second Corps — it could hardly be said with the Sec- 
ond Corps, for no two divisions of the new command had 
yet been brought together — would not justify its inclu- 
sion in this narrative, and it will accordingly be left out 
of account in all statements regarding the history of the 
corps, its numbers, or its personnel. 

In like manner, the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, Colonel 
Farnsworth, whose service at the headquarters of the 
corps was of short duration and, for lack of opportunity, 
inconsequential character, will be omitted. 

Of the two divisions left to the corps, after Blenker's 
detachment, that of Richardson comprised the brigades 
of Howard, Meagher, and French, which were severally 
constituted as follows : 

Morgan, to my deep regret, intimated his purpose of abandoning 
the task ; and, on November 4th of the same year, he wrote me that 
he had definitely decided to do so, on the ground that, being in 
the regular army, he was not at liberty to express his views regard- 
ing some of his superior officers on matters which would neces- 
sarily come within the scope of his proposed work. General Mor- 
gan, however, before his lamented death, in 1872, left a continuous 
though brief manuscript account of the operations of the corps 
from November, 1862, to November, 1864, from which I have, 
with the permission of Mrs. Morgan, freely drawn in the follow- 
insj narrative. 



Brigadier-General OLIVER O. HOWARD, Commanding. 

5th New Hampshire, Colonel Edward E. Cross. 
6ist New York, Colonel Spencer W. Cone. 
64th New York, Colonel Thomas J. Parker. 
8 1 St Pennsylvania, Colonel James Miller. 

[Known as the Irish Brigade.] 

Brigadier-General THOMAS FRANCIS MEAGHER, Com- 

63d New York, Colonel JOHN BuRKE. 
69th New York, Colonel Robert Nugent. 
88th New York, Colonel Henry M. Baker. 


Brigadier-General WILLIAM H. FRENCH, Commanding. 

52d New York, Colonel Paul Frank. 
57th New York, Colonel Samuel K. Zook. 
66th New York, Colonel Joseph C. Pinckney. 
53d Pennsylvania, Colonel John R. Brooke. 


Captain GEORGE W. HAZZARD, Commanding. 

Battery B, ist New York, Captain Pettit. 

Battery G, 1st New York, Captain FRANK. 

Battery A, 2d Battalion New York, Captain HoGAN. 

Batteries A & C, 4th United States, Captain Hazzard. 

This division was, until the formation of the corps, 
commanded by General Sumner. During the winter it 
had been encamped in front of Fort Worth, touching the 
Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Camp California, 


where, through the long months of weary waiting in the 
mud, it had been put through a severe and unremitting 
course of drills, reviews, inspections, sham-fights, marches, 
tours of picket, and reviews. The commander was him- 
self of race-horse stock ; he ran until he dropped ; and 
he expected no less from every man of his raw troops. 
On the assignment of General Sumner to the command 
of the corps, Brigadier-General Israel B. Richardson 
succeeded to the command of this division. General 
Richardson, a native of Vermont, graduated from West 
Point in 1841, entering the army as Second Lieutenant 
in the Third Infantry. He greatly distinguished himself 
in every important battle of Scott's column, during the 
Mexican War, and was brevetted Captain and Major. 
In 185 1 he became Captain; and in 1855 retired from 
the army, taking up his residence in Michigan, where, on 
the outbreak of the war, he organized the second regi- 
ment of that State. He commanded a brigade at Bull 
Run, and was subsequently appointed a Brigadier-Gen- 
eral of Volunteers, to date from May 12, 1861. 

Of the brigade commanders of this division, two were 
destined to high commands : Howard, as commander of 
the Eleventh Corps and subsequently of the Army of the 
Tennessee in the West ; French, as commander of the 
Third Corps. Thomas Francis Meagher, the third of 
the brigade commanders of the division, was already fa- 
mous as one of the orators and leaders of the Irish rebel- 
lion of 1848. An exile from his native land, he had often 
delighted and aroused his countrymen in America by his 
romantic eloquence, and, on the outbreak of hostilities, 
had raised the so-called Irish Brigade, which was to re- 
main to the close of the war one of the most picturesque 
features of the Second Corps, whether in fight, on the 
march, or in camp. 


The division of Sedgwick comprised the brigades of 
Gorman, Burns, and Dana, which were constituted as 
follows : 

Brigadier-General WILLIS A. GORMAN, Commanding. 

1st Minnesota, Colonel Alfred Sully. 

15th Massachusetts, Colonel Charles Devens, Jr. 

34th New York, Colonel James A. Suiter. 

82d New York (2d New York State Militia), Colonel GEORGE W. 

B. Tompkins. 
1st Company Massachusetts (Andrew) Sharpshooters, attached to 

15th Massachusetts. 


Brigadier-General WILLIAM W. BURNS, Commanding. 

69th Pennsylvania, Colonel Joshua T. Owen. 
71st Pennsylvania, Colonel Isaac J. WiSTAR. 
72d Pennsylvania, Colonel D. W. C. Baxter. 
io6th Pennsylvania, Colonel T. G. MoREHEAD. 


Brigadier-General NAPOLEON J. T. DANA, Commanding. 

7th Michigan, Colonel Ira R. Grosvenor. 
19th Massachusetts, Colonel Edward W. Hinks. 
20th Massachusetts, Colonel William Raymond Lee. 
42d New York, Colonel E. C. Charles. 


Colonel C. H. TOMPKINS (ist Rhode Island), Commanding. 

Battery I, ist United States, Lieutenant E. KiRBY. 
Battery A, ist Rhode Island, Captain J. A. Tompkins. 
Battery B, ist Rhode Island, Captain Bartlett. 
Battery G, ist Rhode Island, Captain Owen. 

This division might not inappropriately be called the 
Ball's Bluff Division, most of the regiments having 


served under General Charles P. Stone on the Upper 
Potomac during the fall of 1861, several of them, espe- 
cially the Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, the 
Forty-Second New York, and the Seventy-First Penn- 
sylvania, participating with much loss of life, though not of 
honor, in the disastrous battle of Ball's Bluff, October 2 ist. 

During the winter of 1861-62 the three brigades com- 
posing this division were stationed along the Upper Po- 
tomac, extending from Point of Rocks, near Harper's 
Ferry, to Great Falls, with division headquarters at 
Poolesville. About March ist the division began to 
move, by brigades or regiments, up " The Valley " to- 
ward Berryville, where the division headquarters were 
at the date of the issue of the order for the formation of 
army corps. 

The commander of the division, Brigadier-General 
John Sedgwick, a native of Connecticut, was a graduate 
of West Point, entering the army in 1837, as Second 
Lieutenant of Artillery. He was successively brevetted 
Captain and Major for gallantry in Mexico ; and, at the 
outbreak of the war, held the commission of Lieutenant- 
Colonel of Cavalry. April 25th, he was made Colonel 
of Cavalry, and August 31st, was appointed Brigadier- 
General of Volunteers. 

The Second Brigade, under General Burns, was com- 
monly known as the Philadelphia Brigade." It had 
been raised early in 1861, by Colonel E. D. Baker, then 
United States Senator from Oregon, one of the regi- 
ments, the Seventy-first, being first known as the Cali- 
fornia Regiment, The Seventy-second had been origi- 
nally known as the Philadelphia Fire Zouaves. 

' The history of this brigade has been written by Colonel C. H. 
Banes, Assistant Adjutant-General of the command. 


Of the commanders of brigades, the highest in rank, 
General Gorman, had formerly been Colonel of the First 
Minnesota Regiment. The next in rank. General 
Burns, a graduate of West Point, had been, at the out- 
break of the war, a Commissary of Subsistence in the 
regular army, with the rank of Captain. The com- 
mander of the Third Brigade, General Dana, had suc- 
ceeded General Gorman in the command of the First 
Minnesota, and had, in February, 1862, been appointed 
a Brigadier-General of Volunteers, being succeeded in 
the colonelcy of his regiment by Alfred Sully, Major of 
the Eighth United States Infantry, who was also to be, 
in the September following, appointed Brigadier-General 
of Volunteers, making the third general ofificer gradu- 
ated from this splendid regiment. 

Such was the body of troops gathered together and 
named the Second Army Corps by the order of March 
13, 1862. 

It is not possible at this date to give their numbers 
with exactness, inasmuch as the first two " Monthly Re- 
turns " of the corps, those for April and for May, do not 
include the Irish Brigade or the artillery of Richardson's 
division. If we adopt the returns from that brigade for 
June as good for April, and duplicate the figures of 
Sedgwick's artillery to make up that of Richardson, we 
should have the following : 


Present for duty 7,076 

Present on extra or daily duty. 229 

Present, sick 680 

Present in arrest 25 

Total present 8,010 

Total absent 1.039 

Total present and absent. . . 9,049 























The foregoing figures, doubtless, afford a reasonably 
close approximation to the numbers of the new com- 
mand on the 13th of March, 1862. 

The commander selected for the Second Corps was 
Brigadier-General Edwin V. Sumner, a veteran officer 
of the regular army. A native of Boston, he had en- 
tered the army in 18 19, as Second Lieutenant in the 
Second Infantry, and served in the Black Hawk War. 
Upon the organization of the Second Dragoons, he was 
commissioned a Captain in that regiment ; was pro- 
moted Major in 1846, and in 1847 led the famous cav- 
alry charge at Cerro Gordo, where he was wounded and 
obtained the brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel. At Contre- 
ras and Cherubusco he won high honors, and at Molino 
del Rey commanded Scott's entire cavalry forces against 
the vast array of Mexican lancers, for which he was 
brevetted Colonel. In 1848 he became Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the First Dragoons, and in 1855 Colonel of 
the First Cavalry. Until the imminence of secession he 
remained upon the plains, commanding in Kansas during 
the border troubles, and conducting a successful cam- 
paign against the Cheyenne Indians. The distrust en- 
tertained by the Administration concerning the probable 
action of General Albert Sydney Johnston led to his 
being sent in 1861 to San Francisco to relieve that offi- 
cer in command on that coast, which General Sumner's 
unflinching loyalty and courage did much to hold true 
to the Union cause. 

It is an open secret that the commanders of the five 
army corps formed on the day of which we are writing 
were selected by the President, and not by the com- 
mander of the Army of the Potomac. Had General 
McClellan proceeded to effect the organization of his 
forces into army corps in the fall of 1861, he would 


doubtless have been able to do so without interference ; 
but the long winter of inaction had so far alienated the 
President and Congress, had created so many jealousies 
among the expectant ofificers of high rank, and had 
kept General McClellan so long upon the defensive, in 
explaining and justifying his position, that when the or- 
ganization of the army corps took place in March 
President Lincoln was able to impose his will upon the 
commander of the Army of the Potomac in the matter 
of the officers to be selected for these immensely respon- 
sible positions. Of these designations it may be said 
that General McClellan should have been allowed his 
own untrammelled choice in the matter. 

Nothing but mischief could rationally be expected 
from thus overriding the judgment and will of the com- 
mander of the army. If General McClellan was not fit 
to appoint the heads of his corps, he could not have been 
fit to command them when appointed. In fact, how- 
ever, the corps commanders ' were as a body most un- 
happily chosen. General McDowell was, indeed, an 
officer of great accomplishments; but he lay under the 
deep and deepening shadow of his Bull Run defeat, and 
to the end was pursued by a demon of ill-luck. The 
President's scheme to give him a chance to rehabilitate 
himself was kindly, but was not wise. That thing has 
often been attempted in the history of war, but has 
rarely, if ever, proved successful. Of Generals Heint- 
zelman and Keyes, the designated commanders of the 
Third and Fourth Corps, respectively, it is not necessary 
to speak. The unanimity of the consent with which 

' The 5th Corps was that of General Banks. This designation 
was afterward disregarded, and that number was assigned to the 
new corps of Porter. 


they were " shelved," after a short trial, affords a suffi- 
cient commentary upon their original selection. 

Of the commander of the new Second Corps, much 
may be said upon either side of the question whether, 
with his mental habits and at his advanced age, he 
should have been designated for the command of twen- 
ty thousand new troops in the field, against a resolute 
and tenacious enemy skilfully and audaciously led ; but 
every voice must award praise, and only praise, to his 
transcendent soldierly virtues. Jupiter, shining full, 
clear, and strong in the midnight heavens, might be the 
disembodied soul of Edwin V. Sumner. In honor, in 
courage, in disinterestedness, in patriotism, in magnan- 
imity, he shone resplendent. Meanness, falsehood, du- 
plicity were more hateful than death to the simple- 
hearted soldier who had put himself, sword in hand, at 
the head of the divisions of Richardson and Sedgwick. 

The history of the Second Corps cannot be written 
without full and explicit recognition of the influence 
which its first commander exerted, especially upon the 
younger officers and soldiers of the corps, in that highly 
plastic state of mind which belonged to the early months 
of the war. It is difficult at this time, it was difficult 
even in 1865, to go back to the sentiments and feelings 
which moved the citizen soldiery of 1861-62, fresh from 
their homes, before custom had staled the ideas of pa- 
triotic sacrifice and martial glory; before long delays 
and frequent disappointments had robbed war of its 
romance, and a score of melancholy failures had stained 
our banners with something like disgrace ; before the 
curse of conscription had come to make the uniform a 
thing of doubtful honor, and to substitute the " bounty 
jumper" for the generous volunteer; while yet all the 
soldiers in the field were those who sprang to arms in 


that great uprising of a free people. Yet none who re- 
member the first winter camps of the Army of the Po- 
tomac can have wholly forgotten the high resolve, the 
fervid enthusiasm, the intense susceptibility to patriotic 
appeals, the glad and joyous confidence in the speedy 
success of the Union cause, which animated ofificers and 
men, and which, seeking some embodied object, created 
that ideal of their first leader which defeat and disgrace 
could not shatter, and which time and distance have 
hardly yet dimmed to the sight of the men of 1861-62. 
A state of feeling like this is a source of tremendous 
power. Such Hoche found it in 1793; such Napoleon 
found it, when he commanded the army of Italy ; such 
McClellan found it in the Army of the Potomac. 
Doubtless, discipline and experience of war, even through 
disaster and humiliation, brought a compensation for the 
loss of this early spirit ; doubtless, the First Minnesota, 
the Fifth New Hampshire, the Seventh Michigan, the 
Twentieth INIassachusetts, the Fifty-third Pennsylvania, 
the Sixty-first New York were better regiments; doubt- 
less, they would have been better regiments, however 
handled, in 1863 than in 1861 ; yet not the less was the 
spirit of the earlier time a thing beautiful and precious. 

Upon a body of citizen soldiers, in the first flush of 
martial enthusiasm, a commander so chivalrous in feel- 
ing, so heroic in bearing, as Sumner could not fail to 
produce a profound and lasting impression. Frank Bart- 
lett w^as a captain at the time of which we are writing ; 
Nelson Miles, only a lieutenant of the line ; and from 
every camp a host of young fellows looked up, in almost 
child-like readiness to follow, quickness to learn, eager- 
ness to imitate, as their appointed leaders swept by in 
all the pomp of war. If the Second Corps had a touch 
above the common ; if in the terrible ordeals of flame 


and death through which, in three years of almost con- 
tinuous fighting, they were called to pass these two 
divisions showed a courage and tenacity that made them 
observed among the bravest ; if they learned to drop 
their thousands upon the field as often as they were 
summoned to the conflict, but on no account to leave a 
color in the hands of the enemy, it was very largely 
through the inspiration derived from the gallant old 
chieftain who first organized them and led them into 
battle. It is easy to criticise Sumner's dispositions at An- 
tietam — the dangerous massing of Sedgwick's brigades, 
the exposure of the flank of the charging column, the 
failure of the commander to supervise and direct, from 
some central point, all the operations of the corps; yet 
no one who saw him there, hat in hand, his white 
hair streaming in the wind, riding abreast of the field 
officers of the foremost line, close up against the rocky 
ledges bursting with the deadly flame of Jackson's vol- 
leys, could ever fail thereafter to understand the furi- 
ous thrust with which a column of the Second Corps 
always struck the enemy, or the splendid intrepidity 
with which its brigade and division commanders were 
wont to ride through the thickest of the fight as calmly 
as on parade. 

The corps staff consisted of Captain J. H. Taylor, Sixth 
United States Cavalry, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen- 
eral ; Captain F. N. Clarke, Chief of Artillery ; Lieuten- 
ants L. Kip, A. H. Cushing, and S. S. Sumner, Aides-de- 
Camp ; Surgeon J. F. Hammond, Medical Director. 



The command to move to the Peninsula of Virginia, 
to open the campaign of 1862, found the two divisions of 
the Second Corps widely separated. Few men in either 
division had ever seen so much as a regiment of the other. 
Into what an intimacy, extending through more than 
three years of indescribable exertions, hardships, and dan- 
gers, were they to be thrown, by their casual selection 
as the two wings of the same army corps ! 

Sumner's old division, now commanded by Richardson, 
was in the advance of the army on the direct route to 
Richmond, French's brigade lying at Manassas, with 
Howard and Meagher within supporting distance along 
the Bull Run. Sedgwick's division extended up the 
Valley of Virginia from Charlestown to Berryville. Yet, 
though Sedgwick was the furthest removed, he was the 
first to reach the new field of operations. His brigades, 
returning to Point of Rocks, there took cars for Wash- 
ington, where, after a pause of two days, they were em- 
barked for Fort Monroe. . The troops of the Army of the 
Potomac, as they arrived, were held as near as convenient 
to Old Point Comfort, in order to keep the enemy in 
doubt whether the movement was to be against Rich- 
mond or against Norfolk. 

On April 4th, however, Richardson not having reached 
the Peninsula, Sedgwick's division moved, under the 
orders of General Heintzelman, the commander of the 




Third Corps, proceeding by the New Market Bridge, 
taking the direct road to Big Bethel, and bivouacking 
for the night at Howard's Bridge. Early on the morning 
of the 5th, the division was again put in motion up the 
Yorktown Road, the order of the day stating that this 
division would, for the present, act with the reserve, and 
receive orders from headquarters. Not even when the 
army sat down before Yorktown had Richardson's troops 
come up. 

On the right of the line, Heintzelman, with the Third 
Corps, confronted Yorktown ; on the left, Keyes, with the 
Fourth Corps, held the line of the lower Warwick, while 
the one present division of the Second Corps occupied the 
centre, connecting with Hamilton of the Third and Smith 
of the Fourth. Sumner was compensated for the loss 
of two-thirds his original force (Blenker being detached, 
and Richardson not coming up until April i6th) by an 
assignment, April 6th, to the command of the entire left, 
including Sedgwick and the three divisions of the Fourth 
Corps. " Throughout the preparations for and during 
the siege of Yorktown," says McClellan, in his official re- 
port, " I kept the corps under General Keyes, and after- 
ward the left wing under General Sumner, engaged in 
ascertaining the character of the obstacles presented by 
the Warwick, and the enemy entrenched on the right 
bank, with the intention, if possible, of overcoming them 
and breaking that line of defence, so as to gain possession 
of the road to Williamsburg and cut off Yorktown from 
its supports and supplies." This intention was not des- 
tined to be realized. The work of Sumner and Keyes 
on the left ' proved as futile as that of Heintzelman at the 

'On April i6th, Brooks' (Vermont) brigade of Smith's division, 
then of the Fourth, afterward of the Sixth, Corps, crossed the 


Other end of the line. Just before the date fixed for the 
bombardment and assault of Yorktovvn, the enemy, hav- 
ing gained a precious month, evacuated their works. The 
morning of May 4th found their lines deserted, and 
Stoneman's cavalry, with Smith's infantry division of the 
Fourth Corps following, with other troops at greater in- 
tervals, was pushed forward in pursuit. On May 5th, at 
Williamsburg, twelve miles from Yorktown, was fought 
the first considerable action of the Army of the Potomac. 
Although not a regiment of the Second Corps fought 
at Williamsburg, this battle is not without importance 
in the history of that corps, from the fact that three of 
the five officers who commanded it, during its history, 
were prominently engaged therein. Sumner, the then 
commander of the corps, was, on May 4th, placed in 
command of the troops, of all arms, of all the corps hast- 
ening to intercept the Confederate retreat ; and it was 
under his direction that the battle of the 5th was fought ; 
Couch, who was destined to succeed Sumner in the 
command of the corps, was seriously though not des- 
perately engaged, with one-half of his own division of 
the Fourth Corps, in support of Hooker, in the imme- 
diate front of the main Confederate work, Fort Ma- 
gruder ; while, on the extreme right, Hancock, who in 
turn was destined to succeed Couch, crossing Cub Dam 

Warwick and had a very spirited encounter with the enemy. 
Sedgwick's division was not engaged, nor had it any other duty, be- 
yond the routine of the camp, during these days than that of pick- 
eting in front of the enemy. In this service, however, was sus- 
tained a loss worthy of notice, in the severe wounding of a captain 
of the Twentieth Massachusetts, afterward to become, as Colonel 
and as General William Francis Bartlett, one of the best known 
soldiers of the war, distinguished alike for his peerless gallantry 
and for the number and severity of his wounds. 


Creek with five regiments of Smith's division, encoun- 
tered Early's brigade in an action which remained, to 
the end of the war, one of the prettiest fights on record. 
Awaiting the attack of the enemy with perfect compos- 
ure, until they had approached to within thirty yards, 
Hancock led his line forward in a charge which broke 
Early's brigade, and drove it back in confusion, with the 
loss of one hundred and sixty prisoners and one color. 
Hancock's enterprise, however, had little effect upon the 
general fortunes of the day, inasmuch as, without sup- 
ports, it would have been manifest folly for him to vent- 
ure farther into the enemy's rear; and he was according- 
ly obliged to content himself with the ground he had 
gained and with the brilliant repulse of the force sent to 
drive him away. And so, after ten or eleven hours of 
desultory and purposeless fighting, night fell upon the 
field of Williamsburg, and under cover of darkness the 
Confederate rearguard continued its interrupted retreat 
up the Peninsula. The divisions of Richardson and 
Sedgwick, which had, late in the afternoon of the 5th, 
been ordered by General McClellan toward Williams- 
burg, upon the receipt of news that Hooker's division 
was being roughly handled, were directed to return to 
Yorktown, thence to proceed by water to West Point, 
upon the Pamunkey.' This second movement to inter- 
cept Lee's retreat having failed, the several corps pro- 
ceeded for the rest of their journey more leisurely, until 
they reached the line of the Chickahominy, the destined 
scene of so many bloody battles, in which the prestige 
and the high hopes of the Army of the Potomac were to 

' Dana's brigade of Sedgwick's division arrived at West Point in 
season to support Franklin in his engagement with Whiting's 
Confederate division, near that point, on May 7th, but was not it- 
self engaged. 


be crushed by the swiftly dealt blows of a vigilant, dar- 
ing, and powerful enemy, to whom every avenue of effec- 
tive assault had been opened by the mischievous med- 
dling of the Government at Washington. 

During this march two new corps were added to the 
roll of the army, not by the much-needed reinforcement 
of its numbers, but by the partition of existing corps. 
The Fifth Corps, under General Fitz John Porter, was 
formed out of the division of Sykes, which contained the 
" regular " infantry, together with the division formerly 
commanded by Porter himself, and the reserve artillery 
of the Army of the Potomac. The Sixth Corps, com- 
manded by General William B. Franklin, comprised his 
own former division, together with that of Smith, de- 
tached from the Fourth Corps. Thus, the Third and 
Fourth Corps were reduced to two divisions each, as 
the Second Corps had, at an earlier date, been through 
the detachment of Blenker. The ten infantry divisions 
of the Army of the Potomac were now organized into 
five corps, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, 
the First Corps, McDowell, being held in front of Wash- 

In the first instance the two new corps were apologeti- 
cally called " Provisional Corps ; " but all occasion for 
apology soon disappeared. After Gaines' Mill, Savage 
Station, Glendale, and Malvern, the "provisional" char- 
acter of these two gallant bodies of troops was forgotten ; 
and they took their place high up on the roll of the no- 
blest and the bravest of the defenders of the Union, retain- 
ing their corps existence unbroken until the conclusion of 
peace, surviving every one of those earlier formed except 
that whose history we are here writing, between which 
and one of the new organizations, the heroic, great- 
hearted Sixth, was to grow up a brotherhood in arms, 


a spirit of mutual affection and confidence, largely, no 
doubt, the result, especially at the beginning, of fortuitous 
circumstances, but also, as the soldiers of either corps 
were glad to believe, the proper effect, in no small part, 
of moral sympathy and similarity of character. Tried to- 
gether on a score of fields, the Second and the Sixth 
were like brothers in fight. Side by side they loved to 
meet the enemy ; neither had any fear for its flank, as 
long as the other was there ; or, if the fight had been 
long and desperate, if straggling men began to go back 
from the front with significant frequency, if here and 
there a shattered regiment fell out, and a something like 
an actual weight kept forcing back the line step by step, 
while the shriller and louder yells of the foe told that 
they felt the inspiration of coming victory, then did the 
men of the Second rejoice to hear the word passed along 
that the Sixth Corps was coming up behind. Well they 
knew the stuff out of which its regiments were made ; 
well they knew the men who rode serene and strong at 
the head of its divisions and brigades ! 

During the march up the Peninsula, the corps sus- 
tained a great loss in the promotion of Colonel Charles 
Devens, Jr., to be Brigadier-General of Volunteers. Col- 
onel Devens had greatly distinguished himself in the 
disastrous battle of Ball's Bluff, and was destined, after 
leaving the Second Corps, to win high honors as com- 
mander, successively of divisions in the Eleventh and 
Eighteenth Corps, and later still, in civil life, as Attorney- 
General of the United States, and Justice of the Su- 
preme Court of Massachusetts. 

Sixteen days after Williamsburg, viz., on May 21st, 
the positions of the troops of the Army of the Potomac 
were as follows : Stoneman's advance guard lay one mile 
from New Bridge on the Chickahominy ; Franklin's 


corps was three miles from New Bridge, with Porter's in 
rear, those troops constituting the right of the army; 
Sumner's corps, the centre, lay on the railroad about three 
miles from the Chickahominy ; while the Fourth and 
Third Corps under Keyes and Heintzelman, forming the 
Union left, were on the New Kent Road, Keyes in front 
near Bottom's Bridge. 

While in these camps, two important changes occurred 
in the personnel of the corps ; Lieutenant-Colonel Tracey 
M. Winans, Seventh Michigan, resigned May 21st, and 
Colonel George W. B. Tompkins, Eighty-second New 
York, was discharged May 26th. The latter was suc- 
ceeded by Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Hudson. 

A few days later the left of our army had crossed the 
Chickahominy, which flows from northwest to southeast 
across the great plain east and southeast of Richmond, 
and had found its way up the Williamsburg stage road 
and the railroad to within six or seven miles of the Con- 
federate capital, Keyes in front at Seven Pines and Fair 
Oaks, with Heintzelman behind, though scarcely at close 
supporting distance. The centre and right of the army, 
comprising the strength of three corps, still lay behind 
the Chickahominy, extending in the order of Sumner, 
Franklin, and Porter to Beaver Dam Creek.' 

The obvious criticism upon the position in which the 
Army of the Potomac was thus placed, out of which 
sprang the battle of Fair Oaks, is that, until the commu- 
nications across the Chickahominy had been made com- 
plete, rapid, and safe, it was the larger and not the smaller 
half which should have been exposed to the enemy's at- 
tack upon the Richmond side of the river. As it would 
be at any time in the Confederate commander's power, by 

'See map facing page 13. 


the movements of a single night and forenoon, to concen- 
trate six-sevenths of his army against the force on the 
WilHamsburg stage road, that force should have been, not 
two-fifths only, as in fact, but at least three-fifths, of Mc- 
Clellan's army. In other words, Sumner's corps, the cen- 
tre, should have been at the outset posted upon the right 
bank of the Chickahominy, to protect the flank of Keycs' 
corps or to support his line of battle. Our own right, 
consisting of the corps of Franklin and Porter, with the 
reserve artillery, was in no possible danger of an irruption 
from the enemy's lines. It could only be attacked by a 
movement around its flank, such as actually took place, 
June 25th to 27th, of which, however, abundant notice 
would necessarily have been given, such a movement 
fairly requiring a two days' march ; whereas an over- 
whelming force might, with scarcely an hour's notice, be 
poured against the two corps on the Williamsburg Road. 
Serious as was the altogether unnecessary danger to 
which the left was thus exposed, with the army astrad- 
dle of the river, its weaker half on the enemy's side, the 
situation became alarming when a heavy storm, on the 
night of the 30th of May, set the treacherous Chicka- 
hominy to rising fast and furiously. Aside from Bot- 
tom's Bridge and the railroad bridge, both behind our 
left wing, there were but two bridges over the river, both 
on the front of Sumner, the Union centre. No bridges 
had yet been constructed for the crossing of the right 
column, although the materials for three bridges were on 
hand. The necessity for the advance of Sumner, which 
was pressing on the 30th, became urgent the moment 
the storm and the rising river threatened the frail ex- 
temporized bridges, by which alone he could cross to 
the support of Kcyes, Yet the long hours of the morn- 
ing of Saturday, the 31st of May, wore away without any 


attention, at army headquarters, to the critical situa- 
tion of the left. Sumner's men were not ordered to 
cross, or even called to arms, until the thunders of the 
artillery announced that the Confederate assault had 
fallen upon Keyes' corps. 

The Confederate commander's plan of action was as 
follows : General Huger was to move on the Charles 
City Road, well down upon the Union left flank, then 
to emerge from the White Oak Swamp, crush our left 
and penetrate into our rear, cutting us off from Bottom's 
Bridge. Generals D. H. Hill and Longstreet, consti- 
tuting the Confederate centre, were to attack directly 
down the Williamsburg Road; while General G. W. 
Smith, commanding the Confederate left wing, was to 
pass beyond the right of Keyes, ready to support Long- 
street's attack, if needed, or to push toward the river, to 
prevent Sumner's crossing and to cut off the retreat of 
the Union forces if attempted in that direction. The 
force thus assigned to the attack comprised not less than 
twenty-three of the twenty-seven infantry brigades of 
Johnston. Fortunately for the Union forces. General 
Huger did not come to time, and the attack upon our 
left was never delivered ; but precisely at one o'clock, 
Hill and Longstreet, after waiting more than two hours 
for the signal of Huger's readiness, burst upon Casey's 
slender line, in its half-constructed entrenchments, with 
a fury new to war. Soon two of Couch's brigades were 
caught in the tornado. Backward, steadily backward, 
the Fourth Corps was pressed by an irresistible force. 
Again and again the broken brigades were reformed 
along the Williamsburg Road, at times not two hundred 
yards from where they had made their last stand. 
Here fragments of regiments and even brave individ- 
uals, rallying at the commands and entreaties of a knot 

-vJ^-"' ' T<i 


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of general and staff oflficers, would form a feeble line, 
make a new stand, to be in time outflanked or fairly- 
pushed off the ground by weight of numbers. 

But where was Heintzelman ? As the ranking officer 
on the right bank of the Chickahominy, he was in com- 
mand of both the Third and the Fourth Corps. Of one 
of his divisions, Kearney's, two brigades, Birney's and 
Berry's, were in front of Savage Station, three miles in 
rear of Casey's advanced position ; the other division, 
Hooker's, and Jameson's brigade of Kearney's, were near 
Bottom's Bridge or on the borders of White Oak Swamp, 
far to the rear and left. Kearney's two brigades, however, 
were near enough to be looked for early upon the line of 
battle ; but from some unexplained cause, it was not, as 
General McClellan states, "until nearly three o'clock" 
that orders were sent him to move to the front. Birney's 
brigade moved along the railroad, which brought it up on 
the right of Keyes' line. Berry's regiments were the next 
to arrive, and, moving out to the extreme left of the 
struggling line, vigorously attacked the enemy, but were, 
by the arrival of successive reinforcements on the Con- 
federate side, finally driven off eccentrically to the left 
and rear, whence they were compelled to make a detour 
to rejoin their comrades after dark. The last brigade to 
arrive was Jameson's, which had been far to the rear, 
near Bottom's Bridge, at the opening of the action. Two 
of Jameson's regiments were sent to the right and two to 
the left, as the exigencies of the battle required. All of 
Kearney's men who became engaged fought heroically, 
and, with the remnants of Casey's division, and with 
Couch's two brigades, contested the ground adown the 
Williamsburg Road, foot by foot, and at last brought the 
Confederates to a stand before the entrenchments con- 
structed by Couch on the 27th and 28th, at Allen's 


Farm, in front of Savage Station. The existence of this 
rear line of works proved, in this emergency, of price- 
less value to our beaten troops, though Couch had had 
some difficulty in securing the assent of the corps com- 
mander to its construction. Night was fast coming on ; 
the enemy had lost much of their own impetus in the 
successive encounters of the afternoon ; their casualties 
in killed and wounded had been enormous ; their strag- 
glers had gone to the rear, like ours, by thousands ; and 
they were, perhaps, glad enough to pause and content 
themselves with their trophies in prisoners and colors, 
and the guns captured on Casey's line. 

So much for the assault of D. H. Hill and Longstreet. 
But what of G. W. Smith ? It is with this column we 
are here chiefly concerned. We have seen that to Smith 
was assigned the duty of supporting Longstreet 's left if 
needed ; and, in the case of the success of the attack in 
front, of moving around the Union right, to cut it off 
from the river and to prevent Sumner from advancing 
to the rescue. Smith would seem to have been in posi- 
tion promptly enough, for General Johnston, the Con- 
federate commander-in-chief, was with this column in 
person and gives Smith high praise ; yet, for nearly three 
hours after Hill and Longstreet began their work. Smith 
made no movement. General Johnston gives the reason 
that, " owing to some peculiar condition of the atmos- 
phere, the sound of the musketry did not reach us." 
The day was still enough, and Generals Johnston and 
Smith could not have been three miles from the field 
where thirty thousand men were engaged in fierce com- 
bat. It is true that thick woods intervened, yet this 
quenching of sound, at so short a distance, seems very 
strange. Sumner had heard the noise of the battle, and 
was already hastening to the field, starting not later 


than half past two o'clock, while Johnston did not give 
Smith the order to go in until an hour and a half later. 
About four o'clock, then, the order was given for Smith 
to advance.' General Couch, who, with his division (the 
First of the Fourth Corps), had, at the beginning of the 
action, occupied a line which was in general in rear of 
and in support of Casey's division, had his right extended 
farther than Casey's, to hold Fair Oaks Station with 
two regiments, the Sixty-fifth New York and Eighty- 
second Pennsylvania, with Brady's Pennsylvania Battery, 
under General Abercrombie. Abercrombie's force was 
in echelon on Casey's right, occupying a position which 
G. W. Smith's orders might require him to pass. Just 
prior to the Confederate advance. General Couch pro- 
ceeded in person to the Fair Oaks Station, where he was 
joined by Russell's Seventh Massachusetts and Riker's 
Sixty-second New York, raising the force at the Station 
to four regiments and a battery. 

The Confederate General Hood now crossing the Nine 
Mile Road cut Couch completely off from the troops at 
Seven Pines. At the same time another column was 
seen moving around to the right of Fair Oaks, threaten- 
ing to envelop Couch's little command. Thus menaced, 
there was no choice left Couch but retreat to the Adams 
House, about eight hundred yards from the Fair Oaks 

' Johnston's report says that Longstreet, after waituig long for 
Huger, determined at 2 P.M. to attack independently. " He ac- 
cordingly commenced his attack at that hour, opening the engage- 
ment with artillery and skirmishers. By three o'clock it became 
close and heavy." The fact is, Hill and Longstreet's attack was 
in full blast by one o'clock by Union watches. On this point the 
writer can testify from positive knowledge. Johnston says he de- 
ferred the order for Smith's advance " until about four o'clock." 
G. W. Smith says, "Between four and five o'clock heavy mus- 
ketry was distinctly heard," etc. 


Station, where he determined to await the appearance of 
the enemy in his front ; the appearance of Sumner from 
the river in the rear. It was, indeed, a critical position. 
For Couch to save himself was easy enough ; he could 
fall back along the road to Grapevine Bridge with his 
four regiments and four guns quite as fast as the enemy 
could follow, but this would be to leave open to Smith's 
attack the flank of the force now slowly contesting the 
advance of Hill and Longstreet.' This Couch, knowing 
well how desperate was the contest adown the Williams- 
burg Road, from which he had but recently come, re- 
solved not to do ; and, having fallen back to the Adams 
House as narrated, he determined to retire no farther, 
but here to await his fate. Had Smith been ten min- 
utes earlier, and Sumner ten minutes later, it is dif^cult 
to say what might have happened to the brigade which 
stood there at bay. Once engaged with superior force, 

' That Couch's withdrawal from Fair Oaks Station, while it saved 
his own command from immediate destruction, did not in the sequel 
really uncover the flank of the troops on the Williamsburg Road, 
is shown by G. W. Smith's report, in which he says that he was 
proceeding toward that road, but was obliged to face about and at- 
tack batteries supported by infantry, which Whiting's and his other 
troops found upon their left and rear, and whose fire was becoming 
troublesome. He says: "It was confidently believed that we 
should soon capture or drive off the batteries and resume our march 
in support of Longstreet." In a word. Couch had withdrawn him- 
self just far enough to be at the most effective distance, in echelon 
on the right of the Union line ; so near that Smith could not safely 
pass across his front to attack Keyes' and Heintzelman's troops on 
the Williamsburg -Road, yet so far retired as to cause the enemy 
to lose a great deal of time in making deployments and disposi- 
tions to attack him, and requiring Smith to detach for that pur- 
pose twice as many troops as would have been needed to com- 
pletely run down and destroy Couch's four regiments, had they 
remained at Fair Oaks Station. 


it would no longer be in the power of their commander 
to withdraw them from action ; and in front and on the 
right the enemy was fast gathering in threatening masses. 
So this little command, thrown eccentrically to the right 
and rear from the main body, held its place, looking back- 
ward to the woods to catch the gleam of Sumner's bayo- 
nets, looking forward to the foe. Yet even now Couch 
held his troops in column of regiments, not knowing 
whether the exigencies of the next half hour might re- 
quire him to give battle to the front against troops com- 
ing down from the railroad, or to the right against a 
turning column plainly to be seen in that direction, or 
in some emergency to face to the left and try to cut his 
way through to rejoin Keyes and Heintzelman. 

Let us see where Sumner was, and what he had been 
doing. The condition of the atmosphere was not so pe- 
culiar that day but that the sound of battle was borne 
straight to the ears of the old soldier whose command 
lay nearest to the imperilled left. That sound went 
straight from his ears to his heart. Anxious about the 
left, anxious about his swaying bridges, Sumner was at 
once in the saddle and summoned his troops to arms. A 
little later word came from the headquarters of the army 
that the Second Corps should be prepared to march at a 
moment's notice. The troops were at once drawn out of 
camp and moved toward the Chickahominy. Too strict 
a disciplinarian to actually begin the crossing of the river, 
Sumner led his divisions down to the very verge of the 
stream, until the heads of column rested on their respec- 
tive bridges. Here he paused, awaiting the order to 

Both bridges over the raging and fast-rising torrent 
were in a terrible condition. The long corduroy ap- 
proaches through the swamp had been uplifted from the 


mud, and now floated loosely on the shallow water. 
The condition of that part of the bridges which crossed 
the channel of the river it was impossible to ascertain, 
except tjy actual trial ; but its timbers could be seen ris- 
ing and falling, and swaying to and fro, under the im- 
pulses of the swollen floods. At half past two the order 
came, and each division tried to pass over its bridge, 
Richardson below, Sedgwick above, at the so-called 
Grapevine Bridge, but with different results. Rich- 
ardson's bridge, which would have been practicable in 
the morning, had now so nearly given away that when 
French's brigade only had crossed it became impassable. 
Sedgwick's division had better luck, though even Sum- 
ner's stout heart failed, for the time, as the bridge 
swayed and tossed in the river. But the solid column 
of infantry, loading it with a weight with which even the 
angry Chickahominy could not trifle, soon pressed and 
held it down among the stumps of the trees, which in 
turn prevented its lateral motion. And as Sedgwick's 
rear passed over, the remaining brigades of Richard- 
son's column, coming up from below, entered upon the 
bridge; and so the Second Corps crossed the Chicka- 
hominy to the rescue of the broken left wing by a single 
submerged bridge, which held together just long en6ugh 
to allow their passage. 

Even so, Sumner could not get his artillery through. 
The approaches to the bridge, on the Richmond side, 
were in such a wretched condition that guns and caissons 
were stalled in the mud. Only one artillery officer, the 
gallant Kirby, was able to push his battery — I, of the 
First, the well-known Rickett's Battery of the old army — ■ 
up to the plain which rises far enough above the bed of 
the river not to have been affected by the flood. After 
all that skilled drivers and perfectly trained horses could 


do, it would have been impossible to get even Kirby's 
guns forward, had they not been almost carried by main 
force of human muscle applied by details from the in- 
fantry. The other batteries still lay stuck in the mud — 
that Virginia mud which every soldier of the Army of 
Potomac remembers so well. 

And now the cry is Forward ! Sedgwick's division is 
fairly across the treacherous river, and turning without a 
guide it takes the road that leads most directly toward 
the thunders of the cannonade and the roar of musketry 
along the Williamsburg Road. There was enough in 
that sound to stir the blood of the true soldier. Every 
man in the ranks understood that the whole fury of the 
most powerful assault which Johnston could deliver had 
fallen, and was still falling, on the imperilled left. Step 
out, men of the First jNIinnesota ! Swing your long 
Western ' legs to their full compass every time ! You are 
setting the pace for the whole rescuing column. Your 
comrades of the Third and Fourth Corps are turning 
bloodshot eyes adown the road to " Sumner's Bridge," 
awaiting the gleam of your bayonets. 

Well did the First Minnesota take and hold their pace 
that da}^ ! and as some turn of the road or some clear- 
ing on the left brought the sound of battle in vehement 
bursts nearer and clearer to their ears, each man clutched 
his musket tighter and hurried faster along the way to 
Fair Oaks. 

The end comes at last. As the head of column 

' It was a good thing or a bad thing to have a Western regiment 
at the head of the cohimn, according as there was especial need 
of haste or not. The writer well remembers the trouble he has 
had to keep the stride of Carroll's men from Ohio and Indiana 
down to something less than forty inches, when they chanced to 
lead the march on a hot dav. 


emerges from a belt of timber, a low ridge appears in 
front crossing the road at nearly right angles, upon which 
are massed Couch's four regiments with Brady's battery. 
Doubtless the men of Ball's Bluff who were in the ad- 
vance had expected to come upon volleying lines reeling 
under the shock of furious charges, half hidden by the 
sulphurous clouds of battle. But, lo ! all before is calm 
and serene. Are these the men to whose rescue we have 
been rushing in furious haste, not even as yet deployed 
in line of battle ; not a puff of smoke visible ; not even 
a cannon-shot hurtling over their ranks ? But Sully's 
men have short time for speculation regarding the posi- 
tion. The moment Couch sees the advance of Sumner's 
column, he begins the deployment of his own troops, 
while one of his staff ofificers, galloping to the head of 
Sedgwick's division, detaches the First Minnesota and 
leads it to the right to the Courtney House,' where Sully 
has been ordered to take position. And not a moment 
too soon, for as the young staff ofificer is giving that grim 
veteran of the regular army some advice as to the dispo- 
sition of his force, which is received with outward cour- 
tesy and probably with inward amusement, a crowded 
column in gray bulges out of the woods close in front. 
Have you noticed the instinctive recoil Avhich always at- 
tends the first emerging from the shade of the forest into 
the broad glare of day ? So this column, the advance 
of G. W. Smith, for the instant recoiled, and as its 
leading ofificers perceived Sully's men in front, it fell 
back into the woods to form under cover for the coming 

Meanwhile, at the Adams House, Kirby, with his 

' I call this the Courtney House. It was so called at the time. It 
is, however, not the house given as Robert Courtney's on the en- 
gineer map. 


gleaming Napoleons, dashes up on the right of the two 
Parrotts of Brady's battery, commanded by Lieutenant 
Fagan ; three of Couch's regiments — the Sixty-second 
New York (Anderson's Zouaves), Colonel Riker, the 
Eighty-second (formerly Thirty-first) Pennsylvania, Colo- 
nel Williams, and the Sixty-fifth New York (First 
United States Chasseurs), Colonel Cochrane — move to- 
ward the right and connect with Sully, while the space 
on the left of the road is rapidly occupied by the eager 
troops of Gorman. Up comes the Fifteenth Massachu- 
setts, under the gallant Kimball, and with a cheer forms 
in support of the guns that point up the Fair Oaks Road ; 
the Thirty-fourth New York, under Suiter, and the 
Eighty-second, under Hudson, are quickly in place on 
the left — -and we are ready. 

But not a moment too soon ; for out of the woods in 
front that hide the railroad from view emerges a heavy 
body of enemy. It is the brigade of Whiting, which can- 
not pass to attack Keyes' troops along the Williamsburg 
Road until this threatening force upon its left flank shall 
be driven off. Between Whiting on the Confederate 
right, and Hampton on the Confederate left, Pettigrew's 
brigade is filling the woods in our front. Hatton is fast 
coming up behind to support Hampton, Hood, cross- 
ing the Nine Mile Road, has halted to be in readiness to 
support Whiting. It is too late ; half an hour ago this 
would have done very well ; but Sedgwick is up now, 
and the men of the Ball's Bluff division are panting 
with the ardor of battle. Something more than one 
slim brigade now holds the road to Grapevine Bridge. 
The toll is raised. It will cost Smith more than he has 
to get through. 

There is no delay in setting to work. Scarcely have 
four regiments of Sedgwick's taken post with Couch's 


four when the storm bursts. Over against one-half our 
front, opposite our left, the ground is open nearly to the 
railroad, which we left an hour ago. Here are two guns 
of Brady's battery, under Lieutenant Fagan, with three 
guns of Kirby's, all that have as yet come upon the 
ground, ready to sweep the open field with their fire, or 
to turn to their right and shell the woods in which the 
enemy are massing. Behind the left of the artillery lies 
the Fifteenth Massachusetts. Behind the right of the 
battery lie Riker's Sixty-second New York and Russell's 
Seventh Massachusetts. On the left of the artillery are 
the Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New York ; on 
the right, extending along the inner edge of a dense 
woods, forming the centre of our position, lie Williams' 
Eighty-second Pennsylvania and Cochrane's Sixty-fifth 
New York, both of Couch's division, stretching along the 
edge of the tangled woods. They have thrown down 
a rail fence and piled the rails for cover. It is not high, 
but it will do. Against that feeble breastwork is to be 
delivered a most desperate and persistent charge. Be- 
yond the Sixty-fifth New York the right of our line is 
formed again in the open ground, about the Courtney 
House, by the First Minnesota, to the support of which 
Burns' Pennsylvanians are fast coming up. But for these 
the enemy are not disposed to wait. 

The attack at first took two forms : one, the most con- 
tinuous and persistent, that of seeking to pierce our 
centre by breaking out from the woods over the line of 
Williams and Cochrane ; another, intermittent and spas- 
modic, that of rushing out from the woods, dashing 
across the Fair Oaks Road, swinging around to the right 
and charging up against Kirby's and Fagan 's guns. Later, 
the enemy made efforts to carry the position in the open 
ground on our right, about the Courtney House, which 


was held by Sully, to whom two of Brady's guns were 
sent, and who was supported by the Sixty-ninth and 
Seventy-first Pennsylvania, of Burns' brigade, though 
those regiments were not engaged. The extent from 
our left around the Adams House to our right around 
the Courtney House was four to five hundred yards. 

With this description of the ground and anticipation 
of the three phases of the fight, let us return to the mo- 
ment when the ball was opened by Kirby's right piece. 
One of the Confederate brigades, coming across the rail- 
road, had been permitted to form line of battle in the 
open facing the Adams House, under the impression 
that they were some of Heintzelman's troops which had 
turned back from the railroad upon finding Fair Oaks 
Station occupied by the enemy. As soon as this im- 
pression had been corrected, through close personal in- 
spection by an officer of General Couch's staff, Kirby 
opened fire, whereupon that brigade moved rapidly off 
by its left and sought refuge in the woods, while Hamp- 
ton, already in position, pushed his brigade forward 
close up to the line held by the Eighty-second Pennsyl- 
vania and Sixty-fifth New York, with the purpose of 
breaking out on Kirby's right and taking his guns in 
flank. Hampton, however, was here met by a fearful 
fire from the two regiments which lay behind the pile of 
fence-rails along the inner edge of the woods. In this 
desperate assault, which was continued with only slight 
intervals for an hour and a half, Hampton was soon 
joined by Pettigrew, while Hatton came in, as soon as 
he could be brought up, to reinforce the attack at that 
point and to assail Sully across the open ground at the 
Courtney House. Whiting's own brigade closed in to the 
support of Hampton, Pettigrew and Hatton losing heav- 
ily. Hood remained farther back, near the railroad. 


The advance of the enemy was made, through the 
dense and tangled woods, with the utmost courage and 
resolution. Williams' and Cochrane's men held their fire 
until the advancing line was within twenty yards, when 
they opened with a volley which threw the enemy back, 
leaving a windrow of dead and wounded men to mark 
the line of their farthest advance. Meanwhile, Kirby, 
with his three Napoleons, and Fagan, with his two Par- 
rotts, had not ceased, from the moment they first opened, 
to pour their shot right oblique into the woods, in which 
the enemy were now closely massed. One of Kirby 's 
guns had the trail broken, on its fourth discharge, and 
became useless ; but this loss was more than made good 
by the arrival of two more guns of the battery under 
Woodruff, and, a little later, of the sixth and last piece 
under French. Kirby now sought to change his position, 
advancing his left so as to secure a better fire into the 
woods, the enemy having all disappeared from the open 
ground. Scarcely had Kirby made the change, when, co- 
incidently with a renewal of the attack upon the centre, 
a daring body of Confederates dashed out of the woods, 
crossed the road, and sought to carry the battery on the 
run. Kirby 's cannoneers received them with double 
charges of cannister from the light twelves ; but, for a 
moment, the Sixty-second New York, which was lying 
in support, behind the battery, wavered. Their colonel, 
Riker, dashed to the front, setting an example of heroic 
bravery, falling dead close to the woods, while General 
Couch in person brought up the companies that had fal- 
tered and restored the line. The Confederates, some of 
whom were killed within fifteen yards of the guns, fell 
back before the charges of cannister and the steady fire of 
musketry poured into them by the infantry, but still 
held the road, and from behind walls and stumps of 
trees maintained their fire. Kirby at once sought to ad- 


vance his pieces, but the guns sank so deeply into the 
mire that only two could be pushed forward, and these 
only through the assistance of details from the Fifteenth 
Massachusetts. " At one time," says Kirby in his report, 
" three pieces were up to their axles in the mud, their trails 
being buried to a corresponding distance." Meanwhile, 
Sully's Minnesotians had thrown off the attacks of Hat- 
ton, at the Courtney House ; and Williams and Cochrane 
(the latter supported that day by two of the best soldiers 
of the army — Alexander Shaler, Lieutenant-Colonel, and 
Joseph H. Hamblin, Major), had again beaten back the 
determined charges made upon their pile of fence-rails. 

The time had come for aggressive action on Sumner's 
part. Burns' brigade was now all up. The Sixty-ninth 
and Seventy-first Pennsylvania had been sent, under 
Burns himself, to anticipate any movement from the 
enemy to outflank Sully on his right ; the Seventy-sec- 
ond and One-hundred-and-Sixth were ordered to the 
Adams House, as a reserve. Of Dana's brigade, two 
regiments, the Twentieth Massachusetts and Seventh 
Michigan, had also arrived, the other two having been 
left behind — the Nineteenth Massachusetts on picket, 
the Forty-second New York to protect and assist the 
passage of the artillery over the Chickahominy. With 
these troops in hand, Sumner now requested General 
Sedgwick to proceed to the right of the line, to exercise 
general supervision of the troops under Sully and Burns, 
while Couch should command the centre, and he himself 
should take charge of the left. Here, that is, on the ex- 
treme left, beyond the Adams House, he proceeded to 
form a line of battle to be thrown forward directly to the 
front, at right angles to that formed by Couch's regi- 
ments and the First Minnesota. For this purpose Sum- 
ner ordered up the Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second 
New York and Fifteenth Massachusetts, of Gorman's 



brigade, and the Seventh Michigan and Twentieth 
Massachusetts, of Dana's. As soon as the Hne was 
formed, the order to charge was given. Two fences in- 
tervened between them and the foe ; but these were 
hastily torn down or pushed over. Our men at first ad- 

vanced firing; but they gathered inspiration as they 
Avent, and when within fifty yards of the position where 
the foe still sullenly held the ground, outside the woods, 
they spontaneously broke into a cheer ; a sharp clatter 
along the line told that bayonets were fixed, and the five 
regiments, in one long line, sprang forward. 


It was enough. The enemy, who had had three of 
their large brigades massed in the woods, the whole edge 
of which was covered by three of our regiments, had suf- 
fered fearfully from the crossing fires to which they had 
been for an hour and a half subjected — the direct fire of 
the Eighty-second and Sixty-fifth, the left oblique fire 
of Sully's men, the rapid and effective right oblique 
fire of the artillery. One thousand one hundred and sev- 
enty-four Confederates had fallen, killed or wounded, in- 
cluding three general ofificers. General Hatton had been 
killed ; General Pettigrew had fallen seriously wounded ; 
General Hampton was also severely wounded, though he 
still kept his horse. General Whiting, the division com- 
mander, remained alone unwounded. 

And now, when, in addition to the feu d'cnfcr to which 
these brigades had been subjected, they found themselves 
exposed to the charge of Gorman's and Dana's men 
across the front of the line they had so bravely but vainly 
assaulted, they gave back. General Pettigrew, recovering 
from his swoon, found himself a prisoner in our hands, 
and was brought in to the Adams House, which straight- 
way became a hospital ; three field of^cers, with a hun- 
dred or more of men, with one or perhaps two colors, 
were brought in. 

It is small wonder that the Union army should speak 
of the action of May 31st as the battle of Fair Oaks, for 
at that end of the line — the right — our troops were brill- 
iantly successful. It is no wonder at all that the Con- 
federates should term it the battle of Seven Pines, since 
on that field — the left — they captured our lines of fortifi- 
cations, with prisoners, guns, and colors. 

The credit of the brilliant action on the right must al- 
ways be fairly divided between the regiments of Sumner 
and those of Couch, It was the Eighty-second Pennsyl- 


vania and the Sixty-fifth New York which so firmly held 
the centre against so many assaults/ and whose direct fire 
inflicted the greatest portion of the heavy loss which the 
Confederates sustained ; and Pagan's guns were served 
courageously and effectively side by side with Kirby's. At 
the same time, no language can exaggerate the splendid 
enthusiasm with which the Second Corps, from its lion- 
like commander to the humblest private in the ranks, 
overcame the difficulties which beset the crossing of the 
swollen Chickahominy, pressed up the road from Grape- 
vine Bridge to Fair Oaks, and encountered a superior 
force of the enemy in what was to many of them their 
first battle. The Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New 
York and the Seventh Michigan had sustained the 
heaviest losses among Sedgwick's regiments. 

The charge of Gorman's and Dana's five regiments 
across the front of our main line closed the action of the 
day, not because more fighting could not easily have 
been had out of Smith's column, but because night had 
now come on. The Confederates had, indeed, retired 
from our end of the woods ; but they still held ^ on to 

' General G. W. Smith's report says : " Very seldom, if ever, did 
any troops in their first battle go so close up to a covered Una 
under so strong a fire, or remain within such short distance so long 
a time" (991). 

' General G. W. Smith says : " On no part of the line where I 
was did the enemy at any time leave their cover or advance one 
single foot. Our troops held their position close to the enemy's 
line until it was too dark to distinguish friend from foe." It would 
be interesting to learn in what manner, if our troops did not " ad- 
vance one single foot," General Pettigrew, Colonel Lightfoot, and 
Lieutenant-Colonels Long and Bull were brought into the Union 
lines ; or what scientific phraseology would be used to describe 
the movement of Gorman's and Dana's regiments, for they cer- 
tainly did move forward in some way. 


those nearer to Fair Oaks Station, which they occupied 
in force, Hood's Texans having been called in from the 
right, and Grif^th's Mississippians and Semmes' mixed 
brigade from the left, to support the four roughly-han- 
dled brigades which had done the work of the late after- 

General Smith and, following him. General Johnston 
himself have expressed the opinion that, if daylight had 
lasted one hour longer, the Confederates, thus reinforced, 
would have won a decided victory, and driven Sumner 
and Couch " into the swamps of the Chickahominy." It 
is difificult, especially in war, to tell what might have re- 
sulted if something had happened or been done totally 
different from what happened or was done ; but I know 
of no reason for supposing that to protract the day of 
May 31st by one, two, or three hours would have been 
disastrous to the Union forces on the right. In the 
fighting up to dark, on that end of the line, only nine 
regiments had been engaged on the Union side — three 
of Couch's, viz., the Sixty-second and Sixty-fifth New 
York and the Eighty-second Pennsylvania (the Seventh 
Massachusetts had been sent toward the left to open 
communication, if possible, with the troops at Seven 
Pines) ; and six of Sedgwick's, viz., the Thirty-fourth and 
Eighty-second New York, Fifteenth and Twentieth 
Massachusetts, Seventh Michigan, and First Minnesota. 
These nine regiments had lost less than four hundred 
men. Not a regiment had been shattered, had been 
tried to the utmost, had had the fight taken out of it. 
On the other hand, the heavy losses of the four Confed- 
erate brigades, especially among the superior ofificers, and 
that, too, in a losing fight, is suf^cient proof that the 
enemy actually engaged would only have renewed the 
contest with a certain and a considerable loss of impetus. 


So much for the troops on the ground when fighting 
ceased. As for the three new brigades which might 
have been brought into action, had there been an hour 
more of daylight, as Generals Johnston and Smith sug- 
gest, the comparison is even less favorable to the chances 
of a Confederate victory. Had Hood's brigade been 
thrown in on the Confederate right, it would simply have 
been crushed between the brigade of Birney, already in 
position along the railroad, supported by the column of 
Hooker, rapidly coming up the track, and the troops at 
the Adams House, resting after their victorious charge. 
On the other hand, Grif^th's and Semmes' brigades, at- 
tempting our right, would have found, not only Sully's 
Minnesotians and Burns' Pennsylvanians on the ground, 
but Richardson's brigades also, crowding up the road 
from Grapevine Bridge. People are often dreadfully 
mistaken in war, but there was no price which Sumner, 
Couch, Sedgwick, and Richardson would not have 
jointly or severally paid for two hours more of daylight 
on May 31st. Hence, as seen from our side, there was 
certainly some "doubt" whether in one hour more Gen- 
eral Gustavus W. Smith would have driven the union 
force " into the swamps of the Chickahominy." By eight 
o'clock Sumner had on the ground, available for action, 
twenty-three regiments (including Couch's), against the 
nine which had actually encountered the enemy. 

' " By this time, the strong position the enemy had defended 
was better understood ; and there is no reason to doubt that 
Hood's brigade of Texans upon the right, and Griffith's of Missis- 
sippi on the left, supported by the brigade of General Semmes, 
would have enabled us, in one short hour more of daylight, to 
drive the enemy into the swamps of the Chickahominy " (Smith's 
Report). The " strength " of the position defended has been suf- 
ficiently accounted for. It resided chiefly in the good regiments 



The night of the 31st of May to June ist was passed 
by the troops of Sedgwick's division with the bodies 
of the slain around them, and with the groans of the 
wounded in their ears. As night fell the division of 
Richardson began to arrive upon the field and take posi- 
tion on the left of Sedgwick, extending toward Birney's 
brigade, while Hooker, coming up to the support of the 
beaten troops on the Williamsburg Road, too late to go 
into action, filled the vacant spaces in the line. There 
were now three corps across the Chickahominy in con- 
tinuous order, ready for action when day should dawn. 
Had those three corps been in place at noon of the 31st, 
Johnston Avould have attacked only to suffer an over- 
whelming defeat. Of the six divisions which rose at 
daybreak, to renew the conflict, only two had been in 
position to resist the fury of Hill's and Longstreet's as- 
sault between one and four o'clock ; another was able to 
get up, at the last-named hour, to the support of the al- 
ready beaten troops on the Williamsburg Road ; a fourth 
only arrived on the ground at five, in season, however, to 
rescue Couch and Abercrombie from their perilous posi- 
tion at the Adams House, and to inflict a stinging defeat 
upon the column of G. W. Smith under the very eye 
of the Confederate commander-in-chief. Two divisions 
were absolutely fresh, Richardson's of the Second Corps 
and Hooker's of the Third. 

But though the three Union corps arose from their 

which lay behind the rails of an ordinary Virginia fence, thrown 
down to make a breastwork some inches high, the only defensive 
feature, natural or artificial, of the position occupied by Sumner 
or Couch that day. 


bivouac, on the morning of the ist of June, expecting 
to try conclusions with the whole force of the enemy, 
that enemy, even if disposed to renew the conflict, had 
made no adequate preparations therefor. Thousands of 
the bravest of the Confederate host had fallen on the 
battle-field at Seven Pines, or before the murderous fire 
of Sedgwick and Couch at Fair Oaks ; while their great 
chief, Joseph E. Johnston, had been disabled by a serious 
wound, and compelled to relinquish the command to 
Major-General G. W. Smith. The latter general was, 
however, neither in ability nor in prestige, equal to such 
a momentous charge ; and he was, on the afternoon of 
this very day, to be relieved by that stanchest of the de- 
fenders of the Southern cause. General Robert E. Lee. 
Meanwhile, however, somebody was required to decide 
for the Confederate divisions whether they were or were 
not to fight ; someone was required to withdraw them 
if they were not to fight, or to put them in strongly and 
in concert if another efTort was to be made to drive 
McClellan's left wing, now reinforced by the centre, 
into the swamps of the Chickahominy. General Smith, 
however, seems not to have been quite up to the task 
thus unexpectedly devolved upon him. There was no 
reason at all why the Confederates should not have been 
withdrawn to their entrenchments during the night, if 
they were not to resume the aggressive on a large scale 
in the morning. To stay outside their fortified lines, 
otherwise, was to incur an unnecessary risk. For all 
General Smith could know, either Franklin's or Porter's 
corps, or both of them, might have been brought over 
Sumner's bridge; in which case the Confederate army, 
outside its entrenchments, would have sustained an at- 
tack at a serious risk, a risk worth taking, perhaps, for a 
distinct object, but not to be excused if taken for no pur- 


pose at all. If, on the other hand, General Smith's plans 
involved a renewal of the attack of the 31st, as his report 
intimates,' no adequate arrangements had been made for 
rendering that attack effective ; the actual encounter was 
left to accident, and the troops thus engaged were not 
only not properly supported, but assistance which was at 
their very elbows, on right and left, was withheld from 
them for no reason at all. 

But there were not wanting grounds for complaint as 
to the way in which the functions of the commander of 
the Union army were exercised. With troops to many 
of whom it was to be their first battle, under corps com- 
manders picked from the colonels of the regular army, 
and staff officers almost absolutely raw and uninstructed, 
it will always seem strange that General McClellan did 
not feel that his place was with the half of his army that 
was to fight, rather than with that half which was not to 
fight. Before half past two o'clock of Saturday after- 
noon General McClellan had reason to apprehend that 
his left wing had been attacked by at least double their 
own force. The despatch of Sumner's corps did not es- 
tablish equality of numbers, and could not restore what 
had been lost in the first shock of Hill's and Longstreet's 
assault. Had Huger emerged from White Oak Swamp, 
upon our left and rear, it is certain that the fall of night 
would have found the Union army in a very much worse 
condition than it actually did, perhaps in a state border- 

' " General Longstreet was directed to push his successes of the 
previous day as far as practicable, pivoting his movement upon 
the position of General Whiting on his left. The latter was di- 
rected to make a diversion in favor of General Longstreet's real 
attack ; and, if pressed by the enemy, hold at all hazards the fork 
or junction of the New Bridge and Nine Mile Roads" (G. W. 
Smith's report). 


ing on absolute destruction. Yet the fate of the army 
across the Chickahominy was left, in such an emergency, 
to the three corps commanders then present, the same 
three who, at Williamsburg, had acted so inharmoniously 
— corps commanders, not one of whom had been of Gen- 
eral McClellan's own choice ; two of whom he had ac- 
cepted most reluctantly upon President Lincoln's nom- 
ination, and toward one, at least, of whom he had 
exhibited a constantly growing dislike and distrust ever 
since the army left Fort Monroe, Neither General Mc- 
Clellan's personal bravery nor his earnest, affectionate 
devotion to his soldiers is for a moment to be called in 
question ; but his adherence to European methods of 
handling an army, suitable enough in a cleared country 
of good roads, with thoroughly disciplined and indurated 
troops, under veteran colonels and veteran brigadiers, 
with generals of division and of corps who had fought 
their way up, through many campaigns, to positions of 
great authority and power, assisted by numerous staffs of 
the most skilled and accomplished ofificers in the service, 
was the source of great weakness in the case of such an 
army, in such conditions and with such a history, as the 
Army of the Potomac. 

But whatever may be said of General McClellan's not 
being on the field during the afternoon of the 31st, it 
would certainly seem that he should have come up dur- 
ing the night, to give to his three corps on the Rich- 
mond side of the river the benefit of his wise counsel 
and skilful direction, the impulse to be derived from his 
immense popularity with the troops, and the harmony 
and unity of action which alone the presence of the com- 
mander-in-chief could secure. Neither Franklin's nor 
Porter's corps was to be engaged that day; this was 
already definitely settled. They could not attack the 


enemy if they would ; nor could the enemy possibly at- 
tack them that day. The fifty thousand men on the right 
bank needed a commander, the wisest, most skilful, most 
popular, most authoritative that could be had. 

In the absence of such directions from above, the dis- 
positions made by General Sumner for the day of June 
1st were as follows : It being necessary to secure the com- 
munications with the bridges. General Burns was sent 
back with the Seventy-first Pennsylvania, of his own bri- 
gade, to Golding's, near the river, where he was to take 
command of the Nineteenth Massachusetts and Forty- 
second New York, of Dana's brigade, and of the Sixty- 
third New York, of Meagher's brigade of Richardson's 
division, to protect the right and rear. The remaining 
troops of Sedgwick's division held positions somewhat 
advanced from those of the previous afternoon, covering 
the Adams and Courtney Houses. The artillery having 
been brought up, with infinite pains, from the river bot- 
tom, sometimes one gun only of a battery arriving at a 
time upon the field, w^as placed as follows : Tompkins', 
and two sections of Bartlett's, at the Courtney House ; 
Kirby's battery, reinforced at seven o'clock by one section 
of Owen's, was held in reserve at the Adams House, the 
other two sections of Owen's being with General Burns 
at Golding's ; while the remaining section of Bartlett's was 
ordered from the Adams House to near Fair Oaks Sta- 
tion, becoming the only portion of the division artillery 
that day engaged with the enemy. Colonel Charles H. 
Tompkins, an accomplished and gallant ofificer, had com- 
mand of the artillery of this division. 

Richardson's division had during the night been dis- 
posed as follows : French's brigade along the railroad, 
extended from Sedgwick toward, but not to, Birney's 
brigade, the nearest of the troops of the Third Corps upon 


the left. French's front was covered by Cross' Fifth New 
Hampshire Regiment, of Howard's brigade, as an advance 
guard. The remaining three regiments of Howard 
formed the second line. Meagher's brigade, weakened 
by the detachment of the Sixty-third New York at 
Golding's, was in the third line. The division artillery was 
thus disposed : Pettit's battery had reached the field at 
4.30 A.M., and was placed on the road running north from 
Fair Oaks Station, covering the broad space of open 
ground extending west and southwest from nine hundred 
to fifteen hundred yards. Frank's battery was placed two 
hundred yards in rear and at right angles to Pettit's, to 
meet the enemy should he advance from the woods 
which lined the south side of the railroad. Hazzard's 
battery was placed in reserve ; but subsequently four 
pieces (12-pounders) were moved south to the railroad 
to shell Casey's old camp. Captain George W. Hazzard, 
Fourth United States, commanded the artillery of this 

At three o'clock of Sunday, June ist, the Fifth New 
Hampshire was quietly withdrawn from its post as ad- 
vance guard ; and the next two hours were passed by 
French's brigade under arms in silence. With daylight, 
an extensive gap between Richardson and Birney ap- 
pearing, Richardson moved French to the left the length 
of three battalions, and sent one of Howard's regiments, 
Miller's Eighty-first Pennsylvania, still farther to the left, 
the Fifth New Hampshire going into the second line. 
These new dispositions, and the forming connection with 
Birney's right, carried Richardson's front line forward 
across the railroad into swampy ground covered by a thick 
growth of timber. Whether it was this movement which 
brought our troops into collision with the enemy, or 
whether the latter were at that moment advancing to 


begin the attack, is not wholly clear. General Johnston, 
in his official report, says that the Union troops were the 
assailants. General Longstreet speaks of his position 
being attacked on Sunday morning. Pickett, to whom 
he refers in that connection, speaks in his official report 
of being ordered by General D. H. Hill to attack. He 
says he supposed the same order was given to other bri- 
gade commanders. Hill himself speaks of sending orders 
to draw in his advanced brigades, Pickett's, Pryor's, and 
Wilcox's ; but adds that, " before the orders were received, 
a furious attack was made upon Generals Armistead, 
Mahone, Pickett, Pryor, and Wilcox." Richardson's 
own report, on our side, speaks of being attacked ; and 
that is the explanation of the opening of the battle al- 
ways given by the troops of that division. McClellan, 
Sumner, and Heintzelman alike speak of the enemy as 
beginning the attack ; and yet it appears that D. H. Hill, 
commanding the Confederate brigades engaged, did not 
know of it, and declares that he was in the act of with- 
drawing his troops at the moment when they were as- 

Whoever began it, the action broke out in fury be- 
tween half past six and seven on Sunday morning, 
French's whole line was instantly involved, and that 
veteran officer fought his command with energy and 
intrepidity. The Fifty-second New York suffered se- 
verely both in front and from an attempt of the enemy 
to turn its flank, losing one hundred and twenty men, 
including eight officers. Further to the right, Zook — the 
Zook of Gettysburg — shook off the fiercest attacks upon 
his front, with the Fifty-seventh New York supported 
by Pinckney of the Sixty-sixth, At the head of his own 
good regiment, the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, of How- 
ard's brigade, fell the gallant Miller, On the left, Col- 


onel John R. Brooke, leading the Fifty-third Pennsyl- 
vania for the first time into fight, displayed that cool dar- 
ing, that readiness of resource, that firmness of temper, 
which were to raise him. high among the most illustrious 
of the young soldiers of the Union, while his splendid 
regiment responded to every call with easy courage and 
prompt manoeuvre. 

The musketry had continued for an hour without an 
instant's cessation, extending now toward the left, to 
involve Hooker's division of the Third Corps, of which 
Sickles' brigade and the Fifth and Sixth New Jersey, led 
by Hooker in person, came enthusiastically into action. 

On Richardson's front the two lines were at less than 
half smooth-bore range, when Richardson, learning that 
the regiments which had been engaged were getting out of 
ammunition, directed Howard to relieve French. How- 
ard, putting himself at the head of the Sixty-first New 
York, Colonel Barlow," and the Sixty-fourth, Colonel 
Parker, advanced up the railroad till he reached the po- 
sition of Brooke, when he moved to the front, Brooke's 
men, whose cartridge-boxes were empty, lying down to 
let them pass. Coming into action, Howard at once 
advanced as rapidly as the dense, tangled, and swampy 
woods would permit, until he had pressed the enemy 
back across the road into Casey's camps of Saturday 
morning. At this point Howard's horse was killed, 
and the general himself struck down by a blow which 
cost him his good right arm. Giving to Colonel Barlow, 
who had already shown, in this his first fight, those quali- 

> Colonel Cone, of the Sixty-First, had been dismissed the ser- 
vice, March 14th, and had been succeeded in the colonelcy of the 
regiment by Francis C. Barlow, afterward Major-General of Vol- 


ties which were so soon to render him conspicuous in the 
sight of the whole army, orders to hold his position until 
reinforced, Howard went to the rear ; there he turned over 
the command to Colonel Cross of the Fifth New Hamp- 
shire ; but that officer, also, was soon severely wounded, 
devolving the command of the brigade upon Colonel 
Parker, of the Sixty-fourth. Even before taking the 
Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth to the front, General How- 
ard had learned that Colonel Miller, of the Eighty-first 
Pennsylvania, had been killed, and that one wing of 
his regiment, left without a field officer, had become 
separated from the other ; whereupon General Howard 
directed his aid. Lieutenant Nelson A. Miles, to collect 
the companies of that wing, and with them hold the 
open field on the right of the railroad against any ad- 
vance of the enemy from that direction. Thus, again, 
we meet, in the narrative of this short fight, the name of 
a young officer, new to war, who was destined to win 

Barlow, finding that his advance had carried him be- 
yond supports, soon called up Brooke, who, having re- 
plenished his ammunition, took post with Barlow on 
the borders of Casey's old camp. There was now a lull 
in the fighting, the enemy's troops first engaged having 
apparently had enough, and being well disposed to re- 
main quiet and await reinforcements. As far as it is 
possible to correlate the Confederate and Union reports, 
I understand that Armistead's Confederate brigade had 
given way in great disorder. General D. H. Hill also 
charges that Mahone withdrew his brigade from action 
without orders, and that Colston, when sent forward to 
take Mahone's place, did not go into action as he was 
expected. Meanwhile, General Richardson took occa- 
sion of the lull in the brittle to send forward the Fifth 


New Hampshire, the Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel 
Robert Nugent, and the Eighty-eighth New York, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Kelly, to relieve the Fifty- 
Second and Sixty-first New York and Fifty-third 
Pennsylvania on the front line. 

On the left, General Hooker made fresh dispositions 
to push his advantage; and Birney's brigade, under Colo- 
nel J. H. Hobart Ward,' was brought up and advanced 
toward the enemy. Scarcely were these changes com- 
pleted, when the attack was renewed with considerable 
vivacity b}', it would seem, the brigades of Pickett, Pryor, 
and Wilcox. Two of the three brigades were perfectly 
fresh, not having been engaged on Saturday, and behaved 
with extraordinary spirit and gallantry. But the action 
now was nearly over. General D. H. Hill, disgusted with 
the behavior of Armistead's brigade, and offended by the 
action of Generals Mahone and Colston, determined to 
withdraw his troops. 

In this the divisions of Richardson and Hooker co- 
operated to the utmost of their ability. On the left. 
Sickles' " Excelsior " brigade and the two New Jersey 
regiments under Hooker ; on the centre, Birney's brigade 
under Ward ; on the right, the Fifth New Hampshire 
and the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth New York 
pressed forward together to clear the ground ; the Thirty- 
fourth and Eighty-second New York, of Sedgwick's divi- 
sion, were sent in to reinforce Richardson ; while, on the 
extreme flank. General French swung around the Fifty- 
seventh and Sixty-sixth New York, both under Colonel 
Pinckney, until they were formed almost at right angles 

' General Heintzelman had been very much dissatisfied with 
General Birney's conduct on the evening previous, and, at about 
eight o'clock, on June ist, placed him in arrest. General Birney 
was subsequently tried by court-martial and honorably acquitted. 


to the general line, and then led them forward in person 
to charge across the front of the other regiments of the 
division. At the same time, Pettit advanced his guns to 
a point where he obtained an enfilade on the enemy, who 
were still resisting the Irish regiments. 

That settled it. The Confederates had, at break of 
day, scarcely resolved, in their divided councils, whether 
to fight or not ; but as soon as the first shot was fired, 
the brigades nearest at hand turned, with or without or- 
ders, in all the surly courage of their kind, to return the 
blow. But the lengthening line of the Union forces, as 
Richardson gave one hand to Sedgwick and the other to 
Hooker, and the increasing weight of our fire were at last 
bringing into serious jeopardy the brigades of Pickett, 
Pryor, and Wilcox, actually deserted as they had been by 
some of the troops designated to support them ; while on 
their left Hood had received positive orders to make no 
movement, and only to fight if himself attacked. Thus, 
though Mahone's brigade and two of Colston's regiments 
have now been brought up, the Confederates withdraw 
before our advancing lines. The Fifty-seventh and Sixty- 
sixth, moving forward without firing, encounter only a 
single regiment (the Forty-first Virginia), which easily 
gives way, and the battle of June ist is over. 

That battle ought really never to have been fought, for 
it had no purpose, no plan of action, no place in any 
scheme of operations. It is a question, to this day, which 
was the attacking party. On the Confederate side, the 
lack of co-ordination, which made their fighting so desul- 
tory and so ineffectual, was due to the great overshadow- 
ing fact that the commander-in-chief, probably the best 
soldier in the Confederate service, had been struck down 
on the 31st. On the Union side there was equal lack of 
commandership. Sumner and Heintzelman were certain 


to fight, and to defend each his own line stoutly, if at- 
tacked ; but of that serene intelligence and that supreme 
authority which should preside over the varying fortunes 
of a battle, whether to anticipate the causes of disaster, 
or to push success instantly to its utmost possibilities, 
there was none. 

But, to the troops engaged, the action of June ist was 
highly creditable. Richardson's division, for the first 
time in battle, displayed not only courage and endurance 
under trying conditions, but also that capacity of free 
and ready movement to the front, to the flank and to 
the rear, according to orders, which was to distinguish 
this gallant body of troops to the end of the war. 

The casualties in the division had been 838, of which 
557 occurred in Howard's stubborn brigade, the Fifth 
New Hampshire losing 180; the Sixty-first New York, 
no; the Sixty-fourth New York, 173 ; the Eighty-first 
Pennsylvania, 91, one-half of the last number being pris- 
oners. The Irish brigade lost but 39 men. French's 
Third brigade lost 242, more than half from the Fifty- 
second New York, the Fifty-third Pennsylvania losing 94. 

The offlcers killed or mortally wounded, were Colonel 
James Miller and Lieutenant Horace M. Lee, Eighty- 
first Pennsylvania; Lieutenant-Colonel W. C. INIassett, 
Captains James J. Trenor, Arthur L. Brooks and Eugene 
M. Deming, and Lieutenants William Mclntire and Wil- 
liam H. Coultis, all of the Sixty-first New York ; Major 
Thomas Yeager, Fifty-third Pennsylvania; Lieutenant 
Timothy King, Eighty-eighth New York ; Lieutenant 
Ezra W. Kendall, Sixty-fourth New York ; Lieutenant 
Albert Pfantz, Fifty-second New York. 

Among the wounded were Brigadier-General Howard; 
Colonel Cross, Fifth New Hampshire ; Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Bingham, Sixty-fourth New York; Major Cook, 


Fifth New Hampshire; Captain Fisk, Assistant Adju- 
tant-General to General French. 

Neither the first nor the second day's action, in which 
the Second Corps participated at Fair Oaks, was of the 
nature of desperate battle. In each affair the division 
engaged had driven its antagonist from the field, without 
itself being shattered or suffering very heavy losses. 

A more favorable initiation for the severe after-work 
of the Second Corps could scarcely have been asked by 
its commander. The officers and men of the two divis- 
ions came to know themselves and each other, through 
an introduction in which all had gained honor ; while 
the soldierly promptitude with which Sumner had, on 
the first sound of battle, hurried the heads of his columns 
down to rest upon the very bridges, in anticipation of 
the order to cross, won for him and his corps the grati- 
tude of the hard-pressed troops of Ke\^es and Heintzel- 
man and the admiration of the whole army. Moreover, 
out of the smoke of that Sunday-morning battle arose 
the figures, in unmistakable outlines, of some of the 
most illustrious heroes of the war. Of the commanders 
of the three brigades of the First Division, two were 
to become commanders, first of divisions, within the 
Second Corps, and afterwards of other corps, while one 
was destined to rise to the command of a separate army. 
Of the colonels then for the first time engaged in action 
against the enemy, Brooke, Cross, Nugent, Barlow, Zook, 
could never thereafter fail to be marked men ; while a 
young lieutenant on the staff that day, fresh from civil 
life, showed there, to the admiration of all beholders, 
that address and gallantry which were to secure a pro- 
motion of unexampled rapidity, and to make the name 
of Nelson A. Miles the pride of the volunteer soldiers of 
the Union. 



After Sumner crossed the Chickahominy to take 
part in the action at Fair Oaks, there was no thought of 
withdrawing him to the left bank. His two divisions 
were put into the line confronting the Confederate en- 
trenchments. Heintzelman, who had been brought up 
from the rear, to the relief of the overwhelmed divisions 
of Keyes, on May 31st, had taken position in the front, 
in advance of Seven Pines ; while Couch's division of 
Keyes' corps was held in immediate support, and Casey's 
badly handled division, to the command of which Peck 
had succeeded, was sent back to protect Bottom's Bridge 
and the numerous crossings of White Oak Swamp, upon 
the Union left and rear. 

Connecting with Heintzelman, in the front, was the 
Second Corps, resting on Fair Oaks, while Franklin's 
corps, which also had been thrown across the river, by 
the new engineer bridges, extended the line to the river 
bank, at Golding's, from which point Porter, remaining 
on the other side of the Chickahominy, with his two 
original divisions, commanded by Sykes and Morel 1, 
now reinforced by the newly arrived division (First 
Corps) of Pennsylvania Reserves, under McCall, covered 
the communications with White House, on the Pa- 
munkey River, from which, by rail, the supplies of the 
army were drawn. Porter's command extended up the 
left bank of the Chickahominy as far as Mechanicsville. 


During the weeks that intervened between Fair Oaks 
and the memorable " Seven Days," Richardson's divis- 
ion, which had originally been the smaller of the two 
divisions of the Second Corps, and which had lost the 
more heavily at Fair Oaks, was reinforced by three 
regiments, viz., the German Seventh New York, some- 
times called the Steuben Regiment, Colonel George 
Van Schack ; the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, Colonel 
Ebenezer W. Pierce, and the Second Delaware, Colonel 
Henry W. Wharton. Russell's company of Sharpshoot- 
ers from Minnesota also joined at this time, and was as- 
signed to the First Brigade of the Second Division. It 
is not a little amusing to recall the feelings of superiority 
with which the troops that had been in action at Fair 
Oaks greeted those that had not ; how inexpressibly raw 
the latter seemed to the former ; how great was the dis- 
tance between the two : a distance that was, in but a few 
days, to be lost sight of, as both the Fair Oaks veterans 
and the new recruits were thrown into the boiling waves 
of that great strife known as the Seven Days' Battles, to 
emerge, on the other shore, at Harrison's Landing, to be 
thereafter comrades and equals to the end. 

Of these regiments, the Seventh New York was as- 
signed to the First Brigade, the Twenty-ninth Massa- 
chusetts to the Second (Irish) Brigade, the Second 
Delaware to the Third Brigade, to which also the 
Sixty-fourth New York was transferred from the First 
Brigade. The first two brigades were thus left four regi- 
ments strong, while the Third Brigade had the strength 
of six regiments. A Corps artillery reserve, was also 
formed, consisting of Rhode Island Batteries B and G, 
and of Battery G, First New York. Companies D, F, 
and H, Sixth New York Cavalry, reinforced Company 
K, at corps headquarters. 


During the interval in view, Brigadier-General John 
C. Caldwell, late Colonel of the Eleventh Maine Volun- 
teers, of Casey's division, reported for duty and was as- 
signed to the command of the First Brigade of Richard- 
son's division. While holding its lines in front and to 
the right of Fair Oaks through the early days of June, 
Burns' brigade had a pretty warm time, losing on the 
skirmish line, Lieutenant Maurice C. Moore, Seventy- 
first Pennsylvania, killed June 8th, and Captain Martin 
C. Frost, One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania, killed 
June 9th. Lieutenant-Colonel William L. Curry, of the 
One Hundred and Sixth, was, at about this time, cap- 
tured in a skirmish. 

It does not fall within the scope of this narrative to 
describe the miserable causes which led to the failure of 
the Peninsula campaign : the successful efforts of the Con- 
federate chiefs so to play upon the fears of the adminis- 
tration at Washington as to prevent the reinforcement 
of McClellan's army by the powerful corps of McDowell, 
numbering thirty-five thousand men ; the great raid of 
Stonewall Jackson into the Valley, and his successive de- 
feats of the petty armies, under more petty commanders, 
which the mischievous meddling of the politicians had 
caused to be constituted, ostensibly for the defence of 
the capital. Of all this the Army of the Potomac was 
to bear the consequences, unaided. About June i8th, 
Jackson, leaving behind him sixty thousand Union 
troops, who were to be as powerless to intervene in the 
operations of the next fortnight as if they had never 
been mustered into the service of the United States, or 
born into the world, turned his fateful footsteps toward 
the Chickahominy. With such masterly precaution was 
his advance veiled from view that, on the 25th, his col- 
umn reached Ashland on the Richmond & Fredericks- 


burg Railroad, without warning having been given of his 
coming, or even of his having left the Valley. 

On that very day McClellan had begun his long-prom- 
ised advance against the Confederate works, through a 
partial movement known as " Hooker's advance of the 
lines." This took place immediately in front of Seven 
Pines, and was directed toward the ultimate occupation 
of the plateau of Old Tavern. In the action which en- 
sued, sometimes called the battle of Oak Grove, Hooker 
was supported by a brigade from each of Couch's and 
Richardson's divisions. During this action, the Nine- 
teenth Massachusetts, Colonel Hinks, of Sedgwick's di- 
vision, which had been advanced in front of the division 
line, was subjected to an attack by a body of the enemy, 
apparently sent out to make a diversion in favor of the 
troops opposing Hooker's advance, in which that regi- 
ment behaved with great spirit and held its ground through 
severe losses, until withdrawn under orders. In this ac- 
tion, Lieutenant Charles B. Warner was killed. 

But on the same day, and, indeed, even during the 
progress of the action in front of Seven Pines, intelligence 
reached General McClellan which showed conclusively 
that he was about to be called to meet a formidable 
movement around his right flank and against his com- 
munications with the Pamunkey and the York. The issue 
presented by this news was of tremendous consequence 
and demanded instant decision. Jackson's corps from 
" The Valley," and all the troops which could be drawn 
from the intrenchments in front of Richmond, were to 
be hurled against three divisions of Porter's corps, on the 
left bank of the Chickahominy ; and, if successful in their 
attack, were then to be pushed across the railroad to 
White House, cutting McClellan off from his supplies. 
It would appear that Lee took it for granted that Mc- 


Clellan would resist this movement to the last with all 
his available force. It further appears that Lee only 
contemplated, in case of his own success, a retreat of the 
Army of the Potomac down the Peninsula. McClellan, 
however, determined not to fight for his communications 
with the Pamunkey and the York ; but to move in ex- 
actly the opposite direction, to seek a new base of opera- 
tions on the James, which river is one boundary of the 
Peninsula, of which the York and Pamunkey form the 

It will doubtless always be disputed whether McClellan 
should have fought for his communications, hoping that, 
in the event of victory, the terrible fright experienced by 
the administration at Washington would, once for all, 
put an end to the trifling which had detained McDowell's 
corps, and had left useless several small armies in the Val- 
ley ; and that, thus reinforced upon his right, he might 
be able to enter Richmond from the northeast, as he had 
originally planned ; trusting, on the other hand, that in 
the event of defeat he would still be able to effect his 
retreat to the James. That McClellan could have op- 
posed to any force which Lee might move against his 
right and rear an equal number of men, having the ad- 
vantage of fighting on the defensive and behind at least 
temporary fortifications, while leaving before Richmond 
a well entrenched force, equal or superior to that which 
Lee should leave in his own works ; (2) that the two 
Union armies, thus formed, would have remained in close 
and intimate communication, so that one might reinforce 
the other across the bridges by a short march, while Lee's 
two armies would have been separated by a long distance 
and could not reinforce each other except through an all- 
day and all-night march ; (3) that in the event of Lee's left 
wing being badly defeated or even only foiled, across the 


river, so far from its entrenchments, a vigorous aggression 
on the part of the Union commander would have put that 
wing in serious jeopardy, and have made more than ever 
feasible the projected attack on Richmond from the north- 
east, or by way of Old Tavern ; (4) that in the event of 
Lee's right wing assuming the initiative and being badly 
defeated or even no worse repulsed than finally at Seven 
Pines, the Union forces would have had a fair chance to 
follow them into Richmond, by the Williamsburg road ; 
(5) that in the event of the Union right being defeated, 
even as badly as it actually was at Gaines' Mill, the choice 
would still have remained to retreat down the Peninsula 
or to the James ; (6) that even in the event of both wings 
of the Union army being defeated in one day's fighting, the 
right, as badly as it actually was at Gaines' Mill, the left, as 
badly as it had been at Seven Pines, on May 31st, there 
would still have been a fair fighting chance to concentrate 
the army around Savage Station, on June 28th, and then 
to push for the James, or at the worst to retreat down the 
Peninsula: that this was the real situation upon which 
McClellan was called to look, on the evening of June 
25th, we now know. 

But McClellan in this instance, as elsewhere, overesti- 
mated his adversary's strength. This is the point to 
which the hostile criticism of his military career must 
chiefly be directed. This was the prime cause of his de- 
feat on the Peninsula and of his comparative failure in 
Maryland. The Comte de Paris, then his staff officer, 
assures us that, on the occasion we have described, Mc- 
Clellan believed that Jackson's arrival would swell Lee's 
army to 160,000 men, and that, consequently, to oppose 
an adequate force to the movement against his right, he 
would be obliged so to strip his left as to expose it to be 
crushed in and run over by heavy columns emerging from 


the Confederate works. It was in this mistaken view of 
his adversary's numbers that McClellan decided not to 
fight for his communications, but to retreat to the James 

Yet, though the Union commander decided not to 
fight for his communications, it was still necessary that, 
to carry out the projected retreat to the James, he should 
fight on the left bank of the Chickahominy. The enor- 
mous artillery and trains of such an army could not be 
pushed to the left and rear across the White Oak Swamp 
rapidly enough to allow the retirement of Porter from 
his exposed position, in season to escape a collision with 
the turning columns. This necessity led to the battle of 
Mechanicsville, or Beaver Dam Creek, on June 26th, 
and to the greater battle of Gaines' Mill, on the 27th. 

On the first named day Jackson, with his Valley 
troops, crossing the Chickahominy, high up, marched 
directly for the West Point Railway. A. P. Hill, at the 
head of a column of about equal strength, drawn from 
the entrenchments of Richmond, crossing at Meadow 
Bridge, under the eyes of Lee and Davis, pushed back 
the Union outposts, and, turning sharply down the 
stream, came, late in the afternoon, upon the division of 
McCall, strongly posted upon the left bank of Beaver 
Dam Creek, a tributary of the Chickahominy. To at- 
tack the position in front was useless, since Jackson's 
turning movement would soon inevitably compel its 
abandonment ; but the Confederate troops and Confed- 
erate commander were full of ardor, and a vehement as- 
sault was delivered, which was repulsed with great 

During the night, McCall's division was drawn back, 
and the three divisions under Porter were concentrated 
in a partially fortified position at Gaines' Mill, covering 


the bridges over the Chickahominy, which connected 
the Union right with the left. Here Porter awaited the 
enemy. About one o'clock A. P. Hill, coming straight 
down from the scene of yesterday's battle, attacked 
smartly with his own division and was repulsed. Two 
hours or more later, joined by Longstreet, he renewed 
the attack with fury, and a battle of extraordinaiy fierce- 
ness raged until five o'clock. Into this had come, just in 
the nick of time, Slocum's fine division of the Sixth 
Corps, which had crossed the river from Golding's. 
Porter commanded the action with peerless address and 
gallantry ; and his troops fought with a courage and 
tenacity which showed what might have been the end of 
the day had numbers been equal. But all this time a 
powerful enemy was steadily marching toward the battle- 
field, to change the fortune of the day and to render 
futile the valor of the Union forces. Jackson had found 
no one to oppose his movement toward the railroad, and 
divining the situation at the sound of Hill's guns, he had 
turned toward Cold Harbor. Thirty-three thousand 
Union troops were soon to be called to resist the united 
Confederate columns, numbering sixty thousand ; while, 
across the river, seven divisions confronted Richmond, 
where Magruder, with barely twenty-five thousand men, 
was doing his best, with the same audacity he had dis- 
played at Yorktown, to keep up the illusion of McClellan 
that Lee had still in his entrenchments at least eighty 
thousand men. 

At last the blow falls. Shortly before six o'clock 
Jackson hurls his fresh divisions into the fight. The 
Confederate fire extends rapidly around our right ; eveiy- 
Avhere the contest rages with rekindled fury ; brigades, 
already thrice repulsed, renew the assault ; and after a 
brief but desperate struggle, the Union lines are broken 


at all points, and thrown into retreat. Twenty guns have 
been captured ; six thousand men have fallen ; only a 
little space intervenes between the victorious Confeder- 
ates and the river which runs behind Porter's beaten 
corps. Duane's and Woodbury's bridges have been 
hopelessly lost ; but it is a " far cry " still to Alexander's 
Bridge, for some gallant troops form upon the last crest 
and face the foe with unfaltering resolution ; forty pieces 
of artillery turn their ugly muzzles north ; while, cool 
and collected as on parade, Porter orders everything for 
a stern resistance to the bitter end. And now an unac- 
customed cheer rises along the slender Union line. It is 
the cheer of men overweighted and worn, when they 
learn that help is at hand. Mingled with it is the easily 
distinguishable cheer of brave men who know that they 
are sorely wanted, and see that they have come in time. 
It is a reinforcement from the Second Corps ; two bri- 
gades of those which, a month ago, crossed the river in 
such haste to the relief of Keyes, and now as gladly and 
as hotly crowd the bridge for Porter's rescue. Good 
brigades, good men ! There wave the green, flags of the 
Irish regiments of the reckless, rollicking, irrepressible, 
irresponsible Meagher. Here comes the brigade of 
French, the grim old artillerist at the head. 

" These brigades," says McClellan, " advanced boldly 
to the front ; and by their example, as well as b'y the 
steadiness of their bearing, reanimated our own troops 
and warned the enemy that reinforcements had arrived. 
It was now dusk. The enemy, already repulsed several 
times with terrible slaughter, and hearing the shouts of 
the fresh troops, failed to follow up their advantage ; and 
this gave an opportunity to rally our men behind the 
brigades of Generals French and Meagher, and they again 
advanced up the hill ready to repulse another attack. 


During the night our thin and exhausted regiments were 
all withdrawn in safety, and by morning all had reached 
the other side of the stream." 

During the withdrawal from the left bank of the 
Chickahominy the two brigades under General French 
covered the rear. When the last of the troops had crossed, 
the Eighty-eighth New York destroyed the bridge. While 
Porter was thus engaged in furious battle on the left bank 
of the river, the enemy sought to prevent his reinforce- 
ment by sharp and persistent attacks, late in the afternoon 
of the 27th, upon the front of Smith's division of the 
Sixth Corps, which held the right bank of the river, that 
is, on the Richmond side. These attacks fell mainly on 
Hancock's brigade, wdiich was reinforced by the Fourth 
and Sixth Vermont and the Second New Jersey. The 
Fifteenth Massachusetts was also sent over from Sedg- 
wick to report to General Smith. In these attacks the 
enemy gained no ground, while sufTering severe loss. 


Up to this time the corps of Sumner had taken small 
part in the fighting of the " Seven Days," A brigade 
had been despatched to the support of Hooker in his 
"advance of the lines" on the 25th. During the late 
afternoon of the 26th the men of the Second from their 
place in the centre listened anxiously to the pulsations 
of the distant artillery at Beaver Dam Creek, without so 
much as receiving an order to be under arms. Even on 
the 27th only two brigades had been sent to the relief 
of Porter's hard-pressed men, and these had arrived in 
season, indeed, to check, by a brave show of force, the 
enemy's advance upon the bridge, but too late to become 
At the same time one resfiment 


from Sedgwick's division was sent to support Smith's di- 
vision at Golding's Farm. For the remainder of that 
bloody week, the Second Corps was to participate more 
actively, though always, as it chanced, successfully; doing 
everything assigned it easily, never pressed to its utmost 
endurance, not so much as once losing blood to fainting. 
Such was to be the good fortune of the corps in the com- 
ing battles. 

The day of the 28th of June was, in general, one of 
quiet and silence. The broken corps of Porter had, be- 
fore dawn of day, been withdrawn to the left bank of 
the river ; Slocum's division had rejoined Franklin at 
Golding's ; French's and Meagher's brigades had re- 
turned to their camps near Fair Oaks. McClellan's 
whole army had been concentrated on one side of the 
river; communication with the Pamunkey and the York 
had been abandoned ; the movement to the James had 
begun, so far as the passage of the almost endless trains 
was concerned. Yet Lee was still bent upon his orig- 
inal conception of the situation, viz., that McClellan 
would either gather his forces, and hurl them for a su- 
preme effort upon Hill and Jackson, with a view to re- 
gaining lost ground and protecting his communications, 
or, should he decide to retreat, would retreat down the 
Peninsula. It was not until late in the afternoon that 
the movement to the James was conjectured, after 
Ewell's division had reached Bottom's Bridge from the 
south, unopposed ; and the Confederate cavalry had 
searched the left bank of the Chickahominyto its mouth, 
without finding any signs of our infantry. 

Thus a day was lost to Lee and gained by McClellan, 
time of infinite importance in operations of such mani- 
fold difificulty. The only breach of the peace during the 
28th occurred during the morning, at Golding's Farm, 


while Smith's division was falling back to a new posi- 
tion made necessary by the withdrawal of Porter from 
the left bank of the river. The attack here made was 
easily thrown off by Hancock's brigade. 

On the morning of the 29th, McClellan suddenly let 
go his hold upon Richmond, and the several divisions, 
abandoning their entrenchments, fell back to their first 
defensive position of the scries the Army of the Potomac 
was to occupy during this critical movement. The line 
thus taken up crossed the Williamsburg Road, at about 
the point where the Confederate advance on May 31st 
had been stayed. 

The five divisions to which had been assigned the 
duty of covering the retreat during the 29th were not 
long left in suspense. A thick mist had covered their 
abandonment of the entrenchments ; but by eight o'clock 
the active Magruder had discovered that our works were 
no longer occupied, and he was soon in full pursuit. At 
nine o'clock he appeared on Sumner's front at the point 
where Richardson's division joined Sedgwick's, and pro- 
ceeded, after his manner, to see what he could find out. 
The attack fell mainly upon French's brigade, which oc- 
cupied the field known as " Allen's," the farm-house, the 
key of the position, being occupied by Brooke's Fifty- 
third Pennsylvania. Immediately in rear were Hazzard's 
four guns, soon reinforced by Pettit, with his rifles. The 
attack was made by Kershaw's and Grif^th's brigades. 

The fighting was for a time sharp. The Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania, the so-called " California Regiment," 
Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, of Sedgwick's division, was 
ordered up to support Brooke, which it did handsomely. 
After three repulses, the Confederates fell back, having 
lost General Griffith and many ofificers and men. This 
action, which was, as will be seen, of very limited extent, 


is known by the name of Allen's Farm. It occurred be- 
tween nine and eleven o'clock in the morning.' 

While Sumner was standing at bay on Allen's Field, 
full of fight, his position was really one of great danger. 
The Second Corps was supposed to connect with Smith's 
division ; but as a matter of fact the right of the corps 
was swung outward, leaving a considerable interval be- 
tween it and Smith's left. Into this open space in the 
Union line, Jackson, crossing by the engineer bridges, 
might be expected at any time to thrust the head of his 
column. Of this Sumner for a while remained uncon- 
scious, so occupied was he with the desire to get at it 
again with Magruder, who had assailed his front ; so re- 
luctant was he to seem to give an inch to the enemy. 
Franklin, who having sent away Slocum remained with 
his other division, finally persuaded Sumner to fall back 
on Savage Station, there to unite with Heintzelman and 

And now occurred one of the most remarkable and 
painful incidents of the war. Six divisions, including 
those so severely handled in the great battle of Gaines' 
Mill, had been sent across the White Oak Swamp, to oc- 
cupy positions which were certain to become of vital im- 
portance on the 30th, but against which the enemy could 
hardly bring any considerable force ^ during the day 

' By a very singular mistake, the Comte de Paris, in his History 
of the Civil War, makes this action occur in the evening, whether 
of the 28th or of the 29th, it is difficult to understand ; and as- 
signs as the reason for its inconclusiveness, that it was begun so 
late in the day. 

2 In fact, on the 28th and 29th Huger only, with eight to ten 
thousand men, was on that side. With his force Huger could not 
have successfully attacked the troops McClellan had thrown across 
the swamp to protect his line of retreat ; but he might have seri- 


whose story we are telling. Five divisions — Sumner's 
two, Heintzelman's two, and one of Franklin's — had 
been retained as sufficient to " stand off " any force which 
the enemy could concentrate before dark, and thus to 
win the day for the undisturbed progress of the move- 
ment toward the James. But that duty was not likely 
to prove a light one. Lee had discovered his error re- 
specting McClellan's plans, and the swift-footed, tireless 
divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia were hasten- 
ing to repair the consequences of that error. And yet, 
in the very moment when, at about four o'clock, Ma- 
gruder pushed his own and the divisions of McLaws and 
Jones, against the line at Savage Station, Sumner, to 
whom had been committed the command of the entire 
force, discovered, to his unspeakable amazement and in- 
dignation, that Heintzelman had, without a word of 
warning, marched his two divisions from the field of ap- 
proaching battle and was crossing the swamp. 

The possible consequences of such a desertion are 
sickening to contemplate. Fortunately, Jackson had 
been detained at the bridges. Burns, with the Seventy- 
Second and One Hundred and Sixth Regiments from 
the Philadelphia brigade, followed by Sully's First Min- 
nesota, moved rapidly to the left to encounter the first 
fury of the assault. Subsequently the Fifteenth Massa- 
chusetts and the Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New 
York, all of Sedgwick's division, came up to Burns' sup- 
port, and, later still, the Sixty-ninth New York, of Rich- 
ardson's, was sent over. General Brooks' brigade of the 
Sixth Corps was also marched across the rear into the 
woods which Heintzelman had abandoned. 

ously incommoded and disconcerted the movement and have 
afforded Lee much valuable information. He did neither. 


And now, from left to right of the line, the roar of bat- 
tle becomes continuous ; Kirby's, Hazzard's, Tompkins', 
Pettit's, Osborne's, and Bramhall's guns thunder over the 
heads of our troops, or fill the vacant spaces in the line. 
On the Confederate side the assault is made with Ma- 
gruder's characteristic impetuosity, while adown the 
railroad a huge gun, mounted on a platform car plated 
with iron and named by the Confederates, " the Land 
Merrimac," sends its monstrous missiles hurtling into 
our lines. The battle, though severely contested, is at 
no time doubtful after the first shock of Heintzelman's 
defection has been recovered from. Jackson is, in mercy, 
still detained, and Magruder's force finds " no thorough- 
fare " written in letters of fire at every point of brave 
Sumner's line. The troops in general behave beauti- 
fully. Here and there, now and then, a regiment flut- 
ters for a moment, or is a little pushed out of line, 
otherwise it would scarce be a battle, but officers and 
men feel that they can whip all they have in front of 
them, and Jackson still stays back. At last, just about 
sunset, our troops push forward along the whole line, 
and " Savage Station " has been fought and won. 

Of Heintzelman's defection it is impossible to speak 
too severely.' Had Jackson, as expected, come up, even 
only an hour before dark, instead of just after dark, the 

' General Webb's statement of Heintzelman's explanation is that 
" he saw that the open space about Savage Station was so crowded 
with troops that there was no room for more to be usefully em- 
ployed ; and that as there was but one road through the swamp 
direct from Savage's, he judged it wise to retire by that." Let 
this pass for the "open space about Savage Station;" but how 
about the woods on the Williamsburg Road which he was to hold, 
and which Burns and Brooks were so unexpectedly called upon to 
defend, after his defection ? 


absence of the gallant divisions of Hooker and Kearney 
might have left Sumner and Franklin to be overwhelmed 
But though this peril was escaped through the detention 
of Jackson, the loss of an advantage that might have 
been gained, had Heintzelman stood at his post, must 
always remain as a terrible charge against that officer. 
The facts are that Magruder, commanding the troops 
which through the 27th had held the entrenchments of 
Richmond, issued from his works on the first indication 
of the Union retreat and attacked the forces at Savage's 
with the utmost impetuosity, first, because of his own 
temperament; and secondly, in reliance upon the early 
appearance of Jackson on the Union right. Nothing 
doubting this, Magruder threw himself with all his weight 
into the fight. He was miles from his entrenchments, 
and most of the intervening space was perfectly familiar 
to the troops of Sumner and Heintzelman, They had 
marched over the ground ; had fought over it ; had for 
weeks camped upon it ; and had, that very morning, re- 
treated over it. Throwing himself impetuously and un- 
reservedly into fight, as Magruder did, a crushing defeat 
might have been ruin, since no supports, as it proved, were 
within reach ; his entrenchments were far away ; he was 
in a position of no natural strength; his flanks were not 
protected by any obstacle, and the farther he wms driven 
toward Richmond the farther would he have been from 
Jackson, who alone could bring relief and who, in fact, 
did not get up till dark. 

It is, then, perfectly justifiable to say that, had Heintz- 
elman with his entire corps been on the ground, not only 
would Magruder have been repulsed, as in fact he was, 
but his repulse would have found the Union lines wrapped 
around his flanks in a way to make it very difficult to 
extricate himself at all; impossible to extricate himself 


without great confusion and severe loss ; the plain of 
Savage Station might have seen Gaines' Mill avenged ; 
the retreat to the James might have ended before it was 
fairly begun. 

The approach of night on the 29th found Sumner vic- 
torious and happy, Magruder having been completely 
repulsed and driven off the ground. The old general was 
well content with his position, and would have been will- 
ing to stay there a week. His blood was up ; and of his 
own motion he was little likely to take a backward step. 
" It required," says the Comte de Paris, " a positive order 
from General McClellan to determine Sumner to cross 
the White Oak Swamp." The order was obeyed, for 
Sumner was the most subordinate soul alive. Smith was 
sent on ; then the Second Corps, and, at five o'clock on 
the morning of the 30th, French's brigade, the last to 
cross, as on the retreat from Gaines' Mill, destroyed the 
bridge that had been thrown over the stream which 
formed the channel of the so-called swamp, near Frazier's 

A sad feature of the withdrawal was the abandonment 
at Savage Station of 2,500 Union wounded and sick, for 
whose transportation by rail to the White House time 
had not sufficed. It went dreadfully against the grain of 
every officer and man to leave the poor fellows to the 
tender mercies of the enemy, though those tender mercies 
had not then become so well known as later in the war. 
A staff of nearly five hundred surgeons, nurses, and at- 
tendants remained to relieve suffering, while, amid the 
vast destruction of military stores which had all day and 
all the previous night gone on at Savage's, an ample 
supply for our sick and wounded was left uninjured. 

Among the killed or mortally wounded at Savage Sta- 
tion were Captain Charles McGonigle and Lieutenant 


De Benneville B. Shewell, Seventy-second Pennsylvania; 
Captain J. J. Delaney, Eighty-second New York, and 
Lieutenant Leroy S. Hewitt, Sixty-fourth New York. 
General Magruder is good enough to estimate our loss at 
three thousand killed and wounded. It was doubtless 
somewhere between three and four hundred. 


Daylight of the 30th found McClellan's army across 
the White Oak Swamp, while the ponderous siege train, 
tenderly cared for by the First Connecticut " Heavies ; " 
the ammunition and provision trains of the army, the 
long and pitiful procession of the sick and wounded who 
could walk or crawl to a place of safety, the long and 
shameful procession of men, " strayed or stolen " from 
their regiments, with no stomach for fight, but vast 
stomach for fresh beef; the lowing, bellowing herd of 
twenty-five hundred kine — all these, under the escort and 
protection of Keyes' corps, followed closely by Porter, 
were already nearing the James at Haxall. Yet success 
still remains to be achieved. Two more days must 
pass before entire safety is attained. Meanwhile the 
moving column must remain exposed to assault from 
Jackson, following fiercely on the line of retreat, and to 
still more dangerous assaults from Longstreet, Magruder, 
Huger, and A. P. Hill, who, passing north of the White 
Oak Swamp, will press down upon the long flank of the 
Union column stretched from Frazier's Farm to Malvern 
Hill. To retard Jackson's pursuit, and to resist the flank 
attacks of the other Confederate commanders, troops 
must be posted and bidden to stay in their places, what- 
ever odds shall be brought against them, since a collapse 
at any one point may be fatal. Forty-eight hours must 


be gained for the interminable trains to find a secure 
cover on the James. To earn those forty-eight hours 
will require the sacrifice of many thousands of brave men. 
To check the pursuit of Jackson down the road by 
which the Union army had retreated, Franklin was 
posted at White Oak Bridge, with Smith's division of 
his own corps, Naglee's brigade of Keyes' corps, Rich- 
ardson's division of Sumner's corps, and, for a while, two 
brigades of Sedgwick's. The position was a strong one 
and was stoutly held. Jackson came up at eleven o'clock, 
with a force of infantry outnumbering Franklin and with 
greatly superior artillery. The jaded troops had been 
massed on the ground beyond the Swamp, without 
much regard to order or concealment, and had gener- 
ally fallen asleep where they were halted, fairly numb 
with fatigue, when suddenly thirty pieces of Confederate 
artillery opened upon them from 'the other side. For 
awhile there was a scene of dire confusion ; and although 
the loss was small, many a soldier of Smith's or Richard- 
son's division holds that unexpected shelling at White 
Oak Swamp among his most memorable experiences. 
Soon, however, order was restored, the dangerously 
crowded masses were rapidly deployed, and Jackson was 
confronted by infantry and artillery as steady as his own. 
In spite of his superiority of force, even Jackson's splen- 
did soldiership Avas useless against the natural obstacles 
which opposed the crossing. The action became largely 
one of artillery, and though the Confederates had near- 
ly twenty batteries, the cool and steady firing of the 
Union guns, under Captain, afterward General, R. B. 
Ayres, kept the Confederate infantry at arm's length 
until night. Thus, on this, the most critical day of the 
seven, nearly one-half the pursuing army was neutralized 
by a comparatively small force, holding a commanding 


position at the crossing of the great Swamp. From the 
first, it was too late for Jackson to retrace his steps and 
follow the other corps of Lee around the northern limit 
of White Oak Swamp, with any hope of joining in the 
conflict of the day, at Glendale; and thus he was held 
in the mortifying position of being completely blocked 
by a position which he could neither carry nor turn. 

Meanwhile the Confederate right wing, having been 
thrown around the Swamp, was engaged in assailing the 
flank of the retreating army. 

There are three points at which Lee's divisions, hurry- 
ing down from Richmond, might especially have been 
expected to attack McClellan. The nearest on the 
Union line of march was Charles City Cross Roads. 
Just south of this, on the Quaker Road, leading thence 
to Malvern, was Glendale, where a large clearing offered 
a field of battle unusually wide for that section of Vir- 
ginia. From Glendale southward, along the Quaker 
Road, the flank of the Union column was more or less 
protected by swamps ; but as the line of retreat ap- 
proached the James, it again became open to attack by 
troops coming down the River Road. To cover the last- 
named point, McClellan had, on the morning of the 30th, 
posted the corps of Keyes and Porter, a force, as it 
proved, far more than sufficient for the subordinate at- 
tack which the enemy designed to make here. The Con- 
federates, under Holmes and Wise, seemingly surprised 
to find the Union troops in position, were driven off by 
the brigade of Warren and by the lire from Porter's bat- 
teries posted on Malvern Hill. 

But while thus, at one end of the long Union line. 
Holmes and Wise were easily repulsed by a fraction of 
Porter's corps, and at the other, Franklin was enabled, 
through the strength of his position, to prevent Jackson 


from crossing the White Oak Swamp, the main action 
of the day was fought at Glendale, where A. P, Hill and 
Longstreet attacked the division of McCall, supported by- 
Hooker and Kearney, and later by portions of Sedgwick's 
and Richardson's divisions. This was, in fact, one of the 
most severely contested actions of the campaign. The 
troops actually brought under fire, on the two sides, were 
nearly equal. INIcCall's division, which, after its brilliant 
repulse of A. P. Hill on the 26th, had lost fearfully at 
Gaines' Mill, bore the first onset of the enemy with for- 
titude, but repeated assaults finally broke the line of 
Seymour's brigade, which gave way in confusion, and at 
the same time the division of Hooker, which was on the 
left of Seymour, though with a considerable interval of 
uncovered ground, was furiously assailed. To Hooker 
was sent the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, which here won 
from that general high praise. In rear of the gap be- 
tween Seymour and Hooker, on Nelson's Farm, had lain 
since morning Burns' brigade of Sedgwick's division, the 
other two brigades, those of Dana and Sully,' having 
been detached to support Franklin at the bridge, as 
already described. Just in the crisis of the fight at 
Glendale, however, these good troops, recalled by Sum- 
ner's orders, began to arrive upon the ground, having 
come much of the way from the bridge at the double 
quick. With impetuosity they advance into the space 
abandoned by Seymour. The fire here is intensely hot, 
and although some of the regiments, arriving in haste, 
and thrown individually into action, become somewhat 
disordered, especially as McCall's men break through 
their forming ranks, ground is never for an instant yielded 

' Commanding Sedgwick's first brigade, owing to the illness of 
General Gorman, 


to the enemy. Burns' and Dana's brigades sustain the 
brunt of the action, the Seventy-first and Seventy- 
second Pennsylvania of the former, and the Nineteenth 
and Twentieth Massachusetts of the latter, greatly dis- 
tinguishing themselves and suffering heavy losses. Hook- 
er's men, too, push forward, and the line is re-established. 
Finding our force too strong for him here, the enemy 
turns his efforts against the right brigade of McCall, 
commanded by General Meade, on whose front is the 
famous " regular " battery of Randol. Blow upon blow 
falls hard and fast, and at length, about six o'clock, 
Meade's men give way, and Randol's guns are taken. 
General Meade is severely wounded and borne from the 
field. An hour later, another desperate charge drives 
back McCall's centre and captures Cooper's battery. 
Kearney, meanwhile, is assailed with no less fury, but 
his magnificent division, inspired by its peerless leader 
and strongly supported by Caldwell's brigade, which has 
been sent down from Richardson's division at the bridge, 
throws off every assault. 

Of Caldwell's regiments, the Sixty-first New York, 
under Barlow, and the Eighty-first Pennsylvania were the 
most severely engaged and sustained the greatest loss. 
Under orders from General Robinson, commanding one 
of Kearney's brigades. Colonel Barlow took his men in 
splendid style, with bayonets at a charge, through a field 
occupied by the enemy, where he captured a Confederate 
color.' At the farther edge of this field he was joined 
by the Eighty-first ; and these two gallant regiments, 

' " The Sixty-first New York Volunteers, under its most intrepid 
leader, Colonel Barlow, vied with the brave regiment [Sixty-third 
Pennsylvania, Colonel Hays] he had relieved, and charging the 
enemy bore off as a trophy one of his colors" (Kearney's official 


subsequently reinforced by the Fifth New Hampshire, 
sustained themselves in an advanced position until night- 
fall. Among Kearney's men, Colonel Alexander Hays, 
of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania regiment, afterward a 
division commander of the Second Corps, here showed 
the stuff of which he was made, exciting admiration by 
his headlong courage. 

Thus foiled in their attacks upon Hooker and Sedg- 
wick, upon Kearney and Caldwell, the enemy, late in the 
evening, desisted from further efforts. A portion of the 
field wrested from McCall was, indeed, held by the Con- 
federates, and they pulled out of the fight eight or ten 
captured guns ; but the troops of the Second and Third 
Corps held their ground, with plenty of force to spare 
for another just such fight, while at Charles City Cross 
Roads, Slocum having easily beaten back the detach- 
ments that advanced against him, kept two untouched 
brigades ready for any emergency, having sent one bri- 
gade to Kearney in the crisis of the action. The disap- 
pointment of the Confederates at this result was extreme. 
Greatly exaggerating the effect of their victory at Gaines' 
Mill, in which they believed they defeated the bulk of 
our army, and imagining a scene of general demoralization 
and panic along the line of INIcClellan's retreat, they had 
thought to win an easy victory, and by breaking through 
at Glendale to turn a flight into a rout, take Franklin in 
rear, and destroy the Army of the Potomac as a fighting 
force. Except, however, by their triumph over Mc'Call's 
weakened division, they had gained nothing. The divis- 
ions of Hooker, Kearney, Sedgwick, and Slocum remained 
intact ; every blow that had been dealt had been re- 
turned swift, strong, and sure, and they were only just 
ready to begin fighting at dark, while the distant booming 
of cannon from the direction of Frazier's Farm showed 

THE peninsula: seven days. 'J'J 

that Franklin still kept Jackson's fourteen brigades at 
bay. Couch, too, with his fresh division of the Fourth 
Corps, was drawing near the battle-field, coming up from 
Haxall's. Under circumstances like these, it was plainly 
useless to persist ; and although it was doubly hard for 
Hill and Longstreet to give up under the very eyes of 
General Lee, who had brought the President of the Con- 
federacy along with him to see the Army of the Potomac 
cut in two, the fighting died down and the battle was over. 

"The battle of Glendale," says the Comte de Paris, " is 
remarkable for its fierceness among all those that have 
drenched the American forests with blood." The part 
performed by the Second Corps in this action was im- 
portant and honorable, although here, as at Savage Sta- 
tion and previously at Fair Oaks, the corps had acc^uitted 
itself of every duty without distressing losses or the de- 
struction of the integrity or discipline of a single regiment. 
At White Oak Swamp Bridge, Richardson's division with 
two brigades from Sedgwick's had, in the morning, con- 
stituted more than half the force with which Franklin had 
accomplished the vital task of keeping the impetuous 
Jackson, with thirty-five thousand men, quiet under the 
sound of the guns of his fellow-commanders of the Army 
of Northern Virginia ; while Caldwell's brigade and the 
two brigades of Sedgwick just named made the march 
across to Glendale in season to take part in the repulse of 
Longstreet. General Burns in his official report bestowed 
high praise upon the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first regi- 
ments of his own brigade and upon the Nineteenth 
Massachusetts, which had been placed under his orders. 
The Twentieth Massachusetts showed very high quality 
in the trying circumstances under which it went into 

Among the killed of the day were Major Henry J. 


How and Lieutenant David Lee, Nineteenth Massa- 
chusetts ; Lieutenant George W. Kenny, Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania, and Lieutenant Hewitt I. Abbott, Eighty- 
first Pennsylvania. Among the wounded were Colonel 
Ebenezer W. Pierce,' Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, who 
lost an arm ; Colonel Charles F. Johnson, Eighty-first 
Pennsylvania ; Colonel E. W. Hinks, Nineteenth Massa- 
chusetts ; Captain George W. Hazzard, Fourth United 
States Artillery ; Lieutenant George VV. Scott, of Gen- 
eral Caldwell's staff, afterward the colonel of the Sixty- 
first New York, and Brevet Brigadier-General. 


The night of the 30th of June fell like a pall over the 
hopes of the Confederate commander. McClellan had, 
indeed, one day more of battle; this, however, was not for 
life, but for a more desirable position farther down the 
river, where supplies could advantageously be landed. At 
Haxall's the Army of the Potomac was already safe. That 
safety had been secured by the sturdy stand of Sumner at 
Savage's, on the 29th ; the prudent, judicious dispositions 
of Franklin at the bridge, on the 30th ; and by the gal- 
lantry and devotion displayed at Glendale. It was now 
possible for McClellan to withdraw Franklin from the 
crossing of the White Oak Swamp, and Sumner, Heintz- 
elman, and McCall from Glendale. The moment night 
fell all reason ceased for occupying so long and so ex- 

* This is the officer who, as General Pierce (of the Massachusetts 
Volunteer Militia), commanded at Big Bethel, under General But- 
ler. Not content to rest under the imputations cast on his con- 
duct of that action, he pluckily went into service a second time, as 
colonel of a three-years regiment. 


posed a line. The last of the trains had now reached the 
James, at Haxall's ; and morning was to see the whole 
army arrayed on the magnificent position of Malvern 

But among the fifty thousand men who held the line 
from the Swamp to Nelson's Farm at dark on the 30th of 
June, there was one man who was in no haste to move, 
probably there was only one. That man was Edwin V. 
Sumner. Any battle-field on which he had fought was, 
ipso facto, endeared to him. The clearing at Nelson's Farm 
had become lovely in his eyes ever since Longstreet's troops 
had exchanged volleys across it with the men of the Sec- 
ond Corps. The fact that Glendale was, in the plans of 
the commander-in-chief, merely a painful and perilous 
necessity, a position to be held for one day, to allow the 
escape of the trains and artillery; that every hour of that 
occupation had been attended with danger, and that all 
occasion for its occupation had ceased at dark — all this 
weighed little with the fiery veteran who had fought and 
conquered on that ground. Like the disciple of old, he 
felt that it was good to be there. Nothing would have 
been more soothing to his sensibilities than the thought 
of getting up in the morning to fight Longstreet and A. 
P. Hill over again, with Magrudcr and Huger, who would 
then have come up, thrown into the bargain. 

But General Sumner's views of the eligibility of the 
position of the 30th were not shared by his fellow corps 
commanders. So fully was it understood that those posi- 
tions were merely a necessity of that day's situation, to be 
abandoned as soon as night should fall, in pursuance of the 
general plan of retreat, that, without even awaiting orders 
from general headquarters, Franklin, who had so stoutly 
held the crossing of the Swamp, began his retreat when 
it was fairly dark ; and Heintzelman notified Sumner of 


his intention to do the same. The prospect of having 
Jackson's four divisions upon his right flank in the morn- 
ing, in addition to the force that might be found on his 
front, was too much even for the stubborn commander of 
the Second Corps, and, however regretfully, he followed 
Franklin and Heintzelman to Malvern Hill. But he 
could not avoid bearing his testimony against such irregu- 
lar practices, and in his ofificial report he says : " At 9 
P.M. I received intelligence that General Franklin had re- 
treated, and that General Heintzelman was going to do 
it. This, of course, compelled me to retire at once, which 
I would not have done without orders from the com- 
manding general if these generals had not fallen back and 
entirely uncovered my right flank." 

In the early morning of July ist, the Army of the 
Potomac was drawn up in battle array on Malvern Hill. 
Porter held the left of the line, occupying the positions 
from which he had, the day before, repulsed the feeble 
attack of Holmes and Wise. His right, composed of 
Morell's division, rested on the James River Road. Here 
he connected with Couch's division, which, since June 
28th, had been detached from its corps, the Fourth. On 
the right of Couch, whose troops were arranged in a sin- 
gle line with but one regiment in support, lay the corps 
of Heintzelman ; Kearny's division first, then Hooker's. 
On Hooker's right lay the corps of Sumner; and on 
Sumner's right, the corps of Franklin. The line, several 
miles in length, was a huge semicircle, the two extrem- 
ities resting on the river. The whole bristled with bat- 
teries, while the vast artillery reserve was placed on the 
broad plateau behind. 

It is not necessary to repeat the oft-told story of the 
victorious action of Malvern Hill. The infantry attack 
fell upon the front of Morell's and Couch's divisions, 


although the artillery of Heintzelman farther to the right, 
and that of the fleet from the extreme left, contributed 
importantly to the destruction of the enemy's columns. 
As the blows fell harder and faster troops from other 
parts of the line were brought up, until at last nine in- 
fantry brigades wxre actively engaged. Yet these consti- 
tuted less than one-third of the Army of the Potomac. 
The successive assaults, the first of which took place at 3 
P.M., were made by the troops of Huger, Magruder (who 
appeared here for the first time since the battle of Sav- 
age's Station), and D, H. Hill. At half-past four. Couch, 
crossing the James River Road to the front of Morel 1, 
and not finding that ofHcer, assumed control himself, and 
from that time until the close of the action remained in 
charge of the whole infantry line.' His horse was shot 
under him as he marshalled one of Morell's regiments, 
which had been momentarily thrown into confusion, and 
he displayed everywhere the utmost coolness, readiness, 
courage, and resolution. The regular batteries of Kings- 
bury, Seeley, and Ames, and the volunteer battery of 
Weeden, far surpassed the ordinary achievements of ar- 
tillery ; they fairly smashed the artillery which the Con- 
federates sought to bring into action ; battery after bat- 
tery, on that side, was driven from the field without being 
able to get a single shot out of one of their guns ; while 
upon the daring infantry lines which pressed forward in 

' "The attacks fell mainly on Porter on the left, and on Couch ; 
and the success of the day was in a large degree due to the skill 
and coolness of the latter, who, holding the hottest part of the 
Union line, was gradually reinforced by the brigades of Caldwell, 
Sickles, Meagher, and several of Porter's, till he came to command 
the whole left centre, displaying in his conduct of the battle a high 
order of generalship " (Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the 



the hope of carrying the crest they rained a fire which, 
for destructiveness, has seldom if ever been exceeded in 
the history of war. 

The participation of the Second Corps, which, as has 
been said, was stationed far to the right, beyond the field 
of actual conflict, was through the brigades of Caldwell 
and Meagher of Richardson's division. Caldwell was the 
first to arrive. After lying in reserve under a severe fire 
of artilleiy for about an hour, his brigade was ordered 
into action. The Fifth New Hampshire was detached 
and sent to General A. P. Howe, to support a battery on 
the extreme right of Couch's line. The Sixty-first New 
York and the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, both under Colo- 
nel Barlow, were put in between Palmer's and Aber- 
crombie's brigades, being drawn up in the open field, while 
the enemy occupied the edge of the woods in front. Both 
these regiments bore themselves with the utmost steadi- 
ness under a heavy fire, and were handled to perfection 
by their accomplished commander, who had already won 
a high reputation at Fair Oaks and Glendale. The Ger- 
man Seventh New York, under Colonel Van Schack, 
which had joined after Fair Oaks, fought on Barlow's left. 

A little after night fell there was a sudden cessation 
in the teasing fire which the enemy still kept up, though 
the Sixty-first and Eighty-first had long since ceased fir- 
ing; and in the lull. Barlow heard the ominous clatter 
which told that bayonets were being fixed on the hostile 
line. A moment later and there was a rapid rush out of 
the woods. Barlow held his men firmly in hand until the 
enemy were close upon him, and then opened with a vol- 
ley at command, followed by an incessant firing at will, 
before which the enemy fled back to cover. Riding to 
the front of his line. Colonel Barlow found the dead and 
wounded of this charge close up to his line. 


It was a late exigency of the battle which called the 
Irish brigade to the scene of conflict. About six o'clock 
a powerful column of the enemy advanced with extraor- 
dinary resolution upon the position held by Morell, as if 
determined to carry it at any cost. 

General Sumner, who had, at Couch's instance, already 
despatched Caldwell's brigade, now, on hearing the first 
outburst which greeted this column, without waiting for 
any further request, sent the Irish brigade post haste to 
report to Couch. The rising storm of battle quickened 
the steps of the enthusiastic Irishmen, hastening to take 
part in the conflict. Immediately on their arrival at 
the West House, they were ordered to support General 
Griffin's guns. It was nearly dark, and the field of bat- 
tle had become a scene of the most magnificent pyro- 
technics. Jets of flame were darting from thousands of 
rifles; hissing fuses marked the flight of innumerable 
shells, crossing the plain from every direction, while the 
din of battle never for a moment ceased. 

Moving across the road Meagher formed column of 
regiments, the Sixty-ninth in front, under the gallant 
Nugent, and advanced to the position of Martindale's 
brigade. The two rear regiments were soon detached, as 
will be related ; but the Sixty-ninth, supported by the 
Eighty-eighth, under Major Ouinlan, pushed forward 
and encountered the enemy with great spirit. Anyone 
who has ever been in action, knows how easy it is to 
recognize the firing of fresh troops ; and the writer has 
never forgotten the outburst which announced that the 
Irishmen had opened upon the Confederate column, now 
half way up the slope. As soon as the Sixty-ninth had 
exhausted its ammunition, the Eighth-eighth took its 
place while Nugent's men replenished their boxes. 
When the Eighty-eighth had in turn exhausted its sixty 


rounds, the Sixty-ninth was again moved to the front. 
Scarcely had it relieved its comrade, when Nugent dis- 
covered that a daring body of the enemy had mounted 
the hill and was bearing down upon his flank. Changing 
front with his left companies, and sending back orders 
which brought Quinlan with the Eighty-eighth up on 
the left of the Sixty-ninth, Nugent charged with both 
regiments, and met the enemy in a hand to hand en- 
counter, which speedily resulted in the complete over- 
throw of the attacking force, and the capture of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Waggaman, commanding the Tenth 

While the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth were thus 
engaged, the remaining regiments of the brigade had 
been sent to other parts of the field. The Twenty-ninth 
Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes, had been at 
first held in reserve, but was later sent to support Rob- 
ertson's battery of horse artillery, which the terrific out- 
burst of the early evening had caused Porter to bring 
forward in i^erson with the greatest haste. Upon repre- 
sentations made by an ofificer of General McClellan's 
staff, the Sixty-third New York was ordered by General 
Meagher to accompany that officer to act as support to a 
battery which was going into action on still another part 
of the line. 

Night fell upon the field of battle, cumbered with the 
corpses of the slain and the writhing bodies of the 
wounded. Over an extended front the ground between 
the Union line and the woods had been trampled in re- 
peated charges by the troops of Huger, Hill, and Magru- 
der ; and everywhere prostrate horses and prostrate men 
bore witness to the gallantry which had carried these 
divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia across the 
plain and up the fatal slopes of Malvern Hill. 


Night fell, indeed, but not in quiet. The cannon still 
boomed at intervals. The shrieking shells could be 
tracked through the darkness by their burning fuses as 
they crossed the field in angry retaliation, and as they 
burst lit up some little space with a lurid and baleful 
glare. Now and then the rattle of small arms broke forth, 
as the uneasy lines of skirmishers pressed too closely on 
each other, and, for a moment, aroused the expectation 
of a night attack. 

Night fell upon the last hope of Davis and Lee, and of 
their lately jubilant people and army, to crush and de- 
stroy the Union forces. Until Glendale, hardly a doubt 
had entered the Confederate mind that this, and not less 
than this, must be the outcome of the matchless valor of 
their soldiers and the daring strategy of their commanders. 
The close of day on July ist found McClellan's army in- 
tact, not a brigade captured or destroyed ; its base safely 
shifted from the York to the James ; the navy at its back ; 
its line of battle stern and defiant ; its last assailants 
beaten back to cover ; the ground in its front strewn with 
the killed or wounded of one of the bloodiest battles of 
the war, in which not one inch of space had, for one 
moment of time, been yielded to the most furious assault. 

Among the killed of the Second Corps at Malvern 
Hill were Lieutenant-Colonel Eli T. Conner, Eighty- 
first Pennsylvania ; Major Charles L. Brown, Thirty- 
fourth New York ; Lieutenant Stephen Lange, Seventh 
New York; Lieutenant Thomas Reynolds, Sixty-ninth 
New York ; Captain Joseph O'Donoghue and Lieu- 
tenant Francis J. Hackett, Eighty-eighth New York. 

Among the wounded were Colonel E. C. Charles, 
Forty-second New York; Colonel John Burke, Sixty- 
third New York; Lieutenant Thomas L. Livermore, Fifth 
New Hampshire, afterward the corps Chief of Ambulances. 


The losses of the Army of the Potomac during the 
"Seven Days " had been 1,734 killed; 8,062 wounded ; 
6,053 missing; in all, 15,849. The losses of the Second 
Corps had been 201 killed; 1,195 wounded; 1,024 miss- 
ing; in all, 2,420. The Third Corps had lost 1,973; the 
Fourth, 800 ; the Sixth, 2,878. 

Of all the corps. Porter's had suffered most. This corps, 
taken with McCall's division and the reserve artillery at- 
tached thereto, had had to bear one-half the entire loss. 
This was the only portion of the army which had been 
in any sense shattered. 



Although the battle of Malvern Hill was in all re- 
spects a victory, the enemy being repulsed at every 
point with great slaughter, without gaining so much as 
a single trophy, or occupying any part of the Union posi- 
tion for the briefest space of time, the Army of the Po- 
tomac that night retreated to Harrison's Landing, on the 
James, as a position better suited for the delivery of sup- 
plies and stores. Here it remained, resting and refitting, 
until about August 7th, when the withdrawal of the ac- 
tive force from the Peninsula may be said to have be- 
gun. During the long stay at Harrison's Landing, the 
Fifty-ninth New York, Colonel William L. Tidball, was 
assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division. On 
the 2d of July a still more important reinforcement was 
received, when General Nathan Kimball joined, with 
three regiments, all destined to win high distinction in 
their service with the Second Corps : the Eighth Ohio, 
Colonel S. S. Carroll (Lieutenant-Colonel Sawyer, pres- 
ent commanding) ; the Fourteenth Indiana, Colonel 
William Harrow; the Seventh Virginia, Colonel James 
Evans. These troops had served under McClellan in 
West Virginia, and under Shields in "The Valley;" they 
were already veterans, inured to marching and undaunted 
in battle. At first General Kimball's command formed 
an independent brigade, becoming later the nucleus of 
the Third Division of the corps. Among other changes 


in organization at Harrison's Landing occurred the reduc- 
tion of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers from 
a fifteen-company to a ten-company regiment, the su- 
pernumerary officers being mustered out. The several 
reinforcements received raised the aggregate, present and 
absent, in the face of numerous desertions and discharges 
for disability, from 21,707, as by the corps return of June 
30th, to 24,834, on the 31st of July. Out of this num- 
ber the " present for duty " aggregated 16,013. 

On the 4th of July Brigadier-Generals Sumner (U. 
S, A.), Richardson, and Sedgwick (U. S. Vols.) were pro- 
moted to be Major-Generals of Volunteers. Captain A. 
W. Putnam became the Quartermaster at Corps Head- 
quarters; Surgeon J. A. Liddell, Medical Director. Lieu- 
tenant J. C. Audenreid succeeded Lieutenant Cushing as 
aide-de-camp. The latter took command of the artillery 
of the First Division. 

During the month of July the following changes took 
place among the field-officers of the corps. 

Colonel Ira R. Grosvenor, Seventh Michigan, re- 
signed July 8th. Colonel Thomas J. Parker, Sixty- 
fourth New York, was honorably discharged July 12th. 
Colonel William Harrow, Fourteenth Lidiana, resigned 
July 30th, but was recommissioned colonel August 4th. 
Major William W. Cook, Fifth New Hampshire, re- 
signed July 17th, in consequence of his Fair Oaks wounds. 
Major Robert A. Parrish, Jr., Seventy-first Pennsyl- 
vania, was honorably discharged July i6th. One officer 
was dism.issed the service : Major James M. De Witt, 
Seventy-second Pennsylvania. 

The five weeks passed at Harrison's Landing were alto- 
gether uneventful, except for the shelling of our lines by 
the enemy's artillery, from the opposite side of the James 
River, at midnight of July 31st, and for the movement 


of General Hooker to Malvern Hill between the 3d and 
7th of August. Hooker was supported by Sedgwick's 
division of the Second Corps, and, at a later period, by 
Couch's of the Fourth Corps. The movement was suc- 
cessful ; but peremptory orders from Washington, for 
the evacuation of the Peninsula, compelled General Mc- 
Clellan to withdraw the troops engaged in this expedi- 
tion, and, after such delay as was necessarily involved in 
the movement of the sick, the trains, and the artillery, 
to retreat with his whole force down the Peninsula, up 
which the army had marched full of hope and courage 
three months before. Some of the divisions embarked 
at Yorktown ; others, at Fort Monroe; others still, at 
Newport News. The Second Corps, after several days' 
delay from lack of transports, took shipping at the lat- 
ter point, and arrived at Acquia Creek on the 26th of 
August, it being designed to despatch the corps thence 
to the line of the Rappahannock, in order to support 
General Pope on his left. It was, however, not the des- 
tiny of the Second Corps to enter actively into the cam- 
paign known as the " Second Bull Run." This was cer- 
tainly not the fault of the corps or its commander. No 
body of troops could have been in finer, form ; no 
leader more ready to resist or attack as duty should call. 
The corps, which had, on the 26th, reached Acquia 
Creek with a view to marching across to support Pope's 
left flank on the Rappahannock, was, on the 27th, or- 
dered to Alexandria, upon the news that Pope had been 
outflanked by his right and his communications broken, 
involving his precipitate retreat upon Manassas. The 
27th and 28th were days almost of panic at Washington, 
Halleck hfmself knowing little or nothing of Pope's po- 
sition and plans. On the 28th Halleck instructed Mc- 
Clellan to place Sumner's corps, as it should arrive, near 


the guns and particularly at Chain Bridge. Had Sum- 
ner's corps with Franklin's, which had been even longer 
on the ground, been promptly marched out toward Ma- 
nassas, artillery or no artillery, the result of the action of 
August 30th must have been widely different. It is, of 
course, better to send a corps with its artillery than with- 
out it ; but it was not for want of cannon that the action 
of the 30th was lost, but for want of a sufficient number 
of steady, enduring infantry. 

That Franklin was not up on the 30th has been made 
the subject of complaint, now against Franklin himself, 
now against McClellan, now against Halleck. Mr. Ropes, 
in his admirable history of " The Army under Pope," 
seems to have shown conclusively that the responsibility 
rests upon the last-named. The same apprehensions re- 
garding Washington, which had, in May, induced him to 
withhold McDowell's thirty-five thousand men who were 
intended to form McClellan's right, in August kept him 
uncertain, inconstant, incoherent, for the space of two 
days, holding in front of the capital the two full corps 
of Franklin and Sumner, the considerable commands of 
Cox and Tyler, with Couch's division rapidly coming up 
the river. But wherever the responsibility for the non- 
despatch of Franklin's corps, by the evening of the 28tli 
or the morning of the 29th, may rest, no one ever inti- 
mated that the delay in forwarding Sumner's corps was 
due, in any sense or in any degree, to its commander. 
No one doubted that the old soldier would have marched 
on the moment, even though he had had to trudge on 
foot at the head of his troops. That both Franklin and 
Sumner might have participated in the battle of Chan- 
tilly, on the ist of September, is not to be questioned, 
for both these commands were then up within striking 
distance. Moreover, Couch, the last to leave the Penin- 


sula, had collected at Alexandria one-half of his fine, 
fresh, large division, and had marched out to German- 
town, though without a single piece of artillery of his 
own. These reinforcements gave Pope not less than 
twenty-five thousand troops who had not fired a shot 
since July ist. Here, as Mr. Ropes has pointed out, 
was the opportunity for closing the campaign with a 
victory as brilliant as that which terminated the retreat 
to the James. A new Malvern Hill might have been 
fought at Chantilly. Jackson had undertaken one of his 
wild incursions into Pope's rear; Longstreet was far be- 
hind, and could not come up until long after nightfall ; 
Kearney and Reno's divisions actually sufficed to hold 
Jackson at bay ; Hooker's division, the two divisions 
of Sumner, the two divisions of Franklin, and two bri- 
gades of Couch were all available to be thrown upon 
Jackson's right and left. " Such an attack," says Mr. 
Ropes, " would have been simply fatal to Jackson. He 
had absolutely no retreat." 

But it was not to be so. The campaign was destined 
to end in humiliation. The braggart who had begun 
his campaign with insolent reflections, in General Orders, 
upon the Army of the Potomac and its commander, and 
with silly bluster about his policy being attack and not 
defence, about discarding " such ideas " as lines of re- 
treat and bases of supply, about looking before and not 
behind, about studying the possible lines of retreat of his 
enemy and leaving his own to take care of themselves, 
had been kicked, cufTed, hustled .about, knocked down, 
run over, and trodden upon as rarely happens in the his- 
tory of war. His communications had been cut ; his 
headquarters pillaged ; a corps had marched into his 
rear, and had encamped at its ease upon the railroad by 
which he received his supplies ; he had been beaten or 


foiled in every attempt he had made to " bag" those de- 
fiant intruders; and, in the end, he was glad to find a 
refuge in the intrenchments of Washington, whence he 
had sallied forth, six weeks before, breathing out threat- 
enings and slaughter. 

In the withdrawal after Chantilly, Sumner, with the 
Second Corps, covered the retreat on the Vienna and 
Langley road.' On arriving at the Potomac, Sumner at 
first took post on the Virginia side ; but on the next day, 
the 3d, was ordered to Tenallytown, JNId., just outside the 
District of Columbia. 

During the month of August Colonel James Evans, 
Seventh Virginia, resigned, being succeeded in the com- 
mand of that regiment by Colonel Joseph Snyder, an 
officer new to the command. The following officers 
were honorably discharged : Lieutenant-Colonel James 
J. Mooney and Major Peter Bowe, Forty-second New 
York ; Major Edward Z. Lawrence, Sixty-first New 
York ; Captain W. O. Bartlett, First Rhode Island Ar- 
tiller}^ Another change which took place during this 
month deserves especial notice. To fill the vacancy 
caused by the death at Fair Oaks of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Massett, of the Sixty-first New York, the Governor 
of that State selected Lieutenant Nelson A. Miles, 
Twenty-second jNIassachusetts, on account of his eminent 
services on the Peninsula. On every successive field of 
battle the merits of this remarkable young officer had 
shone with increasing splendor. 

On the 5th of September, Lee's intention of crossing 
the Potomac having become clearly manifest, the Second 
Corps, with Williams' Twelfth Corps, both under com- 
mand of Sumner, forming the centre of the army in its 
new dispositions, marched to Rockville. It was not yet 

' Lt. Ch. Zierenberg, First Minnesota, was mortally wounded. 


certain whether the enemy's plan was to move down the 
Potomac and attack Washington from the north, to move 
upon Baltimore, or to invade Pennsylvania. The prog- 
ress of affairs made it increasingly probable that the last 
was Lee's real purpose, and the Second Corps was suc- 
cessively advanced to Middleburg, September 9th, to 
Clarksburg, September loth, to Urbana, September 12th, 
and on the 13th to Frederick City, which had been occu- 
pied by our forces the day before, after a brisk skirmish 
in the very streets of the city. 

Probably no soldier who entered Frederick on the 
morning of the 13th will ever forget the cordial wel- 
come with which the rescuing army was received by the 
loyal inhabitants. For five months the Second Corps 
had been upon the soil of Virginia, where every native 
white face was wrinkled with spite as the "invaders" 
passed ; marching through or encamping in a region 
which, to a Northern eye, was inconceivably desolate 
and forlorn, barren fields affording the only relief to the 
dreary continuity of tangled thickets and swampy bot- 
toms. Here, in the rich valley of the Monocacy, shut 
in by low mountains of surpassing grace of outline, all 
nature was in bloom; the signs of comfort and opulence 
met the eye on every side ; while, as the full brigades of 
Sumner, in perfect order and with all the pomp of war, 
w^ith glittering staffs and proud commanders, old Sumner 
at the head, pressed through the quaint and beautiful 
town, the streets resounded with applause, and from bal- 
cony and window fair faces smiled, and handkerchiefs 
and scarfs waved to greet the army of the Union. 
Whether the ancient and apocryphal Barbara Fritchie 
had sufficiently recovered from the sentimental shock of 
a poetical shower of imaginary musket-balls to appear 
again on this occasion may be doubted ; but many an 


honest and many a fair countenance of patriot man and 
patriot woman looked out upon the brave array of Sum- 
ner's corps with smiles and tears of gratitude and joy. 
Amid all that was desolate and gloomy, amid all that 
was harsh and terrible, in the service these soldiers of the 
Union were called to render, that bright day of Septem- 
ber 13, 1862, that gracious scene of natural beauty and 
waving crops, that quaint and charming Southern city, 
that friendly greeting, form a picture which can never 
pass out of the memory of any whose fortune it was to 
enter Frederick town that day. 

The night of the 13th, the mass of the Army of the 
Potomac rested near Frederick, with Franklin at Buckeys- 
ton, Couch at Licksville, and Reno far in advance upon 
the right at Middletown, feeling the enemy. Meanwhile, 
to the left and front, at Harper's Ferry, twelve thousand 
Union troops, under Colonel Dixon S. Miles, lay in peril, 
environed and beset by six Confederate divisions. On 
the 14th, and through the 14th, and even until 8 o'clock 
on the morning of the 15th, Miles still held out. That 
the passes of the South Mountain were not carried on 
the 13th, or early on the 14th, and thus a force poured 
into the Pleasant Valley to take in the rear McLaws and 
Anderson, who were assailing Miles from the north, has 
been made the subject of grave impeachment against 
McClellan. Passing below the commander-in-chief, the 
blame has, by some, been laid on the shoulders of Frank- 
lin, who commanded the left column, which was directed 
against Crampton's Pass, the nearest point at which the 
South Mountain could be crossed for the relief of Miles. 
Franklin, indeed, carried the pass in the most brilliant 
manner on the afternoon of the 14th, and by night had 
debouched into Pleasant Valley. But on the morning 
of the 15th, although Franklin was only two leagues 


away, Miles, at eight o'clock, surrendered his command, 
thus not only yielding twelve thousand prisoners to the 
enemy, but opening the way for McLaws and Anderson 
to slip out through Harper's Ferry, or for Walker to pass 
through that point to their support. 

While Franklin was thus engaged at Crampton's Pass, 
on the afternoon of the 14th of September, Hooker's First 
and Reno's Ninth Corps, both under Burnside, forced 
the passage of Turner's Gap, six miles to the north, 
against Longstreet, after an action of extreme severity, in 
which Reno, the most promising officer of the Potomac 
Army, lost his life. 

Sumner's corps was in support of the columns attacking 
at Turner's Gap, but was not engaged, passing to the front 
only at nightfall to relieve Reno's corps, which had suffered 
severely in its victorious engagement of the afternoon. 

On the morning of the 15th the four corps of the right 
and centre, with Sykes' division of the Fifth Corps, 
passed through the defile, and were directed upon the 
Antietam River, behind which, around the village of 
Sharpsburg, Lee had established himself to await the 
threatened attack of McClellan, the promised reinforce- 
ment of Jackson. Franklin with his own (Sixth) corps 
and Couch's division of the Fourth were held well out 
on the left to watch McLaws and Anderson. Meanwhile 
Jackson's troops were rapidly moving up the right bank 
of the Potomac, to cross at Shepherdstown and reinforce 
Lee behind the Antietam ; to be followed, a little later, 
by the divisions of McLaws and Anderson, which, slipping 
away from in front of Franklin, who had at no time got 
close enough to the force in Pleasant Valley for serious 
skirmishing, set out on that long march to join Lee 
which a proper degree of activity on the part of the 
Union commander would have rendered useless. 


In his history of the Antietam and Fredericksburg 
campaigns, General Palfrey has given a strong but just 
expression to the considerations which imperatively re- 
quired that General McClellan, crossing the South Moun- 
tain at Turner's, on the morning of the 15th of Septem- 
ber, should have pushed straight and hard against that 
portion of the Confederate army which was under the 
immediate direction of the commander-in-chief. By the 
light of Lee's despatch, so fortunately picked up in Fred- 
erick, McClellan knew the position of every division of 
the hostile army. He was aware that the capture of 
Harper's Ferry had withdrawn not less than six divisions,' 
not one of which could, by the most strenuous exertions, 
be brought up, through the long, roundabout way which 
alone was open to them, to support Lee on the Antietam 
before the morning of the i6th, while a portion could 
not be expected before the 17th. In this situation the 
most strenuous exertions should have been made to carry 
the four corps and the detached division (Sykes'), consti- 
tuting the right and centre, clean and fast across the 
space, not more than seven miles as the line of march was, 
which intervened between the base of the South Moun- 
tain and the banks of the Antietam. The staff should 
have been out upon the road all day, full of life and all 
alert to prevent delays, to keep the columns moving, to 
crowd the troops forward, and to bend everything to the 
encounter. But it was not to be so. The army moved 
uncertainly and slowly for lack of the inspiration and di- 
rection which general headquarters should always supply, 
so that only Richardson's and Sykes' divisions, with the 
cavalry, came in actual contact with the enemy during 
the day. These divisions, finding the enemy in position 

' Jackson's three ; and those of Walker, McLaws, and Anderson. 


behind the Antletam, halted and deployed, Richardson 
on the right (north) of the road from Keedysville to 
Sharpsburg, Sykes on the left (south) of the road. The 
other divisions of the right and centre came up during 
the evening or night, most of them being simply massed 
as they arrived. 

If it be admitted to have been impracticable to throw 
the thirty-five brigades that had crossed the South 
Mountain at Turner's across the Antietam during the 
15th in season and in condition to undertake the attack 
upon Lee's fourteen brigades that day with success, it is 
difificult to see what excuse can be offered for the failure 
to fight the impending battle on the i6th, and that early. 
It is true that Lee's force had then been increased by the 
arrival of Jackson, with Starke's and Lawton's divisions, 
but those of Anderson, McLaws, Walker, and A. P. Hill 
could not be brought up that day. A peremptory recall 
of Franklin, in the early evening of the 15th, would have 
placed his three divisions in any part of the line that 
might be desired. Even without Franklin, the advantage 
of concentration would have been on the side of Mc- 
Clellan. When both armies were assembled the Union 
forces were at least nine to six ; of the Confederate six, 
only four could possibly have been present on the i6th. 
Without Franklin, the odds would still have been seven 
to four. 

The eve of Antietam witnessed important changes in 
the structure of the Second Corps. General Kimball's 
regiments had, since their arrival at Harrison's Landing, 
July 2d, been treated as forming an independent bri- 
gade. This, on the march to Antietam, had been rein- 
forced by a nine months' regiment, the One Hundred 
and Thirty-second Pennsylvania, Colonel R. A. Oakford. 
On the afternoon of September i6th the brigade of 


General Max Weber, comprising the First Delaware, 
Colonel John W. Andrews ; Fourth New York, Colonel 
J. D. McGregor ; and the Fifth Maryland, Major Blu- 
menberg, was assigned to the corps. These troops, to- 
gether with three new regiments — the Fourteenth Con- 
necticut, Colonel D wight Morris ; One Hundred and 
Eighth New York, Colonel O. H. Palmer; and the Oiie 
Hundred and Thirtieth Pennsylvania, Colonel H. I. 
Zinn — forming a brigade under command of Colonel 
Morris, were constituted a division, to be known as 
the Third, under the command of General William H. 
French, formerly the commander of the First Brigade of 
the First Division. 

So far as the army was concerned, the work of the 
i6th was very trivial. Of the thirteen divisions that 
came up, only Hooker's corps, crossing the Antietam 
by the upper fords, became engaged, and that but par- 
tially. Most of the divisions did not even assume po- 
sitions with reference to the fighting of the next day. 
It was to require forty-eight hours to carry the Army of 
the Potomac seven miles and get them into fight. Con- 
trast this with the way in which the same corps were 
brought into action at Gettysburg, ten months later, or 
with the manner in which the Western troops were 
marched from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson and thrown 
against the latter position ! The Comte de Paris as- 
sumes that the fault Avas in the demoralization of Mc- 
Clellan's army. "Two weeks only had elapsed," he 
says, " since he had taken command of this army, or 
rather this disorganized mob. He had not been able to 
transform it sufficiently to secure that regularity and 
perseverance in the march which, even more than steadi- 
ness under fire, constitutes the superiority of old troops." 
This criticism is altogether erroneous. The Potomac 


army, excepting possibly the First and Twelfth Corps, 
which had had particularly hard fortune in the campaign 
under Pope, was in better condition on the 15th of Sep- 
tember, 1862, than on the 30th of June, 1863, after it 
had passed through the most disastrous and depressing 
defeats of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, in which 
it lost thirty thousand men, largely the veterans of the 
Peninsula, with an excessive proportion of tried and 
useful ofificers. The superiority of 1863 over 1862 was 
in the spirit that animated general headquarters, and in 
the organization of the staff. 

At last, on the morning of the 17th, the battle was 
begun. Hooker's corps, which had crossed by the upper 
bridge and fords, whither it had during the night been 
followed by the Twelfth Corps, late commanded by 
Williams, now by Mansfield, attacked the Confederate 
left with headlong impetuosity. The action was furious, 
the losses monstrous. So intent was Hooker upon push- 
ing his attack with the First Corps, that the Twelfth 
Corps was not called up until his own troops had been 
badly broken up. The advance of Mansfield's two divis- 
ions, under Williams and Greene, was gallantly made, 
but the attacking force was finally brought to a stand by 
fresh Confederate troops arriving from the centre. 

The battle had begun at daylight. By nine o'clock 
that battle, so far as the First and Twefth Corps were 
concerned, was practically over ; the veteran Mansfield 
had been killed ; Hooker had been carried disabled from 
the field ; Hartsuff and Crawford had also been wounded. 
The First and Twelfth Corps had even lost some of the 
ground they had gained at so terrible a cost. On either 
side, the combatants who had thus far been engaged 
seemed indisposed to renew the struggle, and contented 


possible, waiting, exhausted, for the arrival — it could 
hardly be said of reinforcements, but rather of troops 
which should begin a new, another battle. From the 
left bank of the Antietam a powerful column was ap- 
proaching the field, consisting of the divisions of Sedg- 
wick and French. It seems scarcely possible to question 
that, had Sumner's corps, which was about equal in 
numbers to the First and the Twelfth Corps combined, 
been massed during the previous night behind Hooker, 
and moved forward with him and Mansfield to the as- 
sault at six o'clock, the Confederate left would have been 
crushed by the onset. But thus far the efforts of our 
troops had been made in succession, and not in conjunc- 
tion. Hooker had been fought out before Mansfield had 
been called in ; Mansfield's small corps had been fear- 
fully handled, and though gallantly holding on to the 
ground gained, had been brought to a stand an hour 
before Sumner's advance reached the field. Yet, even 
though the Second Corps had been brought up so late,' 
there was yet opportunity for a decisive victory. These 
fresh troops, throbbing with the spirit of action, doubt- 
less equalled all that Lee, his right threatened by Burn- 
side, could bring to oppose them, after the terrific losses 
of the early morning. Moreover, Slocum's division of 
Franklin's corps was hastening toward the same point, 
and would soon be up and ready to engage the enemy. 

But the lack of concert which has baffled the efforts of 
the Union army thus far is still to make the exertions 

' Sumner received the order to cross the Antietam and to move 
to Hooker's support at 7.20 A.M. His head of column came on 
the ground at nine o'clock. The movement had been rapid and 
even hurried. The statement has more than once been publicly 
made that Sumner received the order to cross the evening before. 
There is not a word of truth in it. 


and sacrifices of these brave divisions fruitless. Two 
battles have already been fought. Sumner is to fight, 
not a third, but three ; Sedgwick, French, and Rich- 
ardson are to be hurled separately against a vigilant and 
tireless enemy, who masses his brigades now to receive 
one assault and now another. On being ordered for- 
ward at 7.20 A.M., Sumner took with him but two of his 
divisions, Richardson, who was to have been relieved in 
the position he occupied by Morell, of the Fifth Corps, 
had been delayed three quarters of an hour, when Sum- 
ner, crossing the Antietam, directed Sedgwick's division 
toward the nearest point of the enemy's line. So proud 
was he of his gallant troops, so full of fight, so occupied 
with the thought of engaging the enemy, that he did not 
even see to it that French, who followed Sedgwick, was 
brought up within supporting distance — but allowed him, 
for want of precise direction, to diverge widely to the 
left. Moving rapidly forward, Sedgwick's division, in a 
column of three deployed lines,' entered the first belt of 
woods, out of which the First and Twelfth Corps had, at 
such a fearful cost, driven the enemy. The ground be- 
neath those great, fair Maryland oaks was strewn with 
the killed and the wounded of the earlier battle. Gor- 
man's brigade was in front ; Dana's next ; while the rear 

' The order of the regiments in the three brigades was as follows, 
from left to right. Gorman's brigade : Thirty-fourth New York 
(Suiter), Fifteenth Massachusetts (Kimball), Eighty-second New 
York (Hudson), First Minnesota (Sully). Dana's brigade : Twen- 
tieth Massachusetts (Palfrey), Fifty-ninth New York (Tidball), 
Seventh Michigan (Hall), Forty-second New York (Bomford), 
Nineteenth Massachusetts (Hinks). Howard's brigade : Seventy- 
second Pennsylvania (Baxter); Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania (Owen), 
One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania (Morehead), Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania (Wistar). 


line was formed by the Philadelphia brigade, to-day com- 
manded by Howard, returned, with an empty sleeve, 
from his Fair Oaks wound. 

It was a beautiful sight, those three lines of battle, as 
they emerged from the first belt of woods, passed through 
the corn-field, ripe almost to the harvest — and, moving 
steadily westward, crossed the Hagerstown pike. But, 
surely, they are not going to attack the enemy in that 
order ! Other dispositions doubtless are to be made. 
The three lines are scarce seventy yards from front to 
rear. Two hundred men moving by the flank, in single 
file, would extend from the head of the column to its rear. 
Should these troops advance in this order, all three lines 
will be almost equally under fire at once, and their losses 
must be enormously increased. And where are the bri- 
gades that are to support them on the right and left, and 
protect the flanks of this perilously dense column ? French 
is out of reach. The shattered brigades of the Twelfth 
Corps are holding stiffly on to their ground, under cover, 
but are hardly in numbers or in condition to undertake 
the offensive ; and certainly, without a distinct effort to 
bring them forward, they will not be on hand if Sumner's 
column, in its forward rush, shall be assailed in flank. 
Richardson, indeed, could be up in forty minutes ; and 
half that time would serve to draw French in toward 
Sedgwick's left. But Sumner does not wait. He feels 
as strong in those five thousand men as if they were fifty 
thousand. All his life in the cavalry, he has the instincts 
of a cavalry commander. What shall stay him ? He 
cannot imagine anything stopping those three splendid 
brigades. He will crush the Confederate left with one 
terrific blow, then he will swing his column around with 
a grand, bold half-wheel to the left, and sweep down the 
Confederate line, driving the enemy before him, through 







the village of Sharpsburg, and heap them up in disorder 
before Burnside, who, crossing the lower bridge, will 
complete the victory. 

The order is still forward. Leaving the " Dunker 
Church " on their left and rear, Sedgwick's division, in 
close array, in three lines by brigade, having crossed the 
Hagerstown pike, disappears in the woods. This is no 
tangled thicket like the Wilderness, where a captain may 
not see the left of his company, but a noble grove of per- 
fect trees, free from underbrush, allowing the rapid ad- 
vance of the lines in unbroken order. Even when the 
leading brigade emerges from the further side of the 
grove, no enemy is seen in front. Only Stuart's horse- 
batteries, from some high, rocky ground on the right, 
search the woods, as they had the corn-field, with shell 
and solid shot. What means this unopposed progress ? 
Is it well or ill, that this ground should not be disputed? 
Does it signify success or danger ? It means that the 
Confederates have refused their left, and that Sedgwick 
is now pressing, in column, with his flank absolutely un- 
protected, past the real front of the enemy, and is aiming 
at that portion of their line which is drawn back. It is 
a position at once of power and of danger. If he will let 
Gorman go straight on until he strikes something, but 
hold Dana until the ground is cleared in front for a left 
half-wheel, to bring him facing south, and at the same 
time throw Howard's brigade into column of regiments, 
to be moved readily west to support Gorman or south 
to support Dana, the Second Division will have at least 
a chance — a small chance to achieve a victory against the 
superior forces which Lee is gathering to assail it, but a 
large chance to make a strong resistance, to give a blow 
for every blow it must take, and, at the worst, to fall 
back without disaster. 


Commanding Second Division Second Army Corps 

March 13 to September 17, 1862 


But neither the chance of victory nor the chance of 
safety is to be taken. Without fronting so much as a 
regiment south, without increasing the intervals between 
the crowded brigades, two of which ahnost touch each 
other on the dangerously exposed left, Sumner, riding 
with the field-officers of the leading brigade, drives his 
column straight westward to find the enemy. And soon 
he finds him. As the leading brigade emerges from the 
grove last mentioned, fire is opened upon it from a line * 
extended along the crest of a slight ridge in front, upon 
which stand a farmhouse, barn, and stacks of corn, while 
from the left and rear of this line one of Stuart's bat- 
teries plays upon Gorman's front. Our men drop like 
autumn leaves, but the regiments stand up to their 
work without a quiver; the colors are advanced and the 
battle begun with good set purpose. How strong was 
the force here encountered it is not possible now to as- 
certain with confidence, and it is useless to conjecture 
what might have been the issue of the conflict thus 
joined, since the fate of Sedgwick's division that day w as 
not to be determined by the comparative numbers or 
valor of the troops that faced east and west. Straight 
upon the flanks of the column was advancing an over- 
whelming Confederate force. 

These troops comprised the division of McLaws, the 
remains of those divisions which had in the earlier morn- 
ing contested the advance of Hooker and Mansfield, and 
other brigades rapidly drawn in from the Confederate 
centre. As these reinforcements hurried along the rear 
of their main line, their march brought them directly 
upon the flank and even into the rear of Sedgwick. 

' If one can make out anything from the Confederate reports of 
Antietam, this was the brigade of Early. 


At the moment the storm is breaking Sumner is rid- 
ing along the rear of the leading brigade, enjoying the 
furious fire of musketry, and encouraging Gorman's regi- 
ments to a fresh advance. As he pauses a moment to 
converse with Colonel. Kimball, of the Fifteenth Massa- 
chusetts, Major Philbrick calls attention to a large force of 
the enemy advancing from the left upon the flank of the 
division, driving before theni some of Hooker's men who 
had still held to their ground in the woods around the 
Dunker Church. " My God ! " exclaims Sumner, " we 
must get out of this ; " and he dashes back to form 
Dana's and Howard's brigades to meet this sudden and 
most appalling danger. But there is not time. A line of 
battle struck that way is the weakest thing in the world. 
Each of Sedgwick's brigades comprised fifteen hundred 
men, but at its extreme left flank each had the strength 
of two men. Had even a single regiment been deployed 
along the flank of the attacking column, with skirmish- 
ers advanced to give warning of the enemy's approach, 
dispositions might have been made to avert the disaster, 
though the three brigade lines would still have been 
found dangerously close, not only vastly increasing the 
loss by direct fire from the front, but rendering it diffi- 
cult to effect new formations looking south. 

The enemy dash upon the flank of the Philadelphia 
brigade, which is the third line, and swinging viciously 
around, gain its rear. In vain does Howard, who, though 
somewhat lacking in those personal qualities which inspire 
troops and lift regimental commanders off the ground 
in the crisis of a fight, yields to no man in individual 
bravery, strive to get his brigade into position to protect 
the rear of the column. His left regiment, the Seventy- 
second Pennsylvania, is crushed by the first fearful blow 
dealt it, and is driven out in disorder. Sumner has given 


the word to retreat, and the other rcguTients, moving rap- 
idly toward their right, away from the increasing fire, slip 
out of the deadly grasp which is fastening upon their 
rear. Gorman is still fighting in front. Dana's brigade 
has become the rear line. Its crumbling left is hurriedly 
thrown back, as best can be, to meet the attack from that 
quarter, while its right regiments, facing about, open their 
first fire to the rear. The slaughter is terrible. The 
enemy have, by Sumner's ill-regulated ardor in pushing 
so far westward, secured an enormous advantage, and 
they know it and press it to the utmost. They have 
even brought more troops to the field than they can use 
against our bewildered and broken column. 

But a few minutes, a brief quarter of an hour, have 
elapsed since the appearance of the enemy upon our 
flank, yet it has become evident that there is but one 
thing to do, and that is to "get out of this," in order or 
disorder, by the shortest path toward the north which 
still remains open, though the victorious foe is already 
marching a strong column northward, through the open 
fields on the west of the Hagerstown pike, to still 
further surround our entrapped brigades. Yet it is not 
the way of the regiments which up to this moment have 
held their ground, under conditions so appalling, against 
a force so overwhelming, to retreat in disorder. Although 
in twenty minutes as many hundreds of men have fallen, 
not a color is left to become a trophy of that bloody 
fight ; although in some regiments the color-bearers and 
every man of the color-guard have fallen,' other hands 
lift the flags from the ground and wave them defiantly 

' Color-Sergeant Charles Burton, Thirty-fourth New York, who 
had carried the flag of the regiment through all the Peninsula 
battles, was here five times wounded. 


aloft. The Fifteenth Massachusetts, which has had one 
man in every eight killed, even brings out a Confeder- 
ate color, wrested from its bearer in a hand-to-hand en- 
counter. Although the fatal field is now swept by cross- 
ing fires, some of the regiments march off in perfect 
order, nor do they go far. Despite their horrible losses 
and the necessity of a rapid retreat, they only move just 
far enough to get out of the trap in which the division 
has been caught and mangled. Scarcely one hundred 
yards from the point where the right of the First Minne- 
sota, of Gorman's brigade, had rested, that regiment, with 
its comrade, the Eighty-second New York, and a regi- 
ment of Dana's, the Nineteenth Massachusetts, of which 
Colonel Sully, finding its colonel, the gallant Hinks, 
severely wounded, has taken command, face about, in 
line nearly perpendicular to the Hagerstown pike, and 
open a sharp fire upon the advancing enemy. Other 
regiments are halted and reformed, two or three hundred 
yards farther to the north, and upon these Sully's little 
command falls back, under orders, Kirby's battery, under 
command of Lieutenant WoodrufT, is placed in position 
by General Sedgwick himselfj who, though temporarily 
overborne by Sumner's impetuosity in hurrying the di- 
vision into action, with such lamentable consequences, 
sprang to the fore the moment disaster threatened 
the division, and, though wounded once, twice, and still 
again, remains at the front rallying his regiments and 
making the dispositions imperatively required in the 
event of the advance of the victorious enemy. Wood- 
ruff's guns open as fast and furiously as they did at 
Fair Oaks, while Captain Tompkins' Rhode Island Bat- 
tery (A), which has been already engaged with heavy 
loss, comes into action to meet the new peril. 

Will the enemy take the initiative ? Sumner fears it. 


He orders Williams to send forward such of the troops 
of the Twelfth Corps as are in hand. Stout Gordon, 
who had been a lieutenant of Sumner's regiment in Mex- 
ico, advances his brigade, already shattered by the terrible 
fighting of the morning, but in vain ; the enemy are too 
strong, and, after sustaining heavy losses, the brave men 
of the Twelfth Corps are compelled to fall back. The 
Union artillery on the right and on the centre breaks 
into a furious cannonade, to cover the discomfiture of our 
infantry. But the enemy have no purpose to undertake 
an aggressive movement, for they discern the approach 
of reinforcements to the Union lines. Smith's division 
of the Sixth Corps has been ordered up to support Sedg- 
wick, while to the left a powerful column, consisting of 
French's division of the Second, is closing in to try its 
fortune in a new attack, 

French's division, the third, had, as narrated, been 
formed during the march from Washington to the Antie- 
tam. It comprised (i) the brigade commanded by Gen- 
eral Max Weber; (2) the bouyant, dashing, indomitable 
brigade of Western troops, under the command of General 
Nathan Kimball, here reinforced by a fresh regiment, the 
One Hundred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania; and (3) 
a brigade of new troops, commanded by Colonel Dwight 
Morris. This division, as has been stated, crossed the 
Antietam in rear of Sedgwick, and was then directed to- 
ward the left, too far as it proved. With French close 
on Sedgwick's left, the disaster that had just taken place 
would surely have been averted, if, indeed, the united 
onset of these two powerful divisions had not proved ir- 
resistible. But it was to be a day of isolated attacks and 
wasted efforts. Just as Hooker was already beaten before 
Mansfield was brought up ; just as Mansfield and Hooker 
alike had been beaten before Sumner went in ; so, again. 


Sedgwick had been almost annihilated before French was 
in order to attack; and the troops that had just driven 
back the brigades of Gorman, Dana, and Howard were 
left free to encounter the onset of Weber, Kimball, and 

At the distance of about half a mile from the Dunker 
Church stood on that day the house and farm-buildings 
of Roulett, or Rullet, against which French's attack was 
directed. Weber's brigade, in advance, drove the enemy's 
skirmishers before them, until the Confederate infan- 
try was found in force at this group of buildings. From 
these they were soon dislodged, though not without hard 
fighting; and were pushed back to a sunken road which 
ran for a considerable distance, although changing direc- 
tion with puzzling frequency, along the main Confederate 
line. In front of this strong position Weber was brought 
to a halt. The news of Sedgwick's misfortune having 
been brought by Captain S. S. Sumner, General Sum- 
ner's son and staff-ofificer, Weber made a spirited effort to 
push the enemy, but in vain. Soon he, in turn, began to 
experience a severe pressure from the Confederate line, 
reinforced, doubtless, by troops which had taken part in 
the repulse of Sedgwick ; and Kimball's brigade was 
moved forward to lengthen the line to the south. Kim- 
ball's gallant troops — the Fourteenth Indiana and Eighth 
Ohio on the right, and the Seventh Virginia and One Hun- 
dred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania on the left — dashed 
forward with enthusiasm, and became engaged along 
their whole front, in a contest of the utmost fierceness. 
Again and again the enemy assumed the aggressive, and 
displayed the greatest vivacity in counter-attacks, alike 
upon Kimball and upon Weber. At last Kimball, follow- 
ing up a repulse of the enemy from his centre, dashed 
forward, capturing three hundred prisoners and several 


colors, and establishing his line a considerable distance in 
advance. The repulse of Sedgwick had enabled the 
Confederates to renew their hold upon the woods on 
French's right, and every attempt at a forward move- 
ment now found his line enfiladed by artillery. 

Morris' fresh troops, under fire for the first time, lost 
heavily, though in support behind Weber. The Fifth 
Maryland, whose commanding officer, Major Blumcn- 
berg, was wounded, was thrown into disorder, carrying 
away temporarily a portion of the Fourteenth Connec- 
ticut, but the line was handsomely rallied by Colonel 
Perkins. The brigade was then ordered to report to 
General Kimball ; and first the Fourteenth Connecticut 
and afterward the One Hundred and Thirtieth Pennsyl- 
vania were advanced to the front line, subsequently 
joined by the One Hundred and Eighth New York. 
All these regiments came under a savage fire, which they 
bore with remarkable composure, considering that it was 
their first action. Later in the engagement the greater 
portion of this brigade was sent to support Colonel 
Brooke, of the First Division, where it sustained con- 
siderable losses and made no small captures of prisoners 
and colors. 

We have said that Smith's division of the Sixth Corps 
came upon the field shortly after Sedgwick's bloody re- 
pulse, and was first directed to reinforce that division as 
it emerged from the trap into which it had pushed with 
such ill advice. One of Smith's brigades, under Han- 
cock, was placed in support of Sedgwick on his left, 
with a powerful battery, made up of Cowan's, Frank's, 
and Cotheran's guns. A little later Irwin's brigade of 
Smith's division was brought in on Hancock's left, and 
later still Smith's remaining brigade, under General 
W. H, T. Brooks, was placed on Irwin's left, making 


connection, though not a strong or close one, with 

While thus the perilous gap between Sedgwick and 
French was closed by the successive arrivals of these 
brigades from the Sixth Corps, Sumner's old division 
was forming on French's left. Richardson had been the 
last to come up, having been delayed in his camps by 
orders to wait until relieved by Morell's division of the 
Fifth Corps, and had not begun to cross the Antietam 
until 9.30 A.M. Arriving on the field, Meagher's Irish bri- 
gade formed line of battle in the following order of regi- 
ments from right to left : the Sixty-ninth New York, 
Lieutenant-Colonel James Kelly ; the Twenty-ninth 
Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes ; the Sixty- 
third New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler; the Eighty- 
eighth New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Kc-lly ; 
and at once moved forward against that part of the 
enemy's line which may be designated by the name of 
I'iper's House, considerably to our left of the Roulett 
House, against which French's division had been direct- 
ed. The Irishmen advanced steadily and rapidly, under 
a heavy fire, until they had nearly reached the crest of 
the hill which overlooked Piper's. Meanwhile Cald- 
well's brigade had formed on Meagher's left, but beyond 
the range of the immediate infantry contest. Word 
soon coming to General Richardson that Meagher's am- 
munition was exhausted, Caldwell's troops were moved 
by the right flank behind Meagher, and then ordered 
forward, breaking by companies to the front, the Irish 
regiments breaking by companies to the rear. This 
movement was effected with perfect composure, and 
Caldwell's brigade became the front line, and was soon 
involved in a most spirited contest, in which both the 
gallantry of the troops and the exceptional intelligence, 


skill and audacity of the regimental commanders were 
displayed to the highest advantage. 

Caldwell's regiments were disposed in the following 
order : on the right the Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth New 
York, temporarily consolidated under the command of 
Colonel Barlow ; the Seventh New York, Captain Bres- 
tel ; the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, Major H. Boyd Mc- 
Keen, and the Fifth New Hampshire, Colonel Cross. 
No sooner had the passage of the lines been effected, 
than these splendid regiments advanced, and carried the 
crest overlooking the Piper House, between which and 
them ran a long stretch of that Sunken Road, so fre- 
quently and so perplexingly mentioned in the reports of 
the battle of Antietam, and here forming the shelter of a 
determined force of Confederates. For a time, every 
moment of which cost scores of lives, no further progress 
is made by the Union troops. And now a daring body 
of the enemy push forward into the interval between 
French and Richardson. Kimball, on French's left, 
throws forward the Seventh Virginia and the One Hun- 
dred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania, which make a gal- 
lant stand, though they cannot cover all the ground. But 
Brooke is prompt to see and to act. Sending word to 
General Richardson what has happened and what he 
purposes to do, he takes with him the Fifty-second New 
York, Colonel Frank ; the Second Delaware, Captain 
Strieker ; and his own regiment, the Fifty-third Pennsyl- 
vania, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel jNIcMichael, 
and moves straight against the troops that have pierced 
our line and are pushing into our rear. The combined 
attack of Brooke's regiments and of Kimball's left wing, 
proves too much for the adventurous enemy, and the line 
is shortly restored. The Fifty-third Pennsylvania carries 
and holds a position on the extreme right of its division, 


and considerably advanced. But Caldwell is now in turn 
menaced. Under cover of a ridge at some little distance 
from the left of McKeen's Eighty-first Pennsylvania, the 
enemy are moving down into our rear. The movement 
is first discovered by Cross of the Fifth New Hampshire. 
He waits for no orders, but instantly faces to the left and 
moves to the rear, dashing into a race Avith the enemy 
for the possession of the ridge that commands the field. 
The two lines actually move parallel to and not far from 
each other. Cross is ahead, seizes the crest, and pours a 
volley from his whole front upon the discomfited enemy, 
who fall back as rapidly as they advanced, leaving the 
colors of the Fourth North Carolina in the hands of the 
brave boys from New Hampshire.' This action of Cross 
has been spirited and timely ; but it has led his regiment 
and the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, which, under the gal- 
lant McKeen, has promptly followed in support, far to 
the left ; and already the active enemy are searching the 
gap in Caldwell's line with skirmishers, followed close by 
their resolute battalions. Into this perilous space, Brooke 
now throws the Fifty-seventh New York, commanded by 
Colonel Parisen, and the Sixty-sixth New York, com- 
manded by Captain Julius Wehle. These regiments, led 
in person by Brooke, who seems to be everywhere at 
once, together with the unflinching line of Caldwell, are 
now pushed forward, in one determined effort to carry 
Piper's House. Again the unequalled capability for 
quick, spontaneous action on the part of the colonels 
of Sumner's old division is exhibited at this critical 
moment. As the line presses onward toward Piper's, 
Barlow, commanding the consolidated Sixty-first and 

' The flag was brought in by Corporal George Nettleton of 
Company A, himself wounded. 


Sixty-fourth New York, sees, and at once seizes a tac- 
tical opportunity. Changing front forward at the right 
moment and on the right spot, he takes in flank a body 
of the enemy in the sunken road, pours a deadly volley 
down their Hne and puts them to flight, capturing three 
hundred prisoners with two flags.' A determined strug- 
gle follows ; the enemy even assume the aggressive 
against Caldwell's centre, but are beaten off by the quick 
and resolute action of Barlow, who falls desperately 
wounded. In vain the Confederate batteries pour can- 
ister into our advancing lines. Caldwell and Brooke 
press on unchecked, and in a few minutes occupy Piper's 
House and the adjacent buildings. The Union line is 
soon strongly established from Sedgwick's re-formed di- 
vision on the right, beyond the Dunker Church, through 
Smith's and French's divisions, to Richardson's division 
at Piper's. To Richardson's division, did I say ? Alas ! 
but a little time passes, and that brave, blunt, kind sol- 
dier falls mortally wounded, while directing the action of 
his batteries, as they respond to the furious fire with 
which the Confederate artillery now sweeps the field so 
hardly won. 

It is past noon. This is the story, briefly and rudely 
told, of Antietam's morning. What shall the remainder 
of the day bring forth ? In what condition are our troops ? 
What enemy opposes them ? Where are the forces not 
yet engaged, or but lightly engaged ? Where is Burn- 
side's Ninth Corps, which had been ordered in the early 
morning to cross the stone bridge, far down on the left, 
and carry the heights commanding Sharpsburg and the 
road from the Shepherdstown ford, by which Lee's re- 

' Colonel Barlow reports that a third color was taken, but lost 
through the subsequent fall of the captor. 


maining troops are to be expected, in their hurried 
march from Harper's Ferry ? Where is Porter's Fifth 
Corps? where Slocum's division of the Sixth, and 
Couch's unattached division ? 

Unfortunately, the last-named division, the largest and 
freshest of the army, has been sent to Maryland Heights 
to do the work that should have been done by a regiment 
of cavalry. It has now been recalled, and is marching 
toward the field of battle, but it is too far off to arrive 
much before nightfall. Slocum's division has just come 
up. In fine condition and with full ranks, it stands, 
formed, ready to move into the woods about the Dunker 
Church, and renew the contest from which Sedgwick's 
broken columns have recoiled. Porter's small corps 
(Humphreys' division not having yet arrived and the 
other divisions having been greatly depleted by their 
losses on the Peninsula and at Manassas, with Warren's 
brigade, also, detached in support of Burnside) lies mainly 
on the opposite bank of the Antietam Creek, occupy- 
ing, with its own infantry and with the reserve artillery 
of the army, the long line between our right, which is 
under the general command of Sumner, and the left 
under Burnside. A few battalions of " regulars " have 
crossed the creek and driven back the enemy's skirmish- 
ers in their front ; while Porter's artillery sweeps the 
whole centre with a well-directed fire. 

Burnside, after wasting four or five precious hours in 
partial and feeble efforts, has at last "put in his work;" 
the Rohrersville Bridge is easily carried when once as- 
saulted in adequate force; and the three small divisions of 
the Ninth Corps begin to cross. Burnside's success will 
not only cut Lee off from his reinforcements, so anxiously 
expected by way of the Shepherdstown ford, but will de- 
prive him of his sole remaining avenue of escape. Had 


the commander of the Ninth Corps thrown his whole 
force across the Antietam in the morning, while Jackson, 
Longstreet and D. H. Hill were wrestling with Hooker, 
Mansfield, and Sumner, he would have found no formid- 
able force to oppose him. But just as Hooker was beaten 
before Mansfield was called up; and as Mansfield in turn 
was beaten before Sumner went into action ; so, now, 
Burnside has waited until the fighting has died down 
along the whole right before he fairly sets to work to do 
what is expected of him. 

Shall that fighting spring up again on the signal that 
Burnside has crossed and is engaged ? Shall the Con- 
federates, as they are called to meet the advance of Burn- 
side, see the whole line again wrapped in flame; feel the 
pressure of Porter's and Franklin's fresh corps upon their 
centre ; and hear, through breathless messengers, that the 
remnants of the First, Twelfth, and Second Corps are 
threatening their left and rear adown the Hagerstown 

The question is a momentous one ; it is wrongly de- 
cided ; and the responsibility of that decision rests, in 
some measure, on the stout soldier whose name had be- 
come a synonym for tireless energy and indomitable 
pluck. If it is not profanation to say such a thing about 
Edwin V. Sumner, he had lost courage ; not the courage 
which would have borne him calmly up a ravine swept 
by canister at the head of the old First Dragoons, but 
the courage which, in the crash and clamor of action, 
amid disaster and repulse, enables the commander coolly 
to calculate the chances of success or failure. He was 
heartbroken at the terrible fate of the splendid division 
on which he had so much relied, which he had deemed 
invincible, and his proximity to the disaster had been so 
close as to convey a shock from which he had not recov- 


ered. The presence of a commander upon the front line 
of battle is sometimes of great value ; but it is always at 
the risk, not merely of an undue exposure of his life, but 
also of his becoming mentally involved in the fortune of 
the particular division or brigade behind which he stands. 
Should that be crushed, he may extricate his person, but 
he cannot extricate his mind therefrom. Everything im- 
mediately around him is going to pieces, with horrid 
noises and more horrid sights ; and he cannot, being 
human, wholly free himself from the impression of uni- 
versal disaster. 

Something like this was Sumner's state of mind when 
Franklin, bringing up the fine division of Slocum, formed 
the brigades of Newton and Torbert, with Bartlett's in 
reserve, and proposed, about one o'clock, to make a 
fresh assault upon the woods around Dunker Church. 
Reluctantly and painfully Sumner interposed, and stayed 
the advance. We know now that had it been made, 
with due co-operation from the unbreathed division of 
Smith and the unbroken though decimated divisions of 
Richardson and French, it could hardly have failed to 
succeed. Yet the blame of the most unfortunate decision, 
not to renew the fighting on the right, rests not wholly 
or mainly upon Sumner. The prime cause of that great 
error was in the monstrously exaggerated estimates of 
Lee's force made at the headquarters of the Army of the 
Potomac, and transmitted downward to corps command- 
ers, staff, and troops. Headquarters had insisted that Lee 
crossed the Potomac with over one hundred thousand 
men ; and, even in his official report of Antietam, Gen- 
eral McClellan estimated the force opposed to him at 
ninety-seven thousand. Had this been the case, or even 
had Lee commanded upon the ground, at the opening of 
the day, so many as sixty-five thousand men, the success 


of the attack proposed by Franklin might, in spite of 
Lee's tremendous losses, have been a matter of question, 
though of question to be answered by trial, since the 
presence of Porter's corps in the centre, with his power- 
ful artillery, would alone have sufficed to prevent an of- 
fensive return on the part of the enemy. But, as a mat- 
ter of now undoubted fact, all the troops which, from 
daybreak to dark of the 17th of September, Lee was able 
to put into action at Antietam was considerably below 
fifty thousand, including the troops awaiting Burnside's 
attack and the division of A. P. Hill which, at one 
o'clock, was still marching toward the battle-field to 
the music of the artillery. Most of Lee's brigades 
had been more than once driven in disorder from the 
ground they occupied, and many, if not most of them, 
had been reduced to the condition of the First and 
Twelfth Corps, troops which we set aside in all con- 
sideration of the situation of affairs in the afternoon of 

With the negative placed by Sumner upon Franklin's 
proposed assault, at one o'clock, closes the battle of An- 
tietam, so far as the history of the Second Corps is con- 
cerned with it. It is not necessary to recite the fort- 
unes of the Ninth Corps, in their attempt to cany the 
heights of Sharpsburg, on the left. The delays which 
had wasted the long hours of the morning were con- 
tinued, even after the crossing, and our troops were only 
effectually advanced at the very moment when A. P. 
Hill's division, after marching seventeen miles in seven 
hours, was already forming to attack their flank and 
drive them back to the river, extinguishing the last 
hope of destroying Lee's army in the dangerous and al- 
together false position in which it had been caught at 



The losses of the Second Corps in this battle were 
signally large, distributed among the several divisions as 
follows : 





First Division, Richardson 

Second Division, Sedgwick... 

Third Division, French 

Artillery Reserve 

















Of the ten general ofificers who had led the troops into 
action, four, Major-Generals Richardson and Sedgwick 
and Brigadier-Generals Dana and Max Weber, had 
fallen, all with severe, the first-named with fatal, wounds. 

The losses in regimental field-of^cers had also been 
numerous. Those who were killed were Colonel R. A. 
Oakford, One Hundred and Thirty-second Pennsyl- 
vania; Lieutenant-Colonel Philip J. Parisen, Fifty- 
seventh New York; Lieutenant-Colonel John L. Stet- 
son, Fifty-ninth New York ; Major George B. Force, 
One Hundred and Eighth New York; Major George 
W. Batchelder, Nineteenth Massachusetts. INIajor W. 
D. Sedgwick, the cousin and Assistant Adjutant-General 
of the commander of the Second Division, received 
wounds from which he died ; also, Surgeon E. H. R. 
Revere, Twentieth Massachusetts, The other officers 
killed or mortally wounded were : 

Captains Felix Duffy and Timothy L. Shanlcy, and 
Lieutenants Patrick J. Kelly, John Conway, and Charles 
Williams, Sixty-ninth New York. 

Captain M. C. Angell, Sixty-first New York. 

Captain G. A. Holzborn, First Minnesota. 


Captain John S. Downs and Lieutenant Henry K. 
Chapman, Fourth New York, 

Captain Charles Hussler and Lieutenant Hugo 
Loetze, Seventh New York. 

Captains Evan S. Watson, James Leonard, and James 
Richards, First Delaware. 

Captain D. C. M. Shell, and Lieutenants Benjamin L. 
Shriver, James Schwarz, and John Garvey, Seventh 

Captains Samuel Willard and Jarvis E. Blinn, and 
Lieutenant George H. D. Crosby, Fourteenth Connecti- 

Captain Francis V. Bierworth, and Lieutenants Joseph 
INIcHugh and James Dunn, Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania. 

Captains Charles H. Whitney, Edward H, Wade, 
Abraham Florentine, Gould J. Jennings, and Miller 
Moody, and Lieutenants Stephen C. Roosa, William H. 
Smurr, Benjamin Van Steinberg, Fifty-ninth New York, 

Captains Peter H. Willets and Edward G, Roussel, 
and Lieutenants A, W, Peabody and Robert J. Parks, 
Seventy-second Pennsylvania. 

Captains Clark S. Simonds and Richard Derby, and 
Lieutenants Thomas J. Spurr and Frank S. Corbin, of 
the Fifteenth Massachusetts ; and of the Andrew Sharp- 
shooters attached to this regiment as an eleventh com- 
pany. Captain John Saunders and Lieutenant William 

Captain Timothy Clarke and Lieutenant William 
Bryan, One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania, 

Captains John H. Turrill and A, PL Zacharias, and 
Lieutenants John A. Clarke and J. B, Eberhard, Seventh 

Captain Philip R, Schuyler and Lieutenant William 
H, Van Dike, Eighty-first Pennsylvania. 


Captain Charles McPherson and Lieutenant Samuel 
Dexter, Forty-second New York, 

Captain John Kavanagh, and Lieutenants Cadwalader 
Smith, Patrick W. Lydon, James E. Mackey, George 
Lynch, and Harry McConnell, Sixty-third New York. 

Captains John O'C. Joyce and Patrick F. Clooney, 
Eighty-eighth New York. 

Lieutenants George A. Gay and Charles W. Bean, 
Fifth New Hampshire. 

Lieutenants John Lantry, William Delaney, Charles 
W. Barnes, and Horace H. Bill, Eighth Ohio. 

Lieutenants David B. Tarbox and R. E. Flolmes, One 
Hundred and Eighth New York. 

Lieutenant Frederick M. Crissey, Sixty-sixth New 

Lieutenant Magnus Molkte, Fifth Maryland. 

Lieutenant Clarence E, Hill, Thirty-fourth New York. 

Lieutenants Henry H. Higbee and Henry A. Folger, 
Fifty-seventh New York. 

Lieutenant John D. Weaver, Fifty-third Pennsyl- 

Lieutenants John Convery and William Wilson, Sev- 
enty-first Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant William A. Givler, One Hundred and 
Thirtieth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant Anson C. Cranmer, One Hundred and 
Thirty-second Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenants Porter B. Lundy, Edward Ballenger, and 
Lewis E. Bostwick, Fourteenth Indiana. 

Among the ofihcers wounded, besides Generals Sedg- 
wick, Dana, and Max Weber, were Colonel Cross, Fifth 
New Hampshire ; Colonel Barlow, Sixty-first New 
York ; Colonel Flinks, Nineteenth Massachusetts ; Col- 
onel Wistar, Seventy-first Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant- 


Colonel Palfrey, Twentieth Massachusetts ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel James Kelly, Sixty-ninth New York ; Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Hopkinson, First Delaware; Major Bentley, 
Sixty-third New York ; Major Devereaux, Sixty-ninth 
Pennsylvania, and Major Blumenberg, Fifth Maryland. 
Of General Sumner's staff, Lieutenant-Colonel P. J, 
Revere, Twentieth Massachusetts, Acting Assistant In- 
spector-General, and Captain J. C. Audenreid, Aide- de- 
Camp, were seriously wounded. Captain Coons, Four- 
teenth Indiana, afterward, as the Avorthy colonel of that 
most gallant regiment, killed on the Salient at Spott- 
sylvania, was also severely wounded. 

The brigades which had suffered most were those of 
Dana (898 killed, wounded, and missing), Gorman (740), 
Kimball (639), Weber (582), Howard (545), Meagher (540), 
Morris (529). It is a significant fact that the second line 
of Sedgwick's column sustained the heaviest loss. The 
regiments having the largest lists of casualties were the 
Fifteenth Massachusetts (318), the Seventy-second Penn- 
sylvania (237), the First Delaware (230), the Fifty-ninth 
New York (224), the Seventh Michigan (221), the 
Sixty-third New York (202), the Sixty-ninth New York 
(196), the One Hundred and Eighth New York (195), 
the Fourth New York (187), the Forty-second New 
York (181), the Fourteenth Indiana (180), the One Hun- 
dred and Thirtieth Pennsylvania (178), the Fifth Mary- 
land (163), the Eighth Ohio (161), the Fourteenth Con- 
necticut (156), the Thirty-fourth New York (154), the 
One Hundred and Thirty- second Pennsylvania (152). 

Of the officers of the grade of colonel who left the 
corps, wounded, at Antietam, Hinks and Wistar never 
returned, having received their deserved promotion to the 
grade of brigadier-general of volunteers, thereafter to 
render honorable and conspicuous service in other corps 


of the Union army. Barlow likewise received his pro- 
motion, won by a gallantry and address of which it is 
impossible to speak in terms too high ; and, after more 
than a year's absence from the Second Corps, returned 
to lead one of its divisions in the campaign of 1864. 
Cross came back from his wounds in season to lead his 
regiment, with unequalled courage and skill, in the great 
assault at Marye's Heights in December. 

It has been said that the battle of Antietam ended, 
so far as the history of the Second Corps is concerned, 
with Sumner's negative upon Franklin's proposed attack 
upon the woods around Dunker Church. The remain- 
ing hours of the day were spent in straightening and 
strengthening the line, sending scattered men to their 
regiments, issuing ammunition to the troops, and, in 
some instances, bringing forward fresh batteries to take 
the place of those that had been badly handled. No 
trumpet proclaimed that the battle of Antietam on the 
right was virtually ended ; the troops lay, with the 
bodies of the Union and Confederate slain all around, in 
momentary readiness to move forward. The crash and 
clamor of Burnside's fight, away down on the left, aroused 
expectation to its height ; Pleasonton's batteries pushing 
forward in the centre, supported by a few battalions of 
regulars, seemed like the renewal of the combat, while 
a gallant dash of the Seventh Maine, under Colonel, 
afterward General, Thomas W. Hyde, made from the 
front of Slocum's division, for a moment startled both 
the Union and the Confederate lines ; now and then the 
bustle of the staff presaged new combinations, or the 
movement of troops to fill the gaps in the line of battle 


was taken to mean that hot work was at once to begin ; 
at intervals the artillery broke out in furious cannonad- 
ing all along the line, or here and there two ambitious 
battery commanders tested the range of their guns and 
the skill of their cannoneers in a duel across the crouch- 
ing lines of infantry. 

Among the galloping staffs which cross that bloody field 
in the early afternoon, arousing the momentary expecta- 
tion of renewed attack, is one of especially notable bear- 
ing, at which men gaze long as it passes down the jagged 
line of troops from right to left. At the head rides a 
general officer whose magnificent physique, bold air, and 
splendid horsemanship are well calculated to impress the 
beholder. Behind him ride a group of as dashing aids-de- 
camp as the army knows. It is Hancock, sent for in haste, 
from his brigade of the Sixth Corps, to take command of 
the division at whose head the gallant Richardson has 
fallen, never to mount horse or draw sword more. It is 
not amid the pomp of the review, with bands playing and 
well-ordered lines, but on the trampled battle-field, strewn 
with bloody stretchers and the wreck of caissons and am- 
bulances, the dead and dying thick around, the wounded 
still limping and crawling to the rear, with shells shriek- 
ing through the air, that Hancock meets and greets the 
good regiments he is to lead in a score of battles. The 
lines are ragged from shot and shell ; the uniforms are 
rent and soiled from hedge, fence, and ditch ; the bands 
are engaged in carrying off the wounded, or assisting the 
regimental surgeons at their improvised hospitals ; scarcely 
twenty-one hundred men remain with the colors of this 
fine, strong division. 

While Hancock is, for the first time, drawing his sword 
in the Second Corps, another general officer is being car- 
ried from the field, bleeding from three wounds, mourn- 


ing a personal loss in his gallant relative and staff-officer, 
who has been killed by his side ; but mourning a deeper 
and a dearer loss in the broken battalions that have been 
the pride of his heart. It is Sedgwick, leaving the Sec- 
ond Corps to become, when his wounds shall heal, the 
beloved leader of the Sixth, often to bring his new com- 
mand to the succor and support of the old in the crisis 
of some hard-fought battle ; always to welcome his old 
comrades with a hearty kindness, all his own, whether in 
camp or on the march ; and to remain until the fatal 9th 
of May, 1864, in a peculiar sense, the hero and idol of 
both corps. 



The day after the battle of Antietam, the Second 
Corps lay in the immediate presence of the enemy. 
Couch's division had come up late in the evening of the 
17th, and Humphrey's division of the Fifth Corps ar- 
rived on the morning of the i8th. So far as an instant 
expectation of the renewal of the fighting would permit, 
the wounded were drawn into their respective lines, and 
the dead who lay within reach were buried. Between the 
two armies, however, lay hundreds of the slain, covered 
by the rifles of the opposing skirmishers. Under the 
pretence, and doubtless, in part, from a sincere desire to 
secure the burial of these and the recovery of the more 
desperately wounded, but, in part also, from that uneasy 
disposition to " fraternize " which every " officer of the 
day " has had to contend with, unauthorized arrangements 
were, during the i8th, made at several points between 
the Union and the Confederate pickets ; arrangements 
which caused much embarrassment to the commanding 
general in regard to the necessary movements of troops, 
the Confederates complaining of these as in violation of 
" the flag of truce." At last it became necessary to send 
word through the lines that all such arrangements were 
unauthorized, and must be regarded as abrogated. 

On the morning of the 19th, orders for a general at- 
tack having been given, the troops advanced ; but it was 
found that Lee had retreated to the Virginia side, the 


intended invasion of Pennsylvania having been aban- 
doned in consequence of the terrible losses sustained at 
South Mountain and Antietam, and the threatening atti- 
tude taken by the Army of the Potomac. During the 
few succeeding days, while Lee was engaged in reorgan- 
izing his command in the Valley of Virginia, General 
Sumner, still in command of the Twelfth Corps, General 
Williams, as well as of his own, moved to the vicinity of 
Harper's Ferry, occupying Bolivar Heights with the 
Second Corps. 

During the month of September occurred the following 
changes among the field officers of the corps. Colonel 
Barlow, having been promoted to be Brigadier-General, 
was succeeded in the colonelcy of the Sixty-first New 
York by Lieutenant-Colonel Miles. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Stephen Miller, First Minnesota, resigned September 
17th; Lieutenant-Colonel John G. Kelly, Seventh Vir- 
ginia, September loth; Major Caspar Keller, Seventh 
New York, September 28th. Two officers were dis- 
missed the service: Major Robert M. Andrews, Second 
Delaware, September 4th, and Colonel Henry M. Baker, 
Eighty-eighth New York, September 22d. 

Early in October occurred an event of much impor- 
tance in this history. The gallant old soldier who had 
organized, and thus far led, the corps, received a leave of 
absence, and Major-General Darius N. Couch, who had 
won much distinction on the Peninsula at the head of 
the First Division of the Fourth Corps, now become the 
Third Division of the Sixth Corps, was called to the com- 
mand. Between the two commanders there were marked 
contrasts at some points, and marked resemblances at 
others. The oldest corps commander of the army was 
succeeded by one of the youngest. Sumner was of mag- 
nificent presence ; though never arrogant or unkind, the 

Commanding Second Army Corps 

October 9, 1862 to June 10, 1863 


consciousness of high rank showed itself in every linea- 
ment and every movement ; though not boastful, he was 
never backward in self-assertion, whether for himself or 
his troops. Couch, on the other hand, was a slight man, 
of singularly quiet demeanor, whose unaffected modesty 
found a natural expression in every tone, look, and gest- 
ure ; who shrank from every form of display, and could 
scarcely tolerate a staff large enough to do the daily work 
of his headquarters in camp or in the field. Sumner 
had a daring, adventurous disposition, which could hardly 
bear to take account of obstacles ; Couch possessed a 
strongly conservative temper, which led him carefully to 
scrutinize every project that involved a possible collision 
with the enemy, and to take unwearying pains to gain an 
advantage or avert a peril. But when the battle was 
once joined the two men were as much alike as ever 
Avere father and son, in their indomitable courage and 
impetuous energy. The caution of his temper never led 
the younger soldier to exaggerate the numbers of the 
enemy or to distrust the valor and endurance of his 
troops. When he had done all that in him lay to pre- 
pare for action and insure success, he went into the ac- 
tual conflict without an apprehension of defeat. Our 
great war brought out a wonderful wealth of meanly 
valor ; but in all the armies of America, on either side, 
rode no man across the bloody spaces of the battle-field 
more calm and resolute. Danger never depressed or 
dulled his faculties. On the contrary, it gave just that 
degree of stimulus which brought them into their keen- 
est activity ; and those only truly knew the man who 
heard his voice and looked into his eyes in the crisis of 
some terrible fight. 

But while the new-comer was thus worthy to succeed, 
the Second Corps could not bid farewell to General 


Sumner without deep regret. In spite of his increasing 
infirmities, in spite of the terrible disaster at Antietam, 
officers and men believed in him and loved to follow 
him. Just, high-minded, chivalric, of splendid bearing 
and fiery courage, of high military rank and long and 
honorable service in previous wars, of great personal 
kindliness of feeling and always accessible to his soldiers, 
he was in every respect the man to impress profoundly a 
body of generous volunteers, who only asked to be shown 
their duty and to be bravely led. The Second Corps 
could not have become quite all it was under any other 
chief ; and in relinquishing the command it was impossi- 
ble that he should wholly take himself away. The best 
part, the immortal and unfading, the unerring and un- 
mistaking part of Edwin V. Sumner, the honor, truth, 
courage, and devotion to duty, which informed his whole 
life and inspired his every act, could not be divorced from 
the troops he had trained and had led into their first 
battles. Thousands of the brave men in the ranks, hun- 
dreds of young and rising officers, had obtained from him 
their ideas of soldierly duty ; had followed him in toil and 
danger ; and when, later in the war, after the body of the 
brave dragoon had been laid in the dust, one of the old 
Peninsula regiments was called to leave one-half its num- 
bers, whether in victory or defeat, upon some bloody slope, 
those who looked on could see, in the quick and dashing 
advance or in the slow and sullen retreat, something of 
the spirit of him from whose dying lips fell the boast : 
" The Second Corps never lost a color or a gun," 
Under its new commander, who joined it October 9th, 
the corps remained for several weeks at Bolivar Heights, 
with headquarters at Harper's Ferry. The only episode 
which interrupted the pleasant monotone of rest and 
equipment, after the fatigues of the Manassas and Antie- 


tarn campaigns, was a reconnoissance conducted by Gen- 
eral Hancock, with the First Division, October i6th, down 
the Valley to Charlestown, with the view to discovering 
whether the enemy were there in force. The reconnois- 
sance developed nothing but cavalry, supporting a battery 
of artillery, which was handled by a Confederate captain 
of remarkable merit, who defended his position with great 
daring and tenacity, holding his own a long time against 
superior weight of fire, and only yielding ground to an 
actual advance of infantry. The brave fellow' was found, 
minus a foot, in a house near Charlestown, when our 
troops occupied the place. 

During the stay at Bolivar Heights, the corps was 
joined by the Nineteenth Maine, Colonel Fred. D. Sewall, 
and the One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania, Col- 
onel Dennis Hecnan. The Fifth Maryland, which had 
joined just before Antietam, was detached. Colonel 
Henry W. Wharton, Second Delaware, and xMajor 
Charles W. Smith, Seventy-first Pennsylvania, were 
honorably discharged ; while Colonel John Burke, Sixty- 
third New York, was dismissed. 

On October 30th, the Second Corps, forming the head 
of the infantry column, which was to consist of the First, 
Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Corps, the 
Twelfth being left to guard the line of the Upper 
Potomac, crossed the Shenandoah, and, passing around 
the base of Loudon Heights into the valley, moved 
nearly to Hill Grove. General McClellan's object in 
this movement may be stated in his own words 

" It was my intention if, upon reaching Ashby's, or any 

' This officer appears, from Major McClellan's INIcmoirs of Gen- 
eral Stuart, to have been Captain B. H. Smith, Jr., of the Rich- 
mond Howitzer Battalion. 


Other pass, I found that the enemy were in force be- 
tween it and the Potomac, in the valley of the Shenan- 
doah, to move into the valley and endeavor to gain 
their rear. I hardly hoped to accomplish this, but did 
expect that by striking in between Culpeper Court 
House and Little Washington, I could either separate 
their army and beat them in detail, or else force them to 
concentrate as far back as Gordonsville, and thus place 
the Army of the Potomac in position either to adopt the 
Fredericksburg line of advance upon Richmond, or to 
be removed to the Peninsula, if, as I apprehended, it 
were found impossible to supply it by the Orange and 
Alexandria Railroad beyond Culpeper." 

In pursuance of this plan the army, the Second Corps 
leading, moved along the Blue Ridge, occupying succes- 
sively the several passes over the mountains westward 
of the line of march, reaching the little village at the 
foot of Snicker's Gap on November 3d. During this 
day an interesting incident occurred near the head of the 
column. A small body of cavalry, afterward reported to 
be Ashby's men who had been cut off by our unexpected 
advance, were observed on the left, and exchanged some 
shots with our skirmishers. In spite of this hostile 
demonstration, however, the general was disposed to 
believe them to be Union cavalrymen, who had mis- 
taken us for Confederates, and under that impression 
had repelled all attempts at familiarity. The staff 
halted, and a dashing officer of the Irish brigade, borrow- 
ing a guidon from the leading battery, rode confidently 
out toward the cavalry, to form their better acquaint- 
ance. His approach was permitted, but he accosted the 
strangers only to find a pistol presented to his breast, 
and to be hustled off by his captors, who, making a wide 
detour at a rapid pace, sought to get around the head of 


the column and through the gap into the Shenandoah 
Valley. Fortunately, however, the raiders encountered 
one of Pleasanton's regiments, whereupon the rescued 
captive snatched the flag from the breast of the Con- 
federate who had secreted it there, and returning to 
camp restored it to the battery commander, who was 
grieving over its loss. 

While at this place, an order was received detaching 
General William W. Burns from the Second Corps, and 
assigning him to the command of a division of the 
Ninth. General Burns carried away with him the re- 
spect and affection of his late command, the Philadelphia 
brigade, as well of all his associates — respect earned by 
his gallantry and skill in battle ; affection won by his 
uniform courtesy and kindness in camp. 

On the 4th of November the Second Corps reached 
Upperville, the cavalry in front having an artillery duel 
with Stuart, who was moving to escape through Ashby's 
Gap. The night of reaching Upperville was cold and 
gloomy. General Couch had an inveterate repugnance 
to making his headquarters in a house, greatly preferring 
the benignant shelter of a Virginia rail fence. But on 
this occasion, there being great probability of frequent 
despatches to be received and sent, he gave Captain 
Morgan, his chief of artillery, permission to select a 
house for headquarters. Delighted at this concession to 
the bodily infirmities of the staff, Morgan galloped gayly 
into the yard of a spacious mansion on the outskirts of 
the town. Here was an old man, evidently the pro- 
prietor, somewhat shaken by the recent artilleiy fire and 
the galloping and pistol-shots of the cavalry. " Good- 
evening," said Morgan. " Good-evening," responded the 
native. " General Couch proposes to make his head- 
quarters at your house to-night — that is, if you have no 


objection." Now, the old gentleman had a great many 
objections, but as he did not dare to express them, he 
straightway began with one accord to make excuse. Of 
course he would be delighted to have the general with 
him, but he was afraid he could not make him comfort- 
able. Perhaps the general had better go where he could 
be better accommodated. " But," quoth Morgan, argu- 
mentatively, " you have a large house." This could not 
be denied, as anyone could see it at a glance, so the 
luckless proprietor had to admit that the house was 
large. " But," he added, eagerly, " I have a large fam- 
ily." " Well, now," asked Morgan, " what family have 
you got ?" " In the first place," said the old gentleman, 
" I have three nieces," " Say not another word ; we'll 
take the house ! " And we did take the house, and three 
saucier vixens could hardly be found in all rebeldom. 

During the movement along the Blue Ridge, and dur- 
ing the few days which followed, a curious psychological 
phenomenon appeared. Although this was one of the 
best-disciplined commands of the army, with a high re- 
pute for good order, a mania seized the troops for killing 
sheep. On the Peninsula there had been no sheep to 
kill ; and, while on the march to Antietam, our men had 
scrupulously respected the loyalty of Western Maryland. 
But when the fat and fleecy flocks of the country through 
which we were now called to pass came in sight, disci- 
pline for the moment gave way, at least quoad mutton. 
At first the night was taken for forays, but soon the pas- 
sion rose to absolute fury. In vain did ofificers storm 
and swear ; in vain was the sabre used freely over the 
heads of the offenders Avho were caught ; in vain, even, 
did the provost guard of one division turn about and 
fire ball-cartridge, from the road, at fellows who delib- 
erately left the ranks to go across the fields. General 


Couch was outraged ; he instructed each division com- 
mander to assemble a court-martial for the trial of these 
offenders ; and soon, every evening, after coming into 
camp, three courts were in session in the Second Corps, 
with sheep-stealers before them, and sharp and summary 
were the punishments inflicted ; but all to no purpose — 
the killing went on as bad as ever. 

Of the three division commanders, General Hancoc-c 
was peculiarly sensitive to the slightest imputation of 
indiscipline. Accordingly, of all three it was he who 
issued the sternest orders and swore the loudest oaths. 
One day Hancock, having observed some soldiers of the 
Irish Brigade, after falling out of ranks upon some pre- 
tence, steal around a bit of woods manifestly bound on 
plunder, determined to make an example. Accordingly he 
left the column with his staff, and galloping rapidly around 
the woods from the opposite side, he came upon the 
group gathered around an unfortunate victim, upon which 
one of the number was just proceeding to make anatomi- 
cal observations. The less guilty members of the party, 
being less closely engaged, caught a glimpse of the com- 
ing doom in time to climb over a high stone fence and 
escape ; but upon the principal offender, taken /;/ fla- 
grante dclictu, Hancock pounced with drawn sword and 
eyes flashing fire. Down on his knees went the wretch, 
scared by the general's aspect. "Arrah, dear general, 
don't be the death of me ; I didn't do it, indade I didn't." 
" You infernal liar," shouted the general, "what do you 
mean by telling me that ? I saw you, you scoundrel ! I'll 
teach you to disobey orders ; I'll teach you to kill sheep ! " 
And, with this, crushing out the last hope of poor Paddy, 
he flourished his sword as if about to begin execution ; 
A\hen, in the most opportune moment, up jumped the in- 
nocent subject of the controversy, and giving vent to its 


feelings in a quavering ba-a ! ran off, while, amid the 
shouts of the staff, the general put up his sabre and rode 
away. We may firmly believe that the Irishman was 
hardly less pleased than the sheep. Let us hope that the 
scare he got destroyed his appetite for mutton, and that 
he returned forevermore to his native pork. 

Of all the offenders in this respect, the Irish Brigade 
received the most blame ; but there is some reason to ac- 
cept the indignant disclaimer of their commander, who 
declared that a large number of the sheepskins found in 
his camps had really been placed there by the men of the 
Fifth New Hampshire after they had eaten the carcasses. 
Strangely enough, this passion for killing sheep disap- 
peared as quickly as it had appeared ; and never after- 
ward, so far as the writer knows, did anything of the sort 
occur to tarnish the good name of the Second Corps. It 
was an epidemic coming and going inexplicably, in flat 
contradiction to the general character of the troops, and 
while it lasted "affecting" only sheep of all the animal 

On the 6th of November the Second Corps reached 
Rectortown, and here General Sumner rejoined the 
army, but did not resume command of the corps, since 
the scheme of forming "grand divisions," consisting of 
two corps each, had been determined upon, and the vet- 
eran had been selected for one of these high commands. 
It was while the corps was in this camp that, on the 
night of the 7th of November, the order was received 
from Washington which relieved General McClellan, 
finally, from the command of the Army of the Potomac, 
which was given to General Burnside. Whatever may 
be said of General McClellan's limitations as a com- 
mander, it was absolutely inexcusable to supersede him by 
Burnside. The first commander of the Army of the Po- 


tomac had not one fault or deficiency which was not found 
greatly exaggerated in his successor, while of McClellan's 
many high qualifications Burnside had hardly a trace. 
The new commander was the sweetest, kindest, most true- 
hearted of men, loving and lovable, dashing, romantic, 
picturesque, but he was not fit for the command of an 
army; he knew he was not; he had himself publicly said 
so, and nobody had the least excuse for believing other- 
wise. Those who selected Burnside for this fearful re- 
sponsibility, against his own will, can only be excused 
from criminality by the plea that they were not judges 
of character; that they could not interpret acts, or even 
read the plainest indications of physiognomy. 

Even had the administration been prepared to replace 
General McClellan by an officer of equal ability, it would 
still have been fairly a matter of hesitation, for it is a 
serious thing to strike at a sentiment like that with 
which the army regarded their first chief. Such a de- 
gree of affection and confidence itself constitutes a pow- 
erful reinforcement to that military strength which can 
be at any time called out and used without regard to the 
personality of the commander. 

In the grief and indignation with which, at Warrenton, 
the soldiers received the news that the commander in 
whom they delighted was again taken away from them, 
the Second Corps shared fully. On the loth of Novem- 
ber the three divisions were drawn up on the left side of 
the Centreville Pike, in columns of regiments with inter- 
vals sufficient to give place for sections of a battery. On 
the right of the pike stood the Fifth Corps in a similar 
formation. Between those two gallant corps, so long his 
comrades, slowly and sadly rode their beloved chief, tak- 
ing a last farewell. Every heart of the thirty thousand 
was filled with love and grief ; every voice was raised in 


shouts expressive of devotion and indignation ; and when 
the chief had passed out of sight, the romance of war was 
over for the Army of the Potomac. 

No other commander ever aroused the same enthusiasm 
in the troops, whether in degree or in kind. The soldiers 
fairly loved to look upon him ; the sight of him brought 
cheers spontaneously from every lip ; his voice was music 
to every ear. Let military critics or political enemies say 
what they will, he who could so move upon the hearts 
of a great army, as the wind sways long rows of standing 
corn, was no ordinary man ; nor was he who took such 
heavy toll of Joseph E. Johnston and Robert E. Lee an 
ordinary soldier. How sweet to him, as he passed up 
the road in his banishment and unmerited disgrace, were 
the cheers of those thirty thousand comrades, rising and 
swelling upon the air ! Himself the very soul of man- 
ly gentleness, courtesy, and kindness, the acclamations 
which drowned even the roar of the artillery, and which 
followed him far out of sight, were a farewell which no 
heart could more fully appreciate or more fondly cherish. 

One of the first acts of General Burnside, on assuming 
command, was to carry out the purpose of McClellan in 
the formation of Grand Divisions. The following was 
the organization effected : 


Major-General E. V. SUMNER, Commanding. 

Second Corps, Major-General D. N. CouCH. 
Ninth Corps, Brigadier-General O. B. WiLLCOX. 


Major-General JOSEPH HOOKER, Commanding. 

Third Corps, Brigadier-General GEORGE Stoneman. 
Fifth Corps, Brigadier-General Daniel Butterfield. 



Major-General WILLIAM B. FRANKLIN, Commanding. 

Sixth Corps, Major-General William F. Smith. 
First Corps, Brigadier-General J. F. Reynolds. 

The artillery was in the main distributed among the 
divisions of the several corps, though with a strong re- 
serve. The cavalry remained under the command of 
General Pleasonton. The strength of the army present 
for duty on the day when Burnside took command is 
stated at 127,574. 

In general, the army was in good physical condition 
and well equipped. One exception only requires to be 
mentioned. During the march from Harper's Ferry to 
Warrenton, and even, in a degree, while at the former 
place, a distressing hoof-disease had prevailed among the 
horses of the army. The ravages of this epizootic grew 
more and more terrible as the army advanced, until at 
Rectortown and Warrenton both cavalry and artillery 
were to a great extent disabled. The quartermaster's 
service was not proportionally disturbed, the tougher 
mules resisting the conditions, whatever these were, 
whether lime in the water, or food, or climate, which 
favored the extension of the pest. From one battery 
alone, of the Second Corps, sixty horses had to be turned 
in as useless. So far did this go, that many guns were 
sent back to Washington by rail, there not being service- 
able animals enough to draw them. 

As Burnside, with this magnificent army in his hand, 
a worthy command even for a Napoleon, stood at War- 
renton, deliberating where he should deliver his blow, 
two courses lay open to him. The one was to move 
directly forward, crossing the Rappahannock, as Meade 


was to do a year later ; to fight Lee at Brandy Station 
or Culpepper, should he be found there in force ; or, fail- 
ing that, to cross, in turn, the Rapidan and take the di- 
rect route to Richmond. The other course was to move 
to the left and seize Fredericksburg, on the right bank of 
the lower Rappahannock, before Lee should apprehend 
his design. It was the latter course which Burnside 
resolved to take. Its success required three good stiff, 
though not excessive, days' marches, on the part of at 
least the leading corps, with prompt co-operation from 
Washington in the way of providing rations, beef-cattle, 
and, above all, pontoons, at Acquia Creek. Of these 
latter needs. General Halleck, the commander-in-chief, 
at Washington, was duly notified. 

The Second Corps, in advance, left Warrenton on the 
15th, and marching steadily, but with all-night rests, 
reached Falmouth, on the left bank of the Rappahannock, 
opposite Fredericksburg, in the early afternoon of the 
17th. The few pickets of the enemy who were on this 
bank hastily retired as the head of the corps came up. 
Fredericksburg was at this moment occupied by a regi- 
ment of cavalry, four companies of infantry, and a light 
battery. The guns of the latter were to be seen in posi- 
tion on the northern outskirts of the city, the drivers and 
cannoneers lying idly about in groups, apparently expect- 
ing our approach, but also expecting a fair notice. It 
pleased General Couch, however, to order Captain Pettit 
to take his guns by a round-about way, through some 
deep ravines well to the rear of Falmouth, and to climb, 
from behind, a steep hill of considerable height exactly 
opposite the Confederate battery ; the result of which was 
that Pettit's six Parrotts began slinging solid shot and 
shell in among the enemy's guns and gunners before they 
had the faintest notion that the ball was about to open. 


Gallantly they sprang to their pieces, but it was of no 
use ; Pettit had the advantage in elevation, his guns were 
six to their four, and, besides, he had cannoneers who 
could hardly be matched in any battery of the regular 
army. Within five minutes every man had been driven 
from the pieces, and had taken refuge behind the adjacent 
houses and walls. There stood the four guns abandoned 
in plain view. It was a tempting sight ; both Couch and 
Sumner, who had watched the contest from among Pet- 
tit's guns, fairly ached to throw across some infantry 
and secure the prize. But the pontoons had not yet 
been heard from ; the Falmouth ford was unknown ; and 
General Sumner conceived that his instructions precluded 
him from crossing until bridges could be laid. INIeanwhile 
some of the Confederate artillery-men, braver than the 
rest, dashed out from cover with aprolonge, and attaching 
it to the nearest piece, dragged it behind the house. In 
vain did Pettit send one shot and another after the gun, 
which he had come to regard as his personal property ; 
the whole affair took but an instant, and the marauders 
proved but a flying mark. Three times, at irregular in- 
tervals, was this repeated, either by the same soldiers or 
by their comrades, and at last the tempting prizes were 
removed from sight. The guns were there all the same, 
and could be taken with equal ease by any infantry cross- 
ing ; but as they were out of sight, they exerted a much 
less potent attraction, and the generals soon gave their 
attention to posting the fast-arriving regiments along 
the left bank. 

And now we have to tell of another of those miserable 
blunders which mar the history of the war, each one 
costing its hundreds or its thousands of lives. General 
Burnside had notified the authorities at Washington that 
it was absolutely necessary that pontoon boats, to enable 


liim to cross the Rappahannock, should arrive simulta- 
neously with the head of the column ; yet the pontoons 
were not on hand when Couch came up on the 17th, 
nor yet on the i8th, nor yet on the 19th, nor indeed 
until the 25th. In consequence General Sumner was 
obliged by his instructions to concentrate the Second 
and Ninth Corps, subject to the mortification of every 
day seeing fresh Confederate brigades occupying and for- 
tifying the strong positions behind Fredericksburg, posi- 
tions which w^ere in four weeks to be fruitlessly assailed 
at the cost of thirteen thousand men. 

The enemy arriving on the opposite bank during the 
first few days were under the command of Longstreet. 
They apparently took not a little interest in the change 
of Union commanders, saluting our pickets along the 
river with such inquiries as these : " Where's Little Mac?" 
" Wasn't he black enough for you ? " " Hope you'll find 
someone with long enough heels, by and by ! " Time 
passed monotonously during the weeks following. The 
troops commenced, though without system, the con- 
struction of winter quarters ; and fortifications were built 
on our own side of the river, as if we anticipated an 
attack from the enemy. Of the position before us, lit- 
tle was known beyond wdiat could be seen. Although 
General Burnside had occupied the city and the country 
beyond, in August, with the Ninth Corps, coming up 
from North Carolina, he was without information fit to 
found his plan of operations upon ; and even regarding 
the field apparently within our view, even regarding the 
fatal plain so soon to be drenched with the best blood of 
the army, a strange lack of knowledge existed — a remark- 
able instance of which, out of the writer's personal ex- 
perience, will shortly be related. 

In his history of the Army of the Potomac, Mr. Swin- 


ton asserts that he knows, from facts stated to him by 
that corps commander who enjoyed most of Burnside's 
confidence, that the latter did not desire or intend to 
fight before the next spring; and that he selected the 
Fredericksburg route, not as the most feasible one for 
an actual advance on Richmond, but as affording the 
most available point for supplying the troops throughout 
the winter, hoping in the spring to secure the Presi- 
dent's consent to transfer the army to the Peninsula. 
Whether Mr. Swinton's information was correct or not, 
it was certain that the temper of the administration was 
not such as to tolerate even the suggestion of such a 
course. It was not for this that McClellan had been 
removed ; and so, early in December, General Burnside, 
with how much or little real reluctance we cannot tell, 
undertook that series of operations, beginning on the 
night of the loth, culminating on the afternoon of the 
13th, and concluding during the night of the 15th, which 
are embraced in the term, The Battle of Fredericksburg. 
In preparation for the impending action, the Second 
Corps was, December 9th, reinforced by five large new 
regiments, four of them belonging to the nine-months' 
class, generally composed of excellent material, with, in 
some cases, exceptionally good officers, but, of course, 
without experience. These were the One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, Colonel Hiram L. Brown, 
assigned to Caldwell's (First) brigade of the First Di- 
vision ; the Twenth-seventh Connecticut, Colonel R. S. 
Bostwick, assigned to Zook's (Third) brigade of the 
First Division ; the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh 
Pennsylvania, Colonel W. W. Jennings, assigned to the 
brigade of the Second Division formerly commanded by 
General Max Weber, now by Colonel Norman J. Hall, 
of the Seventh Michigan ; the Twenty-fourth New 


Jersey, Colonel W. B. Robertson, and the Twenty- 
eighth New Jersey, Colonel M. N. Wisewell, both as- 
signed to Kimball's brigade of the Third Division. Of 
these regiments, the first only had been enlisted for three 
years. Another change in the constituents of the corps, 
which was not in the nature of a formal reinforcement of 
the command, occurred at this juncture, in the substitu- 
tion of the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, under Colonel 
Richard Byrnes, an excellent ofificer of the old army, for 
the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, which we saw join the 
corps after Fair Oaks. The Twenty-eighth was origi- 
nally raised for the Irish Brigade, but was, by some blun- 
der, sent to Port Royal, and only returned to the north 
in season to join its corps in the great battle of De- 

During the month of November, Colonel Charles F. 
Johnson, Eighty-first Pennsylvania, who had been se- 
verely wounded during the Seven Days, and Lieutenant- 
Colonel Philip G. Lichtenstein, Fifty-second New York, 
wounded at Antietam, resigned their commissions. Col- 
onel Johnson was succeeded in the colonelcy of the 
Eighty-first by Lieutenant-Colonel McKeen. 






As a battle, Fredericksburg differs markedly from An- 
tietam. The plan of the earlier action was clear, intelli- 
gible, and thoroughly practical. Its single fault was a 
negative one : it failed to comprehend the high and 
rugged ground on the extreme Confederate left, from 
which, as narrated, Stuart's horse-artillery shelled Sedg- 
wick's column. But this was hidden from a distant view 
by dense woods ; McClellan had no knowledge of it ; 
and, in the heat of action, no one appears to have caught its 
significance. With the exception noted, the plan of battle 
was perfect ; the causes of failure were found wholly in the 
execution. Hooker was too fast ; Burnside too slow ; 
Sumner, who should have moved at the first sign of day- 
light of the 17th, if not during the night of the i6th, did 
not receive his orders until 7.20 A.M. ; when he did move, 
it was, as we saw, in a way to throw his divisions out of 
supporting distance; by the time Franklin got up, the 
disasters already sustained from lack of concert required, 
or seemed to require, his fine corps to be broken up 
until no strong, ef^cient column was left. At Fred- 
ericksburg the failure arose from the utter absence of 
anything like a plan of operations. The troops were 
thrown over the river in a sort of blind hope that so 
splendid an army, in such overpowering numbers, would 
somehow achieve a victory. General Burnside did, in- 
deed, after the battle, attempt to state what he doubtless 


believed to have been his plan ; but this docs not consist 
with his actual orders prior to the action, nor do those 
orders consist with each other. 

What in fact occurred was this : On the left, Franklin, 
with his own Grand Division, reinforced by two divisions 
of the Third and one division of the Ninth Corps, crossed 
two miles below Fredericksburg and was beaten, with 
considerable loss in three of the nine divisions under his 
command ; beaten, as Burnside charged, from not putting 
in enough men ; beaten, as Franklin alleged, from unintel- 
ligible and contradictory orders, Coincidently with this, 
Sumner threw the remainder of the army directly across 
into the city, and was beaten solely on account of the 
strength of the fortified position he was ordered to as- 
sault, with terrible losses in six of the nine divisions en- 
gaged. There was, upon the right, no question of dis- 
obedience of orders, of lack of energy or failure to put in 
the troops. The losses here comprised seven-tenths of 
the killed and wounded of the army. It was on the 
right that the Second Corps was called to show its 
quality during those grim December days. 

On the evening of the loth, with the coming on of 
dusk. General Hunt, the chief of artillery, began to oc- 
cupy the left bank of the Rappahannock with guns to 
cover the crossing of the two columns. The whole river- 
side became one vast battery. One hundred and forty- 
seven pieces were put into position. The troops gener- 
ally had gone to rest,- with no premonition of the coming 
battle ; but every headquarters was alive with the work 
of preparation. Before daybreak the regiments had been 
called to arms ; and in silence and in darkness the several 
divisions were concentrated in the neighborhood of the 
Phillips House, where General Sumner had his head- 
quarters, and there halted, awaiting the construction of 


the bridges, by the engineer corps, at Lacy's. And here 
occurred the first of the series of fatal errors which have 
made the name of Fredericksburg so terrible in our his- 
tory. If, indeed, the crossing into the city was to take 
place at all, and the heights in rear were really to be as- 
saulted, it was of supreme importance that it should be 
done quickly. Jackson's corps was known to be extend- 
ed far down the river, his remotest division being not 
less than eighteen miles from Fredericksburg. And yet 
many hours were wasted in futile attempts to lay the 
bridges by which the troops should cross into the city, 
all from a failure to observe the most obvious condition 
of the situation. 

It was manifestly not possible that the Confederates 
should oppose any large body of troops to a column 
actually crossing into Fredericksburg, since the hills on 
the left (Stafford) bank commanded, not only the low 
ground of the city, but the broad plain which stretches 
from the city back to the heights on which were the Con- 
federate intrenchmcnts. But it was possible, and was to 
be expected, that the enemy should occupy the stone 
cellars along the river, and deep rifle-pits dug here and 
there, with hardy and tenacious marksmen, who would 
have the pontoniers at their mercy. So complete, in- 
deed, was their command of the situation, that when the 
work began at the Lacy House, on the morning of the 
nth, Barksdale's Mississippians did not think it worth 
while to interfere, at first, with the detachment of Fiftieth 
New York engineers which had been charged with this 
duty, but allowed the bridge to be laid nearly two thirds 
across the stream, when, by one volley, the pontoons 
were swept clear of men. The position of the enemy, 
thus revealed, was, for an hour, pounded by our artillery, 
from right and left, until it was supposed that a sufficient 


effect had been produced, when the engineers were again 
ordered forward, but to no better effect ; again and 
again the hopeless effort was renewed. " They made," 
says Lieutenant-Colonel Fiser, commanding the Seven- 
teenth Mississippi, " nine desperate attempts to finish 
their bridges, but were severely punished and promptly 
repulsed at every attempt." 

Two of Hancock's regiments, the Fifty-seventh and 
Sixty-sixth New York, had been ordered at midnight 
to support the engineers ; and these regiments, unpro- 
tected and at the gravest disadvantage, suffered severely. 
Lieutenant-Colonel James H. Bull, Sixty-sixth New 
York, was mortally, and Lieutenant-Colonel A. B. Chap- 
man, commanding the Fifty-seventh, severely, wounded, 
both officers of great efiticiency ; and many in each regi- 
ment fell as this bloody farce was being played. Li vain 
the artillery pounded the town with redoubled fury. It 
was difficult or impossible to depress any considerable 
portion of the guns to command the positions occupied 
by the defenders.' Now and then a shell would burst 
in some cellar, killing or wounding every occupant ; but 
other windows still vomited flame, whenever the ponto- 
niers showed any sign of life ; and still the hours wore 
away while the Confederates, now in full possession of 
our purpose, were concentrating their forces. At last the 
thing which should have been done at the very begin- 
ning was permitted to be done. Colonel Hall's brigade 

' The Confederate reports state that a detachment of the Eighth 
Florida was, after the wounding of its commanding officer, con- 
siderably demoralized by our artillery fire. Not only did they re- 
frain from firing lest they should bring down upon them shots from 
Hunt's artillery, but one lieutenant in this detachment went so far 
as to draw his pistol, threatening to kill some of the Mississippi 
sharpshooters if they fired again. 


of the Second Division, to which had been assigned the 
advance into the city, had been lying since early morning 
close up to the bluff at the Lacy House, Here, in con- 
sultation with General Hunt, chief of artillery, and Col- 
onel Woodbury, chief of engineers, Colonel Hall repre- 
sented the readiness of his soldiers to jump into boats, 
push across the river, drive out the enemy's riflemen, and, 
from the other side, cover the completion of the bridges. 
These eminent staff ofificers answering for the com- 
mander-in-chief, Colonel Hall called for volunteers. His 
own regiment, the Seventh Michigan, responded to a 
man, and Captain Weymouth, commanding the Nine- 
teenth Massachusetts, proffered his regiment to support 
the Seventh. The affair was at once arranged. The ar- 
tillery began firing with extraordinary rapidity, in order 
to cover the preparations for the movement, and to dis- 
concert the marksmen on the opposite bank. 

When all was ready, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Baxter 
led a party of the Seventh down the bank on the run ; 
the boats pushed off, the men leaped into them as they 
cleared the shore ; the rowers, some of whom were pon- 
toniers, some men of the infantry, plied their oars as for 
dear life ; Baxter was wounded, and others dropped into 
the bottom of the boats; but there was no pause. A 
hundred gallant fellows jumped ashore, and hastily form- 
ing, charged into the water-street, drove the enemy out 
of the rifle-pits, or smoked them out of their cellars. 
Lieutenant Emery falls dead at the head of his men ; but 
in a few minutes the immediate front is cleared and thirty 
prisoners are captured. Already other boats are coming 
to land. The Nineteenth Massachusetts is up, and gains 
ground to the right ; while the Seventh moves to the 
left. The lower street is ours ; and now the pontoniers, 
coming out from shelter, push forward the bridge. The 


Twentieth Massachusetts had been ordered to cross the 
moment the last plank should be down upon the bridge; 
but the order was incorrectly transmitted, and this regi- 
ment, also, rowed over in boats which were to frame the 
second bridge. Relieved from the murderous fire which 
had mocked their efforts, the engineers worked like bea- 
vers ; and a broad, firm track soon spanned the two banks. 
Over it crowded the Fifty-ninth New York, then the 
Forty-second, " Old Tammany," and, last of Hall's brigade, 
the new One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania. 
We have carried the river-street ; the first bridge is 
laid ; but the situation is still critical. The enemy hold 
the higher streets, as well as both the upper and lower 
ends of the city ; and, from three sides, their deadly fire, 
is dropping among the fast-arriving troops which are be- 
ginning to crowd the narrow space that has been gained 
by the gallantry of the two leading regiments. The 
Twentieth Massachusetts is called upon to clear the street 
which leads from the bridge-head up through the city. 
It is a perilous task ; the enemy's fire sweeps straight 
down to the water, while, as the head of column crosses 
every successive street running parallel with the bank, it 
is greeted by volleys from the flank. But never was bet- 
ter regiment called to perilous task than the Twentieth 
Massachusetts ; and George Macy is at its head. " I can- 
not," says Colonel Hall, " I cannot presume to express 
all that is due the of^cers and men of this regiment, for 
the unflinching bravery and splendid discipline shown 
in the execution of this order. Platoon after platoon 
was swept away, but the head of the column did not 
falter. Ninety-seven officers and men were killed or 
wounded in the space of about fifty yards." But the 
sacrifice has availed ; the Mississippi regiments, resisting 
stubbornly, fall back ; the ground is cleared for the ad- 


vance of fresh troops from behind. The Fifty-ninth sup- 
ports the Twentieth Massachusetts on the left with 
considerable loss. Owen's brigade now crosses ; and, 
moving still further to the left, beyond the Fifty-ninth, 
clears the ground of the enemy's skirmishers and ad- 
vances as far to the front as Caroline Street. 

When Howard's division began to cross. General 
Couch, who never failed to watch every detail that con- 
cerned his troops, observing that the road passing by the 
Lacy House to the river-bank was exposed to the view 
of the enemy, directed the column down a rugged and 
wooded ravine close by the Lacy House. The artillerists 
on the opposite heights could not see the column here ; 
but, as they knew our troops were moving somewhere, 
they continued to search the whole crest with their 
shells. In order to draw their fire from the troops, 
General Couch took his stand, with his staff,' in a con- 
spicuous position on the bluff. The effort was eminently 
successful, and the staff were soon the target of many 
guns ; but, as the distance was considerable, no damage 
was done beyond spattering horses and men with mud 
thrown up by the plunging shot. Just at this moment 
it happened that some members of the band of a new 
nine-months' regiment, whose colonel had ordered " the 
music " to remain behind while the fighting men went 
over the bridge, strolled up to the bluff, attracted by 
curiosity; and the fellow whose business it was to beat 
the big bass-drum set it deliberately down and cast his 
eyes, in an interested way, over the exciting scene — the 

' With the staff was Mr. Finley Anderson, correspondent of the 
New York Herald, afterward Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant 
Adjutant-General of Hancock's Veteran Corps. Mr. Anderson's 
coolness and courage, on this occasion, were worthy of his subse- 
quent position. 


river, wreathed in the smoke of a hundred guns, the city 
beneath, torn by their bursting shells, the broad plain, 
and the heights beyond, bristling with intrenchments. 
Altogether unused to war, this genial recruit had no con- 
ception that, at such a distance, he could be in any dan- 
ger, until suddenly the fire of a battery was turned upon 
the corps staff, close by. When three solid shot had 
struck the ground, throwing the mud ten feet into the 
air, and as many shrapnel had burst in front, sending 
their fast-spreading fan of bullets whistling over the 
bluff, a sense of the situation struck our new friend ; and, 
with ludicrous precipitancy, he ensconced himself behind 
his drum, where, though the case would not have shed 
a pistol-shot, he cuddled up with an apparent feeling of 
relief and security, which, fortunately, was not disturbed 
by the impact of a three-inch ball. 

It was fast growing dark, of a winter's evening, as 
Sully's brigade crossed into the town. No more of the 
Second Corps troops were sent over during the night ; 
but, a second bridge having been laid lower down, 
Hawkins' brigade of the Ninth Corps was formed in the 
city. When morning came, Owen's and Sully's brigades 
from Howard, and Hawkins' from Willcox, were ordered 
to carry those portions of the town which at dusk had 
still been occupied by the enemy. When the advance 
was made, it was found that the Confederates had retired 
during the night, and the three brigades took position, 
partly within and partly without the city, to cover the 
crossing of the remaining troops. 

During the night of the nth, while the town was dis- 
puted between the two armies, and the bullets of the 
opposing skirmishers were whistling in every direction, 
advantage was taken of the situation by not a few law- 
less men to commit depredations; and even during the 


early hours of the next day, while troops were being 
shifted from place to place, while the attention of the 
commanding officers and their staffs was necessarily given 
to matters of instant and vital concern, before time had 
been given to place guards and organize patrols, not 
a little plundering took place, and some downright, 
wicked mischief was perpetrated. There was in this 
nothing contrary to the laws of war ; the town had re- 
fused a formal demand for its surrender; it had been 
carried by assault, with great loss ; the contending forces 
had actually fought for possession, from street to street ; 
so that, by the strict law governing such cases, the con- 
querors had the right to sack and pillage. At the same 
time, it would be pleasanter to remember Fredericks- 
burg had nothing of the sort taken place. It goes al- 
most without saying that all that was done, of real mis- 
chief, was done by a small number; and it is also true 
that much that was done came from a spirit of fun, rather 
than of hatred. Thus, the writer recollects seeing one 
gigantic private of the Irish Brigade wearing the white- 
satin bonnet of some fair " Secesh " bride ; while another 
sported a huge " scoop " bonnet of the olden time. ^V 
coffee-pot that would hold ten gallons, and which had 
evidently done duty at church festivals, was the plunder 
of a third member of this rollicking band ; another was 
staggering under a monstrous feather-bed for two, which 
he was carrying along, apparently in perfectly good faith, 
without a doubt that he should thereafter be enabled to 
sleep soft and warm during the remainder of his term of 
enlistment for " three years or the war ; " while the In- 
spector-General of the corps, entering a noble house in 
the outskirts, which commanded a view of the enemy's 
line, found it occupied by the picket reserve, every man 
of whom had added to his uniform a lady's chemise 


taken from the well-stored presses of this abode of lux- 
ury. But there were many things done which had not 
even the poor excuse of frolic. Pianos were thrown in- 
to the street, elegant furniture chopped up, family por- 
traits spitted with bayonets, choice libraries scattered and 
mutilated, frescoed walls done over with the charcoal 
sketches of military amateurs. 

We said, " as the day of the 1 2th wore on." How 
came it that in a movement, necessarily most costly of life, 
and highly critical in its character, the earliest hour of 
the morning was not seized to make up, as far as might 
be, for the loss of the nth ? Surely if anything was to 
be done, in the face of a powerful and intrenched army, 
it should be undertaken at once ; and that this might 
be, every detail of the plan should have been carefully 
studied before the crossing, the result reduced to writing 
in a form so precise and clear as to be literally incapable 
of misconstruction or misapprehension. As a matter of 
fact. General Burnside had no plan of operations what- 
soever when he crossed the river ; and all through the 
day of the I2th, and even through the following night, 
he was vacillating in purpose. At one time he contem- 
plated the transfer of the Right Grand Division, first, 
across Hazel Run, a small stream emptying into the Rap- 
pahannock, and then across Deep Run, a somewhat more 
important tributary which separated the two wings of 
the army. The effect of this would have been to bring 
his whole force into the position intended for Franklin, 
and to fight a single battle against the enemy's right. 
This was undoubtedly the wisest course to be pursued, if 
anything whatever was to follow this ill-considered and 
ill-omened crossing of the river in the direct front of 
Lee's army. On receipt of this intimation from general 
headquarters, orders were sent out for the construction 


of the necessary bridges to effect the transfer, and a thor- 
ough reconnoisance of the position was made by the In- 
spector-General of the corps, Captain Morgan. 

During the day General Couch sent his Assistant 
Adjutant-General, Major Walker, to the headquarters of 
General Sumner, to make a report of his observations and 
views. As the conversation which took place at this in- 
terview throws light upon the operations of the follow- 
ing day, its general purport is given. General Hooker 
and General Burnside were both with General Sumner. 
The subject of discussion between these officers was the 
distribution of the horse-artillery of the army between 
the several columns of pursuit. On reporting to Gen- 
eral Sumner, Major Walker was told to report directly 
to the commander-in-chief. He therefore proceeded to 
say to General Burnside that General Couch wished him 
to say that he, General Couch, was confident that the 
enemy meant to make their stand upon the hills in rear 
of the town, to which the reply came from General Sum- 
ner, " Oh, it is just possible ! " The tone in which this 
was said showed clearly that General Burnside had in- 
spired at least the commander of the Right Grand Di- 
vision with his own sanguine belief that the enemy were 
to slink away at the sight of his splendid army, and that 
the immediate problem was not how to win a battle, but 
how to make the most of Lee's retreat. We shall see 
the influence of this belief on the orders issued for the 
next day. 

Again, Major Walker said that General Couch had in- 
structed him to say that, while not in possession of the 
ground, he was confident from the statements made by 
Confederate deserters, contrabands and citizens, that a 
deep trench or canal ran around Fredericksburg in the 
rear, which would prove a serious obstacle to the passage 


of troops debouching from the town to assault the works 
on the hills behind. To this General Burnside replied 
with something like asperity.' He declared that he him- 
self had occupied Fredericksburg with the Ninth Corps 
the August before ; that his troops had been pushed far 
out upon the hills ; that he had ridden all over the 
plain, and that he was confident no such obstacle existed. 
" Say to General Couch," he concluded, earnestly, " that 
he is mistaken." When we come to tell the story of the 
battle of the morrow, we shall have to speak again of 
this fatal trench. 

The remaining hours of the 12th wore away, General 
Burnside not being able to decide between the differ- 
ent plans suggesting themselves to his mind, hoping 
against hope that some sign of the enemy's retreat would 
relieve him from the painful uncertainty. But Lee had 
no thought of retreating. He had watched the crossing 
of our troops with a stern delight. What, indeed, could 
he ask more, than that the Army of the Potomac should 
precipitate itself against his position, strong by nature, 
rendered doubly strong by fortifications, crowded with 
artillery, and held by seventy thousand veterans ? Even 
during the night Burnside passed the time in doubt and 
bewilderment, his confidence in the enemy's retreat rudely 
shaken by their unbroken front, painfully impressed by 

• General John R. Brooke, U.S.A., recently told the writer that 
Colonel, afterward General, Zook, returning from the conference 
of officers held before the crossing, informed him that at the 
council Colonel Christ, commanding a brigade of the Ninth Corps, 
stated to General Burnside that such a canal existed ; that upon 
this General Burnside grew very angry, declaring that it was not 
the first time Colonel Christ had undertaken to thwart his plans. 
This, perhaps, explains the feeling indicated by General Burnside 
on receiving Couch's communication on the same point. 


the responsibility of deciding where and how his own gal- 
lant and well-appointed troops should be brought into 
action. At last, the commanding general, abandoning 
the scheme of drawing the Right Grand Division across 
Hazel and Deep Runs, to reinforce Franklin's column, 
determined to do something at each end of the line. 
Exactly, or even approximately, what that something 
was, as it stood in his mind, it is hopeless to conjecture. 
The orders issued to Franklin have formed the subject of 
an extended controversy, into which we need not enter. 
The orders issued to Sumner alone concern the history 
of the Second Corps. They are so strange that I give 
them here at length. The attempt to execute these 
orders cost the right column between eight and nine 
thousand men. 

Headquarters, Army ok the Potomac, 
December 13, 1862, 6 a.m. 
Major-General E. V. Sumner, 

Commandijtg Right Grand Division, Army of the Potomac. 

The General Commanding directs that you extend the left of 
your command to Deep Run, connecting with General FrankHn, 
extending your right as far as your judgment may dictate. He 
also directs that you push a column of a division or more along 
the plank and telegraph roads, with a view to seizing the heights in 
the rear of the town. The latter movement should be well covered 
with skirmishers, and supported, so as to keep its line of retreat 
well open. Copy of instructions given to General Franklin will be 
sent to you very soon. You will please await them at your present 
headquarters, where he (the General Commanding) will meet you. 
Great care should be taken to prevent a collision of our own forces 
during the fog. The watchword for the day will be " Scott." The 
column for a movement up the telegraph and plank roads will be 
got in readiness to move, but will not move till the General Com- 
manding communicates with you. 

I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully, your obe- 
dient servant, John G. Parke, 

Chief of Staff. 


This order was transmitted to General Couch in the 
following terms : 

Headquarters, Right Grand Division, 
Near Falmouth, Va., 
Major-general Couch, December 13, 1862. 

Commanding Second Corps d'' Arjndc. 
General : The Major-General Commanding directs me to say 
to you that General Willcox has been ordered to extend to the 
left, so as to connect with Franklin's right. You will extend your 
right so far as to prevent the possibility of the enemy occupying 
the upper part of the town. You will then form a column of a 
division for the purpose of pushing in the direction of the plank 
and the telegraph roads, for the purpose of seizing the heights in 
rear of the town. This column will advance in three lines, with 
such intervals as you may judge proper, this movement to be cov- 
ered by a heavy line of skirmishers in front and on both flanks. 
You will hold another division in readiness to advance in sup- 
port of this movement, to be formed in the same manner as the 
leading division. Particular care and precaution must be taken 
to prevent collision with our own troops in the fog. The move- 
ment will not commence until you receive orders. The watch- 
word will be " Scott." 

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant, 

J. H. Taylor, 
C/iicf of Staff, Assistant Adjutant- General. 

P.S. — TheMajor-General Commanding thinks that, as Howard's 
division led into the town, it is proper that one of the others take 
the advance. J. H. T. 

A column of a division or more (Burnside) ; a divis- 
ion with another division in readiness to support it 
(Sumner) ! Will posterity believe that such a battle 
was fought on such orders ? Nine divisions had been 
assigned to constitute the right column : three of the 
Second Corps, two of the Ninth, three of the Fifth, and 
one of the Third. Yet out of this column one division 
was to be formed in order of battle, with another in sup- 


port. No orders were issued for the co-operation of the 
Ninth Corps ; the Fifth Corps was not even across the 
river. Five thousand — at the most ten thousand — Union 
soldiers were to advance against a naturally strong 
position, thoroughly intrenched, and held by Long- 
street's entire corps of forty thousand men ; and this 
position was not to be assaulted, it was merely to be 
"seized," a term that might have appropriately been 
used had the heights been held by skirmishers. Such as 
the order was, the commander of the Second Corps pre- 
pared to obey it, though knowing well that only some 
miracle could bring success. General French was ordered 
to form his division, the Third, in a deployed column of 
brigades, with intervals of two hundred yards.' General 
Hancock's division, the First, was assigned to the sup- 
port of French. General Howard's division, the Second, 
was to hold the right of the town against the possible 
initiative of the enemy. These dispositions made, Gen- 
eral Couch awaited the order to advance. At about 
half-past eleven it came, and at exactly twelve o'clock 
French's skirmishers were driving in the Confederate 
pickets, and his division, in the order of battle pre- 
scribed, was moving out of the town. The view was one 
that might have daunted the Old Guard of Napoleon. 
The plain intervening between Fredericksburg and the 
ridge occupied by the Confederates is from seven to 
eight hundred yards wide at the point selected for the 
attack, which was to be against the southernmost of 
the three hills into which that ridge is divided. Upon 
this plain the Union column debouched by two roads 
severally known as the plank and the telegraph road. 
Of these the plank road is the old county road which, 

' The intervals actually taken are reported by the brigade com- 
manders as one hundred and fifty yards. 



after crossing the river, runs through the town, passes 
over the plain westward, and runs out, through Chancel- 



Decl3^^ 1862 

lorsville, toward Orange Court House, destined to be 
crossed many and many a time by the Army of the Po- 


tomac in its future movements, and to figure largely in 
all accounts of Chancellorsville, Mine Run, and the Wil- 
derness. The telegraph road lies to the south of the 
plank road, traversing the plain between the town 
and the hills in a direction nearly parallel ; but as it 
reaches the hills, it turns to the left and runs along their 
foot until an old railroad cut is reached, when it turns 
westward and runs through the same depression in the 
ground as the projected railroad, leaving there the field 
of the approaching battle. I have said that the tele- 
graph road turned to the south on reaching the foot of 
the hills. In fact, however, the road forks one hundred 
and fifty yards from that point ; and while the proper tele- 
graph road skirts the base of the hills as stated, a branch 
runs straight on up the ridge, which it crosses near the 
house of Mr. Marye, which gives its name to this portion 
of the general line of hills beyond Fredericksburg. The 
ridge here is not of great elevation, but a very moder- 
ate hill, with terraced sides toward the town, and is itself 
dominated by an elevated plateau on the west and south- 
west. The telegraph road, as it skirts the base of the 
hills running southward (and thus parallel to the general 
course of the river and to the length of the town), is for 
a considerable distance sunken below the level of the 
ground, and is, on the side toward the town, bordered by 
a substantial stone wall, shoulder high. Behind this ad- 
mirable cover, at this moment, were stationed the Eigh- 
teenth Georgia on the right ; next, the Twenty-fourth 
Georgia; next, Phillips' Georgia Legion, all of Cobb's 
Confederate brigade ; and on the left, the Twenty-fourth 
North Carolina, of Robert Ransom's brigade. The crest 
of the hill to right and left was occupied by batter- 
ies and compact lines of infantry, with heavy columns 
in support. At Marye's Heights the formation of the 


ground allowed the enemy to shoot clear over the heads' 
of the troops in the road at the foot of the hill, while the 
configuration of the ground allowed the concentration of 
a powerful artillery upon the head of a Union column 
debouching from the town. Indeed, the expression is 
attributed to Colonel Alexander, Longstreet's chief of 
artillery, that he could rake the whole plain between the 
hills and the town as with a fine-tooth comb. 

Such was the position, as it could have been discerned 
by the eye, or studied through a field-glass, on any clear 
day between the 17th of November, when the head of 
the Second Corps first came in sight of Fredericksburg, 
and the 1 3th of December, when the same corps was or- 
dered to scale those bristling heights. But it was only 
as the dashing brigade of Kimball emerged from the 
town, following its own rattling skirmishers, at noon of 
the great day, that one of the most formidable obstacles 
which it had to encounter came in view. From the 
western edge of the town the ground fell slightly and 
gradually away to a canal,^ about fifteen feet wide and 
from four to six feet deep, which ran clear around Fred- 
ericksburg in the rear. It was this trench of which Gen- 
eral Couch had, the day before, warned General Burn- 
side. This was the obstacle the existence of which 

' Thus, Lieutenant-Colonel Bland, commanding the Seventh 
South Carolina Regiment, says : " About seventy yards below and 
in front of us was the telegraph road, with a stone wall or fence, on 
the enemy's side, behind which rested three regiments of Cobb's 
brigade and the Second and Eighth South Carolina, the latter two 
having just reinforced them. The knoll in my front rendered it 
impossible for us to injure our friends, but placed us in fine range 
of the enemy. We would load and advance to fire, then drop 
back to reload." 

^ For carrying the waste water from the canal supplying the 
mills on the northern edge of the city. 



Burnside had denied, alleging his personal acquaintance 
with the topography of Fredericksburg. Had the com- 
manding general on the 12th decided to make the as- 
sault he actually delivered on the 13th, and directed a 
reconnoisance to be made, the Confederate skirmishers 

might have been driven in, and the eastern edge of the 
plain have been held, at the cost of two or three hundred 
men ; the nature and extent of this obstacle would have 
been determined, and preparations for effecting a rapid 
crossing could have been made during the night. As it 
was, this trench, wide and deep enough to constitute a 
most serious obstacle, was first discovered by the head of 


the column as it was advancing to the attack under fire. 
Its presence required that our troops should continue to 
move by the flank, by fours, to within six hundred yards 
of the enemy's works. In a situation so distressing it 
was fortunate that the ground rose beyond the canal suf- 
ficiently to afford a fair cover against musketry. Here a 
column, shattered in its movement by the flank from the 
edge of the town across the bridges, might reform for its 
final charge against the enemy's works. The canal was 
perhaps two hundred yards from the outermost street of 
the city ; the low friendly ridge just described was per- 
haps one hundred and fifty yards beyond ; from this 
ridge to the stone wall and the sunken road was perhaps 
four hundred yards. The space was here and there 
crossed by lines of post-and-board fence. 

French's division had, as stated, formed for the assault 
in three deployed lines, with brigade front. The leading 
brigade was that of Kimball, which we saw fighting with 
such vivacity at Antietam. In the interval it had been 
reinforced by the addition of the Fourth Ohio and the 
Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth New Jersey. Ap- 
preciating the importance of a quick and vigorous ad- 
vance. General Kimball threw out a very strong skirmish 
line, composed of the two dashing Ohio regiments, under 
command of Colonel John S. Mason, of the Fourth, 
strengthened by the First Delaware, Major Thomas A. 
Smyth, which had been sent over from the Third Bri- 
gade. The Eighth moved out Hanover Street, crossed 
the bridge upon the string-pieces, and deployed to the 
left ; the Fourth, with the First Delaware, moved out 
Princess Ann Street, crossed the canal near the rail- 
road depot, and deployed to the right. The skirmishers 
then made close connection, and pushed forward with a 
vigor characteristic of those splendid regiments. The re- 


mainder of the brigade, which had been formed in Car- 
oline Street, moved out Princess Ann Street, crossed the 
open space near the railroad station under a terrific fire 
of artillery, passed over the canal, and, filing to the right, 
formed line of battle under cover of the ridge over 
which the skirmishers had already passed, driving the 
Confederate pickets rapidly forward toward the sunken 
road. The veteran regiments, the Seventh Virginia and 
the Fourteenth Indiana, held the right and the left re- 
spectively — the new regiments the centre. 

And now, amid the redoubled roar of the artillery from 
the left bank of the Rappahannock, Kimball's brigade is 
seen to rise over the crest of the little ridge that had 
sheltered it in its formation. A hundred guns lash the 
enemy's batteries, to keep down their fire ; but the op- 
portunity to plough the ranks of the advancing brigade 
keeps all the Confederate cannoneers steady at their 
pieces throughout the storm of shot ; and, from the wide 
circuit of the hills, every gun that can be brought to bear 
is turned upon Kimball's line ; while, at easy range, from 
behind the stone wall, the enemy's riflemen pick off the 
leading ofificers as coolly as if at a turkey-shoot. Rapidly 
our ranks are thinned ; yet Kimball's men push on with- 
out discharging a gun until within perhaps a hundred 
and twenty-five yards of the stone wall, when they are 
fairly halted by the terrific weight of the musketry 
turned upon them ; at last they open fire, and lie down 
to await the arrival of reinforcements.' Some of the 

1 All the Confederate reports of Fredericksburg are affected by 
an error not unnatural on the part of commanding officers who 
were riding along the heights above the plain during the action, 
viz., that, on the repulse of the several successive charges, the 
troops engaged all broke to the rear and went back to cover. 
Thus, General McLaws, after paying a handsome tribute to the 


skirmishers have forced their way up to within forty 
yards of the wall, and there they remain, living or dead. 
General Kimball has fallen, severely wounded ; Colonels 
Snyder, Seventh Virginia, and Wisewell, Twenty-eighth 
New Jersey, with Lieutenant-Colonel Godman, Fourth 
Ohio, are desperately wounded. Colonel John S. Ma- 
son assumes command. The brigade has spread some- 
what from right to left in its advance, while its losses 
have caused great gaps between the regiments. And 
now (while the Twenty-seventh North Carolina is hur- 
riedly thrown into the road, on the Confederate side) ar- 
rives French's Third Brigade, that at the head of which 
Max Weber fell at Antietam, now commanded by Colo- 
nel John W. Andrews, of the First Delaware, whose own 
regiment had participated in Kimball's attack. The ex- 
perience of this brigade in crossing the plain, which is 
now fairly howling with shot and shell, and swept from 
end to end with rifle-balls, has been terrific. Colonel 
Andrews is disabled. Colonel McGregor, Fourth New 
York, has been wounded. Colonel Bendix, of the Tenth, 
was struck with shell before the brigade " rose " the crest, 

gallantry with which Kimball's charge was made, says : " The sur- 
vivors retreated, leaving their colors planted in their first position. 
Soon another column heavier than the first advanced to the colors, 
but were driven back with great slaughter. They were met on 
retiring by reinforcements and advanced again, but were again re- 
pulsed with increased loss." This account concerns the several 
charges of French's division from 12 to i. It is only incorrect in 
assuming that the colors first planted were at any time deserted. 
The fact is, the hands of brave men rested on them from first to 
last. There was no time, from the moment Kimball's men first 
ranged themselves within a stone's throw of the fatal wall, that hun- 
dreds were not lying there in line of battle, their riiles tightly 
gripped, ready to repel a counter-charge of the enemy, or to join a 
fresh column in a new assault. 


the command of his regiment devolving upon Captain 
Winchester, a gallant soldier, killed a few minutes later. 
The shattered regiments still push forward against a fire 
that grows every moment more deadly ; they close in to 
Kimball's support, but are at last driven back, retiring 
first to the cover of the ridge by the canal, withdrawing 
a little later into the city, where they are brought into 
line, in the second street from the water, under Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Marshall. 

In their advance over the crest and up against the 
stone wall, the Third Brigade has been closely followed 
by the Second, under the command of Colonel O. H. 
Palmer. It consists of Colonel Palmer's own regiment, 
the One Hundred and Eighth New York, the Fourteenth 
Connecticut, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Perkins, 
and the One Hundred and Thirtieth Pennsylvania, com- 
manded by Colonel H. L Zinn. This brigade pushes 
forward, with creditable zeal, to undertake a task which 
every officer and man can see for himself cannot be 
accomplished. Colonel Zinn falls dead; Lieutenant- 
Colonel Perkins and Major Clark are wounded. The 
troops are first staggered, and then stayed. The moment 
they open fire it is evident that their initiative is gone ; 
some lie down, unwilling to leave the field, and await 
the arrival of Hancock, who is already forming for at- 
tack ; others are swept away by the enemy's fire, and 
carried back across the canal into the town, 

French's assault is over. Perhaps twelve hundred of 
his men still cling to the field, lying prone on their faces 
at distances from three hundred to one hundred and 
twenty-five yards of the stone wall, the air around them 
humming with bullets, the dirt in front of them thrown 
up in little jets. And now a fresh stir is observed along 
the Confederate line, and the Forty-sixth North Caro- 


lina rush over the crest and join the Twenty-seventh in 
the sunken road at the foot of the wall. The advance 
of French has, to a great extent, masked the fire of our 
artillery from the other side of the river, and now the 
field batteries are coming into action from the edge of 
the town. Arnold's fine Rhode Island battery is the first 
to support French. Dickinson's horse-battery, from the 
artillery reserve, is brought into action ; and, later still, 
two other batteries of the reserve, to support the attack 
of the Second Corps. Sections are placed in each street 
of the city, ready to repel an attack should the enemy as- 
sume the initiative. But Couch had been ordered to at- 
tack Longstreet with one division, supporting it with an- 
other. What of that other? Where is Hancock ? Will 
he suffer the remains of French's division to be run over 
by the enemy emerging from behind the stone wall, or 
murdered one by one as they lie prone upon the ground 
in front of that line of death ? Not if it is the same 
Hancock we saw at Williamsburg. 

Hardly has French left him room to move, when the 
dashing commander of the First Division forms his 
column. Hardly has French crossed the bridges over 
the canal, when Hancock is at his heels. Hardly has 
French's last brigade risen above the crest of the shel- 
tering ridge, when Hancock's leading brigade takes its 
place and awaits the order to charge. It is the brigade 
of Zook ; and, oh ! no man of all the thousands who 
from either side watched its advance, when at last the 
word came, will ever forget that peerless example of valor 
and discipline. Over the crest they swept — Brooke, with 
his renowned Fifty-third Pennsylvania; Bailey, with 
the Second Delaware ; Paul Frank, with the Fifty-second 
New York; the Fifty-seventh, Major Throop ; the Sixty- 
sixth, Captain Wehle ; and Bostwick, with the Twenty- 


seventh Connecticut, which only joined four days ago. 
Brooke, in addition to leading his own regiment, is in- 
structed to look out for the Twenty-seventh. Forward, 
as steadily as when on parade in the old Camp Califor- 
nia, this magnificent brigade moved to its hopeless task. 
As it advanced over the field covered with corpses, many 
of the men of French's division rose and joined the 
charge, taking the place of those who at every instant 
fell out of the line from the murderous fire of the enemy. 
Soon, though with one-third of its members shot down, 
it comes upon the plucky men of Kimball's brigade, who 
have so long been awaiting not relief, but support. With 
a shout these gallant fellows rise, as the dead might be 
conceived to rise, out of the very earth, and swell the 
ranks of Zook.' Will they succeed ? Success, indeed, 
in any true sense is impossible ; for even should they 
mount the stone wall, now less than a hundred yards 
away, bayonet its defenders, and press up the slope of 
Marye's Hill a thousand or two strong, what could be- 
come of them except to be surrounded and captured, 
or destroyed entire by the dense masses of Longstreet 
which lie in reserve behind the crest ? But will they 
reach the stone wall ? It seems for the moment as if 

' This I understand to be the moment to which the Confederate 
General R. Ransom, Jr., commanding division, refers in his of- 
ficial report, as follows : " The enemy now seemed determined to 
reach our position, and formed apparently a triple line. Observ- 
ing this movement on their part, I brought up the three regi- 
ments of my brigade to within one hundred yards of the crest of 
the hills, and pushed the Twenty-fifth North Carolina to the crest. 
The enemy, almost massed, moved to the charge heroically, and 
met the withering fire of our artillery and small arms with wonder- 
ful stanchness. On they came to within less than one hundred 
and fifty yards of our line, but nothing could live before the sheet 
of lead that was hurled at them from this distance." 


they would. The Twenty-fifth North Carolina rushes 
down the hill and joins its comrade, the Twenty-fourth, 
in the road,' while two regiments of Kershaw's brigade, 
the Second and Eighth South Carolina, are also thrown 
behind the stone wall. The new-comers find the line 
complete, compact, two ranks deep ; there is no place for 
them except by doubling on the troops already there, 
and this is accordingly done, the fire from the stone wall 
hereafter coming from four ranks " loading and discharg- 
ing as fast as men can, and that at a mark distant only 
a stone's throw. At this crisis, too, the Sixteenth Geor- 
gia appears to reinforce its comrades of Cobb's brigade, 
commanded by Colonel McMillan, for Cobb has been 
killed, and the fusillade from the stone wall and sunk- 
en road is now sustained by ten regiments,^ while from 
the crest above the remaining regiments of Kershaw's, 
Cooke's, and Ransom's brigades pour down a fire all the 
more deadly because the men load and discharge their 

' " The Twenty-fifth North Carolina Volunteers reached the 
crest of the hill just in time to pour into the enemy a few volleys, 
at most deadly range, and then took position, shoulder to shoulder, 
with Cobb's and Cooke's men in the road." Report of Brigadier- 
General R. Ransom, Jr., commanding division. 

^ " I found on my arrival that Cobb's brigade, Colonel McMil- 
lan, commanding, occupied my entire front, and my troops could 
only get into position by doubling on them. This was accordingly 
done, and the formation, along most of the line, during the en- 
gagement, was consequently four deep. As an evidence of the 
coolness of the command, I may mention here that, notwithstand- 
standing their fire was the most rapid and continuous I have ever 
witnessed, not a man was injured by the fire of his comrades." 
Kershaw's report. 

^ The Sixteenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-fourth Georgia, and Phillips' 
Georgia Legion ; the Twenty-fourth, Twenty-fifth, Twenty-seventh, 
and Forty-sixth North Carohna ; the Second and Eighth South 


pieces with a confidence and coolness which could only 
have been imparted by the presence of an advanced line. 
The sole compensation to the charging column is found 
in the fact that our troops are now so close that the Con- 
federate artillery on the right can no longer enfilade their 
lines. Against this blazing musketry, tier on tier, Zook's 
men bend themselves as men who breast a furious gale of 
wind. But hark, what cheer is that which bursts from 
the rear as they struggle on ? It is the Irish Brigade, 
which Hancock has thrown forward to give a fresh im- 
pulse to the waning assault. Here are the three sterling 
New York regiments — the Sixty-ninth, under Nugent, 
the Eighty-eighth, under Patrick Kelly, and the Sixty- 
third, to-day under Major O'Neill ; with them comes 
the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, under Byrnes, and 
another new comrade, the One Hundred and Sixteenth 
Pennsylvania, which joined at Bolivar Heights, under 
Dennis Heenan. Right gallantly the Irishmen charge 
over the sheltering ridge, and dash across the bloody 
spaces strewn with the dead and dying of the brigades 
that have gone on before. They come up not a moment 
too soon. Zook's brigade has struggled forward to the 
last of the fences ' which cross the field of battle. 

This fence our gallant fellows try, here to bear down by 
main force, there to wrench from the ground. But how 
can men live where, a pistol-shot away, four ranks of 
veteran marksmen, themselves completely sheltered, are 
pouring forth an unremitting blast of deadly fire? The 
killed and wounded fall like leaves in autumn, while hun- 
dreds of men, brave among the bravest, lie down beneath 
the storm of lead. Nugent and Kelly, to whom the Irish 

' " Each of these fences destroyed the unity of at least one bri- 
gade." Hancock's official report. 


Brigade has been accustomed to look for examples of 
courage and devotion, are at the front ; with their own 
hands they undertake to tear down the fences and make 
a way to the stone wall. But it is in vain ; of twelve 
hundred men, five hundred have fallen. Nugent, of the 
Sixty-ninth, is down, fifteen of his commissioned officers 
with him — only three remain. O'Neill, of the Sixty- 
third, is disabled, with six of his officers. Heenan, who 
has led his new regiment as far as any, is wounded, with 
eleven of his officers. The fourth commander is now in 
charge of the battalion. Flesh and blood will not stand 
it longer. In the face of the manifest impossibility of 
accomplishing anything, a part of the brigade take to 
the ground ; a part break to the rear, are reformed by 
Meagher, who, in his strange, unaccountable way, has been 
separated from his command during its charge — and at 
last find their way into the city, and even across the river. 
Only one brigade remains. Riding freely over the 
field, with his dashing staff, Hancock has watched every 
phase of the fight, and now orders up Caldwell for one 
last effort. And, surely, if any brigade can carry the 
stone wall, it is that which now rises over the crest. The 
Fifth New Hampshire holds the right under Cross, who 
is to-day to surpass his own brilliant reputation for furi- 
ous courage and reckless exposure, but is not to die till 
Gettysburg ; next him, with the Eighty-first Pennsyl- 
vania, is Henry Boyd McKeen, who on this field is to 
win fresh glory, but reserves his life for Cold Harbor ; 
in the centre is Van Schack, with the German Seventh 
New York ; farther on, the new regiment of the brigade, 
the One Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, under 
Brown ; and on the left of the line, the consolidated Sixty- 
first and Sixty-fourth New York, under Miles. Why re- 
peat the story of an advance over a field swept by artillery 


and musketry, while brave men fall by hundreds, only to 
reach a barrier which vomits death like some fabled mon- 
ster of antiquity ? Of the nineteen hundred and eighty- 
seven men with which this brigade rose over the crest, 
nine hundred and ninety-four, including sixty-two officers, 
are killed or wounded in this gallant but hopeless ad- 
vance. Caldwell's men gain the farthest point to which 
any of our troops have advanced ; a few of them, joined 
by some choice spirits of Kimball, Zook, and Meagher, 
actually push their way through the few gaps that have 
been torn by dying hands in the last fence, and, a mere 
handful, struggle on to take the stone wall held by its 
four ranks of defenders. 

When the dead of that bloody field were buried, all 
the way from the last fence, which no regiment or com- 
pany ever passed in line, up to within twenty and even 
fifteen yards of the stone wall, lay soldiers of those four 
brigades. Oh, that such valor had been well employed ! 
Oh, that such precious blood had been wisely spent ! Oh, 
that those heroic regiments had, in the course of some 
prudently conceived movement, been let loose upon the 
Confederate flank ! 

Yet even here, among these forlorn conditions, one 
heart there was as fresh, as bouyant, as that of a child at 
play. It beats in the youthful form of Miles, a born sol- 
dier, rightly named. Mitchell, of Hancock's staff, directs 
him to move toward the position which the heroic 
Brooke,' with some of the stoutest souls of the Fifty-third 
Pennsylvania, has seized and is still holding, hardly forty 
yards from the stone wall, around a little cluster of houses 
on either side of the road just as it is about to rise up 

' Colonel Brooke had sent the Twenty-seventh Connecticut off 
the field, on account of the utter inefficiency of the wretched Bel- 
gian rifles which this regiment carried. 


Marye's Heights. From this point, whence a biscuit can 
be tossed into the sunken road, Brooke's handful of brave 
men have maintained an incessant fusillade upon the 
enemy to keep down the fire of their infantry and to 
pick off the gunners of the pieces which look down the 
road. Miles' two regiments are on the left of Caldwell's 
line; but without a tremor they are marched right ob- 
lique, with arms at " right shoulder," the whole width of 
the field. They cross the telegraph road just below the 
forks, and come to a front, their left resting on the road. 
A ball strikes Miles in the throat ; but with his hand 
against the wound, and the blood streaming out through his 
fingers, this prince of fighters dashes back to Couch, who, 
close at hand, is watching with breaking heart the anni- 
hilation of his splendid corps, and entreats permission to 
lead a new charge. But the situation is hopeless — the 
enemy's line of fire has been growing longer and longer, 
as their fresh troops are hurried to the point of danger; 
new regiments have been crowded into the sunken road 
till it can hold no more ; their reserves are known to be 
in dense masses behind the crest. Franklin's attack upon 
the left has already failed. Couch's mind is turned to 
the danger of a counter attack by the victorious enemy 
upon the few thousands of his troops who are crouching 
on the ground in front of the stone wall, or have been 
rallied in their flight behind the low, sheltering crest be- 
yond the canal. Fortunately, Willcox, with his two di- 
visions of the Ninth Corps, has well executed his orders 
to support Couch on the left, and has pushed his troops 
close up to the front, engaging Hood with vigor, and now 
keeps the enemy's attention fully occupied on that side. 
But on the right there is pressing need of support ; and 
urgent representations come from French and Hancock 
as to the perilous positions of their commands. 



Couch had, from the first, desired to attack, if he were 
to attack at all, well to the right. In the council of war 
he had opposed the crossing in front ; and, after that 
was effected, he had represented to General Sumner that 
the heights in rear of the town should be attempted, if 
at all, not by a movement out the telegraph and plank 
roads, but by columns issuing from the right of the town. 
In this he had been overruled. When ordered, however, 
to attack Marye's Heights, out the telegraph and plank 
roads, with one division, supporting it with another, but 
at the same time to extend his right so far as to prevent 
the possibility of the enemy occupying the upper part 
of Fredericksburg, Couch had kept Howard's division in 
hand (Whipple's division of the Third Corps having 
taken the place of that division in the town), not only to 
execute the last part of this order, but in the expectation 
that the course of the action would call for an attack by 
that division in the very quarter where he believed the 
main attack should have been made. As early as 1.45 
r.M., Couch sent a despatch by the signal ofificers, urging 
an attack upon the right, concluding with these words : 
" It is only murder now." But no attention was paid 
to these representations ; and a little after two o'clock, 
Couch ordered Howard in upon the telegraph road. The 
leading brigade was that of Colonel Owen, to which the 
One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania had 
been temporarily assigned to replace the Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania, which was on picket. 

The Pennsylvanians crossed the bridge over the canal, 
moving out the telegraph road, by the flank, left in front. 
Reaching a ploughed field on the left of the road, they 
deployed in handsome style and moved forward in line 
of battle to the vicinity of the Brick House, where the 
troops were halted and ordered to lie down. Hall's 


brigade, meanwhile, followed Owen, by the flank ; and 
Couch, for the moment, resolved to lead it in person 
up the street, to see if it were not possible, with the 
corps commander at its head, to gain the crest of the 
hill. The column was formed, but the " sober second- 
thought " prevailed, and Hall was ordered to deploy on 
the right of the road. This he did, and promptly moved 
his regiments forward against the rifle-pits which pro- 
longed the stone wall on that side of the road. " The 
Twentieth Massachusetts showed the matchless courage 
and discipline evinced on the previous day " (Hail), 
standing up to its work, even when its hardy companions 
gave way under the tremendous fire which greeted them. 
Hall again formed the brigade and attempted another 
attack. The Nineteenth Massachusetts gained an ad- 
vanced position along the road, which it held till dark, 
losing two commanders and many other officers and men ; 
but the attack failed. Hall then caused his men to lie 
down, and open a brisk fire to keep the enemy's heads 
below their intrenchments. Sully's (First) brigade mean- 
while had come up and formed in rear of Hall, well 
sheltered by the care of General Sully, one of the most 
judicious of commanders as well as one of the best of 
fighters. The First Minnesota was sent to support a 
battery farther to the right, while the Nineteenth Maine, 
for the first time under fire, held the extreme right of the 
Union line, near a mill on the canal. About this time an- 
other of Sully's regiments, the Fifteenth Massachusetts, 
which had just been relieved by a regiment of Whipple's 
in the city, moved out the telegraph road and joined 
Owen on the left. 

But Couch's anxiety regarding a counter charge is not 
wholly relieved by Howard's appearance on the immedi- 
ate field of action ; moreover, the enemy are now, after 


the repulse of the Second Corps, pounding the Ninth 
Corps, upon the left, with a terribly destructive fire, and 
Couch feels it imperative for him to relieve the pressure 
on Willcox ; he thinks he sees the way, and resolves 
upon a feat of arms which, so far as the writer is in- 
formed, had never been before attempted in all the 
desperate fighting of the war. To the consternation of 
his chief of artillery, he orders a battery to be thrown 
forward from the town across the mill-race, to take po- 
sition above the crest.' " My God ! general," exclaims 
Morgan, "you will lose your guns." " I would rather 
lose my guns than lose my men," is the reply. " Put 
them in ! " The battery is Hazard's A, First Rhode 
Island. Without a murmur. Hazard dashes with his 
twelve-pounders into the street, over the bridge, and 
comes into action on the left of the road, opening fire 
with a rapidity which well serves the general's purpose, 
at once to hearten the men lying down in front and to 
create in the mind of the enemy the expectation of a new 
assault, which would keep them from taking the initia- 
tive, and would relieve the pressure on the Ninth Corps. 
The right piece of Hazard's battery, under Lieutenant 
Adams, a cool and capable ofificer, is pushed still fur- 
ther up the road, half way to the stone wall. Adams' 
horses are shot down almost as soon as the piece is un- 
limbered ; the little guidon stuck in the trunnion is carried 
away, but instantly replaced ; three " number ones " are 
struck down, in quick succession, at the muzzle of the 
gun ; but still the piece is served, in that perilous place, 

' General Hooker, in his testimony before the committee of the 
conduct of the war, speaks as if he himself ordered this movement. 
He did, indeed, direct Frank's battery to be sent in to support 
Hazard, but the sending forward of Hazard was without any sug- 
gestion from him. 


as steadily as if it were firing blank cartridges at a re- 
view. A little later Frank's battery (G, of the First New 
York) is thrown forward to the ridge, and worthily sup- 
ports Hazard on his left. Never before, I believe, and 
never afterward in the war, was artillery so far advanced, 
in plain sight, without cover, against an intrenched ene- 
my. The object of the daring enterprise was accom- 
plished, and the guns were ultimately withdrawn with- 
out the loss of a single piece. 

All that the Second Corps could do was now done. 
It had obeyed its instructions to attack a strong posi- 
tion, thoroughly fortified, bristling with eighty guns, and 
held by forty thousand infantry. From the moment that 
Mason's skirmishers drove in the Confederate pickets, to 
the last effort of Hall's brigade, between the telegraph and 
the plank roads, all that had been done had been done 
without the slightest help from that inspiration which 
springs from the anticipation of victory. Every ofificer 
and every soldier in the ranks had seen and felt for him- 
self that the attempt to carry the position was hopeless. 
Yet nearly four thousand men had fallen in obedience to 
orders, while the Ninth Corps had bravely, though at 
smaller loss, supported the attack. Well might General 
Burnside say : " Never did men fight more persistently 
than this brave Grand Division of Sumner. The officers 
and men seemed to be inspired with the lofty courage 
and determined spirit of their noble commander." 

The troops of Hooker were now coming upon the field. 
The commander of the Centre Grand Division had seen 
one-third of his command, two divisions of the Third 
Corps, sent to reinforce Franklin. Whipple's division of 
that corps had, during the morning of the great day, been 
moved into the city, and, as already stated, had there 
relieved Howard's division. At or about 1.30 p.m. Gen- 


eral Hooker had received orders to throw Buttcrfield's 
Fifth Corps into the city, and reinforce the attack of 
Sumner. Having gone upon the field of battle about 
two o'clock, and fully satisfied himself, after consultation 
with Couch, that the enterprise on the right was fore- 
doomed to failure, from the strength of the Confederate 
position. General Hooker, having already despatched 
Grififin's division to the support of Sturgis, now hard 
pressed by Hood, sent a message earnestly representing 
the uselessness of the sacrifice. Such a message, from an 
officer so desperately daring in attack, should have been 
enough ; but Burnside, after his long and painful vacilla- 
tion, had passed into a state of hopeless obstinacy, and 
peremptorily ordered the attack to go forward. So much 
like sheer murder did this appear, that Hooker even 
brought himself to ride across the river, while Butter- 
field's divisions were coming up, and personally urge on 
the commander-in-chief the abandonment of the project. 
All was in vain; Burnside merely reiterated that the at- 
tack must be, should be, made. 

When Hooker, returning from his futile errand, was 
forming Humphreys' division in column for the assault, 
with Sykes in support upon the right, Couch renewed 
to that officer his recommendation that the movement 
should be made far out to the right. To this suggestion 
Hooker, in terribly bad temper, as was not unnatural, re- 
plied contemptuously and insolently. Stung by the in- 
sult, broken-hearted at the defeat of his corps and the 
massacre of his gallant soldiers, and perhaps shrinking 
from the spectacle of a fresh slaughter. Couch turned 
abruptly away and dashed up the road. Passing Ha- 
zard's battery on his left, he rode slowly up to Adams' 
gun, which was still being served in the road, and ex- 
changed a few words with that officer ; then putting 


spurs to his horse, he proceeded to the point where 
Brooke, with his companions, partially sheltered behind 
the group of buildings, still held the extreme advance. 
Sitting here, on horseback, at easy pistol-range from the 
enemy's line, Couch surveyed the field from right to 
left, conversed a moment with Brooke, who begged and 
prayed him to retire, and then turning to the left, rode 
dozvn the line of his corps ! A strange review it is surely ! 
There, prone on the ground, the living mingled with the 
dead, are three or four thousand men, the remains of 
twenty regiments. The line zigzags as the fortunes of 
the several charges have left it, at some points fifty, at 
others one hundred or two hundred, yards from the 
stone wall. Except for those who cluster for shelter at 
the rear of the few huts or houses on the line, not a 
man is erect. With rifle or sword tightly clutched, the 
private and the colonel alike lie hugging the ground; 
while now and then strange shelter is found. Here is a 
horse of the staff, which has fallen near the point of the 
farthest advance ; it lies with its back to the enemy, and 
between its legs is a very nest of men, who press their 
heads against its belly. Here two or three stones have 
been dragged together to make a pile somewhat bigger 
than a hat ; there a lifeless body serves as a partial cover 
for the living. The firing has almost ceased. Enough of 
our men are sheltered behind the brick house, the huts, 
and the blacksmith's shop, to make it hot for anyone 
who raises his head above the wall ; the Confederates 
have been gorged with slaughter, or are awaiting the ap- 
pearance of fresh columns of assault ; the artillery fire is 
completely mastered, so far as the infantry is concerned, 
by the nearness of the two lines, though the batteries 
still pound each other, and the shells fly thickly over the 
plain. It is down such a line that Couch, with his three 


companions/ rides, that winter afternoon, in his strange 

And now Humphreys' Pennsylvania division of nine- 
months' regiments is forming beyond the mill-race,^ with 
Sykes' division en e'cJiclon upon the right ; and Colonel 
Mason, who has succeeded General Kimball, withdraws 
his shattered troops, which have been for two hours 
without ammunition, to the suburbs of the town, and 
subsequently forms them in one of the streets. A por- 
tion of Zook's brigade, which is out of ammunition, is 
marched down the road to the town. 

Inasmuch as the report of General Humphreys, after- 
ward the beloved commander of the Second Corps, 
standing almost peerless among the generals of the army 
in intrepidity, in moral force, and in the comprehen- 
sion of military exigencies, contains matter to which I 
am bound to take exception, I give it here in his own 
words : 

" The Second Brigade was quickly formed under my 
direction by Colonel Allabach, and then led by him and 
myself. It moved rapidly and gallantly up to General 
Couch's troops, under the artillery and musketry fire of 
the enemy. The nature of the enemy's line of defence 
could not be clearly perceived by me until I reached our 

' In addition to an officer of his own staff, General Couch was 
accompanied by Lieutenant Alonzo H. Gushing, afterward killed 
at Gettysburg, then of General Sumner's staff, and a very brave 
and intelligent orderly named Long. General Couch afterward 
stated that he did not wish anyone to follow him, and was not 
aware until he reached Colonel Brooke's position that anyone had 
done so. 

* About the time Humphreys' charge took place, Griffin's di- 
vision of the Fifth Corps attacked the enemy farther to the left, 
where Willcox's Ninth Corps had been fighting. The attack was 
made with great gallantry and at very heavy loss. 


line. The troops I was to support, as well as those on 
their left (I could not see those on their right from the 
interruption of the line by a road and the thick smoke), 
were sheltering themselves by lying on the ground. This 
example Colonel Allabach's brigade immediately fol- 
lowed, in spite of an effort to prevent it, and opened a 
fire upon the enemy. A part only of his men were able 
to reach the front rank, owing to the numbers already 
occupying the ground. 

" The continued presence of the troops I was to sup- 
port or relieve proved a serious obstacle to my success. 
As soon as I ascertained the nature of the enemy's posi- 
tion I was satisfied that our fire could have but little ef- 
fect upon him, and that the only mode of attacking him 
successfully was with the bayonet. This I resolved to 
do, although my command was composed of troops that 
entered the service in August. With great difficulty 
their firing was arrested, chiefly by the exertions of my- 
self and staff, and Colonel Allabach, aided by Colonel 
Allen, Colonel Clark, and Captain Tyler. While this 
was being done I sent a staff officer to General Tyler 
with instructions to bring his command to the left of the 
road in the ravine, and prepare it to support or take the 
place of Allabach's brigade, as the event might require. 
The charge was then made, but the deadly fire of mus- 
ketry and artillery broke it, after an advance of fifty 
yards. Colonel Allabach re-formed the brigade, a por- 
tion in the line from which the charge was made, and 
the remainder in the ravine from which they originally 

" The greater part of my staff were now on foot, hav- 
ing had their horses killed or disabled, my own being 
in the latter condition from two wounds. Mounting 
the horse of my special orderly (Dimond, Sixth United 


States Cavalry) I rode to General Tyler's brigade to con- 
duct it to the enemy, and while doing so received three 
successive orders from General Butterfield to charge 
the enemy's line, the last order being accompanied by 
the message that both General Burnside and General 
Hooker demanded that the crest should be taken before 
night. It was already growing dusky. General Tyler's 
brigade was not yet entirely formed, and was impeded 
in doing so by a battery of six guns, whose limbers oc- 
cupied a part of his ground, and whose fire would have 
rendered it impossible for him to advance. With great 
difificulty I brought this battery to cease firing. Then 
riding along the two lines I directed them not to fire; 
that it was useless ; that the bayonet alone was the 
weapon to fight with here. Anticipating, too, the serious 
obstacle they would meet with in the masses of men, 
lying under the little shelter afforded by the natural em- 
bankment in front before mentioned, who could not be 
got out of the way, I directed them to disregard these 
men entirely, and to pass over them. I ordered the 
officers to the front, and with a hurrah the brigade, 
led by General Tyler and myself, advanced gallantly 
over the ground, under the heaviest fire yet opened, 
which poured upon it from the moment it rose from the 

" As the brigade reached the masses of men referred 
to, every effort was made by the latter to prevent our 
advance. They called to our men not to go forward, 
and some attempted to prevent by force their doing so. 
The effect upon my command was what I apprehended 
— the line was somewhat disordered, and in part forced 
to form into a column, but still advanced rapidly. The 
fire of the enemy's musketry and artillery, furious as it 
was before, now became still hotter. The stone wall 


was a sheet of flame that enveloped the head and flanks 
of the column. Officers and men were falling rapidly, 
and the head of the column was at length brought to a 
stand when close up to the wall. Up to this time not a 
shot had been fired by the column, but now some firing 
began. It lasted but a minute, when, in spite of all our 
efforts, the column turned and began to retire slowly. 
I attempted to rally the brigade behind the natural em- 
bankment so often mentioned, but the united efforts of 
General Tyler, myself, our staffs, and the other officers, 
could not arrest the retiring mass. My efforts were the 
less effective, since I was again dismounted, my second 
horse having been killed under me. The only one of 
my staff now mounted was Lieutenant Humphreys, 
whose horse had been three times wounded. All the 
rest had their horses either killed or disabled, except one 
ofificer, who had been sent off with orders. Directing 
General Tyler to re-form his brigade under cover of the 
ravine, I returned to the portion of AUabach's brigade 
still holding, with the other troops, the line of natural 
embankment. At this moment some one brought me 
Colonel Elder's horse, the colonel having been danger- 
ously wounded a short time before. My force being too 
small to try another charge, I communicated the result 
of the contest to General Butterfield, and received di- 
rections in return to bring the remainder of my troops to 
the ravine. This was accordingly done, the One Hun- 
dred and Twenty-third and One Hundred and Fifty- 
fifth Regiments, commanded by Colonels Clark and 
Allen, retiring slowly and in good order, singing and 
hurrahing. Colonel Allabach brought off the other 
regiments in equally good order. Our loss in both bri- 
gades was heavy, exceeding one thousand in killed and 
wounded, including in the number officers of high rank. 


The greater part of the loss occurred during the brief 
time they were charging and retiring, which scarcely- 
occupied more than ten or fifteen minutes for each 

I have given General Humphreys' account of this 
charge in his own words ; but I must add, that of all 
the features of that gallant enterprise, none was so con- 
spicuous as General Humphreys' superb leadership. 
With such officers as Hooker, Couch, and Hancock on 
the field, it was difficult for any man to set an example 
of personal behavior which should be remarkable by 
comparison. And yet there was something in the way 
that studious, scholarly officer of engineers led his 
troops, especially the brigade of Tyler's, up against the 
stone wall, which filled all beholders with admiration. 
But while the efforts of Humphreys' men were most ad- 
mirable, and the conduct of their leader was beyond all 
praise, the historian of the Second Corps cannot admit 
the censure which is implied in this account, and which 
was subsequently strongly expressed in a letter of General 
Humphreys, printed in the revised edition of " Swinton's 
Army of the Potomac." In that letter General Hum- 
phreys attributes his failure essentially to the confusion 
caused by his troops having to pass over the men of the 
Second Corps, and imputes blame that these men had 
not been withdrawn before his charge was ordered. Now 
it goes without saying that the presence of such a body 
of men, lying down, constitutes a certain obstacle to the 
progress of a fresh column ; but it would have been as 
reasonable to quarrel with the corpses of French's and 
Hancock's men who had been killed in the charge, as 
with the bodies of their living companions who had 
clung to the ground, when the attack failed, deeming 
that it was their duty to hold what they had gained ; 


just as some of the same regiments did, eighteen months 
later, after the fatal charge at Cold Harbor, It is very 
likely true that among those thousands, a few may have 
called out to Allabach's and Tyler's men that it was use- 
less to go forward ; but their own situation on that plain, 
swept by fire, is proof enough that such men were very 
few, if, indeed, the story is not the tale of some colonel 
or captain to excuse the breaking of his own command. 
The fact is, Humphreys' charge failed, not because of 
the presence of the remnants of the divisions that had 
made the previous assaults, but because, in General 
Humphreys' own words ; " the stone wall was a sheet of 
flame that enveloped the head and flanks of the column." 
Dense as was the line, four ranks deep, behind that wall, 
when Hancock's last attempt was made, it had just been 
freshly reinforced by the Fifteenth South Carolina, in 
support of the Second, while the Third was brought into 
the sunken road on the left of Phillips' Georgia legion, 
between the time of Allabach's charge and that of Ty- 

Again, it cannot be admitted that this division ap- 
proached " nearer to the wall than any other troops had 
reached." General Humphreys was not on the field when 
French's and Hancock's charges took place, he was not 
even on the same side of the river ; and therefore he 
could not know, from personal observation, what points 
were reached in those charges, while a hundred officers 
who witnessed both the earlier and the later assaults 
can testify that no troops went so near the stone wall 
that bloody day as the men of- Kimball, Zook, Meagher, 
and Caldwell. But upon this point we are not called to 
rely upon the observations and recollections of men in- 
flamed and excited by conflict. The dead of Fredericks- 
burg were buried on the following Saturday by a de- 


tachment under the command of Colonel John R. 
Brooke, who was accompanied by Captain Morgan, In- 
spector-General of the Second Corps. Both these of- 
ficers have testified, in the most precise manner, that the 
bodies found nearest the stone wall were those of men of 
the Sixty-ninth New York, Fifth New Hampshire, and 
Fifty-third Pennsylvania. Evidence like this is beyond 
dispute. The writer regrets to be obliged to introduce 
controversial matters into this history ; but the point is 
one respecting which it is a sacred duty to the dead not 
to keep silence. 

The repulse of Humphreys virtually closed the battle 
of Fredericksburg. General Hooker having, as he bit- 
terly expressed it, " lost as many men as his orders re- 
quired," put a stop to the slaughter, and no other charge 
on the enemy's position was attempted. Firing occasion- 
ally broke out during the brief portion of the day which 
remained ; and even after night fell, some alarm would 
start a fusillade in which thousands of muskets would be 
seen darting flame from their muzzles,' or would give rise 
to an artillery duel which would again shake the ground 
on which thousands of dead or wounded men were lying. 
At last all grew quiet, except for the groans of the 

' The Confederate general, R. Ransom, Jr., who is somewhat af- 
flicted with rhetoric, describes a charge made on his line after 
dark, as follows : " Just after dark, he (the enemy) opened a tre- 
mendous fire of small arms and at short range upon my whole line. 
This last desperate and murderous attack met the same fate which 
had befallen those which preceded, and his host were sent actually 
howling (!) back to their beaten comrades in the town." The 
fact is, no charge was made at this time — the firing being be- 
tween General Ransom's people behind the stone wall and the 
Union troops lying in the position in which darkness found 


stricken. Soon after dark General Couch was informed 
that his troops would be relieved by Sykes' division ; 
but he declined to withdraw his corps except upon ex- 
press orders from General Sumner. At eleven o'clock 
those orders came, and the "regulars" relieved the Sec- 
ond Corps, or nearly all of it, taking up positions consid- 
erably in rear of the line of the farthermost advance of 
the afternoon. The several divisions of the. Second Corps 
were drawn into the city or stationed on the outskirts 
toward the north and northwest. During the two days 
that followed, namely, the 14th and 15th, General Burn- 
side remained shocked and bewildered at the disaster 
which had befallen his army, at one time telegraphing to 
Washington that though his assault had not been suc- 
cessful, he had gained ground and was holding it ; at 
another time scheming to transfer all the troops to the 
left ; at another time declaring that he would form a col- 
umn of the Ninth Corps and lead it in person up Marye's 
Heights ; at another time plunged in the deepest dis- 

During the night of the 14th, Howard was directed to 
relieve a portion of General Sykes' division at the front ; 
and for this purpose sent five regiments, under the com- 
mand of Colonel George N. Morgan, First Minnesota. 
These regiments were all day subjected to a severe fire of 
artillery from the right, while the Confederate sharp- 
shooters covered the whole space between our line and 
the city. 

The losses of this detachment through the day were 
considerable. Arrangements had already been made for 
intrenching during the night, when, between eight and 
nine o'clock in the evening, orders were received to retire 
from the position. After holding the city and a portion 
of the plain through two days, in a vain endeavor to make 



it out that the movement across the river was something 
other and something less than an utter and a hideous 
failure, General Burnside at last brought himself, on the 
night of the 15th, to withdraw his army to the left bank, 
excepting Butterfield's Fifth Corps, which remained for 
the time in Fredericksburg. 

The losses had been monstrous, especially in the First, 
Second, and Fifth Corps. The following is the table of 
casualties : 





First Corps 








Third Corps. .. 

Fifth Corps 

Ninth Corps 


Total . 





Note. — The Confederate losses in killed and wounded for the 
period December nth to 15th are given at 4,201, or only about i 
in 3 of the Union losses ; but of the Confederate losses 2,682 oc- 
curred in Jackson's corps, in front of Franklin, where our troops 
had at least some chance, leaving but 1,519 as the losses of Long- 
street's corps, on the Confederate left, opposite which fell three- 
fourths of the Union killed and wounded. 

Inasmuch as General Lee only claims to have captured 
*' more than nine hundred prisoners " (see his final re- 
port), it is evident that by far the greater portion of 
those returned as missing were either killed or wounded. 
In the Second and Fifth Corps, this was almost univer- 
sally the rule, as neither of these corps was in a position 
where the enemy did or could secure prisoners. Prob- 
ably not a man of the Second Corps was captured on the 


13th. A few score may have been left behind in the 
retreat on the night of the 15th. More than half the 
loss of the Second Corps had fallen upon the division of 
Hancock, Taking in 5,006, it had lost 2,013, of whom 
not less than 156 were commissioned officers. While 
these figures are eloquent of valor and discipline, the 
heavy proportional loss of commissioned officers shows 
how truly and well the special trusts of honor and au- 
thority were discharged on that memorable day. Han- 
cock's seventeen regiments went into action as sixteen 
battalions, the Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth New York 
being consolidated under the command of Miles. In 
these sixteen battalions twenty-five officers were killed or 
wounded while in command, some regiments having seen 
their second, their third, and even, in one case, their 
fourth commander struck down. The regiment which 
was headed by its fifth commander was the superb Fifth 
New Hampshire, destined to lead the roll of all the regi- 
ments of the Union Army in the number of its " killed 
in action." Its colonel. Cross, was here severely 
wounded, and its major, Edward E. Sturtevant, killed. 
Of the twenty-one other commissioned officers who 
went into fight fifteen fell, among them two while in 
command of the regiment. The Sixty-ninth New 
York, at whose head the heroic Nugent was severely 
wounded, was at last marched off under its fourth com- 
mander, sixteen officers out of nineteen having fallen. 
So, also, was the new but brave regiment of Heenan, 
the One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania ; the 
veteran Eighty-first Pennsylvania, whose commander, 
McKeen, bore himself, till severely wounded, with great 
gallantry and address ; and the Sixty-sixth New York, 
whose lieutenant-colonel, J. H. Bull, had been killed in 
the crossing of the river, and whose senior captain, Ju- 


Hus Wehle, was killed early in the charge of Zook's bri- 
gade. Of the regiments which had their third commander 
on this day were the consolidated Sixty-first and Sixty- 
fourth New York ; the Second Delaware, whose colonel, 
Bailey, fell with six of his ofificers ; the Fifty-seventh New 
York, whose lieutenant-colonel, Chapman, had fallen in 
the crossing of the river, and whose major, Throop, was 
here mortally wounded, only two officers remaining with 
the regiment at the close of the action. The One Hun- 
dred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania had two commanders 
during the action, its efficient colonel. Brown, receiving 
several severe wounds ; as, also, had the Sixty-third New 
York, whose major, O'Neill, was wounded. Among the 
commanding officers who entered the fight, yet brought 
out their regiments, were the chivalrous Brooke, of the 
Fifty-third Pennsylvania ; Colonel George Van Schack, 
Seventh New York, who, though wounded, remained in 
command, having lost eighteen commissioned officers, 
one half of them killed or mortally wounded ; Colonel 
Paul Frank, Fifty-second New York ; Colonel Patrick 
Kelly, Eighty-eighth New York ; Colonel Richard 
Byrnes, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, which regiment, 
though strange to the corps, proved itself worthy of the 
brotherhood of the Irish Brigade ; and Colonel Richard 
S. Bostwick, Twenty-seventh Connecticut, whose new 
nine months' regiment had borne itself worthily in the 

Among the other valuable officers who fell were. 
Major Horgan, of the Eighty-eighth New York, killed ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Mulholland, of the One Hundred 
and Sixteenth Pennsylvania ; Major Carahar, of the 
Twenty-eighth Massachusetts ; and Major Cavanagh, of 
the Sixty-ninth New York, wounded. The total losses 
of the regiments of this division, in comparison with the 



Strength with which they went into action, were as fol- 



Took into action. 


6ist and 64th New York. 



145th Pennsylvania. 



Caldwell's . . . ■ 

5th New Hampshire. 



8ist Pennsylvania. 



7th New York. 




69th New York. 



88th New York. 



Meagher's ... 

63d New York. 



28th Massachusetts. 




ii6th Pennsylvania. 



57th New York. 



53d Pennsylvania. 



Zook's - 

2d Delaware. 
52d New York. 



66th New York. 



27th Connecticut. 



The division staff shared in the losses of the day. 
Three, Miller, Parker, and Rorty were wounded ; four 
had horses shot under them. General Caldwell was 
slightly wounded, and two of his staff were wounded. 

General French's division, which had opened the at- 
tack, stood next to Hancock's on the bloody score. Its 
losses were 89 killed, 904 wounded, 167 missing; total 
1,160. Kimball's brigade lost 520; Palmer's, 291 ; An- 
drews', 342. The new regiments suffered severely, the 
Twenty-eighth New Jersey losing 193, the Twenty- 
fourth 136. The Fourteenth Connecticut, which had 
been engaged at Antietam, here lost 120; the One 
Hundred and Thirtieth and One Hundred and Thirty- 
second Pennsylvania, likewise Antietam regiments, lost 
respectively 107 and 79. The First Delaware lost 93, 
the One Hundred and Eighth New York 92, the Four- 
teenth Indiana 75, the Fourth New York 74, the Tenth 
New York 6S. Among the officers of rank who had 
fallen were General Nathan Kimball, Colonels Zinn 


(killed), Benclix, McGregor, Andrews, Snyder, and 
Wisewell, Lieutenant-Colonels Godman and Perkins, 
and Major Clark. 

The losses of Howard's division, which at the begin- 
ning of the action of the 13th had been held in reserve, 
and was only ordered to the front when the failure of 
the assault stood confessed, aggregated, for both the i ith 
and the 13th, 914; of whom 104 were killed, 718 
wounded, 92 missing. Sully's brigade lost 122; Owen's 
258 ; Hall's, which had been heavily engaged on both 
days, 515. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachu- 
setts, which had shown such fine quality on the i ith, bore 
themselves with rare courage and discipline on the 13th ; 
their losses were respectively 105 and 163. The new 
One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania lost 
146. Among the officers of rank who fell in this divis- 
ion were Colonel Jennings, One Hundred and Twenty- 
seventh Pennsylvania; Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bax- 
ter, Seventh Michigan ; Major Chase Philbrick, Fif- 
teenth Massachusetts, wounded ; and Surgeon S. F. 
Haven, Jr., Fifteenth Massachusetts, killed. Captain 
Ferdinand Dreher, Twentieth Massachusetts, received 
wounds of which he subsequently died, having mean- 
while been promoted lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. 

The ofificers, below the rank of major, who had been 
killed or mortally wounded in the actions of the i ith 
and 13th, are as follows : 

Captains Edward H. Becker, Emil Faber du Four, 
Max Boettcher and Oscar V. Heringer ; Lieutenants Carl 
Slevoight, Frederic Jacobi, B, Von Buchenhagen, Au- 
gust Von Apel, Andrew Winter, all of the Seventh New 

Captains Washington Brown, W. W. W. Wood and 
Andrew J. Mason ; Lieutenants Fletcher Clay, John 


Hubbard, Charles H. Riblet, Charles S. Carroll, Mavor 
R. Brown, and John W. Vincent, all of the One Hun- 
dred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania. 

Captains John Murray, James B. Perry, and William 
A. Moore; Lieutenants Charles O. Ballou, George F. 
Nettleton, and Samuel B. Little, all of the Fifth New 

Captain Elijah W. Gibbon ; Lieutenants William A. 
Coomes, Theodore A. Stanley, and David E. Canfield, of 
the Fourteenth Connecticut. 

Captain Salmon Winchester; Lieutenants Francis A. 
Morrell, and James M. Yardley, Tenth New York. 

Captains B. E. Schwerzer and Addison C. Taylor, 
Twenty-seventh Connecticut. 

Captains Julius Wehle and John P. Dodge, Sixty- 
sixth New York. 

Captain Charles F. Cabot ; Lieutenants L. F. Alley 
and R. S. Beck with. Twentieth Massachusetts. 

Captain William Fox and Lieutenant J. S. Shoe- 
maker, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsyl- 

Captain William Laughlin and Lieutenant Franklin 
G. Torbert, One Hundred and Thirtieth Pennsyl- 

Captain Edward Reynolds and Lieutenant Hannibal 
Seymour, Fifty-ninth New York. 

Captain John Sullivan, Sixty-third New York. 

Captain Richard Allen, Eighth Ohio. 

Lieutenants Thomas Murphy, Daniel McCarthy, and 
John R. Young, Eighty-eighth New York. 

Lieutenants Edwin J. Weller, John Sullivan, and Will- 
iam Holland, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts. 

Lieutenants Andrew Birmingham and Patrick Buck- 
ley, Sixty-ninth New York. 


Lieutenants John O. Crowell and Alexander L. Robe- 
son, Twenty-fourth New Jersey. 

Lieutenants Clinton Swain (adjutant) and Z. Ayde- 
lott, Eighty-first Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenants Christian Foltz and Robert B. Montgom- 
ery, One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenants Albert S. Phillips and Henry H. Darling- 
ton, First Delaware. 

Lieutenant William Brighton, Fourth Ohio. 

Lieutenant Franklin Emery, Seventh Michigan. 

Lieutenant Francis M. Kelley, Fourteenth Indiana. 

Lieutenant Isaac T. Cross, Fifty-third Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant B. F. Hibbs, Seventy-first Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant Charles Laty (adjutant). Fifty-second New 

Lieutenant Paul M. Pon, Fifty-seventh New York. 

Lieutenant Frederick Parker, Sixty - fourth New 

Lieutenant Thomas Claffee and Edgar M. Newcomb, 
Nineteenth Massachusetts. 

Lieutenant Henry H. Hoagland, One Hundred and 
Thirty-second Pennsylvania. 

After an absence of five days the regiments of the 
Second Corps reoccupied their camps on the left bank 
of the Rappahannock. Those camps were now far too 
large for the brigades which had borne the brunt of the 

Many regiments had left one-half their numbers in 
front of the stone wall. But the loss was even greater 
than figures could show. Of the four thousand who 
had fallen, at least three thousand belonged to regi- 
ments that might already be called, in every sense of the 
term, veteran. More than two thousand were of the 
choicest flower of the Second Corps as it came from the 


Peninsula. The blood of these men was precious — not 
more precious, indeed, to friends and relatives than the 
blood of the rawest recruits then coming into the field — 
but infinitely precious to the country, for every drop had 
in it the ineffable savor of victoiy. 

Three days after the First Division returned to camp, 
it, as the most depleted division, received a reinforce- 
ment in the One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania, Colonel James A. Beaver, a regiment which was 
thereafter, through all the terrible struggles to the glo- 
rious end, to be associated with the Second Corps, and 
never to be named without honor. The degree of dis- 
cipline to which this new regiment of Western Pennsyl- 
vania troops had already, in four months of service, been 
brought by its accomplished commander, rendered it at 
once a conspicuous figure, whether among the camps of 
the division, on review, or in the field. The regiment 
was assigned to Caldwell's brigade as a companion to 
Brown's One Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, 
which had arrived just nine days before, in season to take 
part in the action of the 13th. On the same day with 
the One Hundred and Forty-eighth arrived the Twelfth 
New Jersey, Colonel R. C. Johnson, which was assigned 
to the Second Brigade of French's division. Two days 
later, viz., on the 20th of December, came another fine 
regiment from Western Pennsylvania, the One Hun- 
dred and Fortieth, Colonel Richard P. Roberts, which 
was assigned to Zook's brigade. These successive re- 
inforcements raised the corps to an aggregate, on 
December 31, 1862, of 34,129; but of this number, so 
severe had been the losses of the year, the total pres- 
ent for duty was but 862 of^cers and 15,339 enlisted 

The following table exhibits more strikingly than 


words the history of the Second Corps, 
returns for August or October. 

There are no 

May 31st 

June 30th 

July 31st 

September 30th*. 
September 30th t , 
November 30th . . 
December 31st . . . 


On extra 

or daily 


Sick or 

In arrest 
or con- 







1. 561 















1. 375 











13,869 34,129 

Without P'rench's division. 

t With French's division. 

The following table shows these figures reduced to per- 

May 31st 

June 30th 


September 30th*. 
September 30th t. 
November 30th . . 
December 31st... 


On extra 

Present for 

duty or on 

e.vtra or 

daily duty. 




or dailv 

sick or in 















































Without French's division. 

t With French's division. 

Here is to be discerned the path of the cannon-ball as 
clearly as at Fredericksburg, where, as General Long- 
street, in his official report, says, the gaps made in the 
advancing lines of the Second Corps " could be seen at 
the distance of a mile." 

If from the returns from December 31st the new regi- 
ments were excluded, the present for duty would sink to 
thirty-five in one hundred. Had the losses of the 13th 
of December been sustained in equal fight, they would 
have been borne by the troops with a very different feel- 


ing ; but the open-eyed intelligence and the quick insight 
into mechanical relations, which characterize the Ameri- 
can volunteer and which make him, when properly led, 
the most formidable soldier of the world, render him also 
a very poor subject for " fooling." The privates in the 
ranks knew just as well as their of^cers that they had 
not had a fair chance at Fredericksburg; and in their 
minds they dismissed Burnside from the command long 
before the Administration was prepared to act. 

This was strikingly shown at a review of the corps held 
shortly after the battle, at which both General Burnside 
and General Sumner were present. The commander of 
the army was received with such freezing silence by the 
troops that General Sumner directed General Couch to 
have the men called upon for cheers. But although the 
corps and division commanders and their stafTs rode 
along the lines, waving their caps or their swords, only 
a few derisive cries were heard. And yet these men 
would have fought bravely enough if attacked — would 
even have crossed the river again if ordered, without 
much straggling (though it must be confessed desertions 
were now unusually frequent) ; and, had they but seen 
*' little Mac " riding over the field to take command of 
them once more, would have broken into cheers that 
would have made the welkin ring, and have asked nothing 
better than to be led against the enemy. 

Another cause which aggravated the discontent was 
the failure of " Major Cash " to make his appearance at 
regimental headquarters for some time,' as witness this 

' In his final report. General Burnside lays some stress on this 
delay of the pay department. He says : " The army had not been 
paid for several months, which caused great dissatisfaction among 
the soldiers and their friends at home, and increased the number 
of desertions to a fearful extent." 


inscription on a letter which was one day handed in at 
corps headquarters, manifestly from Kimball's brigade : 
" Plees pass fre, ded brock 1,000 miles from home and no 
pa from Uncle Sam in six months." Whether from rec- 
ognition of the justice of the plea, or from admiration of 
the courageous attempt at phonetic spelling, corps head- 
quarters aflfixed the necessary stamp, and sent the letter 
on its way rejoicing, and, let us hope, to rejoice. 

During the month of December, 1862, the following 
changes took place among the field officers of the corps : 
Colonel James C. Pinckney, Sixty-sixth New York was 
honorably discharged, December 3d ; that gallant veteran, 
Colonel William Raymond Lee, Twentieth Massachu- 
setts, resigned, December 17th, in consequence of his 
increasing infirmities ; Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel G. 
Langley, Fifth New Hampshire, resigned, December ist ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver Hopkinson, First Delaware, 
December 14th ; Major John H, Richardson, Seventh 
Michigan, December 30th. Lieutenant-Colonel John W. 
Kimball, Fifteenth Massachusetts, was promoted to the 
colonelcy of the Fifty-third Massachusetts, serving in 
another department. Lieutenant-Colonel E. A. L. Rob- 
erts, Twenty-eighth New Jersey, was dismissed the ser- 

Fortunately, the miseries of the " mud campaign" were 
not added to the hard lot of the Second Corps. As 
Sumner's Right Grand Division was encamped in plain 
sight of the enemy, it was deemed necessary that it should 
remain in position, while the Left and Centre Grand Di- 
visions were withdrawn and marched to United States 
Ford, in Burnside's last wild effort to justify himself. So 
it was planned that the right should become the left, in 
the contemplated movement, and the two corps of Sum- 
ner should stay in their camps until Franklin and Hooker 


should have accomplished the turning movement, when 
Sumner should again cross at Fredericksburg. Of the 
painful and ludicrous experiences of the four days, Janu- 
ary 20-23, it is not necessary to speak here, for the Sec- 
ond Corps was snugly in camp and only heard by report 
how the other corps struggled toward their destination 
through fathomless mud ; lay upon the soaked ground in 
an unrelenting downpour through night and day ; toiled 
at pontoons and cannons that would not budge for all 
the pulling and hauling of man or beast ; and went half- 
starved for lack of supplies which the wagons, stuck fast 
in the mire, could not bring up to the front. To all 
these things did the men of the Second Corps seriously, 
yet not mournfully incline, as the tidings came back by 
splashed and spattered messengers from United States 
Ford, or as they saw the bedraggled troops of the less 
fortunate corps pull themselves wearily back to camp. 
The writer of this narrative was returning from General 
Sumner's headquarters, on that final day of the " mud 
campaign," when he encountered on the way a small 
party of perhaps twenty men, a sergeant at their head, 
to whom this inquiry was addressed : " Who are these 
men, sergeant ?" Never Avill the writer forget the un- 
compromising tone in which the answer came back : 
" Stragglers of the Seventeenth Maine, sir ! " Had the 
reply been " the color guard," or " a forlorn hope," it 
could not have been more cheerfully and promptly given. 

Among the best-deserved promotions which followed 
the great action of Fredericksburg, was that of Colonel 
Samuel K. Zook, Fifty-seventh New York, to be Briga- 
dier-General of Volunteers. General Zook had, in every 
battle where his regiment became engaged, displayed con- 
spicuous courage and ability. 

On the 26th of January, 1863, General Sumner, borne 


down by increasing infirmities, retired forever from active 
operations in the field, where he had borne himself with 
a courage, simplicity, and magnanimity rarely seen in 
men. No one of his soldiers had ever imagined that the 
brave old man would die in his bed ; but so it was, and 
within the brief space of three months, this life of stirring 
endeavor, of heroic devotion to duty, of daring enterprise 
and unshrinking exposure to danger, was to end peace- 
fully, at his home in Syracuse, from mere exhaustion of 
the vital principle. In bidding farewell to the troops he 
had so long commanded, General Sumner said : " I have 
only to recall to you the memory of the past, in which 
you have fought so many battles, with credit and honor 
always ; in which you have captured so many colors, 
without losing a single gun or standard ; and to urge 
that, keeping this recollection in your hearts, you prove 
yourselves worthy of it. It is only in so doing that you 
can retain for yourselves a reputation well won, and which, 
I feel, will be preserved under the gallant and able com- 
mander, Major- General Couch, to whom I confide you." 



The " mud campaign " was speedily followed by the 
removal of General Burnside. Major-General Joseph 
Hooker, who, ever since Antietam, had been confidently 
awaiting his turn, succeeded to the command. He it 
was who, on the 19th of November, after Burnside's plan 
for crossing the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, in sur- 
prise of the enemy, had failed through the non-arrival of 
the engineers' pontoons, had tendered the excellent ad- 
vice that the Third and Fifth Corps should cross the 
Rappahannock, by the upper fords, and move directly on 
Saxton's Junction. He was now to be allowed full op- 
portunity to try the virtue of a turning movement against 
Lee, in the place of that direct attack in which Burnside 
had so disastrously failed. But even of this opportunity 
Hooker, once in command, did not purpose to avail him- 
self until the army should be thoroughly reorganized 
and refitted from its terrible losses, and until the Aveather 
should render impossible such a ludicrous fiasco as that 
which ended the " mud campaign." And admirably did 
Hooker take advantage of that respite from active field 
work. The Army of the Potomac never spent three 
months to better advantage. 

Whatever his merits or his shortcomings as a com- 
mander, Hooker was surely an ideal inspector-general. 
That branch of the staff was not so much reorganized as 


created; new energy was breathed into all the depart- 
ments, and important changes were made in the organiza- 
tion and distribution of the army trains. It was in this 
period that the cavahy was brought to the point of dis- 
cipline, address, and courage which ever afterward made 
it formidable, even to the Confederate infantry ; prepar- 
ing for the noble work it was to do at Brandy Station, at 
Gettysburg, at Yellow Tavern, at Reams Station, and in 
a score of other actions. The artillery, too, was carried to 
a pitch of perfection in all exercises never before thought 
of. Our volunteer gunners had, indeed, from the first 
been wonderfully expert ; but it is not merely shooting 
straight on certain occasions which makes a battery use- 
ful. There must be the care of pieces, horses, accoutre- 
ments, and ammunition, in camp and on the march, and 
the thorough discipline of men and animals which will 
enable a battery to go through a long and arduous cam- 
paign, amid discomfort and privation, without loss of 
strength or spirit, without "slumping in" at critical 
moments, or finding anything lacking or broken-down or 
misplaced, no matter how quick the call, or how sharp the 
emergency. There are a hundred exigencies Avith artil- 
lery beyond those known to infantry, which render first- 
class training and discipline enormously profitable in a cam- 
paign. Under Hooker, for the first time, the difference 
between regulars and volunteers ceased to exist so far 
as this arm of the service was concerned. Up to that 
time, notwithstanding the rare excellence of certain bat- 
teries, like Hazard's, Arnold's, and Pcttit's, with their 
peerless gunners, that difference was still perceptible, 
clearly so at the beginning of a campaign, and more so at 
the close of one. 

Hooker caused it to disappear entirely. Amid the 
forty-eight guns which formed the battery of the Second 


Corps in April, 1863, no eye, however skilled, could dis- 
cern which belonged to regular and which to volunteer 
batteries, even though the former comprised such as I, of 
the First, with Edmund Kirby in command, or A of the 
Fourth, under Alonzo Gushing/ The infantry, too, 
gained greatly in discipline, carriage, and perfection of ap- 
pointments, under Hooker, although here less had been 
left to be done in making the volunteers of 1861 and 1862 
effective for all the purposes of camp, march, and battle. 
Furthermore, to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, de- 
pleted by its losses on the nth and 13th of December, 
the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, under Generals How- 
ard and Slocum respectively, were called in from other 
departments and assigned to General Hooker's command. 
The Grand Division organization was definitely aban- 
doned. General Sumner retiring, as has been stated, on 
account of his age and infirmities, and General Franklin 
being sent to the rear in consequence of Burnside's alle- 
gations that he had not displayed proper energy on the 
13th of December. 

Another feature, introduced in General Hooker's ad- 
ministration, was the adoption of " corps badges," which 
became very dear to the troops, a source of much emula- 
tion on the part of the several commands, and a great 
convenience to the staff, in enabling them, quickly and 
without troublesome inquiries, to identify divisions upon 
the march or along the line of battle. The device as- 
signed to the Second Corps was the trefoil, or clover- 
leaf, the first division having in it red, the second in 
white, the third in blue. The personnel of the com- 

' Lieutenant dishing had, after the battle of Fredericksburg, 
been transferred from the engineers to that branch of the service 
which he was to make illustrious by his life and by his death. 


manding officers of the Second Corps underwent numer- 
ous and important changes during the months, January 
to April, 1863. General Couch, always in delicate 
health, owing to a constitution undermined in Mexico, 
was obliged for some weeks to relinquish the chief com- 
mand, which was taken up by General Sedgwick, who, 
returning from his Antietam wounds, had not yet re- 
ceived that assignment which was to make him forever 
renowned in the history of the war, as the leader of the 
Sixth Corps. Among the division commanders, all of 
whom were promoted to be major-generals, to have 
date November 29, 1862, no change occurred during 
tliis period until General O. O. Howard's assignment in 
April to the command of the Eleventh Corps, formerly 
Sigel's. General Howard was succeeded in the com- 
mand of the Second Division, by Brigadier-General 
John Gibbon, from the First Corps, who had greatly 
distinguished himself on the left, under Franklin, at 

Among the brigade commanders the following changes 
occurred, beyond those incident to winter leaves of 
absence, etc. The fine action of Colonel John R. 
Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania, in front of Marye's 
Heights, led to the formation of a new brigade out of the 
troops of the First Division, for the express purpose of 
giving so admirable an officer a command worthy of his 
abilities. Generals Caldwell, Meagher and Zook retained 
command of the First, vSecond, and Third Brigades re- 
spectively. In the Second Division Colonel William 
Lee, Twentieth Massachusetts, returning on December 
15th, assumed command of the Third Brigade, only to 
resign it with his commission, on the 17th. He was 
succeeded in the colonelcy of his regiment by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Francis W. Palfrey, still absent on account of 


his severe Antietam wounds. Colonel Hall, of the 
Seventh Michigan, resumed command of the brigade 
which he had so well led on the nth and 13th. In 
the Second Brigade, Colonel J. T. Owen, Sixty-ninth 
Pennsylvania Volunteers, was, after Fredericksburg, pro- 
moted to be brigadier-general, to bear date November 
29, 1862, and assigned to the command of the brigade. 
The Senate having refused General Owen's confirmation, 
he ceased to be in service on March 4, 1863 ; but was re- 
appointed on the 30th of the month, to the same grade, 
by the President. Colonel Dennis O. Kane had suc- 
ceeded Owen in command of the regiment. In the 
Third Division the changes among brigade commanders 
were more numerous. In the First Brigade Colonel 
John S. Mason, who had worthily borne the command 
after General Kimball was wounded, December 13th, was 
promoted to be brigadier-general, and assigned to duty in 
another field. His place was taken by an oflficer who 
was to remain for two years not only one of the most 
useful and efificient of comm.anders, but one of the most 
brilliant and picturesque among the prominent figures of 
the Second Corps. This was Colonel S. Sprigg Carroll, 
Eighth Ohio Volunteers. His regiment had joined the 
corps at Harrison's Landing; but he himself had re- 
mained in the Third Corps, in command of a brigade. 
In April of 1863, however, he rejoined his regiment and, 
by seniority, took command of the brigade. 

The Second Brigade continued to be commanded by 
Colonel Morris, of the Fourteenth Connecticut, until, in 
January, Brigadier-General William Hays, who had long 
been connected with the service of the reserve artillery 
of the Army of the Potomac, but was hereafter to be 
honorably associated with the Second Corps, Avas assigned 
to the command. The Third Brigade was, after the bat- 


tic of December 13, 1862, commanded by Colonel Mc- 
Gregor, Fourth New York. 

The Act of Congress of July 17, 1862, had provided for 
a distinct staff for army corps headquarters ; and on the 
1st of January, 1863, the staff which had served Gen- 
eral Couch from his accession to the command of the 
corps, in October, received appointments to the same or 
new positions, with increased rank. The following ofB- 
cers after this date constituted the staff of the corps : 

Lieutenant-Colonel Charles H. Morgan, assistant in- 
spector-general and chief of staff. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Francis A. Walker, assistant ad- 

Lieutenant-Colonel Richard N. Batchelder, chief quar- 

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph S. Smith, chief commis- 
sary of subsistence. 

Surgeon J. H. Taylor, medical director. 

Major James E. Mallon, Forty-second New York, pro- 
vost marshal. 

Major John B. Burt, aide-de-camp. 

Captain John S. Schultze, aide-de-camp. 

Captain J. Nelson Potter, aide-de-camp. 

Captain E. B. Brownson, commissary of musters. 

Among the foregoing names, two demand especial 
mention, since their appointment upon the staff marked 
the introduction of a new force into the life of the Second 
Corps, as distinctly as the arrival of fresh and strong re- 
giments would have done. Colonel Morgan, a New 
Yorker by birth, a graduate from West Point in the 
class of 1857, a soldier of the Utah expedition of 1859, 
under Albert Sydney Johnston, and of the West Virginia 
and Peninsula campaigns of 186 1-2, under McClellan, 
had reached the rank of captain of artillery in the regular 


army, when in October, 1862, he was assigned by Gen- 
eral Sumner to duty as chief of artillery for the Second 
Corps. General Couch found him in this position, and 
being deeply impressed with his military scholarship, 
sound sense, and high ideal of soldierly duty, caused him 
to be appointed inspector-general of the corps, and an- 
nounced him as chief of the corps staff. Certainly the 
army of the United States possessed, at that time, few 
men equally well qualified for a position so high and so 
arduous. Tireless, vigilant, and sagacious, his life for 
the next two years was bound up in a remarkable inti- 
macy with the experience of the Second Corps, and its 
fame must always be, in a high degree, his claim to re- 
nown. Wherever the corps went he literally led the 
way. Did the head of the column emerge, from long 
toiling through woods and swamps, upon the plain where 
the troops were to bivouac, Morgan seemed to have been 
an hour there, and it was his hand which pointed each 
division to its resting-place. Was the enemy suddenly 
encountered upon the march, it was Morgan who first 
seized the significance of the situation, who sent the bat- 
teries galloping to their ground, and threw the leading 
brigades into position to receive the impending attack. 
Was some desperate assault upon intrenched works to be 
undertaken in the early morning, the indefatigable chief- 
of-staff of the Second Corps rode hour after hour along 
the lines, scanning every feature of the field until the sun 
went down ; often would he steal out in the night to 
watch, against the midnight sk}^, the outlines of the 
frowning works that were to be carried at any cost, and 
there would he seek to find some suggestion for his guid- 
ance on the bitter, bloody morrow ; and when the 
faintest streak of dawn colored the eastern sky, the gen- 
eral of division, riding to the head of his column, brushed 



^m ^^\ 



Inspector General and Chief of Staff, Second Armj' Corps 

1862— 1864 


against the chief-of-staff, and heard his low, measured 
tones describing to the commander of the foremost bri- 
gade the work to be done and the way to do it. 

Colonel Batchelder was one of the best, if not himself 
the very best, contribution made by the volunteer force 
to the supply department of the army. His subsequent 
promotion to be chief-quartermaster of the Army of the 
Potomac, and his present high position in the regular 
army, are evidence of the manner in which his duties 
with the Second Corps were discharged. However ex- 
acting the demands of the infantry or the artillery, of the 
commissariat or the hospital service, they were always 
met, and met so easily that it seemed the simplest thing, 
in the world to be done. It was impossible that the 
roads could become so bad as to keep the Second Corps 
trains back. No matter how the troops were marched 
about, by day or by night, in advance or in retreat, the 
inevitable six-mule wagon was always close behind. 
" Old Rucker " would have wasted more profanity on 
one requisition for forty nose-bags than Batchelder found 
necessary in running the teams of a whole corps for twelve 
months. Under such a chief-quartermaster, the gift of 
" exhorting impenitent mules " fell almost into disuse. 
The toughest animal was converted immediately on en- 
tering the Second Corps, and never backslid, even under 
the provocation of two and a half feet of yellow mud. 
The service rendered to the troops by this sagacious and 
efficient officer could hardly be overestimated. 

The changes among the field officers of the corps dur- 
ing the period, January to April inclusive, were very 
numerous, mainly in consequence of wounds received in 
the bloody battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, or of 
the severities of field service. Colonel William Linn 
Tidball, Fifty-ninth New York, resigned January loth ; 


Colonel James A. Suiter, Thirty-fourth New York, Janu- 
ary 22d ; Colonel William Harrow, Fourteenth Indiana 
(subsequently appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers), 
January 2ist; Colonel John W. Andrews, First Dela- 
ware (disabled at Fredericksburg), February 6th ; Colonel 
Frederick D. Sewall, Nineteenth Maine, February 19th ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel George N. Bomford, Forty-second 
New York, March 28th ; Lieutenant-Colonel Chase 
Fhilbrick, Fifteenth Massachusetts (wounded at Freder- 
icksburg), April 1 6th. 

The following officers were discharged in January : 
Colonel V. M. Wilcox, One Hundred and Thirty-second 
Pennsylvania; Colonel Dennis Heenan, One Hundred 
and Sixteenth Pennsylvania (wounded at Fredericks- 
burg) ; Lieutenant-Colonel St. Clair A. Mulholland," 
One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania (wounded at 
Fredericksburg) ; Major George H. Bardwell, One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania ; in February, Colonel 
Robert C. Johnson, Twelfth New Jersey ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel John Markoe, Seventy-first Pennsylvania; 
Lieutenant-Colonel James Quinlan, Eighty-eighth New 
York ; Major Cyrus C. Clark, Fourteenth Connecticut 
(wounded at Fredericksburg) ; in March, Colonel Ed- 
mund C. Charles, Forty-second New York (wounded at 
Glendale) ; Colonel Oliver H. Palmer, One Hundred and 
Eighth New York ; Lieutenant-Colonel John Devereaux, 
Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania; Major Theodore Byxbec, 
Twenty-seventh Connecticut ; in April, Colonel Francis 
W. Palfrey, Twentieth Massachusetts (wounded at Antie- 
tam); Lieutenant-Colonel Sanford H. Perkins, Fourteenth 
Connecticut (wounded at Fredericksburg) ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel Robert M. Lee, Jr., Eighty-first Pennsylvania. 

Re-entered the service. 


Lieutenant-Colonel William G. Jones, Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania, was promoted, April 6th, to be colonel of 
the Thirty-sixth Ohio, in the Western army ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel Henry Baxter, Seventh Michigan, was promoted, 
April 19th, to be Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and 
assigned to the command of a brigade of the First 
Corps. Captain John D, Frank, First New York Ar- 
tillery, who had commanded Battery G with credit, 
resigned April 4th. 

The changes in troops during the period under consid- 
eration were few. We have spoken of the arrival of the 
Nineteenth Maine, of the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, 
Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth New Jersey, the 
Twenty-seventh Connecticut, and the One Hundred and 
Sixteenth, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, and One 
Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, between Antie- 
tam and Fredericksburg, most of these regiments arriving 
but a few days prior to the latter action, and of the One 
Hundred and Fortieth and One Hundred and Forty- 
eighth Pennsylvania, and the Twelfth New Jersey, within 
a week of the return of the corps from its fruitless and 
bloody expedition across the Rappahannock. Against 
these greatly needed reinforcements were to be set two 
causes of loss, besides the casualties of the battle-field. 
In the first place, three well-approved New York regi- 
ments were approaching the expiration of their term of 
enlistment, which had been for two years. These regi- 
ments were the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth. Of these ' 

' The Seventh, the Steuben Regiment, was mustered out May 8, 
1863, George Van Schack, colonel ; F. A. H. Goebel, lieutenant- 
colonel ; Charles Brestel, major. During the campaign of 1864 
a new regiment under the same name, and under the same colonel, 
was assigned to the Second Corps. The Fourth (the Scott Life 


the Seventh disappeared from the returns of the corps in 
April, the Fourth in May, while the Tenth continued 
to be borne on the rolls as a battalion, the recruits and 
re-enlisted men having been organized into six compan- 
ies under JNIajor George F. Hopper; Colonel Bendix, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, and Major Missing being 
mustered out May 7th. 

The second cause of depletion was to be found in the 
approaching end of the period of enlistment of the nine 
months' regiments. The loss from this source threat- 
ened to affect the Second Corps perhaps less than some 
others, yet even here it was destined to carry off not less 
than six regiments, viz. : the Twenty-seventh Connecti- 
cut, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, One Hun- 
dred and Thirtieth, and One Hundred and Thirty-second 
Pennsylvania, and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth 
New Jersey. 

The latter of the two causes which have been indicated 
was undoubtedly an element in the situation which in- 
creased greatly the pressure upon General Hooker to en- 
gage the enemy at an early day; yet, owing to the stress 
of weather, he was not able to begin his contemplated 
movement around Lee's left flank until not a few of the 
nine months' regiments had been disbanded, while others 
were so near the expiry of their term of service as seri- 
ously to affect their efficiency in battle. 

The following was the organization of the Second 
Corps on the eve of Chancellorsville. 

Guard) was mustered out May 25, 1863, John D. McGregor, 
colonel; William Jameson, lieutenant-colonel; Charles W. 
Kruger, major. 



Major-General D. N. COUCH, Commanding. 

Escort : Companies D and K, Sixth New York Cav- 
alry, Captain Riley Johnson. 

Artillery Reserve : I, First United States; A, Fourth 
United States. 

First Division, Major-General W. S. Hancock. 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General J. C. Caldwell : Fifth 
New Hampshire, Sixty-first New York, Eighty-first and 
One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania. 

Second Brigade, Brigadier-General T. F. Meagher : 
Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, One Hundred and Six- 
teenth Pennsylvania, Sixty-third, Sixty-ninth, and 
Eighty-eighth New York. 

Third Brigade, Brigadier-General S. K. Zook : Fifty- 
Second, Fifty-seventh, and Sixty-sixth New York, One 
Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania. 

Fourth Brigade, Colonel John R. Brooke: Fifty-third 
and One Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, Second 
Delaware, Sixty-fourth New York, Twenty-seventh 

Artillery: B, First New York; C, Fourth United 

Second Division, Brigadier-General John 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General Alfred Sully: First 
Minnesota, Nineteenth Maine, Fifteenth Massachusetts, 
Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New York, First Com- 
pany (Andrews) Massachusetts Sharpshooters, 

Second Brigade, Brigadier-General J. T. Owen : 


Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, One Hundred 
and Sixth Pennsylvania. 

Third Brigade, Colonel N. J. Hall : Seventh Michigan, 
Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, Forty-second 
and Fifty-ninth New York, One Hundred and Twenty- 
seventh Pennsylvania. 

Artillery : A and B, First Rhode Island. 

Third Division, Major-General W. H. French. 

First Brigade, Colonel S. S. Carroll : Fourth and 
Eighth Ohio, Fourteenth Indiana, Seventh West Vir- 
ginia, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-eighth New Jersey. 

Second Brigade, Brigadier-General William Hays : 
Fourteenth Connecticut, Twelfth New Jersey, One Hun- 
dred and Eighth New York, One Hundred and Thirtieth 

Third Brigade, Co\one\]. D. McGregor: Fourth New 
York, Tenth New York Battalion, First Delaware, One 
Hundred and Thirty-second Pennsylvania. 

Artillery : G, First New York ; G, First Rhode Island. 

Such was the organization of the corps when sum- 
moned to the great battle of May, 1863. Since the 15th 
of December it had not been called upon to do any duty 
outside its camps, except only that, on the 25th of Feb- 
ruary, the Second Division had moved to Berea Church 
to support the cavalry under Stoneman, but had returned 
to camp on the day following. Hooker's long anticipated 
movement began on the 21st of April, but the Second 
Corps was not to leave its camps till several days later. 
The plan of the commanding-general was to move a col- 
umn up the Rappahannock to a point so far above Fred- 
ericksburg as to secure the unopposed crossing of the 
river, which column, descending rapidly along the right 



bank, should uncover the fords nearer to Fredericksburg, 
so as to allow the whole army, or the greater part of it, 
to be thrown upon Lee's left flank. In order, however, 
to distract Lee's attention, Doubleday's division was, on 
the 2 1st, sent in the opposite direction, as far as to Port 
Conway, twenty miles below Fredericksburg. 

This column not only made a show of building a 
bridge, but actually crossed troops in boats to Port 
Royal, on the opposite bank. This feint having been 
carried on, the real movement began on the 27th, when 





AV, Fredericksburg 


,S1SSIIS^'^'^S>^L£M CHUftC/i 

Howard's Eleventh, Slocum's Twelfth, and Meade's 
Fifth Corps marched to Kelly's Ford on the Rappahan- 
nock, twenty-seven miles above Fredericksburg, which 
they reached on the day following. During the night of 
the 28th and the morning of the 29th, the crossing took 
place without opposition though not without observa- 
tion ; and the turning force, in two columns, began its 
march down the Rappahannock. The crossing of the 
Rapidan, which river enters the Rappahannock from the 
west below Kelly's, was effected at Germanna and Ely's 
Fords; and the three corps, which had thus far conducted 


a brilliantly planned scheme with energy and celerity, 
inishcd on toward Chancellorsville. It was now the 
turn of the Second Corps to take part in the operation. 
On the 27th the Irish Brigade was sent up to Banks' and 
United States Fords. Colonel Kelly with the Eighty- 
eighth and Sixty-third New York remained at Banks' ; 
General Meagher with the remaining regiments advanced 
to United States Ford. On the next day, the First and 
Third Divisions marched at sunrise in the direction of 
Banks', near which they bivouacked for the night, Car- 
roll's brigade being sent forward to United States Ford. 
At 2.30 r.M. of the 29th the two divisions were pushed 
forward to that ford, where they awaited the arrival of 
the turning column upon the opposite bank. 

During that night General Couch desired to commu- 
nicate with General Meade, in order both properly to 
adjust his own movements to those of the Fifth Corps, 
and to transmit an important despatch from General 
Hooker, and for this purpose despatched Major Burt, of 
his staff, up the left bank of the river. The manner in 
which this spirited young ofBcer discharged this duty 
deserves to be put on record as a monument of enter- 
prise, pluck, and good riding. At about eleven o'clock, 
on an intensely dark and rainy night, Major Burt set out, 
rode to Hartwood Church, thence to Kelly's Ford, thence 
over the river to General Meade's headquarters, a distance 
of at least thirty-five miles. Delivering his message and 
receiving General Meade's reply, he stopped only long 
enough to change horses, when, it being now morning, 
he rode straight forward down the river-bank toward, 
into, and through the enemy's lines, being mistaken, from 
his fearlessness and directness, for one of their own peo- 
ple, a mistake which was only discovered as Burt, put- 
ting spurs to his horse, plunged into the river at the 


United States Ford, whei'e he was at once covered by 
a half-dozen rifles. Swimming his horse through the 
shower of balls, the gallant young rider reached the op- 
posite bank, galloped over the crest, and appeared at 
corps headquarters after one of the finest pieces of staff 
work ever performed. He was, indeed, a model aide-de- 
camp, the flower of the junior staff, a prince of army light 
horsemen, absolutely fearless and always ready for duty. 

While the movement which has been recorded on the 
part of the First and Third Divisions was in progress, the 
Second Division, under Gibbon, remained in camp, be- 
ing destined to support Sedgwick's Sixth Corps, and not 
again to see its fellow-divisions until the battle should 
have been fought and lost. In speaking of the Second 
Corps during the remainder of this chapter, we shall be 
understood, unless it is otherwise expressed, to mean only 
the two divisions which, under General Couch, took part 
in the operations above Fredericksburg. 

And now it could not be kept from General Lee that 
the Army of the Potomac was in motion. Though it 
was no longer possible to make a feint of crossing at Port 
Royal, Hooker manffiuvred his left wing, consisting of 
the First, Third, and Sixth Corps, with Gibbon's divi- 
sion of the Second Corps, all under command of General 
Sedgwick, in such a manner as to keep his adversary 
gravely perplexed as to his real intentions. 

Four pontoon bridges were built across the river near 
the scene of Franklin's crossing in December ; two di- 
visions were actually thrown over, and everything was 
done to create the belief that the real attack was to be 
made against Lee's right. 

During the morning of the 30th, the advance of the 
Second Corps moved down to the bank of the river, at 
United States Ford : and the construction of a bridge was 


commenced, the enemy's pickets retiring from view on 
the opposite side. During the afternoon, beginning at 
3.15 P.M., the two divisions crossed the river — and that 
night bivouacked one mile from Chancellorsville, head- 
quarters being at the Chandler House. The Fifth New 
Hampshire, Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and Eighty-eighth 
New York, under Colonel Cross, had been left as a guard 
to the corps ammunition-train. Four regiments of the 
Irish Brigade had been posted on a road leading from 
the main road to Banks' Ford. 

At the Chandler House, about nine o'clock in the even- 
ing, appeared General Hooker, on his way to the front, 
in great spirits. Thus far the campaign had, indeed, been 
a triumphant success. Without any appreciable loss 
Hooker, had placed his right wing, consisting of three in- 
fantry corps and two divisions, in a position threatening 
Lee's left flank ; his own left wing, consisting of three 
infantry corps and one division, had effected a bloodless 
crossing of the river below Fredericksburg; and Lee 
was yet altogether in uncertainty as to the real inten- 
tion of the Union commander. 

We have accounted for the seven infantry corps of the 
Army of the Potomac ; but what of the cavalry ? It is 
in the answer to this question that we find the first of 
that series of lamentable mistakes which turned the 
operations, so brilliantly begun, into a disaster. The 
main body of the magnificent cavalry corps, now number- 
ing twelve thousand sabres, under Stoneman, had been 
sent to cut Lee's communications, in order to hinder and 
embarrass his anticipated retreat. But in movements like 
those which Hooker had undertaken, the cavalry could 
not be spared from the immediate operations of the 
army. It was needed to clear the way for the marching 
columns of infantry, to hold ground far out in front and 


on the flanks of the Hnes of battle, to prevent surprises, 
and by rapid and audacious movements, hither and 
thither, to vex the enemy with continual alarms. 

While the movements of the Union commander, from 
the 27th to the 29th of April, had been not only brilliant 
but audacious, it had been observed that, even on ap- 
proaching Chancellorsville, General Hookershowed signs 
of that hesitation which was, two days later, to thwart 
his own project. The concentration of the right wing on 
the 30th of April had been effected much less rapidly 
than it might have been, without distressing the troops, 
and the morning of the ist of May found General 
Hooker irresolute when victory was already within his 
grasp. Sickles' Third Corps, which had been called up 
from the left so soon as the occupation of Chancellorsville 
was assured, was now crossing at United States Ford. 
With such superiority of numbers, on the Union side, 
there was no justification for an hour's delay. The 
cry should have been " forward," at least until the turn- 
ing column, consisting now of four corps and two divi- 
sions, should be deployed before Lee's positions. Not 
only is this the sole policy of safety and success in move- 
ments like those which Hooker had undertaken, but two 
additional reasons, perfectly obvious at the time, existed 
to make such a policy in this instance peculiarly impera- 
tive. One was that the farther Hooker pushed forward 
from Chancellorsville toward Fredericksburg, the better 
was the opportunity afforded for the development of 
his superior infantry and artillery. The ground about 
Chancellorsville was low, much of it densely wooded. 
By moving promptly out toward Fredericksburg, Hooker 
would have placed his army on high ground, obtaining 
commanding positions for his artillery and comparatively 
clear ground for the movements and manoeuvres of his 


infantry. The second reason, special to the situation, 
imperatively demanding an immediate advance, was that 
to gain four or five miles toward Fredericksburg was to 
uncover Banks' Ford, and, by so doing, to shorten, by 
nearly one-half, the distance over which the troops of the 
left wing could be brought to reinforce the right. So 
plain was this dictate of the situation, that General 
Hooker, though after a hesitation most ominous of evil, 
gave the order for an advance. 

There were three roads leading toward Fredericks- 
burg. The first was the river road, down which were 
sent Grififin's and Humphreys' divisions of the Fifth 
Corps. The two other roads, known as the turnpike and 
plank road, sustain a somewhat peculiar relation to each 
other; forking near Chancellorsville, they run in the 
same general direction, in places a mile apart, in other 
places half a mile, till they unite again a little beyond 
Tabernacle Church, half the way to Fredericksburg. 
Down the turnpike Sykes' division of the Fifth Corps 
was pushed, supported by Hancock's division of the 
Second Corps. With this column went Couch. Slocum 
with the Twelfth Corps moved down the plank road. 
Thus three columns, within easy connecting distance, 
took up the march together. Nearly fifty thousand men 
of the Second, Fifth, Eleventh, and Tw^elfth Corps were 
close on hand, while Sickles, with the Third Corps, was 
rapidly coming up from behind. These columns pro- 
ceeded, against all the opposition the enemy were able to 
offer, until they gained a ridge which sweeps across the 
three roads mentioned, crossing the turnpike somewhat 
more than two miles from Chancellorsville. The posi- 
tion reached was one in every way easy to hold. It af- 
forded room and range for a powerful artillery, and could 
readily have been crowned before night by ninety guns. 


The ground in front was largely open ; the roads be- 
hind sufficiently numerous for a rapid reinforcement of 
the line or for a safe retreat. The field was exactly such 
a one as the men of the Army of the Potomac had always 
been crying out for — one on which they could see the 
enemy they were called to fight. Yet this position Gen- 
eral Hooker, in an evil hour, determined to abandon, not for 
one farther advanced, but for the low and wooded ground 
about Chancellorsville, relinquishing the very form and 
show of aggression, retreating before the enemy, and tak- 
ing up a line which was completely commanded by the 
high ground already occupied. The act was little short of 
suicide. At about two o'clock orders were sent to the 
commanders of the several columns to withdraw to the 
vicinity of the Chancellor House. So manifest and so 
monstrous was the blunder, that the officers who were 
sent with this message could not bear to carry it, nor could 
the officers to whom it was sent bring themselves to be- 
lieve that General Hooker had such an intention. 

To General Couch, whom an ever-burning desire to be 
at the front had led to follow the one division of his 
corps, Hancock's, which had been sent up the turnpike, 
the message was brought by General G. K. Warren, then 
chief engineer officer of the Army of the Potomac. Gen- 
eral Warren, in delivering the order for withdrawal,' 

' The following was the order of withdrawal. The text is in the 
handwriting of General Warren. 

Headquarters, Ar:\iy of the Potomac, 
May I, 1863. 
General Sykes will retire to his position of last night, and take 
up a line connecting his right with General Slocum, making his 
line as strong as he can by felling trees, etc. General Couch will 
then retire to his position of last night. 

Major-General Hooker. 


Stated with great pain and some passion, that he had en- 
treated General Hooker not to take this most mischiev- 
ous step, but in vain. Sykes was already falling back 
behind Hancock ; but, upon General Warren's statement, 
General Couch, while preparing to obey the order, so far 
as concerned Hancock's division, determined at least to 
delay its execution until he could communicate to the 
commanding general his own earnest belief that the 
position which had been reached should be held, and he 
accordingly despatched Major Burt, his senior aide, to 
headquarters, with urgent representations as to the ad- 
mirable nature of the ground he held, and his ability to 
" stand off " any enemy on his front, if Meade and Slo- 
cum could keep their place on his flanks. Major Burt 
returned with a peremptory order to retire. A little 
later, however. General Hooker, impressed by this una- 
nimity of testimony on the part of his staff and corps 
commanders, sent word to General Couch that he might 
remain out on the turnpike until five o'clock, while Slo- 
cum would hold ground on the plank road on his right ; 
but when this message ' reached the commander of the 
Second Corps it was clearly too late ; Hancock's column 
was already in the road, while Slocum had so far with- 

' The following is the order, the text of which appears to be in 
General Warren's handwriting : 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac. 
May I, 1863. 
General Couch : 

Hold on to your position till 5 P.M., and extend your skirmish- 
ers on each flank, so as to secure yourself against being sur- 
rounded. General Slocum will hold a position on the plank road 
equally advanced. 

By command of Major-General Hooker. 
William L. Candler, Captain, Aide-de-Camp. 


drawn from his right, that the enemy, following up the 
Twelfth Corps along the plank road, had placed artillery 
in position which completely enfiladed Couch's line. 
Indeed, so long had Couch delayed, in his anxiety to 
have Hooker's error repaired, that his own withdrawal 
became somewhat critical. Not only had the enemy's 
skirmishers begun to press down from the front, but they 
sought to push in behind Hancock from the ground on 
the right, which Slocum had given up, a movement 
which was vigorously resisted by Miles with the Sixty- 
first New York, and Frank with the Fifty-second. The 
road leading back from the advanced position to Chan- 
cellorsville was now full of troops ; and the enemy, bring- 
ing up a battery in front, sought to get the range of it. 
At this juncture, General Couch, saying " let us draw 
their fire," called up his escort and all his staff and rode 
boldly out into view, at some distance from the road, 
a movement more immediately successful than all con- 
cerned were disposed to enjoy. " This entire forgetful- 
ness or disregard of self," says General Morgan, " char- 
acteristic of that pure-minded ofificer, was not, I fear, 
appreciated fully by some of his staff, who had not yet 
arrived at the pitch of magnanimity which would make 
them desirous of stopping shots intended for others." 

As the retiring column came nearer to Chancellorsville, 
the efforts of the enemy to interrupt their retreat became 
more vigorous, but, by the skilful conduct of Hancock's 
skirmishers, and by assistance promptly rendered by 
Sykes' " regulars," Hancock came off safely, and took 
position across the turnpike, about half a mile from 
Chancellorsville, between divisions of the Fifth Corps 
on the left and on the right. 

The Army of the Potomac, which at noon was in full 
advance on Fredericksburg, with high hopes elate, had 


now, under the evil inspirations which had withered the 
courage of its commander, abandoned the initiative, sur- 
rendered the main benefits of the splendid success 
achieved at the outset of the campaign, retreating 
before the enemy and taking up a defensive position. 
And such a defensive position ! The new line was 
drawn through low and largely wooded ground, com- 
manded here, enfiladed there, by the batteries which the 
advancing enemy were already establishing on the high 
ground which had been abandoned in obedience to the 
fatal orders. As Generals Couch, ^Meade, Sykes and 
Hancock sat on their horses, in a group, close behind the 
division of the last-named ofificer, General Meade, look- 
ing up the road, exclaimed, with great emphasis, " My 
God, if we can't hold the top of a hill, we certainly can- 
not hold the bottom of it ! " 

General Hooker, however, did not share the regret of 
his corps commanders and of General Warren, at the 
abandonment of the advanced position. To Couch, on 
reporting at headquarters, he said confidently, " It is all 
right. Couch, I have got Lee just where I want him. 
He must fight me on my own ground ;" and a little later 
he issued the following order : 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
Chancellorsville, May I, 1863, 4.20 P.M. 

Commanders of the Second, Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps 
will at once have their commands established on the lines assigned 
them last night, and have them put in condition of defence, with- 
out delay of a moment. The Major-General Commanding trusts 
that a suspension in the attack to-day will embolden the enemy to 
attack him. All trains belonging to the commands will be drawn 
within the lines and parked in the rear. 

By command of Major-General Hooker. 
William L. Candler, Captain, Aidc-de-Camp. 


General Hooker was within twenty-four hours to learn 
what emboldening Lee and Jackson to attack him might 
imply. Little else needs to be told of the events of the 
first day. French's division, which had been advanced 
to Todd's Tavern, was brought back and placed at the 
Chandler House. Sickles' Third Corps was now all up 
and massed in rear of Chancellorsville. During the late 
afternoon and early evening there was artillery-firing all 
along the line, and sharp skirmishing took place on the 
front of the Twelfth Corps. The assistant adjutant-gen- 
eral of the corps, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, was se- 
verely wounded. 


During the night of the ist to the 2d of May consid- 
erable changes were made in the dispositions of the 
troops, with reference to the formation of an intrenched 
defensive line, in the unfortunate position to which 
Hooker had condemned himself. The left was to be 
held by Meade's Fifth Corps, extending southwesterly 
from Scott's Dam on the Rappahannock, his front cov- 
ered by Mineral Spring Run. The Second Corps here 
took up the line — French on the left, with Hancock ex- 
tending across the turnpike and connecting with Geary's 
division of the Twelfth Corps, not far from the plank 
road. On the right of Geary, and somewhat advanced, 
was Williams' division of the same corps, and beyond 
this the powerful corps of Sickles, while upon the ex- 
./-^ treme/left] lay the Eleventh Corps, under Howard, most 
dangerously " in the air." With Howard were two other 
Second Corps men — General Charles Devens, Jr., former- 
ly colonel of the Fifteenth Massachusetts, and General 



formerly colonel of the Sixty-first 

Francis C. Barlow 
New York. 

While thus the Third, Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth 
Corps, with two divisions of the Second, were disposed 
in order around Chancellorsville, Reynolds' First Corps 
had already been ordered up from the left, below Fred- 
ericksburg, and by nine o'clock in the morning he was on 
the road. Unfortunately his march was twice as long as 


it would have been had Hooker made good his purpose 
of advancing on the ist to uncover Banks' Ford. 

Returning now, from this survey of the line, to the 
two divisions of the Second Corps, lying between Meade 
and Slocum, on the centre, we note that of the two, 
French's division occupied a position whose front was so 
far covered by fire from Hancock's and Meade's lines 
that the division might fairly be said to be in reserve. 
Hancock's position, however, was much exposed, and 
certain to be the scene of conflict should the enemy un- 


dcrtakc to assail Hooker from the direction of Freder- 
icksburg. Hancock's troops were all in one line. A con- 
tinuous trench furnished them cover. In front the woods 
were thoroughly slashed, while rifle-pits, constructed on 
the day previous by Sykes' troops, were utilized by post- 
ing therein a line of skirmishers, three paces apart, wath 
strong reserves, all under the command of Colonel Miles, 
Sixty-first New York. In the main trench the disposi- 
tion of troops was as follows: On the right, Colonel Cross, 
with the Fifth New Hampshire, Eighty-first Pennsylvania, 
and Eighty-eighth New York, which had come up with 
the ammunition train ; next, General Caldwell, with the 
Sixty-sixth New York, One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
Pennsylvania, and Sixty-first New York ; next, Colonel 
Brooke, with the Second Delaware, One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, Twenty-seventh Connecticut, 
Sixty-fourth New York, and Fifty-third Pennsylvania ; 
next. General Zook, with the One Hundred and Fortieth 
Pennsylvania and Fifty-seventh and Fifty-second New^ 
York. It will be observed that this disposition of the 
troops in a degree disregarded brigade organizations ; 
General .Meagher, with the Sixty-ninth and Sixty-third 
New York, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, and One Hun- 
dred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania, was still absent on the 
duty to which he had been assigned on the ist, on the 
road to Banks' Ford. 

But Lee had no ambition to try the courage and en- 
durance of his men in an assault on the left or centre of 
Hooker's position. The eagle eye of Jackson had dis- 
cerned the true point of attack — namely, the right of the 
Eleventh Corps, which hung loose " in air," with the dense 
woods of the " wilderness, " in front and around it, to 
mask the movements of an enemy, and with two or three 
miles of unguarded country between it and the river in 


the rcar.^ Here was the true place for one of Stoneman's 
divisions of cavalry, now careering on a futile raid against 
Lee's communications. 

With Jackson, to plan was to attempt, and at an early 
hour he was on his way, with twenty-six thousand men, 
marching clear across the whole front of the Union 
forces. That the Confederates were moving across our 
front, though seldom in sight, was perfectly clear to 
every intelligent soldier on the line, " The rattling vol- 
leys of musketry," says General Morgan, " occurring in 
succession from the extreme left to the right, indicated 
as plain as words could tell, the march of the flanking 

It is not our task to repeat the story of the utter and 
crushing defeat which Jackson inflicted on the Eleventh 
Corps. The Second had been concerned in Jackson's 
movement only as the necessity of drawing off General 
Hooker's attention from his menaced right led to a con- 
tinual pressure on Hancock's skirmish line, and to occa- 
sional sharp attacks which Miles threw off with ease. 
At last the crisis came, and Howard's brigades ' were 
shattered like glass in the fearful shock. 

" The stampede of the Eleventh Corps," says General 
Morgan, "was something curious and wonderful to behold. 
I have seen horses and cattle stampeded on the plains, 
blinded, apparently, by fright, rush over wagons, rocks, 

' " So far as I can ascertain, only two companies of infantry- 
were thrown out on picket (toward the west) ; and they were un- 
supported by grand guards, so that they did not detain the enemy 
a moment, and the rebels and our pickets came in together." 
Doubleday's Chancellorsville. 

'^ This is said without any disparagement of the claim that some 
of Howard's troops behaved with great fortitude, all the more 
deserving of praise because of the general wreck around them. 


Streams, any obstacle in the way ; but never, before or since, 
saw I thousands of men actuated seemingly by the same 
unreasoning fear that takes possession of a herd of animals. 
As the crowd of fugitives swept by the Chancellor House, 
the greatest efforts were made to check them ; but those 
only stopped who were knocked down by the swords of 
staff officers or the sponge-staffs of Kirby's battery, which 
was drawn up across the road leading to the ford. Many 
of them ran right on down the turnpike toward Fred- 
ericksburg, through our line of battle and picket line, and 
into the enemy's line ! The only reply one could get to 
argument or entreaty was, ' All ist veloren ; vere ist der 
pontoon ?'" 

Although the appearance of thousands of fugitives 
from battle, with ambulances, wagons, cannons, and cais- 
sons, all in a wild stampede, is apt to be very disconcert- 
ing and demoralizing to a line of battle, the troops of the 
Second Corps did not appear in the smallest degree 
affected, A great deal of chaffing was indulged in, and 
some practical jokes were even perpetrated on the fugi- 
tives, some of whom were actually roaring with fright ; ' 
but not the slightest sign was given of sympathy with the 
cause of the unfortunates' distress. In part this was due 
to a feeling of contempt, doubtless undeserved, which 
had been generally entertained by the older corps of the 
Army of the Potomac toward the Eleventh Corps, ever 
since it came up in the rear after Fredericksburg. To 

' I never saw an American so frightened as to lose his senses, 
though I have seen thousands of the natives of Columbia leave one 
battlefield or another in the most dastardly manner. But if an 
American is mean enough to abandon the line, it is always done 
coolly and collectedly. Indeed, he will exhibit a degree of en- 
gineering skill in getting out of a fight, under cover, which would 
do credit to a member of the topographical staff. 



" fight mit Sigel " had so long been a current jest and 
proverb, that the troops were hardly disposed to do jus- 
tice to the many excellent regiments which were incor- 
porated in this command. 

From the headquarters of the Second Corps, at this 
moment, could, with a glass, be seen several officers, on 
the top of a house by the side of the turnpike toward 
Fredericksburg, eagerly scanning the western view, to 
gather the first intimation of victory far away at Dow- 
dall's Tavern. It is not unlikely that this was the staff of 
the officer commanding the Confederate forces along the 
pike. And as both sights and sounds brought plentiful 
evidence of the overwhelming success which had fol- 
lowed Jackson's flank movement, the efforts of the enemy 
to carry Hancock's skirmish line became more deter- 

Again and again did he advance into the slashing, and 
attempt to make his way over Miles' resolute force ;' but 
in vain. Occupying a position of advantage, the Fifty- 
seventh, Sixty-fourth, and Sixty-sixth New York, and 
detachments from the Fifty-second New York, Second 
Delaware, and One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania, every time beat off these attacks, and drove the 
assailants back to cover. The importance of this stiff 
holding of our line on the left could not, at this crisis, be 
over-estimated. Had McLaws been able to produce any 
impression, however slight, along the turnpike, he would 
have fearfully complicated the problem for the Union 
army — called suddenly to face the irruption of Jackson's 
three divisions through its broken right, driving Howard's 
beaten troops before him as the stones and beams of a 

' General Miles informs me that one Confederate colonel was 
killed while literally riding over his line of rifle-pits. 


ruined dam, uprooted trees, and the wreckage of a hun- 
dred houses are driven before the mountainous flood of 
waters. Fortunately, most fortunately, while the good 
Third Corps, with which was William Hays' brigade of 
French's division of the Second, Pleasonton's small but 
gallant cavalry force, and the guns of numerous batteries 
were, with rare discipline and heroism, resisting this fear- 
ful onset, no cause for alarm existed upon the left ; even 
the line of battle was never once permitted to become 
engaged ; but Miles, holding the enemy off at arm's 
length, continued in his rifle-pits till night fell. Rightly 
does Mr. Swinton, in his history, say: "Amid much that 
is dastardly at Chancellorsville, the conduct of this young 
but gallant and skilful officer shines forth with a brilliant 
lustre," So delighted was Hancock at the splendid be- 
havior of his skirmish line that, after one repulse of the 
enemy, he exclaimed, " Captain Parker, ride down and 
tell Colonel Miles he is worth his weight in gold;" 
while Couch, turning to the major-generals who com- 
manded his two divisions, said, in his quiet but emphatic 
way, " I tell you what it is, gentlemen, I shall not be sur- 
prised to find myself, some day, serving under that young 
man," The remark was not more honorable to the boy- 
ish colonel to whom it related than to the senior corps 
commander of the Army of the Potomac who uttered it, 


The second day of Chancellorsville closed with a victory 
for the Confederates which was more moral than physi- 
cal, Ploward's Eleventh Corps ' had, indeed, been put 

' Except Barlow's brigade, which had been with Sickles on the 
!d, and was intact. 


Jiors dc combat ; but this corps had never been greatly 
depended upon in the plans of the commanding general. 
On the other hand, Reynolds' corps was now up on the 
right, which, throwing Howard's corps out of the account, 
gave Hooker still, at least seventy-one thousand men, at 
Chancellorsville, allowing for all losses. Lee's entire force 
was eighteen thousand less than this, and six brigades had 
to be withdrawn to watch Banks' Ford and to oppose 
Sedgwick and Gibbon. Moreover, Jackson, Lee's right 
arm, was lying mortally wounded by the lire of his own 
men, and A. P. Hill had also been wounded, though not 
fatally. But the same indecision, the same halting be- 
tween two purposes, which had forfeited every advantage 
thus far offered by superiority of numbers, and by the 
success of the turning movement, was to rule the succeed- 
ing day. The next great mistake in series was the order 
to Sedgwick to carry the heights behind Fredericksburg, 
and to push into Lee's rear. Such an order should have 
been impossible. If that movement was to be attempted 
at all, Reynolds should not have been withdrawn. With 
Reynolds,' Sedgwick would have had more than forty 
thousand men, an army sufficient to at least defend it- 
self against any force that could be despatched from 
Chancellorsville. Without Reynolds, Sedgwick had but 
twenty-five thousand — a detachment, not an army — a 
force far too large to be idle in such a crisis, but not 
too large to be beaten whenever Lee, temporarily letting 
go Hooker, should turn upon the venturesome column 
threatening his rear. With Sedgwick advanced as far as 
Salem church, the two columns Avould be not less than 

' It is to be noted that Reynolds, although called away from 
Sedgwick at Fredericksburg, to whom his support would have been 
priceless, was not engaged in the action at Chancellorsville. 


thirty marching miles apart, though only seven miles dis- 
tant across country. Such a separation of the two wings 
of an army, with a vigilant, stubborn, and audacious ene- 
my between them, never did, and never will, result in any- 
thing but disaster. 

In preparation for the battle of the 3d of May, Gen- 
eral Hooker contracted his lines, though as yet holding 
on to the Chancellor House. Hancock's division, facing 
east and southeast, still lay across the Fredericksburg 
turnpike. On Hancock's left so much of the Eleventh 
Corps as could be brought together after the disaster 
of the 2d, had been placed in position behind Mineral 
Spring Run. The proper front of the Union position, 
looking south, was held by Slocum's Twelfth Corps, with 
a portion of the Third Corps; while Sickles, with the 
remainder of the Third Corps and French's division 
from the Second, fronted west to meet the coming at- 
tack of J. E. B. Stuart, who had succeeded the wounded 
Jackson and Hill in the command of the greater part 
of Lee's forces present on the field. To the right and 
rear, covering the road to Ely's Ford, lay Reynolds' First 
Corps, which had made a march of twenty-four miles 
the day previous, to be present at the battle in which it 
was not destined to take a part. Meade's corps was also 
moved over from the left across the Bullock clearing, 
taking position near the road from Chancellorsville to 
United States Ford, in position especially to go into 
action on the Union right with Reynolds, but not too 
far away but that it could be marched back to support 
the Eleventh Corps. 

The contraction of the lines, and the sharp returns to 
the rear from either end, presented the advantage of en- 
abling the troops to reinforce any portion of the line by 
a brief march, and of bringing all at once under the eye 



of the commander. Moreover, the ground on the flanks 
and in the rear, upon which the three corps of Howard, 
Meade, and Reynolds were placed, being now well known 
and the timber in front extensively slashed, a surprise 


May 3^ 1863 



y/ '-" CORPS 

was impracticable. But that these possible advantages 
of the situation should be reaped, it was essential that 
there should be a commander ; and, in melancholy truth, 
there was no longer a commander of the Army of the 
Potomac. Hooker's vital force had become, for the 


time, exhausted ; and he had little left of the moral and 
physical stamina needed to carry him through the enor- 
mous, the hardly comprehensible responsibilities, anxie- 
ties, and labors which fall on the commander of a large 
army in the midst of critical operations. 

The day now opening was to see one-half the forces 
at Chancellorsville beaten, after desperate fighting, under 
the very eye of their commander, while other corps lay 
under arms within rifle-range, without so much as an 
order being given to bring them up, or even to supply 
the front line with ammunition. The army engineers 
had during the night constructed a new line, about three- 
quarters of a mile farther to the rear, crossing the United 
States Ford road at the Bullock clearing; and the idea 
of retreating to that line seems to have taken possession 
of General Hooker's mind, while yet he could neither 
bring himself to give the order to retire before the enemy 
should attack, nor to make the necessary arrangements 
for vigorously defending the positions then occupied. 
Indeed, a vague notion of resuming the initiative still so 
far lingered in his mind that a portion of Sickles' corps 
had, when day broke on the morning of the 3d of May, 
not been ordered back to the general line, but was 
obliged to fight its way back with considerable loss. 

I have indicated the possible advantages of the position 
occupied, or intended to be occupied, on the morning 
of the 3d. The disadvantages were those which pertain 
to every compact order of battle. The formation of our 
troops presented angles, which are always a source of 
weakness ; while, owing to the shortness of the lines, and 
the consequently narrow space enclosed, there was al- 
lowed an enormous concentration of artillery against any 
and, by turns, every part of the intrenchments, while the 
whole ground between could be fairly scoured by the 


enemy's fire. And here we meet the peculiar infelicity 
of the position of the third day at Chancellorsville, owing 
to the existence of that high ground on the left, toward 
Fredericksburg, which Hooker abandoned on the ist, 
after it had been occupied by Sykes and Hancock. 
From this side the enemy had a plunging fire into 
every part of the enclosed space, and an enfilading fire 
along the main face of the works held by the Twelfth 
Corps. Nay, more, during the day now opening, Han- 
cock's position was to be subjected to fire at once direct, 
enfilading, and reverse, receiving shot and shell from 
every direction except the north. 

There was one redeeming feature in the position occu- 
pied by Hooker's troops at daybreak, viz., that on the 
southwest, Sickles, with Birney's division, occupied Hazel 
Grove, which is in fact no grove at all, the ridge being 
completely bare. The ground here is high, and would, 
if intrenched, have formed a kind of redoubt on that 
angle of the line, protruding so far as to prevent the 
junction of the Confederate forces operating against our 
right with those operating against the centre and left, and 
at the same time to maintain an enfilading fire against the 
Confederate batteries established by Stuart over against 
our right. It is true that the troops at Hazel Grove 
would have been in an uncomfortable place; but, so long 
as this was the key to the whole position, the hill should 
and could have been held by picked brigades amounting 
to five thousand men, with a powerful staff especially de- 
tailed for the purpose. Unfortunately, Hooker had di- 
rected the surrender of Hazel Grove, and unfortunately, 
also, since Hazel Grove was to be surrendered at all, he 
delayed the withdrawal of the troops until daybreak ; so 
that Birney's rear brigade, that of Graham, while cover- 
ing the withdrawal of the division, in the early morn- 


ing, found itself attacked by the Confederate brigade of 
Archer. The struggle was fierce and sanguinary, though 
brief, for Hobart Ward's brigade, returning to the sup- 
port of Graham, succeeded in extricating him without 
further loss than that of four guns left in the enemy's 
hands. Thus inauspiciously began the battle of Sunday : 
the Confederates were flushed by the thought of having 
carried by assault a position which the Union troops 
were purposely abandoning, while our own soldiers saw 
the day begin by a blunder and a disaster.' But this was 
not the worst, for Stuart, who, succeeding to Jackson, 
was commanding the whole Confederate left, while Lee 
in person directed operations upon the right, occupied 
the heights abandoned by Hooker with thirty pieces of 
artillery, thus gaining an advantage on the southwest of 
the Union line fully corresponding to that which the 
Confederates had enjoyed upon the east ever since the 
withdrawal on Friday afternoon. 

And now, in the early morning, began the gigantic 
struggle. The Confederate commanders had no time to 
lose, for soon Sedgwick would be thundering on their 
rear at Marye's Heights. Upon Sickles' advanced line 
Stuart fell with fury. The attack was first upon Berry's 
division, which was on the right of the road leading 
down from Dowdall's Tavern, supported by General 
William Hays' brigade from French's division of the 
Second Corps, The fighting was stubborn in the last 
degree. More than once the Confederates, with all their 
rage, were driven back, and even colors and prisoners 
were taken, but the enemy returned to the charge. 

' Hotchkiss and Allen, in their account of Chancellorsville, speak 
of the capture of Hazel Grove as if that position had been wrested 
from Sickles. 


Hays' brigade was half surrounded in the dense thickets, 
and the brave commander was wounded and captured 
with some of his men. But in this critical moment, 
upon the right of Hays' small and shattered command 
appears the brigade of Carroll, which its spirited com- 
mander handles with a dexterity and audacity all his 
own. Three of his regiments are flung freely and boldly 
against the exposed left flank of the Confederates, which 
curls and breaks under the shock. Carroll not only 
takes three hundred prisoners with two colors, but recapt- 
ures a regiment of our people. Meanwhile Birney has 
thrown off the assaults upon his front, and for a moment 
Stuart's attack seems to have failed. But the Confed- 
erate reserves are brought forward. The brigades of 
Nicholls and Iverson, and a part of Rodes', form in sup- 
port of that of Thomas, to check the advance of Carroll ; 
while Berry is desperately assailed by troops that, for a 
time, even reach the plateau of Chancellorsville and take 
possession of the Union earthworks, only to be thrown 
out by a charge of the New Jersey brigade, under Mott. 
French, reinforced by a brigade from Humphreys, the 
only one of the Fifth Corps which appears to have been 
this day engaged at Chancellorsville, is still pressing 
strongly on the Confederate left,' and the brigade of 
Colquitt has to be sent to its support. This reinforce- 
ment proves sufificient to check French's advance, while 
Berry shakes off a fresh assault upon his line ; and for a 
while, upon the Union right, the combatants, exhausted 

' " On the extreme left flank the federal troops now pushed the 
attack with renewed vigor; Iverson, though aided by a portion of 
Rodes' brigade, in addition to Nicholls' and Thomas', was severe- 
ly pressed. Reinforcements were urgently demanded, and Col- 
quitt's brigade was sent for and ordered up." Hotchkiss and 
Allen's Chancellorsville, p. 69. 


by the fierce and bloody work and largely out of ammu- 
nition, rest upon their arms. Stuart has not another 
regiment to send. All this time, not a mile away, lay 
the seven brigades of Reynolds' First Corps, which had 
not yet fired a shot. Meade's fresh corps is also avail- 
able, and but one word is needed to launch these thirty 
thousand men upon the left flank of the enemy, sweep- 
ing across the front of French and Berry. From the 
front and from the right Hooker is importuned for rein- 
forcements, and for supplies of ammunition ; but nothing 
is done — the gallant men of the Second, Third, and 
Twelfth Corps, whole brigades with empty cartridge- 
boxes, are left to their fate. 

And now the main conflict is shifted toward the Union 
centre, where Whipple's division of the Third Corps and 
Geary's of the Twelfth are involved in a close and 
deadly struggle with the Confederate brigades of Doles, 
Ramseur, and Paxton, which, with astonishing courage, 
force their way up to the Union line, and even occupy a 
portion of the intrenchments, but are finally driven out, 
with fearful losses, and compelled to retire. While the 
battle has thus been raging along the Union centre and 
right, what has happened to Hancock ? 

We have seen that, on the left of the line, Howard's 
broken command has been stationed behind the formid- 
able works erected on the first day by Meade's corps. 
The position which the Eleventh Corps occupies is one 
not likely to be seriously assailed, and in the condition 
of these troops they are hardly regarded even as reserves. 
The real left of the Union line, thus, so far as it is in- 
volved in the fighting of the day, is held by Hancock, 
covering both sides of the turnpike and extending toward 
the plank road. Along this line Colonel Miles has that 
morning been enacting the same important part which 


we have seen him performing with so much credit on 
the 2d. So closely is Hancock's main line drawn in to 
Chancellorsville, that it is deemed to be of great moment 
that the Confederates be not allowed to reach it except 
in the last struggle. Already the enemy's artillery, from 
one hundred and eighty degrees of the circle, is directing 
a plunging fire upon the plain at Chancellorsville, the 
shells falling among the infantry and artillery reserves, 
knocking to pieces the ammunition trains in their park, 
and spreading confusion all around. It is plainly in the 
last degree unadvisable that a dropping musketry fire 
should be added to the causes of confusion and turmoil 
about the Chancellor House. 

Hancock strengthens the skirmish line held by Miles, 
and instructs that officer not to yield one foot except upon 
actual necessity ; and well is that trust discharged. The 
troops under Miles' command consist of the Sixty-first, 
Sixty-fourth, and Sixty-sixth New York, with detach- 
ments from the Fifty-third Pennsylvania, Second Dela- 
ware, One Hundred and Fortieth, One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth, and One Hundred and Forty-eighth Penn- 
sylvania, and Twenty-seventh Connecticut. The troops 
in front of the Union left consist of seven brigades un- 
der McLaws and Anderson, under the personal direction 
of General Lee, who has placed himself on this end of 
his line, first, to give full scope to Stuart, whom he has 
intrusted with the command which has fallen from 
Jackson's dying hand, and, secondly, that he may him- 
self be in place to receive, at the earliest moment, in- 
telligence of Sedgwick's movements at Fredericksburg. 
Wof^ord's, Kershaw's, and Semmes' brigades of McLaws' 
division ' confront Hancock, while the brigades of Ma- 

' Barksdale's brigade being at Fredericksburg. 


hone, Wright, Posey, and Perry of Anderson's division' 
are opposed to Geary's and a part of Williams' division 
of the Twelfth Corps. 

All through the early morning, beginning at half past 
five o'clock, the Confederate commanders opposite our 
left had sought to distract the attention of General 
Hooker from Stuart's attacks, and to prevent the rein- 
forcement of Sickles and French, by a series of brisk and 
audacious dashes at Hancock's line. Again and again did 
they send out clouds of skirmishers against our rifle-pits; 
again and again did their regiments come down into the 
slashing ; every time they were met by the steady fire of 
our men, and driven back to cover. At last, after mirac- 
ulously escaping injury through nearly four hours of 
constant exposure, the heroic young officer who had so 
long conducted this gallant defence was shot through the 
body and carried from the field, his bearers passing close 
by Couch and Hancock, who had with delight watched 
his splendid behavior throughout the morning, and now, 
with the deepest sorrow, looked down upon his manly 
young face, on which seemingly the dews of death were 
already gathering. 

One-half of the story of Sunday's fight has been told. 
From half past five to about nine o'clock the battle had 
been raging, on the right and centre, with varying fortune. 
Prisoners and colors had been taken on both sides ; long 
lines of battle had been whipped into foam by the fury 
of the storm ; thousands upon thousands had fallen. As 
yet, however, the Union position remained substantially 
intact ; and Stuart had been obliged to desist from his 
assaults, to give his men time to breathe, to re-form his 
regiments, and to bring up his few reserves. 

' Wilcox's brigade being in the early morning at Banks' Ford, 
to be soon called to Salem Heights by Sedgwick's advance. 


On the Union side, the formations had been somewhat 
shattered by the frequent changes of positions involved 
in meeting the shower of blows which had been dealt, 
and by the fearful losses inflicted, while the nerve of the 
troops had been greatly shaken by the defensive position 
in which they have been so long kept under an enfilad- 
ing fire of artillery. Still there are no signs of breaking 
up ; the regimental organizations are measurably preserved, 
and the stragglers are comparatively few. But the troops 
are now largely out of ammunition, both for infantry and 
for artillery ; and repeated and urgent requests for fresh 
supplies sent back to army headquarters meet with no 
response, or with the impatient reply, " I can't make am- 
munition." Nor are any fresh troops seen advancing 
over the field to bring new spirit to the line, and to fill 
the woful gaps left by the conflicts of the morning. 
Not counting the Eleventh Corps, of which Barlow's 
brigade was intact, thirty to thirty-five thousand un- 
breathed soldiers in the First and Fifth Corps lie on their 
arms in rear and to the right of the battlefield. Appeals 
for reinforcements fall unheeded on the car of the com- 
manding general. Stunned by the disaster of the day 
before, he can think of but two things — Sedgwick, whom 
he has ordered to advance into Lee's rear, and the new 
line constructed by the engineers, although to retreat to 
this is to abandon the roads by which Sedgwick is to 

And now the moment of defeat approaches. Resolved 
to do or die, the decimated divisions of Stuart gather 
themselves together, close their ranks, and advance for 
the final assault. From every quarter the Confederate 
artillery opens a fearful fire over the plain, which fairly 
shrieks with the flying, plunging shells. The two wings 
of the Confederate army, separated since the hour when, 


yesterday morning, Jackson set out on his great flank 
march, are reunited, as Perry on the left of Anderson 
and Archer on the right of Stuart join their brigades 
at Hazel Grove. Lee himself rides forward to greet the 
troops of Stuart's corps, and to animate them for the 
conflict. All along the line, from farthest right to far- 
thest left, the Confederate host advances : McLaws and 
Anderson push hard upon Hancock and Geary ; Heth, 
Rodes, and Colston renew their fierce assaults on Will- 
iams, Sickles, and French. They will not be denied. 
French is thrown back upon the left of Meade's Fifth 
Corps, which receives not, in this supreme crisis, one 
order to move. Berry's division is assailed on both 
flanks ; many of the regiments have only the bayonet 
with which to meet the assault ; the Third Maryland 
gives way on the right of Williams' division, and the Con- 
federates, rushing in, fire down Berry's line ; the heroic 
commander is killed ; Mott, who should succeed, has 
himself been wounded. General Joseph W. Revere, of 
New Jersey, assumes command of the division and orders 
a retreat.' Sickles dashes forward to prevent this fatal 
error, but too late — the Confederates are in possession of 
the edge of the Chancellorsville plateau. The brigades 
from Whipple's and Birney's divisions supporting Berry 
are driven back. 

While this disaster was befalling our right and centre, 
Anderson, after repeated efforts, has dislodged Geary, 
who had all the morning been subjected to a shocking 
enfilade from the Confederate artillery at Hazel Grove, 
and, pressing in here, has gained the line to the west of 
the plank road. From two sides the flushed Confeder- 

' For this act General Revere was tried and dismissed the ser- 


ates, in hurrying masses, are pouring over the crest upon 
the plateau of Chancellorsville, 

Yet the Union troops on the centre and right are not 
all in disorder. Even in retreat, Slocum and Sickles still 
keep many of their troops well in hand, and by great 
personal bravery and with perfect coolness cover the 
withdrawal and hold the victorious enemy at bay. Gen- 
eral Birney leads in person a charge of Hayman's brigade, 
which extricates Graham, who, for the second time to- 
day, has been surrounded. One of Sickles' batteries, K 
of the Fourth United States, holds its post after all the 
infantry has passed to the rear, exchanging fire with the 
advancing enemy; and only when these are close upon 
his guns does the gallant commander, Seeley, conde- 
scend to retire, canying along everything that might 
serve the enemy as a trophy, even to the harness from 
the slaughtered horses. 

The field was lost. The centre and right had gone 
out, and the Confederates were swarming over the plain 
from the south and west and establishing their batteries 
on the crest they had just captured. But there still re- 
mained the divisions of Hancock and Geary, receiving 
fire at this time, of musketry and of artillery, from three- 
quarters of the circle. Hancock's division was no longer 
intact. Caldwell, with the Sixty-first, Fifty-second, and 
Fifty-seventh New York and four companies of the One 
Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, had, at a sud- 
den call, marched to the United States Ford road, with 
a view to the anticipated breaking through of the enemy 
from the right and rear. Meagher having previously 
been detached, Hancock was left with but eleven regi- 
ments out of eighteen. 

Colonel Cross' command had once, during the morn- 
ing, changed front and formed line of battle to meet the 


troops of Anderson's division, then threatening to break 
through Geary's right, so that when the right and centre 
fell out, Hancock was in two Hnes of battle — one fronting 
west toward Gordonsville, the other, only a few hundred 
yards away, fronting east toward Fredericksburg. Only 
fourteen guns were at command, and of these but nine 
were in condition to be very effective. The nine men- 
tioned — Pettit's six and three of Thomas' (C of the Fourth 
United States), under Lieutenant Donahue — were directed 
to fire up the turnpike ; the remaining five, belonging to 
Lepine's Fifth Maine Battery, from the First Corps, had 
been taken possession of by General Couch, and placed in 
the peach-orchard behind the Chancellor House. Geary's 
division at this moment held the approach from the south 
along the plank road. All the other troops were gone ; 
but this little army lingered on the field to cover the retreat. 
The gallant bearing of these troops checked the prog- 
ress of the enemy's infantry, who, fearfully punished in 
the great battle of the morning, in which they had lost 
nearly eight thousand killed and wounded, conceived 
that they had a new battle to fight ; but the fire of the 
Confederate artillery had now become infernal. Lieu- 
tenant Donahue, in command of Thomas' three guns, was 
mortally wounded. Lepine's battery, in the peach-or- 
chard, was almost instantly cut to pieces; every ofificer 
was killed or wounded, whereupon General Couch re- 
quested Lieutenant Kirby, of the First Artillery, to take 
command of the battery. Hardly had Kirby reached his 
new post when his horse was killed, and a few minutes 
later this most heroic and promising young officer fell 
mortally wounded.' And now a heavy infantry column 

' Lieutenant Kirby, wounded on the 3d of May, died on the 28th. 
On the 23d President Lincoln had sent him a general's commis- 


fell upon the front which General Geary had manitained 
with so much spirit across the plank road. Stubbornly 
the men of the Twelfth Corps resisted ; but at last that 
part of the line, too, fell out, and Geary's command 
passed, in no disorderly column, down the road to the 
Bullock clearing, where the new position was being taken 
up. It was still of great importance to gain time; to 
hold the enemy at bay as long as possible, until the 
roads leading to the rear should be cleared of troops, and 
the broken and disordered brigades should be re-formed. 
This necessity pressed strongly upon General Couch, and 
nobly did he set himself to discharge the duty. His ex- 
ample was superb. Of slight stature, and usually of a 
simple and retiring demeanor, he became sublime as the 
passion of battle and the high-mounting sense of duty 
took complete possession of every power and faculty, 
every thought and feeling, eveiy limb and nerve. His 
horse was killed ; he was himself twice hit. Nobly, too, 
was he seconded by the chief of his First Division, whose 
horse was killed, and who was only able to secure a re- 
mount on an animal hardly large enough to allow the 
general's feet to clear the ground. 

The Chancellorsville plateau was now a hell of fire — 
shot screaming over it from every direction but the 
northeast ; the house itself in flames ; yet Hancock's di- 
vision, alone where seven divisions had been, stood in 
two lines of battle, back to back, east and west, while 
the fourteen guns held the enemy at bay on the south. 

At last the word came that the First Division might 
withdraw. The long skirmish line, Avhich had so nobly 
done its work all the morning and the day before, upon 

sion in recognition of his brilliant abilities, undaunted courage, 
and faithful service. 


the left, was quickly, and but for a blunder of one offi- 
cer would have been cleanly, withdrawn.' The guns of 
Lepine's battery, which had lost all its officers, all its 
cannoneers, and all its horses, were drawn off by the 
hands of the men of the Fifty-third and One Hundred 
and Sixteenth and One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsyl- 
vania ; the wounded were removed from the burning 
house by Lieutenant W. P. Wilson, of General Hancock's 
staff, one of the bravest and coolest of men, with a de- 
tail from the Second Delaware; and then the heroic rear- 
guard fell slowly and steadily back toward the new line 
at the Chandler House. On the route General Han- 
cock, with much pleasure, came upon General Meagher's 
regiments, which had been detached from him on the 
1st, now in position in the right and rear of the peach- 
orchard ; and, a little farther down the road, he found 
General Caldwell's command, which had been detached, 
as related, during the morning. The reunited division 
took post in the new line of defence. The movement 
was completed about eleven o'clock. 

We now come to a feature in the battle of Chancellors- 
ville which has been much misconceived and misrepre- 
sented. During the terrible fire of artillery which had 
preceded the last general assault of the enemy. General 
Hooker was thrown down and stunned by a cannon-ball 

' This blunder had serious consequences, resulting in the capt- 
ure of Colonel R. S. Bostwick with eight companies of the Twenty- 
seventh Connecticut, about two hundred and forty men. By 
an error in the direction given to this command, when retiring 
from the rifle-pits, where it had acquitted itself most creditably, 
the entire body was marched into the enemy's lines. Companies 
D and F, with detachments from the other companies, all under 
Captain Joseph R. Bradley, were at the time absent, with the 
regimental flag, and thus escaped capture. 


Striking a pillar of the Chancellor House, against which he 
was leaning. In the case of General Hooker's complete 
disability, the command of the Army of the Potomac 
would, by seniority, have devolved upon General Couch, 
as the ranking major-general present ; and it has, by 
some writers, been asserted or assumed that the latter 
actually became the commander of the army, and respon- 
sible for what followed during the day. Even were this 
so, no responsibility would attach to General Couch for 
the di3aster which occurred on the morning of the 3d of 
May, since no human power could then have brought 
Meade and Reynolds up in season to defeat the impend- 
ing charge, or could have filled the empty cartridge- 
boxes of Slocum's and Sickles' men at the front. Gen- 
eral Couch did not receive Hooker's message until a 
quarter to ten, and at ten o'clock the enemy were in pos- 
session of the whole right and centre of the Chancel- 
lorsville plateau. But even so. Couch was never in fact 
placed in command of the army ; Hooker, recovering 
from his brief stupor, sent for Couch and gave him ex- 
plicit orders to withdraw the troops on the plateau to 
the new line, and then himself rode off to the rear. 
Couch was in command as Hooker's executive ofificer, 
for this purpose only, and of these troops alone ; no au- 
thority over Meade, Reynolds, or Howard was given to 
him, and had he used his power for any other purpose. 
Hooker would have treated him as a mutineer. 

In their new lines, which covered the Bullock clearing, 
our troops were not attacked during the remainder of 
the day. Lee, gathering up his divisions, which had al- 
ready suffered fearfully in carrying the plateau of Chan- 
cellorsville, was about to hurl them upon our troops, 
when he was checked by the news that Sedgwick, with 
his own corps, the Sixth, and Gibbon's division of the 


Second, had taken the offensive — had captured Marye's 
Heights from Early's division, with colors, guns, and 
prisoners, and was on the march into his rear. To meet 
Sedgwick's advance was an imperative necessity, and 
Lee suspended his assault in order to countermarch the 
brigades of Mahone, Wofford, Kershaw, and Semmes, all 
under McLaws, to reinforce Wilcox, who had taken up a 
position confronting Sedgwick. 

It does not come within our purpose to describe the 
severe battle of that afternoon at Salem church, which, 
after varying fortune, resulted in checking Sedgwick's 
movement and inflicting upon Brooks' division a very 
heavy loss. 

On the 4th of May Hooker kept his army inactive, 
although urged to resume the offensive with the fresh 
corps of Meade and Reynolds and the soundest divis- 
ions remaining in the other corps, contenting himself 
with strengthening his position. The only affair of the 
day was a skirmish on the front of the Twelfth Corps, 
in which Major-General Whipple, commanding a divis- 
ion of the Third Corps, was killed. Sedgwick, mean- 
while, confronted a strong Confederate force, while sev- 
eral brigades, under Early, which had been driven out of 
Fredericksburg on the 3d, returned and occupied the 
hills above the town, cutting off Sedgwick's communica- 
tions with the former camps and with Gibbon's divis- 
ion, one brigade of which held the city while the other 
two were drawn up on the heights of Falmouth. 

Hooker continuing inactive, Lee determined to deal 
first with Sedgwick ; and, marching back the brigades of 
Posey, Wright, and Perry, he attacked Sedgwick with 
such severity as to induce that ofificer to retire, during 
the night following, across the bridge at Banks' Ford. 
Here, and on the day follovv^ing, was seen the error of 


intrusting the movement into Lee's rear, if it were to be 
made at all, to so small a force as was given to Sedg- 
Avick. Had Reynolds been left Avith Sedgwick, the 
latter would have been, for all offensive or defensive 
purposes, far more than twice as strong as with his own 

Not only would Sedgwick and Reynolds, combined, 
almost certainly have beaten off the heaviest attack 
which Lee could have delivered, and have been able to 
continue their movement into the Confederate rear, but 
even if checked in their progress, and worsted in the en- 
counter, they w^ould have been abundantly strong to hold 
the high ground around Banks' Ford, a position which 
would have had great advantages for a renewal of offen- 
sive operations at any future time. 

Now rid of Sedgwick, Lee recalled the divisions of 
McLaws and Anderson, and devoted the day of the 5th 
of May to preparations for a grand assault on the in- 
trenched positions of the Union army in front of Unit- 
ed States Ford. But when day dawned it was found 
that Hooker had recrossed the Rappahannock. In the 
council of war certain of the corps commanders, feeling 
that it was an inexpressible disgrace to retreat, beaten, 
while yet there were nearly thirty-five thousand men 
who had not fired a shot, voted against the recrossing; 
but the contrary opinion prevailed. Among those who 
voted to retreat was the commander of the Second 
Corps, whose observation of General Hooker, from the 
1st to the 5th of May, had convinced him that no change 
of dispositions, and no accession of numbers, would serve 
to enable that ofificer to win a victory, in the condition 
of mind into which he had fallen ; and that a renewal of 
the fighting would simply mean fresh disgrace and in- 
creased losses. And whenever, since that time, General 


Couch's action on this matter has been challenged, he 
has always replied, " And I would do it again under such 
a commander." 

For a time the crossing was interrupted by a sudden 
rise in the river, in the early evening of Tuesday, which 
swamped the approaches to the pontoons, so that men 
could neither come nor go ; and Couch, who knew that 
Hooker had gone over to the other side, and couldn't 
get back, determined to take advantage of the situation 
to throw the whole force thus placed under his command 
upon the enemy as soon as day should dawn, to finally 
test the question, whether forty thousand Confederates 
were better than seventy thousand Union troops, relieved 
of the incubus which, for five days, had pressed them 
down. But it was not to be ; the river soon began to 
fall, and the Army of the Potomac, foiled and humiliated, 
recrossed the Rappahannock and returned to its camps. 

In killed and wounded, the losses of the two armies, 
during the operations from April 27th to May 6th, had 
been not far apart. One-half of the Union loss had 
fallen on the two corps of Sedgwick and Sickles, on the 
former of which had been imposed the difficult and dan- 
gerous duty of attacking Lee's rear; the latter of which 
had borne the brunt of the assault of Jackson and Stuart 
after the rout of the Eleventh Corps, and had, also, the 
most important part to perform in the terrible fighting 
of Sunday morning upon the Chancellorsville plateau. 

The bulk of the losses of the Second Corps, amounting 
to 1,923, had fallen upon the well-tried First Division, 
under Hancock, whose killed, wounded, and missing 
reached 1,122. Gibbon's division, the Second, had been 
held in reserve by Sedgwick, or had been assigned to 
keep open his communications, and suffered very little. 
Few officers of rank had fallen. Brisradier-General Will- 



iam Hays had been wounded and captured in the severe 
fighting on the right on Sunday morning ; Colonel Nel- 
son A. Miles had fallen desperately wounded, after a long 
and brilliant defence of the intrenched skirmish line to- 
ward Fredericksburg ; Major Daniel Woodall, First Dela- 
ware, was wounded ; Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver Wendell 
Holmes, Jr., Twentieth Massachusetts, was wounded in 
the advance of Gibbon's division from Fredericksburg. 

The officers killed or mortally wounded were Major 
John W. Patton, One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsyl- 
vania ; Captain John C. Lynch, Sixty-third New York, 
Captain Byron P. Thrasher, One Hundred and Eighth 
New York; Captain Isaac R. Bronson, Fourteenth Con- 
necticut ; Lieutenant Joseph Pierson, Twelfth New Jer- 
sey ; Lieutenant Edmund Kirby, First United States 
Artillery; Lieutenant Donoghue, Fourth United States 
Artillery ; Lieutenant Francis M. Roberts (adjutant), 
Seventh West Virginia ; Lieutenant Ephraim Jordan, 
First Delaware ; Lieutenants William H. Bible and 
Francis Stephenson, One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
Pennsylvania; Lieutenant Charles Gibson, Fourteenth 
Lidiana ; Lieutenant John Springer, Twenty-fourth New 
Jersey; Lieutenant Joseph W. McEwcn, One Hundred 
and Fortieth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant Benjamin E. 
Kelly, First Rhode Island Artillery. 

Among the changes of organization which followed 
the Battle of Chancellorsville was the breaking up of the 
division artillery, the creation of corps brigades of ar- 
tillery, and the large increase of the artillery reserve of 
the Army of the Potomac. Under the new arrangement 
a Second Corps artillery brigade was constituted of 
batteries A and B, First Rhode Island ; I, First United 
States ; A, Fourth United States, under command of 
Captain John A. Hazzard, First Rhode Island Artillery. 


The changes occurring among the field officers of the 
corps, during the month of May, are the honorable dis- 
charge of Major James Kavanagh, Sixty-ninth New 
York, and of Major Benjamin Ricketts, Second Dela- 
ware, and the resignation of Colonel George N. Morgan, 
First Minnesota. The latter was succeeded in the com- 
mand of the regiment by Colonel William Colville. 
Captain R. D. Pettit, First New York Artilleiy, who had 
commanded Battery B with great distinction down to 
this time, resigned May 30th. 

One of the results of the Chancellorsville campaign 
was a change in the command of the Second Corps. 
General Couch had felt outraged, in every nerve and 
fibre of his being, by the conduct of General Hooker 
from the ist to the 5th of May; the retreat from the ad- 
mirable offensive position reached alike by Sykes and 
Slocum, on the ist, the inaction of the 2d, giving oppor- 
tunity for the overthrow and rout of Howard's corps ; 
the defective dispositions of Sunday morning ; the re- 
fusal to support the hard-pressed divisions at the front ; 
the failure to throw Meade and Reynolds upon the Con- 
federate left ; the defensive attitude of the day follow- 
ing, which allowed the isolated corps of Sedgwick to be 
overwhelmed, without support or relief. 

Not that General Couch was alone in this feeling, which 
was shared by nearly all of the commanders of the army; 
but at once his nature as a man, and his position as the 
senior corps commander, made him peculiarly the spokes- 
man in the representations and remonstrances addressed 
to General Hooker. During this painful period no 
man did less than he to spread discontent, none made 
fewer remarks to be heard by the staff or by subordinate 
commanders. The orders he received were executed 
with energy and despatch ; and he even sought to find. 


in the reckless exposure of his own life, relief from the 
terrible sense that his own troops and the other gallant 
corps around him were being aimlessly sacrificed. But 
to the commanding general he expressed his views with 
the utmost frankness and distinctness, and when con- 
sulted by President Lincoln,' on the 22d of May he ad- 
vised that General Meade should be placed in command, 
stating that he himself would have the greatest pleasure 
in serving under that officer, though senior to him. To 
the suggestion of his own succession to the command 
General Couch returned a firm and sincere negative. 
Neither his health, always delicate, nor his feelings and 
Avishes, would have been compatible with a position so 
exalted, so arduous and so responsible. 

It is a matter of regret that General Couch did not, for 
a little while longer, possess his soul in patience. A few 
weeks more would have seen the army commanded by 
an ofificer in whom he had the utmost confidence, and 
under whom he would have delighted to march at the 
head of his own gallant corps. But the future was not 
foreseen : Hooker was already manoeuvring with refer- 
ence to a renewal of active hostilities ; the Sixth Corps 
was already over the Rappahannock, threatening A. P. 
Hill's position ; and General Couch had wrought him- 
self into an almost morbid feeling that he could never 
again lead his gallant troops to what he regarded as pur- 
poseless slaughter ; that he could not ask his brave bri- 
gades, the men he loved, and who trusted and obeyed him 

' This vvas with the knowledge and approval of General Hooker. 
The report of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the 
War states that General Hooker '* asked the President to ascertain 
the feelings of his corps and division commanders, and for that 
purpose he would request those officers to call upon the President 
whenever they applied for leave to come to Washington." 


SO cheerfully, to do that which he believed would be vain 
and useless. 

In this spirit, with pain inexpressible, General Couch 
asked to be relieved from further service with the Army 
of the Potomac, and on the loth of June left the Second 
Corps forever. A few days later, in recognition of his 
distinguished services, he was assigned to the command 
of the new Department of the Susquehanna, formed to 
resist the then threatening invasion of Pennsylvania. 
The Second Corps was to be singularly fortunate in its 
commanders, but it was never to know a truer or braver, 
one more full of the spirit of loyalty, courage, and honor.' 
With General Couch went, of course, his personal staff, 
Major Burt, and Captains Schultze and Potter. 



By the retirement of General Couch the command of 
the Second Corps devolved upon Major-General Win- 
field S. Hancock. This already highly distinguished 
officer, a native of Pennsylvania, graduated from the 
Military Academy in 1844, receiving the brevet of Second 
Lieutenant in the Sixth Infantry. In 1847 he joined 
Scott's column in the Valley of Mexico, and took part, 
with great distinction, in the battles which immediately 
preceded the capture of the capital, being brevetted for 
gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco. In the attack 
upon Molino del Rey, Hancock was in the assaulting 
column, with Longstreet, Pickett, and Arnistead, men 
whom he was to encounter in another famous assault, 
sixteen years later. In 1855 Hancock was appointed 
captain and quartermaster. During the Seminole War 
he displayed a high order of ability in the conduct of the 
services of supply. He was subsequently on duty with 
General Harney in Kansas and in the Utah expedition 
of 1858. The outbreak of the war found him in charge 
of the quartermaster's depot at Los Angeles, California. 
At his own request he was ordered to the East, and, on 
the 23d of September, commissioned Brigadier-General of 
Volunteers. He went to the Peninsula at the head of a 
brigade of Smith's division, first of the Fourth and subse- 
quently of the Sixth Army Corps. At Williamsburg 


Commanding Second Army Corps 

June io, 1S63 to November 25, 1864 


Hancock won the admiration of the army by his splendid 
conduct in the repulse of Early's brigade upon the Union 
right. His command was not engaged at Fair Oaks ; 
but during the Seven Days' battles it rendered important 
services, first in maintaining the position at Garnett's 
and Golding's farms, and afterward at Savage Station and 
White Oak Swamp. It has already been related how, in 
the very heat of action at Antietam, Hancock was sum- 
moned from the Sixth Corps to take command of the 
First Division of the Second Corps, at the head of which 
Richardson had fallen ; and how at Fredericksburg and 
Chancellorsville he had led Sumner's old division with 
courage and address never surpassed upon any battle- 
field. His commission as Major-General of Volunteers 
bore date November 29, 1862. 

General Hancock's accession to the conduct of the 
corps came upon the eve of great events. Scarcely had 
he issued his order assuming command, when the Second 
Corps was upon the march northward. The Confederate 
commander, taking advantage of the terrible shocks and 
losses sustained by the Army of the Potomac in the 
actions of December and May, and of its still further 
depletion through the expiry of the " two years " (New 
York) and the " nine months " enlistments, had already, 
under cover of the mountain wall of the Blue Ridge, 
begun the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 
the execution of this great design Ewell, who had suc- 
ceeded to the command of Jackson's corps, took the lead, 
followed by Longstreet ; while A. P. Hill remained at 
Fredericksburg confronting the Army of the Potomac. 

Before the authorities at Washington came fully to the 
appreciation of Lee's purposes, Milroy had been crushed 
at Winchester, and the invasion had begun. Not, how- 
ever, without arousing the Army of the Potomac. Gen- 



eral Hooker had early become conscious of the enemy's 
movements, and finding that Lee was extending his 
forces northward, over a distance of nearly one hundred 
miles, he sought permission to attack him in flank, in the 
hope of either cutting off Hill or compelling the return 
of the adventurous Ewell. Forbidden by the administra- 
tion to take this step. Hooker had no resource but to 
retire from his position at Fredericksburg, and move 
rapidly northward, keeping between the enemy and 

The story of that long march, and of the desperate 
battle in which it culminated, is too well known to re- 
quire a detailed recital. It will only be needful to de- 
scribe the part taken by the Second Corps. On the 15th 
of June the corps, acting as rear-guard, moved to Stafford 
Court House, which was found in flames, having been 
fired by stragglers from the preceding column. Resting 
here only two or three hours. General Hancock pushed 
on as far as Acquia Creek, where the troops halted for 
the night. The day had been intensely hot, and the 
march through the dusty road proved most fatiguing to 
the men, hundreds of whom fell out. Numerous cases of 
sunstroke occurred and all the ambulances of the corps 
were brought into service, at the rear of the column, to 
bring forward those who could not keep up. About 
midnight the bivouac of the Second Division was rudely 
disturbed by hideous outcries, followed by the noise of 
men rushing hither and thither among frightened mules 
and horses. Headquarters turned out in dire alarm, and 
the soldiers, waked suddenly from the deep slumber that 
follows a painful march, seized their arms. The coolest 
believed that a band of guerillas, hanging upon the 
flanks of the column, had taken advantage of the dark- 
ness to dash among the sleeping troops. At last it 


turned out that all the fright sprang from a soldier being 
seized with a nightmare, from which he waked scream- 

On the i6th the march was resumed, and proved, like 
that of the previous day, one of great fatigue, not a few 
of the men falling by the way, sunstruck. The corps 
moved through Dumfries to Wolf Run Shoals, on the 
Occoquan, where the jaded troops had an opportunity to 
refresh themselves by bathing in the running water. On 
the 17th the command reached Sangster's Station, where 
it remained over the 19th. On the 20th Centreville was 
reached. On the 21st the corps moved to Thoroughfare 
Gap, passing directly over the battlefield of Bull Run. 

On the morning of the 25th the corps moved from 
Thoroughfare Gap toward Edwards' Feriy, on the Poto- 
mac. It chanced that, just as the corps was withdrawing 
from the Gap, the Confederate cavalry, under General 
Stuart, were passing through New Baltimore toward 
Gainesville, upon that raid which was destined to cause 
to Lee the loss of nearly his whole cavalry force through- 
out the highly critical movement he was conducting. At 
the little town of Haymarket, where Hancock's line of 
march turned to the north, Stuart opened fire upon our 
rear division, the Second, killing or wounding several 
men. Still further annoyance was caused by this unex- 
pected appearance of the Confederate cavalry, inasmuch 
as Zook's brigade of the First Division, which was at 
Gainesville, was temporarily cut off from communication 
with the rest of the corps, and several messengers passing 
between Hancock and Zook were captured, among them 
Captain Johnson of the Sixth New York Cavalry, the 
commander of the corps headquarters' escort. 

At nightfall the corps went into bivouac at Gum 
Springs, in the midst of a drenching rain. Here joined, 


for the first time, a body of troops destined to bear a 
conspicuous share in all the future labors and dangers of 
the Second Corps, from the fast-approaching conflict on 
the bloody slopes of Gettysburg to the final triumph of 
April, 1865. This was the brigade commanded by the 
dashing Alexander Hays. General Hays had been colo- 
nel of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, and, as 
such, had greatly distinguished himself on the Peninsula. 

The brigade consisted of four New York regiments — 
the Thirty-ninth, Major Hugo Hildebrandt ; the One 
Hundred and Eleventh, Colonel Clinton D. McDougall ; 
the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth, Colonel G. S. Wil- 
lard; the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth, Colonel Elia- 
kim Sherrill. It had formed a part of the force captured 
at Harper's Ferry during the Antietam campaign of the 
preceding year. On joining the Second Corps, General 
Hays took command of the Third Division, the conduct 
of his brigade devolving upon Colonel Willard. 

While thus reinforced by the arrival of four New York 
regiments, the corps had, during the month then passing, 
been reduced by the expiry of the term of enlistment of 
another two years' regiment from that State — the Thirty- 
fourth, one of the original regiments of Sedgwick's divis- 
ion, which we have seen fighting gallantly, and with se- 
vere losses, at Fair Oaks, Antietam, and on other fields. 
With the regiment were mustered out Colonel Byron 
Laflin, Lieutenant-Colonel John Beverly, and Major 
Wells Sponable. An important incident, affecting the 
personnel of the corps, occurred on leaving Thoroughfare 
Gap. General J. T. Owen having been placed in arrest 
by General Gibbon, Brigadier-General Alexander S. 
Webb, who had just received his volunteer appointment, 
after long and honorable artillery and staff service, as an 
officer of the regular army, and had but that day arrived 


at the front, seeking an assignment for the impending 
battle, was seized upon by General Hancock, " because 
he knew the man," and put in command of the Philadel- 
phia brigade, with consequences of great moment to the 
Second Corps and to the Army of the Potomac. 

On the 26th the corps crossed the Potomac at Edwards' 
Ferry, near the scene of the battle of Ball's Bluff. On 
the 28th it reached Tslonocacy Junction, near Frederick. 
Here was received the important intelligence that the 
command of the Army of the Potomac, that football of 
political intrigue and popular clamor, had undergone an- 
other change. General Hooker, after sharply protesting 
against the fatuous occupation of Harper's Ferry by a 
large force under General French, had tendered his resig- 
nation. Not only was Hooker right in his demand for the 
evacuation of Harper's Ferry, but it is in justice to be said 
that he had not, from the moment when he broke up his 
camps on the Rappahannock, on the 13th of June, failed 
to display at any point all the intelligence, energy, and 
composure required of a commander at a critical period. 

It is a dangerous thing to make a change in the com- 
mand of an army on the eve of battle, that is, as President 
Lincoln expressed it, to " swap horses while swimming 
the stream." But the Army of the Potomac was fortu- 
nate that its new commander was one who had served 
in it from the beginning ; who, on the one hand, was 
thoroughly acquainted with its history and personnel, 
and whom, on the other, that army had learned to know 
and to trust. General Meade, an officer of engineers in 
the old army, had been one of the brigade commanders 
of the Pennsylvania Reserves upon the Peninsula ; had 
led the Third Division of the First Corps under Hooker 
at Antietam and at Fredericksburg under Reynolds, and 
had commanded the Fifth Corps at Chancellorsville. 


He was an officer of distinguished presence, of scholarly 
habits, of fiery, but disciplined courage. 

The very next morning after that on which he as- 
sumed the command. General Meade put his columns 
in motion, to cause Lee to let go his grasp upon the 
flourishing cities of central Pennsylvania, against which 
several raiding columns had been directed. On the 
morning of the 29th the Second Corps was to proceed 
to Uniontown. 

It is an incident very instructive as to the causes which 
may influence, or even decide, the fortunes of war, that 
the order directing the movement of the Second Corps 
was brought to the headquarters by an orderly who left 
it on the desk of the assistant adjutant-general, without 
calling attention to its presence, or demanding the custo- 
mary acknowledgment of delivery. In consequence, corps 
headquarters remained unaware of the order until some 
time after the troops should have been on the road. The 
loss thus occasioned was severely felt in the tremendous 
exertions which the corps was that day called to make. 

The troops moved by way of Uniontown, the advance 
reaching a point two miles beyond that place, upon the 
the Westminster road, about ten o'clock at night, the 
corps having accomplished the remarkable march of 
thirty-two miles, moving upon a single road with artil- 
lery and trains. At Uniontown the reception of the 
troops by the inhabitants was cordial and inspiriting. 
Refreshment was freely offered at the gates and porches, 
and kind words and good cheer lifted the hearts of the 
weary soldiers, crowding onward to the greatest battle of 
the great war. During the 30th the corps remained in 
camp, little recking what a day was to bring forth. At 
daylight of the memorable ist of July, an order was re- 
ceived to move forward to Taneytown. " Some fatal- 


ity," remarks General Morgan, in his narrative, " seemed 
to attend our despatches at this important juncture. 
This one was written on the common tissue-paper, and 
was accompanied by another, demanding the exercise of 
the greatest caution by corps commanders to prevent 
the loss of despatches. After reading the order of march 
I stepped into the quartermaster's office, to give some in- 
structions concerning the train, and when I returned to 
my tent after a minute's absence the despatch had van- 
ished. My colored servant was in the tent, packing my 
bedding, but had seen nothing of it ; and search was of no 
avail, till I happened to notice a yellowish mark around 
the sole of the African's boot, and bidding him hold up his 
foot, found enough tissue paper to satisfy me that he had 
knocked the despatch off the table into the wet grass and 
had then trodden it under foot until it had almost entirely 
disappeared. I remembered enough of it to enable the 
general to direct the march of the corps to Taneytown ; 
and, to atone for any carelessness that might be attributed 
to me, set off without my breakfast for army headquar- 
ters, ten miles distant, for a copy of the despatch. 

" The corps," continues General Morgan, " reached 
Taneytown about noon, and prepared to go into camp. 
Having lost my breakfast, I thought I would get dinner 
at the hotel in Taneytown, but, while taking the first 
mouthful, was summoned to headquarters, where I found 
General Hancock preparing to go to Gettysburg." The 
news that thus cost Morgan his dinner, following the 
loss of his breakfast, was indeed great news. As Meade 
had pushed forward the seven small corps under his 
command, trying to find, amid the fiery cloud of South- 
ern raiders, the real nucleus of Lee's army, his left 
column, consisting of the First Corps, Reynolds, and the 
Eleventh Corps, Howard, under the general command 


of the former, suddenly encountered the Confederate col- 
umn which had, in ignorance of Meade's movements, 
been directed southward upon the town of Gettysburg. 
The shock was equally unexpected to both armies. After 
a temporary success, which cost the life of the heroic Rey- 
nolds, the two Union corps had been overborne by su- 
perior numbers, and forced back through Gettysburg, 
with great slaughter and the loss of nearly five thousand 
men captured. 

This was the news, uncertain as yet, vague and ter- 
rible, which had brought Meade to Hancock's quarters at 
Taneytown. Inasmuch as what followed has been made 
the subject of controversy, General Morgan's account of 
the interview is given in his own words. " Generals 
Meade and Butterfield were both present. It was not 
then known whether General Reynolds was dead or not, 
and General Hancock's order was conditional, to assume 
command only in case General Reynolds was wounded. 
General Meade's attention was called to the fact that 
General Howard, commanding the Eleventh Corps, was 
senior to General Hancock, to Avhich he replied, in ef- 
fect, that he could not help it; that he knew General 
Hancock, but did not know General Howard so well, 
and at this crisis he must have a man he knew and 
could trust." ' 

' The following is the text of General Meade's order as received 
by General Hancock. It differs slightly from the copies of that 
order presented to the Committee on the Conduct of the War, by 
Generals Meade and Butterfield : 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
July I, 1863, 1. 10 P.M. 
Commanding Officer, Second Corps : 

The Major-General Commanding has just been informed that 
General Reynolds has been killed or badly wounded. He directs 


Hot was the haste in which a soldier like Hancock 
would proceed in an exigency such as existed on the 
afternoon of the ist of July, 1863. At once he was on 
the road, in an ambulance, driven at top speed, his horse 
following, led by an orderly, while he and Morgan 
studied the imperfect map of the country, the best which 
the commander-in-chief had been able to furnish. Gen- 
eral Meade's intention was not yet formed to fight a 
battle at Gettysburg. When the encounter of the morn- 
ing occurred he had the rather been inclined to estab- 
lish a line on Pipe Creek. But meanwhile Hancock 
was to go forward and extricate the imperilled First and 
Eleventh Corps, taking command, also, of the Third, so 
soon as it should arrive from Emmettsburg. With those 
troops he was to dispute the progress of the enemy, and 
he was also to examine the ground to ascertain whether 
it could be considered a suitable one for defence, in 
which case the remaining corps of the army would be 
directed on Gettysburg. 

Fast as the ambulance rolled over the good northern 
road, it could not keep up with Hancock's impatient 
mind, and soon the led horses were brought up, and the 
chief was galloping to the front, where, at any time, any- 
thing might happen. Only those who have been in such 
a case know how lone a road can be. At the distance of 

that you turn over the command of your corps to General Gibbon ; 
that you proceed to the front, and by virtue of this order, in case 
of the truth of General Reynolds' death, you assume command of 
the corps there assembled, viz., the Eleventh, First, and Third at 
Emmettsburg. If you think the ground and position there a bet- 
ter one on which to fight a battle, under existing circumstances, 
you will so advise the General and he will order all the troops up. 
You know the General's views, and General Warren, who is fully 
aware of them, has gone out to see General Reynolds. 


about four miles from Gettysburg an ambulance was en- 
countered, escorted by a single officer. One word told 
that it contained the body of General Reynolds, borne 
from his last battlefield. A deep silence fell upon the 
staff, and not a word was spoken till, at half-past three 
o'clock, the panorama of Gettysburg lay unrolled before 

Beautiful as that landscape is in the eyes of the tourist, 
it was, that afternoon, a scene of terror, strewn with the 
dead and dying and the wreck of battle. Even more 
painful for a soldier to witness, were the disordered 
groups of fugitives hurrying from the field or skulking 
behind cover. Down the Baltimore road, to the rear, 
poured a broad tumultuous stream of panic-stricken men, 
mingled with caissons, led horses, ammunition wagons, 
and ambulances loaded with the wounded. Here and 
there, in small groups, the men of sterner stuff from out 
the Eleventh Corps clung sullenly to their colors, and 
gazed downward upon the serried masses of the Confed- 
erates, who, occupying the field of the recent battle, 
were threatening a fresh advance. On the left the rem- 
nants of the shattered First Corps were forming along 
Cemetery Ridge, under cover of Buford's brigades of 
cavalry, which, drawn up in a line of battalions in mass, 
stood as steady as if on parade.' Of the sixteen thousand 
men who had gone into battle in front of Gettysburg 
that morning, scarcely five thousand remained with their 

' When last it was my privilege to see General Hancock, in 
November, 1885, he pointed out to me from Cemetery Hill the 
position occupied by Buford at this critical juncture, and assured 
me that, among the most inspiring sights of his military career 
was the splendid spectacle of that gallant cavalry, as it stood there 
unshaken and undaunted, in the face of the advancing Confederate 


colors. Of the six infantry divisions, but one brigade 
remained intact. This was the brigade of Colonel Or- 
lando Smith, of Steinwehr's division of the Eleventh 
Corps, which General Howard, when hurrying to the 
support of Reynolds, beyond the town, had stationed 
upon Cemetery Hill. 

Upon this field of wreck and disorder now appeared 
Hancock. And as the sun shining through a rift in the 
clouds may change a scene of gloom to one of beauty, so 
did the coming of this prince of soldiers bring fresh life 
and courage to the disheartened bands which were halt- 
ing uncertainly upon the new line of defence. At his 
call the braver spirits flamed to their height ; the weaker 
souls yielded gladly to the impulse of that powerful, ag- 
gressive, resolute nature. At once the doubtful halt on 
Cemetery Hill was transformed into the confident as- 
sumption of a new line of battle; the fearful stream 
down the Baltimore road was peremptorily stopped. 
Shattered regiments as they reached the hills were 
halted and re-formed. On every hand men began to seek 
their regiments with alacrity ; commanders rectified their 
lines and prepared for whatever might happen ; ammuni- 
tion was brought up ; a part of Wadsworth's division, 
with the Fifth Maine Battery, was despatched to occupy 
Culp's Hill ; skirmishers were thrown out on the front and 
right ; at all points, commanding positions were occupied 
with the bravest show of force that could be made, with a 
view to deterring the enemy from attacking until the re- 
inforcements, now rapidly approaching the field, should 
arrive. At half-past four Hancock despatched Major 
Mitchell, of his staff, with word to General Meade that 
Gettysburg offered a suitable position for defence, al- 
though somewhat exposed to be turned by the left. 

Among the officers of the First Corps remaining on 


the field, Morgan's narrative mentions General Wads- 
worth as conspicuous for his undaunted spirit and his 
eagerness to renew the fight. General Warren, afterward 
the illustrious commander of the Fifth Corps, at this 
time chief-engineer of the Army of the Potomac, was 
upon the field and rendered invaluable services. 

An hour sufificed to work a great change within the 
Union lines ; a greater change still, as seen from the 
enemy's ground. General Lee, now present in person, 
hesitated to give the order to attack positions naturally 
strong, which suddenly appeared to have been occupied 
by fresh troops ; his instructions to Ewell to feel the 
Union right, but not to bring on a general engagement, 
were of so doubtful a nature as to produce no result. 
That delay saved the field of Gettysburg. 

At half-past five o'clock Geary's division of the Twelfth 
Corps arrived upon the ground. This Hancock directed 
to extend our line southward toward the Round Tops, 
The remainder of the Twelfth Corps coming up, General 
Hancock relinquished the command to General Slocum, 
his senior, and rode away to confer with General Meade. 
About three miles from the field Hancock met his own 
corps, under General Gibbon, which he halted at that 
point, that it might be available against any movement 
to turn our left flank which should be attempted during 
the night. Shortly before dark the Third Corps, under 
Sickles, arrived upon the ground. So darkness came on 
without a serious attempt of the Confederates to carry 
the position. On those memorable heights the soldiers 
of the First and Eleventh Corps, of the Third and Twelfth 
Corps, the former worn with battle, the latter with long 
and hurried marches, lay down to get such rest as they 
could for the toil and dangers of the morrow. To them 
the hours seemed all too short ; while to their comrades 


of the Fifth and Sixth Corps, who, in ghostly columns, 
were all night pressing forward in an unstaying march, 
those hours seemed interminable. 


The morning of the 2d of July found General Lee 
possessing the advantage of superior concentration, Pick- 
ett's division and Law's brigade, only, being absent from 
the muster, as well as the still greater advantage de- 
rived from the prestige of the victory of the preceding 
day. On the Union side the Second Corps was easily 
brought upon the ground early in the morning ; but the 
Fifth Corps and two brigades of the Third were still on 
the march, while the Sixth Corps, the strongest of all, 
could not possibly be brought in before the afternoon, 
having thirty-six miles to compass in its hurried return 
from Manchester. 

It is now time to speak of the field of battle. 

The town of Gettysburg lies between two streams. 
Rock Creek and Willoughby Run, the former much the 
more important of the two, which here run nearly south, 
and are, therefore, nearly parallel, at a distance, say, of 
about two and a half miles. Between the two streams 
run three ridges, again almost due north and south, and 
again, therefore, nearly parallel. 

One of them, having the least north and south extent, 
the least elevation, and the least clear definition, forms 
the eastern border of Willoughby Run, on which had 
begun the battle of the early morning. The second runs 
just through the western outskirts of the town of Gettys- 
burg, deriving its name, " Seminary Ridge," from the 
Lutheran Theological Seminary situated upon it. On 
this ridge the Confederates had taken up their position 


with reference to the coming battle. The third ridge, 
that occupied by the Union forces, would, if prolonged 
northward, run through the eastern outskirts of Gettys- 
burg; but, instead of this, that ridge is, just as it would 
strike the town, bent sharply around and curved back- 
ward till the banks of Rock Creek, upon the east, arc 
reached. The elevation of this ridge varies greatly 
throughout its course, which we will briefly define, from 
south to north. 

At the extreme south, as shown on our map, lies, dis- 
tant perhaps three miles from the centre of Gettysburg, 
a sharp, rocky, and densely wooded peak, known as 
Round Top. 

From Round Top the ground falls off toward the north, 
to rise again in Little Round Top. From Little Round 
Top the ridge continues, clearly defined, a little way, 
when it falls away to the general level of the plain, and 
the natural line of battle is thereby obscured for half a 
mile or more, when the north and south ridge again dis- 
tinctly appears, here known as Cemetery Ridge, rising 
to a greater and greater elevation as Gettysburg is ap- 
proached, where, as it curves around and is bent back- 
ward, it forms an uncommonly strong defensive position. 
At the point where the backward curve is taken the 
ridge is known as Cemetery Hill, because of the village 
cemetery which had been placed upon it. From Ceme- 
tery Hill the ridge, now twisted around to run south- 
east, falls off sharply for a short space, to rise again into 
a rocky, wooded eminence known as Culp's Hill, with an 
abrupt eastward face. This hill forms the natural right 
of any line of battle occupying this general position. 
The Rock Creek flows along the foot of Culp's Hill, on 
the east, and finally passes between it and another rocky 
and wooded eminence known as Wolf's Hill, too far to 

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the rear to have much military importance in the conflict 
now impending. 

Let us now consider the highways that traverse the 
field. From the southeast enters the Baltimore turn- 
pike. Crossing Rock Creek beyond Wolf Hill, a:nd run- 
ning along the western base of Culp's, it rises somewhat 
sharply to surmount Cemetery Hill, whence it descends 
as rapidly to enter the town of Gettysburg, from which 
roads go northeast to York and Harrisburg, north to 
Carlisle, northwest to Chambersburg, west and slightly 
southwest to Fairfield. It is in this remarkable concen- 
tration of roads from the north, northwest, and northeast 
that we find the reason for General Lee's determination 
to seize and hold Gettysburg at all hazards. While thus 
the Baltimore turnpike comes in from the southeast, 
under cover of the shorter part of the natural line of de- 
fence which we have described (that part which has 
popularly been compared to the curved and barbed part 
of a fish-hook), the Taneytown road comes up directly 
from the south, under cover of the other and the longer 
part of that line, the part which had been compared to 
the shaft of the fish-hook. 

One more road, that to Emmettsburg, remains to be 
spoken of. I have said that the field of battle is covered 
by three ridges, running generally north and south ; we 
have now to note that between the Union line on Ceme- 
tery Ridge, and the Confederate line on Seminary Ridge, 
the ground rose into a subordinate ridge, low but broad, 
which traversed the field obliquely from one main ridge 
to the other. Along this fourth subordinate ridge ran 
the Emmettsburg Road, which, leaving the Union centre 
at the foot of Cemetery Hill, diverged rapidly, cross- 
ing the field between the two armies, and entered into 
the Confederate line, opposite the Union left. This 



subordinate ridge is of the highest importance in the his- 
tory of the second day at Gettysburg. 

On the morning of July 2d the troops Avere disposed 
with reference to an anticipated attack from General 
Lee, at an early hour, as follows : General Slocum was 
in command of the right wing, which consisted of the 
Twelfth, Eleventh, and First Corps, occupying Gulp's 
Hill on the extreme right and Cemetery Hill on the 
right centre. General Hancock's corps was designated 
to occupy Cemetery Ridge, forming the left centre. The 
Third Corps, under General Sickles, was to hold the left. 
It was General Meade's intention that this Corps should 
be stretched out toward the Round Tops. 

These dispositions gave to the centre and left, as it 
proved, an inadequate force, owing to the conviction of 
General Meade that the enemy would make his first at- 
tack on Cemetery Hill. But weak as was the left, it was 
still further weakened by an advance made by General 
Sickles in the early afternoon, by which he abandoned 
the line drawn from Cemetery Ridge toward little 
Round Top ; and threw his corps forward to the Em- 
mettsburg road. This was done without notification to 
General Hancock, so that a gap of some hundreds of 
yards appeared between the right of the Third Corps and 
the left of the Second. Moreover, the advance of Gen- 
eral Sickles to the Emmettsburg road, which ran, as stated, 
obliquely across the field toward the enemy's position, 
not only brought the Third Corps into a very advanced 
position, but left its flank " in air," offered to the enemy's 
blows. To remedy this defect General Sickles resorted 
to the next most dangerous device in warfare, namely, 
the formation of an angle, both lines of which were sub- 
ject to an enfilading fire. Extending Humphreys' divis- 
ion and a portion of Birney's along the Emmettsburg 


road to that peach-orchard which was so soon to become 
forever memorable, he " re-fused " the rest of his line, 
comprising the brigades of De Trobriand and Ward, 
forming them on a line drawn from the peach-orchard 
backward, southwesterly, to rest on the Devil's Den, a 
wild rocky gorge, of highly singular formation, which lies 
in front of Little Round Top. 

As this movement of General Sickles led to momen- 
tous consequences, it has become the subject of much 
controversy. General Sickles has recently put forward 
a defence of his action. It is certain that Generals Meade 
Sedgwick, Hancock, Warren, and nearly every other 
ofificer of distinction, deemed this step unjustifiable at 
the time, and disastrous in its results. General Sickles 
alleges that he had not as many troops to hold the left 
as should have been given him. But the smaller Gen- 
eral Sickles' force, the stronger would seem to be the 
reasons against doubling, as he did, the length of the line 
he was to hold. General Sickles further says that the 
Round Tops formed the key of the position at Gettys- 
burg; that General Meade had neglected to occupy them, 
and that his movement was to cover and protect that 
position. But General Sickles did not, in his movement, 
cover either of the Round Tops, his line ceasing at the 
Devil's Den ; so that when the enemy, outflanking Ward 
and De Trobriand, began to swarm up the slopes of Lit- 
tle Round Top, it was not troops of the Third Corps, but 
troops of the Fifth, coming up from the Baltimore pike, 
which they encountered. Again, the commander of the 
Third Corps alleges that the ground he was asked to oc- 
cupy, on the extension of Cemetery Ridge toward Little 
Round Top, was low and untenable, and that the position 
to which he advanced was strong and commanding. It is 
true that for half or three-quarters of a mile the line as- 


signed to General Sickles was not a good one. It will hap- 
pen, in battle, that, in order to hold the best line for the 
whole army, some one body of troops may be required to 
take a position not in itself desirable. The forces which 
disposed the surface of the earth have generally so acted 
as to produce few lines of battle which have not a weak 
point. In occupying a position, an army must take the 
bad with the good, the weak with the strong. The gen- 
eral line from Gulp's Hill, across Cemetery Hill down 
Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, was, on the 
whole, a very strong one. It had one weak point, as de- 
scribed. Here the ground over which ran the Emmetts- 
burg road was preferable ; but General Sickles' attempt 
to piece out one line with the other, and to combine the 
strong points of both, proved futile and disastrous. 

The following map shows the relation of the position 
taken by General Sickles to that which he was intended 
to occupy. 

The morning of July 2d had passed, to the amaze- 
ment of all in the Union ranks, without any aggressive 
movement on the part of General Lee, notwithstanding 
the strong reasons which prompted him to take an early 
initiative. Only one additional brigade, that of Law, 
came up on the Confederate side during this day, while 
on the Union side the Fifth Corps was already close to 
the field of the battle, and the Sixth Corps, toiling pa- 
tiently along on its unbroken march of thirty hours, 
might be expected on the ground before the sun should 
set. Yet hour after hour was allowed to go by without 
a sign of activity among the Confederate forces, as seen 
from our lines. 

At last, just at the moment when General Meade 
learned of the advance of Sickles' command, the divis- 
ions of Hood and McLaws, of Longstreet's corps, began 




their long-meditated attack against the Union left, for it 
was here, and not upon Gulp's or Cemetery Hill, that 
the Confederate commander had determined to deliver 
his blow. Lee's plan was, by extending his line, to out- 
flank that portion of Sickles' force which might be found 
to have been drawn backward from the peach-orchard 
toward Round Top, or else by sheer force to break 
through that line, and thereupon to sweep down the 
Emmettsburg road, taking that portion of Sickles' line 
"on end," and rolling it up until the victorious troops 
should come opposite the Confederate centre, where 
Hill's corps — Anderson's division first, and then Pender's 
— should be thrown forward to join in the accumulating 
assault, either to carry Cemetery Ridge from the south 
and southwest, or to move directly into the Union rear. 
To Hood was intrusted the outflanking or breaking in of 
that portion of the Union line which might be found 
drawn back from the peach-orchard toward Round Top ; 
to McLaws the attack on the angle at the peach-orchard, 
and the movement adown the Emmettsburg road against 
Humphreys' division. 

As Hood, after the long delay involved in getting so 
formidable a force into position, while moving them out 
of sight of the Union signal parties, came against that 
portion of the Union line which was "re-fused," he found 
it in unexpected force. Here were the brigades of De 
Trobriand and Ward ; and though the great length of the 
line to be held had drawn them out perilously thin, well 
did the old division of Kearney acquit itself that day. 
But though the line of De Trobriand and Ward resist- 
ed stubbornly, it could easily be outflanked, since its 
extreme left extended only to the Devil's Den ; and 
soon the brigade of Law and two regiments of Robert- 
son's Texans, parting from the rest of Hood's division, 


the commander of which had already fallen severely 
wounded, passed around the extreme left of Sickles, 
around the Devil's Den, and directed their movement 
against Little Round Top. 

The position of Little Round Top, not less important 
upon the left than Cemetery Hill upon the centre, or 
Gulp's Hill upon the right, had been strangely neglected 
ever since Geary, sent thither by Hancock upon his first 
arrival on the field, had been withdrawn to join the 
Twelfth Corps at Culp's. The vast extension involved 
in Sickles' advance had left no troops available to occupy 
the hill, and thousands of Confederates, fierce and eager, 
were advancing to seize it, while defended solely by a 
signal officer and his two assistants. No, not by these 
alone. One other was there — a slender, graceful young 
officer of engineers, Warren, who had climbed the slope 
to scan the western horizon, where his prescient mind 
had descried the signs of danger. Perceiving the yet 
distant approach of Law's brigade, Warren commands 
the signal officers to continue their work to the last mo- 
ment in order to create the impression that the hill is 
occupied, and, darting northward, seeks some casual 
force that may anticipate the fatal occupation of Little 
Round Top by the enemy. 

It is the head of column of the Fifth Corps which he 
meets, hastening to the support of De Trobriand. He 
takes the responsibility of detaching the foremost troops 
and hurries them forward to anticipate the arrival of the 
Confederate line of battle. There is not a minute to 
spare. The opposing forces meet on the crest ; the con- 
test is close, fierce, and deadly. The rocky slopes and 
narrow, wooded passes resound with infernal clamor. 
Vincent falls at the head of his men. Weed, also, is 
struck down with a mortal wound, and as Hazlitt bends 


over him to catch the last message, he, too, is thrown 
lifeless upon the body of his friend. But our line is now 
complete, and the valor of the men of Maine, Michigan, 
New York and Pennsylvania has made it secure. Well 
did General Abbott say that, but for the wonderful coup 
d'ceil of Warren and his prompt acceptance of responsi- 
bility, the name of Gettysburg might only have been 
known in history as that of the place where the Union 
cause made its grave. 

Although the attempt of Hood to outflank the Union 
left had thus been foiled, his assaults upon the south- 
western face of Sickles' line did not for a moment cease ; 
while McLaws, now coming into action on Hood's left, 
assailed the force holding the peach-orchard. Adown 
both lines which formed that fatal angle the Confeder- 
ate batteries poured their enfilading fire. Sweitzer's and 
Tilton's brigades had already been sent to assist Bir- 
ney's division, and a portion of Humphreys' was brought 
over to support the left. But the hostile forces are too 
powerful. Eleven Confederate batteries have long been 
pounding our troops ; and at last, with a supreme effort, 
Barksdale's Mississippians burst through Graham's feeble 
line, drive out McGilvray's artillery, and pour down into 
the rear of the Union troops. Sweitzer and Tilton are 
overwhelmed and thrown back, and for a time all seems 



But at this moment a powerful reinforcement is ap- 
proaching the field. It is the division which Sumner 
organized in Camp California in the winter of 1861, and 
which Richardson and Hancock had led in action — com- 
manded to-day by Caldwell. 

The scene of the contest is the wheat-field so famous in 
the story of Gettysburg. This, and the woods on the south 
and west, are now full of the exulting enemy. Through 



this space charges the fiery Cross, of the Fifth New Hamp- 
shire, with his well-approved brigade. It is his last battle. 
He, indeed, has said it, as he exchanged greetings with 
Hancock on the way ; but he moves to his death with 
all the splendid enthusiasm he displayed at Fair Oaks, 
Antietam, and Fredericksburg. On his right, Patrick 
Kelly forms the Irish Brigade ; and these two, comrades 

in so many fights, dash across the wheat-field, capturing 
several hundred prisoners, but are received by a withering 
fire from the wall which lines the farther edge, now held 
by Kershaw's South Carolinians, some of the very regi- 
ments which held the stone wall at Marye's Heights in 
December. Cross falls, mortally wounded, with hun- 
dreds of his men ; of the five hundred and thirty Irish- 


men who have entered the wheat-field in those five oft- 
decimated regiments,' more than one-third are killed and 
wounded before the brigade is brought to a stand. On 
the extreme left, Hapgood's Fifth New Hampshire and 
five companies of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
Pennsylvania are on the further side of a stone wall which 
runs up the line of Cross's advance ; and these brave 
troops struggle somewhat farther forward than the rest ; 
but all are at last halted by the weight of fire poured 
upon them. 

And now from the rear approaches Brooke. Reliev- 
ing the regiments of Cross, which fall back to the road — 
all but the regiment and a half on the left — he flings his 
brigade with one mighty effort upon the enemy. He 
will not be denied. On through the wheat-field, in spite 
of all, across the rivulet choked with the dead, into the 
woods, up the rocky slope, clear to the open space beyond, 
into the very sight of the Emmettsburg road, Brooke 
pushes, in his splendid charge, driving Semmes' Georgia 
brigade before him. But impetuous as has been his ad- 
vance, he has not outstripped Zook's brigade, which comes 
up on his right : Zook's brigade no longer, for that in- 
trepid leader has fallen with a mortal wound. Roberts, 
too, of the One Hundred and Fortieth is killed. Brooke 
assumes command of the entire line thus thrust out on 
the extreme verge, far beyond Birney's original position, 
and there anxiously awaits the arrival of reinforcements 
which shall make his flanks secure. But none appear ; 
the enemy are pressing him actively in front and on both 

• The three original regiments of the Irish Brigade, the Sixty- 
third, Sixty-ninth, and Eighty-eighth New York, were here con- 
soUdated as one battalion of six companies ; each regiment as two 


flanks ; his retreat is threatened. Brooke sees that he 
must retire ; at the word his regiments let go their hold 
and fall back. Strieker, on the left, handles the Second 
Delaware with great courage and address, beating back 
the enemy, who seek to cut off the retreat ; while Frazer, 
with the One Hundred and Fortieth, performs a like sol- 
dierly office on the right ; and thus this gallant command 
falls back to the road, having lost one-half its num- 

But the mischief caused by the adoption of the false 
line out on the Emmettsburg road is not yet complete. 
Pressing on in their victorious career, and now reinforced 
by Wofford's Georgians, the Confederates, who, through 
their capture of the peach-orchard, hold the key of the 
position, hurl back Sweitzer's brigade, strike in flank 
Ayres' division of regulars, and, after a brief contest, 
compel that highly disciplined force also to retreat, with 
t,he loss of more than half their numbers. But from 
Little Round Top, now firmly held by the good troops 
which first won it, reinforced by the Pennsylvania Re- 
serves and two brigades of the Sixth Corps, coming in 
from their continuous march of thirty hours, Longstreet 
recoils. The whole space from the peach-orchard to the 
Devil's Den has been fought over again and again. 
Thousands upon thousands have fallen in that bloody 
arena, and Hood's division, victorious here, repulsed 
there, has had fighting enough. 

But the Confederate capture of the peach-orchard had 
not alone affected Birney's division. The enemy's oc- 
cupation of this position, the key of the battle-field, en- 
abled them also, turning to their left, to pass into the 
rear of Humphreys, whose division had been extended 
along the Emmettsburg road, while, at the same time, a 
part of Anderson's division of Hill's corps was thrown 


directly forward against Humphreys' right, and toward 
the wide gap between the Third and Second Corps. 

Thus menaced, Humphreys changed front to rear, to 
meet Barksdale's onset on his left, fighting here a brief 
but desperate battle. So reluctant was he to retreat, so 
, fierce was the hostile advance, that when he reformed his 
division along Plum Run, and turned at bay, one-half his 
men had fallen. Two regiments — the Forty-second New 
York, Colonel Mallon, and the Nineteenth Massachu- 
setts, Lieutenant-Colonel Devereux — which Gibbon rap- 
idly threw forward to assist Humphreys and to cover his 
right flank, were, after a brief contest, driven in with 

The position of the Union left centre had now become 
exceedingly critical. The disaster to Birney had drawn 
to the extreme left the whole Fifth Corps and Caldwell's 
division of the Second, leaving a mile of our line almost 
destitute of troops. Of this interval Humphreys' depleted 
division could fill but a small part. Upon receipt of the 
intelligence of the disaster to the Third Corps, followed 
closely by the news that General Sickles had been des- 
perately wounded. General Meade placed General Han- 
cock in command of that corps, as well as of his own, 
throwing upon him the responsibility of meeting the 
emergency thus created. 

There were troops enough in the Union army, but 
could they be brought up in time to prevent McLaws 
and Anderson from penetrating our line, crossing Plum 
Run, and reaching the Taneytown road ? From the First 
and Twelfth Corps men were already on the march to 
close the breach, but nearer yet was the enemy. With- 
drawing from Hays' division the brigade of Willard, 
General Hancock conducted it in person, and placed it 
in position to cover a portion of the ground over which 


Birney's division had retreated. So sharp was now the 
work that Willard's brigade was almost instantly in the 
thick of the fight ; but, though their commander was 
killed and half the brigade fell, these good troops held 
their own. They even took the aggressive, and in a gal- 
lant charge, in which McDougall's One Hundred and 
Eleventh New York, greatly distinguished itself, forced 
back the Mississippians, while Barksdale himself fell, 
mortally wounded, under their fire. 

But still other points remain to be defended, and the 
expected reinforcements do not arrive. Galloping along 
the line toward the north, Hancock sees a portion of 
Wilcox's brigade breaking into the open, from the cover 
of a clump of bushes. Believing these to be some of his 
own troops driven in from the front, the general rides 
forward to halt and post them, but is undeceived by a 
volley, which brings down his aide. Captain Miller. There 
are no troops, right or left, to be seen ; but, as Hancock 
turns, he beholds a regiment coming from the rear. Dash- 
ing up to the colonel, and pointing to the Confederate 
column he exclaims : " Do you see those colors ? Take 
them ! " Scarcely are the words spoken when the gallant 
First Minnesota, under Colville, spring forward, without 
even waiting to come up into line, and precipitate them- 
selves upon the masses of the enemy. The colonel, lieu- 
tenant-colonel, and major fall, with half a score of ofifi- 
cers ; three-fourths of the regiment are destroyed in the 
impetuous onset, but the invaders are fairly crushed by 
sheer weight and hurled back. Evan Thomas' battery 
(C, Fourth United States) opens a terrific fire at short 
range ; the Second Corps guns, posted on Cemetery 
Ridge, turning their fire to the left, plough up the ranks of 
the Confederates, and McGilvray rapidly forms a powerful 
second line of artillery to defend the Taneytown road. 


Let US now proceed further to the right. The violent 
forcing back of Humphreys' division brought destruction 
upon a detachment under Colonel George H. Ward, of 
the Fifteenth Massachusetts, consisting of his own reg- 
iment and the Eighty-second New York, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Huston, which, when Sickles made his ill-fated 
movement, had, by General Gibbon, been thrown for- 
ward to the Codori house, on the Emmettsburg road, 
with Brown's Rhode Island battery, to partially cover 
the gap caused by the abrupt removal of the right of 
the Third Corps. 

We have said that as McLaws' division swept down on 
Humphreys' exposed left flank, a portion of Anderson's 
division of Hill's corps was also launched forward, ac- 
cording to the general plan of the assault. These troops 
consisted of three brigades of extraordinary gallantry and 
persistency — those of Perry, Wilcox, and Wright. Perry's 
and Wilcox's attacked Humphreys, as we have seen ; 
Wright's, which advanced on Perry's left, came almost 
instantly into collision with Ward's force. A desperate 
resistance was made by the little band, which was far 
overlapped on either flank, and at last compelled to re- 
treat, leaving Colonels Ward and Huston dead upon the 
field, with half their officers and men. Brown's battery 
fell for the moment into the hands of the Confeder- 
ates, who, still further advancing, drove in the One 
Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania, of Webb's brigade. 
Some of the more daring spirits of this brave brigade 
even reached the position held by the Sixty-ninth Penn- 
sylvania. But in vain ; the impulse with which they had 
started out was well-nigh exhausted ; two-thirds of the 
brigade had already fallen in their great charge. The 
brigades of Posey and Mahone, of Anderson's division, 
had failed to start from the Confederate line for their 


support,' and this fact had kept back Pender's entire divi- 
sion, upon Anderson's left ; and so, after a brief but brave 
struggle, the Georgians gave way, and were immediately 
followed up by a countercharge of the Sixty-ninth and 
Seventy-second Pennsylvania, which reached even to 
the Emmettsburg road, and resulted in the recovery of 
Brown's guns and in a considerable capture of prisoners. 
The Nineteenth Maine, Colonel Heath, was also conspic- 
uous in this movement. 

The great crisis of the 2d of July is now passed, for 
up from the right and rear come the expected reinforce- 
ments : Doubleday's division and a portion of Robinson's 
division, of the First Corps ; Williams' division, of the 
Twelfth, and Lockwood's Independent Maryland brigade. 
The brigades of Wheaton and Nevin, of the Sixth Corps, 
arriving from their long march, at the same time come 
into view along the side of Little Round Top, while 
Crawford's Pennsylvanians advance from the extreme left 
of our line. This suffices for Longstreet. His men have 
been fighting with superhuman courage for more than four 
hours of hot, continuous battle, and they may well recoil 
before the strong line of infantry and the powerful bat- 
teries of artillery now posted along Plum Run. 

But hardly had the firing died down on the left when 

' Colonel William E. Potter makes the suggestion that a cause 
for the detention of Posey's brigade, which in turn caused the de- 
tention of Mahone's brigade and of Pender's division, may be found 
in the attack made at 5.30 p.m., by a detachment from Hays' divi- 
sion, upon the Bliss barn, 580 yards from the main line, which had 
been occupied by the enemy's sharpshooters, who were at the hour 
named dislodged by four companies of the Twelfth New Jersey, 
under Captain Samuel B. Jobes. The action was a very gallant one 
on the part of the Jerseymen. Seven Confederate officers and 
ninety-two men were captured. 


a fierce outburst on the right, at Gulp's, and, a little later, 
on Cemetery Hill, told that Ewell was at last " putting in 
his work," so long delayed. One division, that of John- 
son, advancing against the extreme right of the Union 
line, pressed strongly against the v/hole extent of our in- 
trenchments on Gulp's, and at last took possession of a 
portion of Slocum's works, which had been left without 
any troops to defend them, owing to the final and most 
urgent call for reinforcements. Here, in this critical 
position — threatening Meade's communications with Bal- 
timore, and holding, as it were, a gate by which any 
number of Gonfederate troops might, during the night, 
be thrown into the very rear of the Union army — John- 
son was found when darkness came on. 

Meanwhile, Hays' and Avery's brigades, of Early's di- 
vision of Ewell's corps, have been thrown against the 
position on East Gemetery Hill held by the Eleventh 
Gorps. Advancing in splendid order, those formidable 
troops, in spite of an enfilading shower of canister from 
the guns of Whittier's Fifth Maine battery, stationed on 
the edge of Gulp's Hill, push their way up the slope, with 
shouts of triumph ; beat back the small and demoralized 
brigade of Van Gilsa ; drive the Union artillerists from 
their guns, and, for the moment, occupy the crest. Thus 
a new and terrific danger suddenly confronts the Army 
of the Potomac. But troops are already on the march 
to meet it. Promptly on hearing the outburst from 
Gemetery Hill, Hancock, without waiting for any order 
from Meade, or even a request from Howard, putGarroll's 
brigade in motion. 

The work could not have fallen to any body of troops 
better fitted to do it thoroughly and to do it quickly. It 
was the very work which the same brigade, under the 
same impetuous leader, was to be called upon to do, a 


year later, on the afternoon of the second day in the Wil- 
derness, when Longstreet's men, amid the smoke of the 
burning forest, should mount the intrenchments along 
the Brock road. The Eighth Ohio was on skirmish in 
front of the Third Division, and there was no time to re- 
call it ; but, with the Fourth Ohio, Fourteenth Indiana, 
and Seventh West Virginia, Carroll, moving by his 
right, rapidly covered the rear of the captured position, 
and, at the word, threw his brigade upon the troops of 
Hays and Avery. It was a critical moment, for large 
masses from Rodes' and Pender's divisions were simul- 
taneously moving up from the Confederate side to attack 
Cemetery Hill on the west. 

The action was short, sharp, and decisive. Hays and 
Avery were thrown out by Carroll's impetuous attack ; 
and Gordon's brigade, advancing to their support, met 
them retreating down the slope. Thus the Eleventh 
Corps' position was restored, and its guns retaken. 
Early's assault upon the eastern face of Cemetery Hill 
having failed, Rodes' and Pender's, against the western 
face, was abandoned. At General Howard's earnest re- 
quest, Carroll's brigade v/as allowed to remain on that 
part of the line where it had rendered such excellent 


So ended the great second day at Gettysburg. In 
general the prevailing spirit of the army was high and 
martial. At a council of war held soon after nightfall, 
at which all the corps commanders were present, it was 
unanimously resolved to abide the fortune of the coming 
day in the position which the army then occupied. 

The 3d day of July broke in splendor. But before 


the soothing, solemnizing beauty of that delicious land- 
scape was revealed by the first rays of the sun, the clamor 
of human strife broke forth, and rose and swelled to fury 
along the wooded and rocky slopes of Gulp's Hill. The 
troops of the Twelfth Corps, returning from the left, 
had found Johnson's Confederate division in their works 
overlooking the Baltimore road ; and, supported by de- 
tachments from the Sixth Corps, only waited for light 
to advance and drive the intruders out. The contest was 
sharp ; but the nature of the country did not permit of 
rapid and decisive work. Little by little, Johnson, with 
his own division and three brigades that had been sent 
to reinforce him, was compelled to give ground to Ruger, 
Geary, and Shaler, and at last to abandon the position 

While the Twelfth Corps was thus engaged on the ex- 
treme right, General Alexander Hays, finding the ene- 
my's skirmishers again troubling him from the Bliss 
barn, sent forward a detachment from the Twelfth New 
Jersey, which captured the barn, with the Confederate 
skirmish reserve. At a still later hour in the morning, 
the enemy again occupying this position. General Hays 
ordered a detachment from the Fourteenth Connecticut, 
Major Ellis, to take the buildings and burn them to the 
ground. The Fourteenth acquitted itself handsomely, 
losing ten killed and fifty-two wounded. Here was to be 
seen the new division commander, with his staff and his 
flag following him, dashing along the skirmish line, 
inciting his men to renewed activity, in the eye of both 
armies. Such demonstrations, which, with General Hays, 
were of frequent occurrence, were likely to give the im- 
pression that he was a mere hot-headed fighter ; whereas, 
in fact, his extraordinary vivacity in battle was united 
with a soundness of judgment and a firmness of temper 


which made him one of the most useful officers in the 

And now ensued a long and strange silence. Forty-five 
thousand Confederates, and sixty thousand Union sol- 
diers lay within easy sight and short cannon-shot of each 
other, awaiting the orders of their chiefs. Confident that 
neither the military nor the political exigencies which 
pressed upon General Lee would permit him to retire 
from the front of the Potomac army without further 
fighting, General Meade held to his resolution to con- 
duct a purely defensive battle. The losses of the two 
days had been about equal in the two armies, but had 
fallen more severely upon the smaller force with which 
the Confederates had begun the conflict. 

The positions occupied by the two armies had alike 
their advantages and their disadvantages. On the one 
side, Meade's shorter, convex, line gave him the important 
advantage of being able to transmit orders and to trans- 
fer troops from wing to wing with great celerity ; on the 
other side, the long range of hills opposite the Union po- 
sitions afforded space for a greater artillery than could 
be brought into action by the Union commander. Of 
the advantage last indicated. General Lee was, during 
the interval between 10 A.M. and i p.m., preparing to 
make the utmost use. One hundred and thirty-eight 
guns were coming into battery, with a view to a grand 
assault upon the Union centre along Cemetery Ridge. 

One Confederate division remained entire and un- 
breathed. It was justly the most distinguished of that 
splendid army for discipline and valor. This was the 
division of Pickett, comprising the brigades of Garnett, 
Kemper, and Armistead — in all, fifteen Virginia regiments, 
the very flower of Southern chivalry. This division, the 
most distant of all on the morning of the ist of July, had 



not come up in season to take part in the action of either 
day, and was therefore selected to lead the great assault 
projected against the Union centre. Never fell more for- 
lorn duty on braver men. Pickett was to be joined in 
the column of attack by the division of General Heth, 
to-day commanded by Pettigrew. Pender's division, 
which had not been engaged on the previous day, was 
divided — two brigades were in position to protect the left 
flank of the assaulting column ; the other two brigades, 
under the command of Trimble, were to fall in behind 
Pettigrew. Wright's brigade was to follow in the rear 
of Pickett, while Wilcox's and Perry's brigades were to 
advance on Pickett's right to protect that flank. 

The Union troops were arranged with somewhat more 
respect to the integrity of army corps than was possi- 
ble the previous afternoon. Slocum, with the Twelfth 
Corps and Wadsworth's division of the First, held Gulp's 
Hill, wrested from Ewell in the morning ; Howard's 
Eleventh Corps and Robinson's division of the First 
were on Cemetery Hill ; then, running to the left, came 
Hays' division of the Second Corps, then Gibbon's di- 
vision of the same corps, then Doubleday's division of 
the First Corps, which had been thrust into the line in- 
tended for the Second Corps ; then Caldwell's division of 
the Second Corps, returned from its fearful contest in the 
wheat-field ; then the Third Corps, with Birney's divi- 
sion in the front line ; then the Fifth Corps, stretching 
onward to the summit of Round Top. The Sixth Corps 
lay mainly in reserve. 

In his survey of the Union line General Lee had hit 
upon the ground occupied by the Second and Third 
Divisions of the Second Corps as that upon which his 
assault should be directed. It will be necessary, there- 
fore, to describe the nature of this position with some 


fulness. Separating Cemetery Hill, so called, from 
Cemetery Ridge is a small wood, known as Ziegler's 
Grove, in which is posted Battery I of the First Artil- 
lery, under Lieutenant Woodruff. This battery, well ad- 
vanced to the front, holds the right of the Second Corps 
line. It is supported by the One Hundred and Eighth 
New York ; next comes the division of Alexander Hays, 
in two lines, the front line posted behind a low stone 
^vall. Perhaps three hundred and fifty yards from the 
grove the stone wall runs westward (that is, toward the 
enemy), to enclose another and more advanced ridge. 
Here the wall is lower, and is surmounted by a country 
post-and-rail fence. Hays' left is formed of Smyth's bri- 
gade and Arnold's Rhode Island battery ; Webb's brigade 
of Gibbon's division connects v/ith Hays' division at the 
angle ; on his line is posted Cushing's battery (A, Fourth 
United States). Hall's brigade, also of Gibbon's division, 
continues the line southward ; with it is Brown's Rhode 
Island battery. Harrow's brigade, with which is Rorty's 
New York battery, continues Gibbon's line. On his 
front and Hall's the stone wall is replaced by an ordinary 
rail fence, which has been thrown down by the troops 
to gain some slight cover. Still farther to the south, in 
a clump of trees and bushes, lies Stannard's Vermont 
brigade of Doubleday's division. 

The ground thus described was to constitute the scene 
of the approaching collision, but as yet this was known 
only to the Confederate leaders. The great assault was 
to be prepared for by a cannonade, the like of which has 
rarely, if ever, been known upon a field of battle. At 
precisely one o'clock two cannon-shot, in quick succes- 
sion, gave the signal, and instantly the Confederate posi- 
tion was, for three miles, wrapped in flame and smoke. 
Nearly one hundred and forty guns opened at once on 



the Union lines. The air shrieked with flying shot, the 
bursting shells sent their deadly fragments down in 
showers upon the rocky ridge and over the plain behind ; 
the earth was thrown up in clouds of dust as the mon- 
strous missiles buried themselves in the ground, or 
glanced from the surface to take a new and, perchance, 
more fatal flight ; on every hand caissons exploded, 
struck by iron balls which but a half-minute before had 
lain in the limber-chests of batteries a mile away. All 
that is hideous in war seemed to have gathered itself to- 
gether, to burst in one fell tornado upon Cemetery Ridge. 

The effects of this unparalleled cannonade, as seen by 
the staff galloping along the line, were, on one side, very 
great, on the other, comparatively slight. The plain 
behind the ridge was almost immediately swept of all 
camp followers and the unordered attendants of an army. 
Headquarters and ammunition wagons went to the rear 
with prodigious zeal ; a body of stragglers and men cas- 
ually absent from their regiments poured down the 
Baltimore road to the rear ; even General Meade's head- 
quarters were broken up by the intolerable bombard- 
ment, and the non-combatants sought safety in flight, 
while the commander and staff mounted their horses in 
haste and sought safety nearer the line of battle. On 
the contrary, looking to the front, one saw only thin 
lines of infantry crouching behind the stone walls or 
clinging prone to the ground, the musket clutched tightly 
in each soldier's hand as he waited for the great charge 
which he well knew was to follow. 

The main fury of the cannonade fell, of course, upon 
the batteries of the Second Corps, occupying the ground 
which Longstreet's columns were even now forming to 
assault ; and well did those gallant officers and men 
stand in their place, and make answer that day for their 


cause. The volunteer batteries of Arnold, Brown, and 
Rorty vied with the splendid regular batteries of Wood- 
ruff and Gushing in cool bearing and scientific precision 
of fire. Out of those five batteries were killed two hun- 
dred and fifty horses, and men fell by scores at the 
guns or bringing ammunition up through a literal storm 
of shot and shell. But not a cannoneer left his post. 
There was no flurry and no fuss. Monotonous dis- 
charges followed the command, " Number one, fire ! " 
" Number two, fire ! " as regularly as if the battery were 
saluting an inspecting officer. From the left, McGilvray's 
forty-four guns, with Hazlitt's rifles far away down on 
Little Round Top ; and from the right, on Cemetery 
Hill, Osborne's batteries gave a loyal support to the 
over-weighted artillery of the Second Corps. 

The cannonade has lasted an hour and a quarter, and 
the ammunition of the artillery is getting low. Brown's 
battery, which had suffered severely on the previous day, 
is ordered from the field, and Cowan's New York battery 
takes its place. The other batteries are directed to cease 
firing, that they may be ready for the infantry charge 
soon to follow. From right to left our fire dies down, 
which the Confederates interpret to mean that our guns 
have been silenced by their greater weight of metal ; and, 
for a few minutes, they lash our lines with redoubled 

And now, in the edge of the woods, the column of at- 
tack is seen forming. There stand the Confederate chiefs, 
grim and resolute for their great emprise. Well they un- 
derstand the desperate hazard of the struggle to which 
they are called ; Longstreet, to whom has been assigned 
the conduct of the day, hesitates. He has to be reminded 
more than once that precious minutes are passing. At 
last the die is cast, the word given, and the splendid col- 


umn, fourteen thousand strong, is launched against the 
Union Hne. 

Of Pickett's division, Garnett and Kemper are in the 
first line, Armistead in support. On Pickett's left is the 
division of Pettigrew. The advancing line offers a tempt- 
ing mark to the artillerists on the Union centre and left ; 
but, with an hour and a half of such work behind them, 
and with what is plainly before them in the next half- 
hour, it behooves our men to husband their strength and 
their ammunition. And so, for hundreds of yards, this 
column moves, in full view, almost unmolested, on its 
hostile errand.' The Second Corps batteries have a 
special reason for being silent. They have nothing but 
canister remaining, and must await close quarters. But 
now the brigades of Pickett, making a half-wheel to the 
left, in order to bring themselves directly face to face 
with Hancock, expose their right flanks to McGilvray's 
and Hazlitt's guns, while Osborne's batteries, from Ceme- 
tery Hill, open on Pettigrew's division. Undaunted by 
the sudden and tremendous outburst, Longstreet's men 

' Among the most remarkable features of this famous assault was 
the conduct of the Eighth Ohio. This regiment, under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Franklin Sawyer, had been for nearly twenty-four hours 
on skirmish in front of Hays' division, across the Emmettsburg road. 
When the great charge took place, instead of retiring to the di- 
vision line, Colonel Sawyer collected his regiment at a point just 
far enough outside the path of Pettigrew's advance to escape the 
Confederate column. After Pettigrew's repulse, Colonel Sawyer 
again threw forward his men as skirmishers, and gathered in a 
large number of prisoners, with three colors. So audacious was the 
action of this regiment as to give rise to an absurd report among 
those who witnessed it, but did not know the Eighth Ohio, that its 
commander was intoxicated. Those who did know the Eighth Ohio, 
however, were well aware that this was the very sort of thing which 
it was most likely to do in such a case. 




rush forward, over fields and fences, without wavering or 
staying in their course. But Wilcox, who should have been 
on their right, has failed ' to move in time, exposing thus 
the flank of the main column. And now the moment of 
collision is approaching. Pickett's division and a portion 
of Pettigrew's are directly in front of the position occu- 
pied by Gibbon's (Second) division of the Second Corps. 
The main body of Pettigrew's division is equally close to 
Hays' (Third) division of the Second Corps. Behind 
Pickett are the brigades of Lane and Scales. 

Up the slope the Confederates rush with magnificent 
courage. At two or three hundred yards the Union in- 
fantry opens its deadly fire, but still the assailants push 
forward, undaunted, though Garnett falls dead in the van. 
And here appears the first serious consequence of Wilcox's 
failure to come up on the right. This has left open 
Pickett's flank on that side, and Hancock, easily the best 
tactician of the Potomac army, and always on the front 
line of battle, eagle-eyed, sees and seizes his opportunity. 
Galloping to Stannard's brigade, he directs him to move 
his regiments to the front and attack the flank of the 
assaulting force. And now the collision — for which these 
thousands of Confederates have crossed the bloody plain, 
and for which those soldiers of the Union have waited, 
through all that anxious time — ^comes with a crash and 
clamor that might well appall the stoutest heart. Upon 
the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Pennsylvania, of Webb's 
brigade, posted on the low stone wall, falls the full force 
of Longstreet's mighty blow. 

' General Wilcox claims to have exactly executed the orders he 
received. Certainly no one w^ho had had occasion to know Gen- 
eral Wilcox's enterprise and audacity, on a score of battle-fields, 
could possibly doubt his willingness to do whatever might be re- 
quired of him. 


Like leaves in autumn gales the Philadelphians drop 
along the line. Now the position of the Seventy-first 
is carried, and the right of the Sixty-ninth is thrown 
over upon its centre ; now the Confederate flags wave 
over the stone wall ; the men of Kemper and Armistead, 
of Garnett and Archer, pour in through the gap, led by 
Armistead in person, and beat down Cushing's gunners 
over their pieces. The gallant and accomplished young 
commander of the battery gives one last shot for honor 
and for country, and falls dead among his men. For the 
moment that great and long-prepared charge is suc- 
cessful. Meade's line is broken. In the very centre of 
the Union position, crowning Cemetery Ridge, wave the 
flags of Virginia and the Confederacy. 

Meanwhile Pettigrew's brigades are engaged at close 
range with Hays' division. Deployed at fifty to two 
hundred yards, they maintain an unavailing fusilade, 
which is responded to with fearful effect by the cool and 
hardy troops of Hays. The regiments of Smyth's bri- 
gade, now commanded by Colonel Pierce, of the One 
Hundred and Eighth New York, for Smyth has been 
wounded in the cannonade, bear themselves with a gal- 
lantry that cannot be surpassed. The Twelfth New 
Jersey, First Delaware, and Fourteenth Connecticut, on 
Smyth's left, pour in a deadly fire, before which the Con- 
federate line curls and withers like leaves in the flame. 
While Pettigrew is thus engaged, Lane and Scales, 
of Pender's division, moving rapidly up from Pickett's 
rear, thrust themselves into the fight, finding a place 
where they can, among the fighting brigades. Wright, 
Thomas, and McGowan advance nearer the scene of con- 
flict, to cover the retreat or to crown the victory. And 
so, for an awful quarter of an hour, the two lines stand 
confronting each other, here two hundred yards apart. 


there but forty, pouring upon each other a close and 
unremitting fire. 

Let us now pass in thought to a point behind the 
Union line, shaken by this most gallant assault, and see 
what is doing there in that moment of suspense. When 
the Seventy-first Pennsylvania was forced back, and 
Cushing's guns had fallen into the hands of the exultant 
enemy, no panic seized the veteran troops of the Second 
Corps, which, from the rear and from the flank, beheld 
the Confederate flags waving on the stone wall. With 
one spontaneous impulse officers and men bend them- 
selves toward the point of danger. Gibbon has already 
fallen, severely wounded. The gallant Webb rallies the 
Seventy-first Pennsylvania, and forms it on his remain- 
ing regiment, the Seventy-second. Hall, whose brigade 
lies on Webb's left, moves a portion of his command 
promptly to attack the enemy's column in flank, while 
Harrow, of the First Brigade, throws his veteran regi- 
ments forward to help restore the line. So eager are the 
troops to join in the fray that men break from the ranks 
and rush toward the point where the head of the Confed- 
erate column, giving and taking death at every blow, still 
lies within the Union lines, incapable of making further 
progress, and fast being walled in by a force against which 
it may not long contend. It is a moment for personal 
example, and personal examples are not wanting. Hunt, 
chief of artillery, rides along the line and fires barrel after 
barrel of his revolver into the faces of the enemy; while 
two young officers, bravest of the brave. Major Mitchell, 
of Hancock's staff, and Lieutenant Haskell, of Gibbon's, 
ride mounted through an interval between the Union 
battalions, and call upon the troops to go forward. 

It must be evident, even to one who knows nothing 
of war, that such a strain as this could not be loner con- 


tinued. Something must give way under such a press- 
ure. If one side will not, the other must ; if not at one 
point, then at another. The Union infantry has come 
up somewhat tumultuously, it is true, but courageously, 
nay, enthusiastically, and has formed around the head 
of Longstreet's column four ranks deep. Armistead is 
down. Every field-ofificer in Pickett's division, except 
Pickett and one lieutenant-colonel, has fallen. 

The time has come to advance the standards of the 
Second Corps. With loud cries and a sudden forward 
surge, in which every semblance of formation is lost, the 
Union troops move upon the now faltering foe. One 
moment more and all is over. The most of the surviv- 
ing Confederates throw themselves on the ground ; others 
seek to escape capture, and retreat hurriedly down the 
hill and across the plain, which is once more shrieking 
with the fire of the artillery, now reinforced by Weir's, 
Wheeler's, Kinzie's, and other batteries. 

Then did the Second Corps go forward, "gathering 
up battle-flags in sheaves," and gathering in prisoners by 
thousands. Thirty-three standards and four thousand 
prisoners are the fruits of that victory. And so Fred- 
ericksburg is avenged ! Yet not without fearful losses. 
Hancock has fallen, desperately wounded, in the moment 
of victory. Gibbon and Webb are also wounded ; while 
in the Second Division, on which fell the utmost weight 
of the great assault, five battalion commanders have been 
killed. Scarcely any regimental field-officers remain un- 
wounded. The corps artillery, too, has suffered an ex- 
traordinary severity of punishment. Cushing is dead, 
and Woodruff and Rorty ; Brown is wounded ; Arnold 
alone remains at the head of his battery. 

Only a few minutes after the repulse of Longstrect had 
been made complete and hopeless, Wilcox, with his 


Alabama brigade, being late in starting and having lost 
his direction on Pickett's right, came up against McGil- 
vray's artillery and the infantry of the First Corps. His 
attack was gallantly made ; but his one or two thousand 
men could, of course, accomplish nothing at that place, 
in that time, and he was easily thrown off, with great 
loss. Even while Longstreet's charge was in progress, 
Gregg's division of cavalry, with Custer's Michigan bri- 
gade, was fiercely contesting the attempt of Stuart— who, 
only the evening before, had brought back his jaded 
cavalry from their long and fruitless raid — to carry the 
Baltimore road, far around on the Union right, with a 
view to cutting off Meade's retreat should the infantry 
attack be successful. The action was long and desper- 
ate, resulting in the repulse of the Confederates. Later 
in the afternoon another engagement occurred, out on 
the Union left, between our own and the Confederate 
cavalry, in which the brave Farnsworth fell at the head 
of the First Vermont. 

Although Hancock had been wounded he did not re- 
linquish command until all was over. Raising himself 
on his elbow, he looked over the tumble-down stone 
wall, on the line of Stannard's Vermont brigade, behind 
which he had fallen, and directed the progress of the 
fight ; then dictated a despatch to General Meade, an- 
nouncing the Confederate repulse, and expressing the 
opinion that, if the Third and Sixth Corps could be 
thrown forward, the enemy's defeat would be decisive 
and total ; then, feeling himself grow faint with loss of 
blood, he sent a message to General Caldwell, request- 
ing him to assume charge of the corps. It seemed best 
to General Meade, however, to disturb the natural suc- 
cession according to rank, and by an order, of that even- 
ing, General Caldwell was superseded by General Will- 


iam Hays, whom we saw commanding a brigade of 
French's (Third) division of the Second Corps at Chan- 
cellorsville, where he was captured. This was but one of 
many instances, during those momentous days, in which 
the new commander of the Potomac army exercised the 
exceptional power conferred upon him by the President. 

Such, to the Second Corps, was the battle of Gettys- 
burg. The corps had taken into fight fewer than ten 
thousand men. It had lost 4,350, of whom 349 were 
commissioned ofificers. Of the total loss only 368 were 
among the missing. The corps had captured, on the 
second and third days, 4,500 prisoners. Gibbon's divi- 
sion had lost 1,634; Caldwell's, 1,269; Hays', 1,291; 
the artillery brigade, 149 ; the headquarters cavalry squad- 
ron, 4 ; the corps staff, 3. 

The brigades which had suffered most were the First 
Brigade (Harrow), Second Division, 764 ; the Third 
Brigade (Willard) of the Third Division, 714; the Sec- 
ond Brigade (Webb) of the Second Division, 482 ; the 
First, Third, and Fourth Brigades of the First Division, 
the Third Brigade of the Second Division, and the 
Second Brigade of the Third Division suffered about 
equally, their several losses ranging from 330 to 383. 

The ofificers killed or mortally wounded were : 

General Samuel K. Zook, Colonel Edward E. Cross, 
and Lieutenant Ruel G. Austin, Fifth New Hampshire. 

Colonel Richard P. Roberts, Captain David Acheson, 
and Lieutenant Alexander M. Wilson, One Hundred 
and Fortieth Pennsylvania. 

Colonel George L. Willard and Captain Ephraim 
Wood, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth New York. 


Colonel Eliakim Sherrill, Captains Isaac Skinner, 
Orin J. Herendeen, and Charles M. Wheeler, and 
Lieutenants Abram Hunton, Jacob Sherman, and Ru- 
fus P. Holmes, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New 

Colonel Paul J. Revere, Major H. L. Patten (Brevet 
Brigadier-General), Lieutenants Hemy Ropes" and Sum- 
ner Paine, Twentieth Massachusetts. 

Colonel Dennis O'Kane, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin 
Tschudy, Captains Michael Duffy and George C. Thomp- 
son, and Lieutenant Charles F. Kelly, Sixty-ninth Penn- 

Colonel George H. Ward, Captains John Murkland 
and Hans P. Jorgensen, and Lieutenant Elisha G. Buss, 
Fifteenth Massachusetts. 

' I cannot forbear quoting the tribute paid to this young officer by 
Major Henry L. Abbott, commanding the Twentieth Massachusetts. 
It is not only interesting as a study of soldierly character, but it is 
of peculiar value as coming from one who, perhaps, at the time of 
his own early death from wounds received in the Wilderness, had 
not his superior among the officers of his own years. 

" His conduct in this action, as in all previous ones, was per- 
fectly brave, but not with the bravery of excitement that nerves 
common men. He was in battle absolutely cool and collected, 
apparently unconscious of the existence of such a feeling as per- 
sonal danger, the slight impetuosity and excitability natural to 
him at ordinary times being sobered down into the utmost self- 
possession, giving him an eye that noticed every circumstance, no 
matter how thick the shot and shell, a judgment that suggested 
in every case the proper measures, and a decision that made the 
application instantaneous. It is impossible for me to conceive 
of a man more perfectly master of himself; more completely 
noting or remembering every circumstance in times when the 
ordinary brave man sees nothing but a tumult, and remembers, 
after it is over, nothing but a whirl of events which he is unable to 


Lieutenant-Colonel Amos E. Steele, Jr., and Lieutenant 
Albert Slafter, Seventh Michigan. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Max A. Thoman and Lieutenant 
William H. Pohlman, Fifty-ninth New York. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry C. Merwin and Lieutenant 
Jedediah Chapman, Jr., Twenty-seventh Connecticut, 

Lieutenant-Colonel James Huston, Captain Jonah C. 
Hoyt, and Lieutenants John Cranston and John H. 
McDonald, Eighty-second New York. 

Major Edward Venuti, Fifty-second New York. 

Captains John P. Blinn (Assistant Adjutant-General) 
and J. McK. Rorty, First New York Artillery. 

Captains George H. Ince and Elijah H. Munn, Sixty- 
sixth New York. 

Captain George D. Smith and Lieutenant Leroy S. 
Scott, Nineteenth Maine. 

Captains John M. Stcphan and William H. Dull, 
Seventy-first Pennsylvania. 

Captains Louis Muller, N. S. Messick, Wilson B. 
Farrell, and Joseph Perrian, and Lieutenants David B. 
Dcmarcst, Waldo Farrar, and Charles H. Mason, First 

Captain Andrew McBride, and Lieutenants James L 
Grif^th and Sutton Jones, Seventy-second Pennsylvania. 

Captains Henry V. Fuller and Alfred H. Lewis, and 
Lieutenants Willis G. Babcock and Ira S. Thurber, 
Sixty-fourth New York. 

Captain George G. Griswold, and Lieutenants Hora- 
tio F. Lewis and George PL Finch, One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania. 

Captain M. W, B. Elligood and Lieutenant William 
Smith, First Delaware. 

Captain Robert INL Forster and Lieutenant John A. 
Bayard, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania. 


Captain Charles K. Horsfall and Lieutenant Richard 
Townsend, Twelfth New Jersey. 

Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, Fourth United States 

Lieutenant George A. Woodruff, First United States 

Lieutenants John H. Drake, Augustus W. Proses, 
and Erastus M. Granger, One Hundred and Eleventh 
New York. 

Lieutenants Herman Donath and Sherman S. Robin- 
son, Nineteenth Massachusetts. 

Lieutenant Elijah Hayden, Eighth Ohio. 

Lieutenants Ferdinand M. Pleis (Adjutant) and Will- 
iam H. Smith, One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenants Hammill W. Ottey and George G. Plank, 
Second Delaware. 

Lieutenants Addison H. Edgar and Samuel J. Shoub, 
Fourth Ohio. 

Lieutenants Theodor Paush and Adolph Wagner, 
Thirty-ninth New York. 

Lieutenant Franklin K. Garland, Sixty -first New 

Lieutenant William McClelland (Adjutant), Eighty- 
eighth New York. 

Lieutenants Carl V. Amiet, Robert Evans, and Day- 
ton T. Card, One Hundred and Eighth New York. 

Lieutenant Joseph S. Milne, First Rhode Island Ar- 

This list embraces 91 officers. The original reports 
of " killed in action " embraced d'] officers, the differ- 
ence representing those who subsequently died of their 
wounds, being an addition of about one-third to the 
original number of those killed, out of 269 officers re- 
ported as wounded. That is, somewhat fewer than one- 


tenth of the officers reported wounded subsequently 
died of their wounds. The proportion of officers to men 
in the lists of killed and wounded is very great, being 
as follows : Officers : killed, 61 ; wounded, 269, En- 
listed men: killed, 729; wounded, 2,917. 

Among the officers of rank wounded were Generals 
Hancock and Gibbon, both severely; Colonels Brooke and 
Smyth, commanding brigades (the former officer, however, 
remained on duty) ; Colonel Morris and Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Hammill, Sixty-sixth New York ; Colonel Baxter, 
Seventy-second Pennsylvania ; Colonel McDougall, One 
Hundred and Eleventh New York ; Colonel Brown, One 
Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania; Colonel Bingham, 
Sixty-fourth New York ; Colonel Colville, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Adams, and Major Downie, First Minnesota ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Bentley, Sixty-third New York ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Freudenberg, Fifty-second 
New York ; Lieutenant-Colonel Macy, Twentieth Massa- 
chusetts; Lieutenant-Colonel Wass and Major Rice, 
Nineteenth Massachusetts ; Major Hildebrandt, Thirty- 
ninth New York. 



It would add nothing to the interest of this history to 
discuss the question whether General Meade should, on 
the repulse of Longstreet's charge, have assumed the ag- 
gressive, advancing upon the Confederate position with 
the comparatively fresh Sixth and Twelfth Corps, with 
such supports as might have been drawn from those troops 
which had borne the stress of the great battle. Much 
has been said on that side ; much in defence of General 
Meade's actual policy of contenting himself with the 
results already won, and putting nothing to hazard. 
Certain it is that the backbone of the Confederacy was 
broken on the field of Gettysburg ; and from that day 
the Southern cause went steadily backward. 

Darkness fell while the troops were momentarily ex- 
pecting the order to advance. Toward morning came 
on a terrible storm, one of those instances which seem to 
establish a connection between battles and rainfall. In 
this instance, at any rate, the downpour was in propor- 
tion to the violence of the preceding cannonade. The sol- 
diers were drenched in an instant ; and sudden torrents 
swept over the hills, as if to wash out the stains of the 
great battle. One of the Second Corps hospitals, around 
which had been collected hundreds of the Confeder- 
ate wounded, was flooded ; and some of the helpless 
prisoners were actually in danger of drowning where 


they lay, but were with great haste dragged or carried to 
higher ground. "Our men," says General Morgan, "as 
always, according to my observation, were full of kind- 
ness for the wounded, and I saw them sharing with 
the prisoners at the hospital their coffee and crackers. 
Lying on the ground here, in the rain, smoking a little 
old pipe, with an expression of satisfaction and content 
quite observable, I saw Colonel Fiy, of the Thirteenth 
Alabama, formerly an officer of our army. On inquiring 
whether he was wounded, the colonel showed me a com- 
pound fracture of the thigh-bone. I went away, pretty 
certain that a man who could, with such a desperate 
Avound, lie all night in a rain so heavy as to cover the 
ground where he lay some inches with water, and then 
smoke his pipe with apparently so serene a satisfaction 
in the morning, was not going to give up the ghost yet, 
and was not surprised afterward to hear of the colonel's 

" On the morning of the 4th," continues Morgan, " the 
field of battle presented a curious sight. Parties were 
gathering up the arms abandoned by the enemy and 
sticking the bayonets in the ground, so that there were 
acres of muskets standing as thick as trees in a nursery." 
It was safe at that time planting muskets in front of the 
Army of the Potomac; for, although Lee's army was still 
in position, within easy cannon range, he was glad enough 
to remain undisturbed while his trains and wounded and 
prisoners were gaining distance on that retreat which had 
become inevitable. The invasion foiled, his ammunition 
well-nigh spent, with twenty-five thousand gone out of 
the force with which he had crossed the Potomac, with 
but two brigades that had not been engaged, it was im- 
perative upon the Confederate commander to withdraw 
through the passes of the South Mountain and make his 


way back into Virginia. Yet, as he stood at bay behind 
Antietam Creek, all through the 1 8th of September, 1 862, 
in order to make his retreat orderly, and to save his ar- 
tillery and trains ; so, on the 4th of July, 1863, he main- 
tained a firm front, behind fortifications, upon Seminary 
Ridge, though withdrawing the wing which had menaced 
Gulp's and Cemetery Hills, leaving the town of Gettys- 
burg to be reoccupied by the Eleventh Corps. On the 
night of the 4th Lee abandoned his camps, and com- 
menced his retreat by the Fairfield route. The point at 
which he aimed to cross the Potomac was Falling Waters, 
three or four miles below Williamsport. Here he had 
left a pontoon bridge as he moved to the invasion of 
Pennsylvania. How that bridge was destroyed by a de- 
tachment from French's command, at Frederick, on the 
very afternoon of the great charge ; how Lee, arriving in 
retreat, found this resource cut away, while the river, 
rising rapidly from the recent rains, submerged the fords 
above and below, compelling the Confederate army to 
make another stand, with its back to the swollen river ; 
how, even in spite of many delays and slow movements, 
Meade found himself, on the 12th of July, in front of 
Lee's forces, which were drawn up in a semicircle cover- 
ing Williamsport, at bay before the victors of Gettysburg 
— these events do not greatly concern the history of the 
Second Corps. 

That body of troops, Brigadier-General William Hays 
temporarily assigned to the command, remained through 
the 4th upon the ridge they had so well defended ; moved 
on the evening of the 5th to Two Taverns, on the Balti- 
more pike, where they passed the 6th ; on the day follow- 
ing, the 7th, they moved to Taneytown ; on the 8th, to 
Frederick City ; on the 9th, to Rohrersville ; and on 
the loth, to Tighlmanton. From the last-mentioned 


camp the corps made a short march, on the i ith, and took 
position upon the left of the Fifth Army Corps, once 
more confronting the enemy. During the 12th slight 
changes of position were made, with reference to the 
anticipated assault upon Lee's army, which was at bay 
around Williamsport, the swollen Potomac behind it. 

It is the loss of the 13th of July which has caused the 
severest criticism of General Meade. General Hum- 
phreys, in his work, " Gettysburg to the Rapidan," de- 
clares that Lee's intrenchments at Williamsport were not 
less formidable than those he occupied at Marye's Heights. 
Whatever one may conjecture as to the issue of an attack 
upon the army at Williamsport, the assault was, in fact, 
not delivered. When, in the early morning of the 14th, 
a reconnoissance was made, in force, from the front of 
each corps, it was found that the enemy had escaped into 
Virginia, the river having fallen sufficiently to permit their 
crossing, though still with extreme difficulty. 

General Morgan, in his narrative, declares that the Sec- 
ond Corps headquarters were greatly relieved to find 
the enemy gone : " I say ' to our relief,' because a care- 
ful examination had made it apparent that we could not 
cross the stream in our front, in line of battle, without 
breaking all to pieces, and it was too near the enemy's 
line to cross and reform. Caldwell's division," continues 
General Morgan, " moved out from the Second Corps, 
and followed the cavalry in pursuit nearly to the bridge 
at Falling Waters. A cleaner retreat was perhaps never 
made, I saw some abandoned muskets, a few old shoes 
stuck in the mud, two pieces of artillery and one or two 
ambulances, also stalled in the road. Several hundred 
prisoners were picked up in the woods and barns." 

The " pursuit " of Lee was at an end. Whatever fur- 
ther might be done against the Confederate army must 



constitute a new campaign, for the invasion was over and 
the Confederate army was safely back in Virginia. All 
occasion for haste ceased with the recrossing of the Po- 
tomac ; and the Union forces moved, during the follow- 
ing days, at a more leisurely pace, the Second Corps go- 
ing into camp, on the 15th, near Sandy Hook (Harper's 
Ferry), where it remained through the i6th and 17th. 
On the 1 8th the corps crossed the river and moved to 
Hillsboro' ; on the 19th the march was continued to 
Woodgrove ; on the 20th, to Bloomfield, where the troops 
rested through the 21st. On the 22d the march was 
resumed, the corps reaching Paris that day, Linden on 
the 23d, Markham Station on the 24th, White Plains 
on the 25th. At Germantown, which was covered by 
the march of the 26th, the corps rested through the 
three following days, moving on the 30th to Elk Run, 
and on the 31st to Morrisville, where a long halt was 
destined to be made. The Army of the Potomac was 
now back again upon the Rappahannock ; and here op- 
portunity was to be offered for refitting and recruiting, 
after the terrible losses, both of men and of material, which 
had been sustained. 

The following table shows the numbers of the Second 
Corps, according to the several monthly returns, from 
January to July, inclusive. 


On extra 

or daily 



sick or 


in arrest 





January 31st . 


IS. 849 


1. 431 







29, 167 

February 28th 

April 30th 

May 31st 

June 30th 


Here we see the great reduction between January and 
July, 1863, partly from the losses by wounds and disease, 
but more through the expiry of the terms of enlistment of 
the two-years regiments raised in New York, and of the 
nine-months regiments common to all the States. In 
spite of the accession of General Alexander Hays' bri- 
gade, which joined on the march to Gettysburg, the ag- 
gregate of the corps, present and absent, fell from 32,529, 
at the close of January, to 20,104, ^^ the close of July. 

The two-years regiments lost to the Second Corps were 
the Fourth, Seventh, and Thirty-fourth New York, while 
the numbers of the Tenth New York were so much di- 
minished that it was reduced to a battalion of six com- 

The nine-months regiments which had been lost to 
the corps were the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh, 
One Hundred and Thirtieth, One Hundred and Thirty- 
second Pennsylvania; the Twenty-fourth and Twenty- 
eighth New Jersey, and the Twenty-seventh Connecticut. 
Of these the last only had taken part in the battle of 
Gettysburg, with such numbers as were left to it after 
its great disaster at Chancellorsville, already mentioned. 
Still one other source of loss remains to be mentioned. 
The Fifth New Hampshire, which had performed prodi- 
gies of valor at Fair Oaks, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, 
and which had passed through the battle of Gettysburg 
Avith the loss of nearly one-half its remaining members, 
including the heroic Colonel Cross, was in July detached 
from the corps and sent back to New Hampshire, to be 
recruited. It was to return during the great campaign of 
1864, to render such service as should round out its noble 
record, and place it highest of all upon the list of infantry 
regiments suffering the greatest losses in battle during 
the war for the Union, in all the armies, East or West. 



The following table shows the foregoing figures re- 
duced to percentage : 

Present On extra 
for or daily 

duty. duty. 


January 31st 49.51 

February 28th . . . 51.26 

March 31st 58.25 

April 30th 62 57 

Present for p^^^^„^ 
duty or on 

extra or 
daily duty 

May 31st 
June 30th 
July 31st . 


5-77 I 





3 86 



5- 64 

Total i . 

pres- Absent, ^^gre- 

60.92 39.08 
65-36 34 64 

67.01 32 
64-86 35 
44-48 55 


This table shows the effects of battle more strikingly 
than the former. In the first column we have the 
" Present for duty," depressed at the end of January 
below fifty per cent., by reason of the terrible losses at 
Marye's Heights, rising by the end of April to 62.57, i" 
consequence of the return of wounded men from hospi- 
tal, to fall to 38.21 after the battle of Gettysburg. 

But to deaths from wounds and disease, and to dis- 
charges for disability or expiry of enlistment, was now to 
be added a new cause for weakening the Second Corps. 
In consequence of the riotous resistance to the conscrip- 
tion act in New York City, Colonel S. S. Carroll, com- 
manding First Brigade, Third Division, was in July 
ordered to the East, with the Fourth and Eighth Ohio 
and Fourteenth Indiana. From the Second Division 
those excellent regiments, the First INIinnesota and the 
Seventh Michigan, were also despatched on this duty. 
Unfortunately, the ruffians who had burned orphan 
asylums, pillaged defenceless houses, murdered stray 
militia men, and filled the days and nights with terror, 
could not pluck up courage enough to try conclusions 
with these veteran regiments from the front. Certain it 



is, the "boys in blue" would have liked nothing better 
than an opportunity to strike at the scoundrels who had 
sought to stab the nation in the back ; and had they 
struck, it would have been for the admonition of traitors 
to the end of time. 

During the earlier part of August, as during all of 
July that followed Longstreet's charge against Cemetery 
Ridge, Brigadier-General William Hays remained in 
command of the corps. On the 12th of August General 
G. K. Warren, who had, on the 8th of the month, been 
appointed a Major-General of Volunteers, in recognition 
of his eminent services at Gettysburg, was assigned to 
the command while General Hancock should remain ab- 
sent. General Warren was graduated from West Point 
in 1850, and became a brevet Second Lieutenant in the 
Topographical Engineers. Until the breaking out of the 
Rebellion he had been engaged in extensive and varied 
services, mainly of a scientific nature, on the Upper and 
the Lower Mississippi, in the Pacific Railroad exploration, 
in the Sioux expedition of 1855, in reconnoissances in 
the great new Northwest, and between 1859-61 as Assist- 
ant Professor of Mathematics at the Military Academy. 
On the outbreak of the war he became Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the Fifth New York (Duryea Zouaves), and 
was engaged at Big Bethel ; at Hanover Court-House, 
(here and afterward commanding brigade) ; at Gaines' 
Mill, where he was wounded ; at Malvern Hill (both on 
the 30th of June and the ist of July), and at Manassas, 
where his splendid conduct commanded universal admira- 
tion. General Warren remained in command of his bri- 
gade during the Antietam and Fredericksburg campaigns. 
In February he became chief topographical officer of the 
Army of the Potomac, and as such served on the staff of 
Burnside, of Hooker at Chancellorsville, and of Meade at 


Gettysburg. Of his services in the last-named battle we 
have already spoken. General Warren was cordially wel- 
comed to the Second Corps. 

The following was the organization of the corps, as ap- 
pears by the monthly return for August 31st : 

Artillery brigade, Captain JOHN G. Hazard, First 
Rhode Island Artillery, commanding: Batteries A and 
B, First Rhode Island ; Batteries F and G, First Penn- 
sylvania ; Battery I, First United States ; Battery G, 
First New York. Battery H, First Ohio, was also at- 
tached temporarily, but was not carried into the strength 
of the command. 

First Division, Brigadier-General JOHN C. Caldwell, 
commanding. First Brigade, Colonel Nelson A. Miles : 
Sixty-first New York ; Eighty-first and One Hundred 
and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania. Second Brigade, Col- 
onel Patrick Kelly : Sixty-third (battalion), Sixty-ninth 
(battalion), and Eighty-eighth (battalion) New York ; 
One Hundred and Sixteenth (battalion) Pennsylvania ; 
Twenty-eighth Massachusetts. Third Brigade, Colonel 
Paul Frank : Fifty-second, Fifty-seventh, and Sixty-sixth 
New York; One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania. 
Fourth Brigade, Colonel James A. Beaver : Fifty-third 
and One Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania ; Second 
Delaware ; Sixty-fourth New York — twelve regiments 
and four battalions. 

Second Division, Brigadier-General WiLLlAM Har- 
row, commanding. First Brigade, Colonel D. W. C. Bax- 
ter: First Minnesota;' Fifteenth Massachusetts; Eighty- 
second New York ; Nineteenth Maine. Second Brigade, 
Brigadier-General Alexander S. Webb : Sixty-ninth, 
Seventy-first, Seventy-second, and One Hundred and 

' On detached service in New York. 


Sixth Pennsylvania. Third Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Ansel D. Wass : Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachu- 
setts; Forty-second and Fifty-ninth New York ; Seventh 
Michigan ; ' one company Massachusetts sharpshooters ; 
one company Minnesota sharpshooters — thirteen regi- 
ments and two companies. 

Third Division, Brigadier-General Alexander Hays, 
commanding. First Brigade, Colonel Joseph Snyder : 
Fourth and Eighth Ohio;' Fourteenth Indiana;' Seventh 
West Virginia. Second Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Davis : One Hundred and Eighth New York ; Four- 
teenth Connecticut ; Twelfth New Jersey ; Tenth New 
York ; First Delaware. Third Brigade, Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Joshua T. (^wen : Thirty-ninth, One Hundred and 
Eleventh, One Hundred and Twenty - fifth, and One 
Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York — twelve regi- 
ments and one battalion. 

Company M, Tenth New York Cavalr>% and Com- 
pany G, Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, both com- 
manded by Second Lieutenant Robert Brown, were at- 
tached to headquarters, but not borne on the strength of 
the corps. 

It will be observed that the suicidal policy, then in full 
operation in the Northeastern States, of creating large, 
raw, and often useless regiments, instead of filling up the 
tried and veteran bodies at the front, had already caused 
the reduction of five splendid regiments of the old corps 
to " battalions " of less than ten companies. This was to 
proceed through 1863 and 1864, until at last comparatively 
few of the noble regiments of 1861 remained with their 
full regimental organization. 

The corps staff comprised the following : Walker, As- 

' On detached service in New York. 


sistant Adjutant-General ; Morgan, Assistant Inspector- 
General ; Batcheller, Quartermaster; Smith, Commissary 
of Subsistence ; Dougherty, Medical Director ; Monroe 
(Fifteenth Massachusetts), Medical Inspector ; Bingham, 
(One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania), Judge Advo- 
cate ; Livermore (Fifth New Hampshire), Chief of Am- 
bulances ; Mintzer (Fifty-third Pennsylvania), Acting Pro- 
vost-Marshal ; Brownson, additional Aide-de-Camp and 
Commissaiy of Musters ; Haskell and Roebling, Aides- 
de-Camp ; Thickston and Neal, Signal Ofificers. 

Of the foregoing, Lieutenant F. A. Haskell, of Wis- 
consin, was the officer of General Gibbon's staff who so 
distinguished himself at Gettysburg, on the 3d, and who 
was, later, to lay down his life, as Colonel of the Thirty- 
sixth Wisconsin, at Cold Harbor. Lieutenant Washing- 
ton A. Roebling was of the personal staff of General 
Warren. He was an officer of rare topographical abili- 
ties, and was destined to achieve fame, in later years, by 
his engineering skill in the construction of the great 
Brooklyn Bridge. 

The long halt on the banks of the Rappahannock was 
marked by the most painful incident of warfare — military 
executions. A weak sympathy with criminals had, in 
1 861 and 1862, prevented those few examples of condign 
punishment for desertion, for sleeping on post, and for 
cowardice in battle, which would have then accomplished 
the maximum of good. The shooting of a score of bad 
men in 1861 would literally have saved the lives of 
thousands of good men in 1862 and 1863. For want of 
this, many regiments became badly disorganized, and, in 
the new phrase of the war, " demoralized," and the infec- 
tion extended to entire brigades. After Gettysburg, how- 
ever, an increasing sense of the needs of the service, com- 
bined with the special exigency created by the appearance 


of the " bounty-jumper," or professional deserter, sufficed 
to bring the administration at Washington up to the 
shooting-point ; and the long stay on the Rappahan- 
nock, in August of 1863, was marked by a considerable 
number of military executions. Three men were shot in 
the Second Corps — one on the 21st and two on the 28th 
of August. Unfortunately, the provost-marshal's detach- 
ments did their work in a very bungling manner, owing 
to the novelty and the highly distressing nature of their 
new duty. Among the other incidents attendant on the 
way the army was then being recruited, must be men- 
tioned the murder of Captain Thomas McKay, of the 
Twentieth Massachusetts, while acting as officer of the 
day, on the 6th of October. This atrocious act, singularly 
rare in our army, was committed by a " bounty-jumper" 
who had recently joined the regiment, but who escaped 
and deserted to the enemy the night of the murder. 

An incident of a very different order was the presen- 
tation, by officers of the Second Corps, to General Sedg- 
wick, at the headquarters of the Sixth Corps, August 
23d, of a magnificent war-horse, with full equipments, 
and a sword mounted in gold and decorated with a 
wealth of precious stones. The testimonial was a noble 
one in its beauty and costliness, but to the gallant and 
gentle knight who received it the value was enhanced 
manifold by the ardent affection which lay behind the 
gift. The occasion was one of great interest. All the 
most distinguished officers of the army were, by invita- 
t'ion, present ; but peculiarly was the day made a pledge 
of friendship between the two great army corps, already 
so closely bound together by remembrance of mutual ser- 
vice and support, and by interchange of commanders. 
With such sentiments inspiring the gathering, it may not 
be doubted that, with the proverbial hospitality of the 


Sixth Corps, this was made one of the great feast-days 
of the Army of the Potomac. 

The month of August had passed quietly, the interval 
of rest being devoted to the re-equipment of the troops, to 
inspections and " surveys " of unserviceable property — the 
work falling mainly on the staff. But the month was 
not to end with the troops in camp, although the occasion 
for the disturbance was so trivial and so odd as to give 
the movement somewhat the air of a farce. On the 31st 
of the month the several divisions broke camp and took 
positions covering the fords of the Rappahannock. The 
motive for this movement was found in the purpose to 
destroy certain small gun-boats which the enemy had 
placed in the Rappahannock, and which the cavalry, with 
such assistance as the infantry might be able to render, 
were to cut off and destroy. Whether the cavalry caught 
the gun-boats, I don't think any man in the Second Corps 
ever quite made out ; and, after three days of this new 
species of hunting, the corps returned to its old camps 
near Morrisville and Elk Run. 

Here the time was spent until the 12th of September, 
when the information that General Lee, pressed by the 
urgent necessities of the Confederate armies of the West, 
had despatched all of Longstreet's corps, except only 
Pickett's division, to confront Rosecrans at Chicka- 
mauga, caused a forward movement of the Army of 
the Potomac, in which the Second Corps and the cav- 
alry took the lead. On the 12th, Rappahannock Sta- 
tion was occupied, and on the next day both cavalry 
and infantry were thrown across the river; and, ad- 
vancing rapidly, drove the Confederate cavalry out of 
the peninsula lying between the Rappahannock and the 
Rapidan, The other corps followed and occupied this 
space, so often skirmished over and fought for by the 


contending forces. The Second and Sixth Corps were 
thrown forward to the Rapidan to hold the fords, the 
other corps remaining in support. The necessity of 
pressing Lee closely, lest he should send other troops to 
overwhelm Rosecrans, led to constant demonstrations 
of a further advance by the right of the army, until, in 
accordance with orders from Washington, the movement 
was suspended, and the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were 
detached and sent to join the army of the Cumberland. 

Between the 15th and 17th the Second Corps ex- 
tended itself along the Rapidan, its picket line being 
nine miles long. Headquarters were established at 
Mitchell's Station, on the Orange & Alexandria Rail- 
road ; the Second Division at Summerville Ford ; the 
Third Division extending to Crooked Run ; the First 
Division in the centre. There was more or less picket 
firing between the two lines, and the duty of inspecting 
the outposts was not as pleasant as it sometimes is; but 
nothing occurred of special interest until the 5th of 
October, when the Second Corps was relieved by the 
Sixth, in its position along the Rapidan, and was with- 
drawn the next day to Culpepper, where it remained 
until the loth. 

What thereafter befell the corps will be the subject of 
the next chapter. 

Carroll's brigade had, on the 5th of September, re- 
turned from its tour c^f duty, fighting Northern rebels, in 
New York. 

The following changes among the field-ofificers of the 
corps had taken place during the months of July, August, 
and September. 

Discharged. — Colonel Menry Fowler, Sixty-third 
New York, July 4th ; Major Harmon Hogoboom, One 
Hundred and Eighth New York, July 24th ; Colonel 


Tames H. Godman, Fourth Ohio, July 28th ; Colonel 
Joseph Snyder, Seventh West Virginia September 7th ; 
Major James B. Morris, Seventh West Virgima, Septem- 
ber 7th ; Major John W. Reynolds, One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, September 19th; Major An- 
drew Caraher, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, Septem- 

^Re^IGNED -Lieutenant-Colonel Amos Stroh, Eighty- 
first Pennsylvania, July 22d ; Colonel Dwight Morns, 
Fourteenth Connecticut, August 14th. 

DISMISSED.-Colonel William Northedge, Fifty-nmth 

New York. 

On the 3d of October corps headquarters were noti- 
fied of the President's acceptance of the resignation of 
Brigadier-General William Harrow, United States Vol- 

In temporary command of Second Army Corps 

August 12, 1863 to March 24, 1864 



During the first days of October, 1S63, General 
Meade's army, as wc have seen, occupied the peninsula 
between the Rappahannock, on the one side, and the 
Rapidan, with its tributary, Robertson's River, on the 
other, confronting Lee's army, and in a position readily 
to undertake an advance across the Rapidan, either di- 
rect, against Orange Court House, or by the left, toward 
Fredericksburg. It was, in fact, precisely the position 
which Grant was to occupy on the 3d of May, 1864. 
During the stay on the Rapidan the signal ofificers, hav- 
ing caught the key of the Confederate code, were in the 
habit of intercepting the communications from General 
Lee to his subordinates, made by flags from Clark's 
Mountain. These despatches, however interesting or 
amusing, had never proved especially instructive, until, 
on the afternoon of the 7th of October, a despatch to 
General Fitzhugh Lee from General J. E. B. Stuart, 
directing him to draw three days' bacon and hard bread, 
was caught on the wing, and, on being sent forward to 
headquarters, aroused General Meade's attention to the 
impending movement. 

General Lee had, indeed, determined to take the initia- 
tive, feeling himself strong enough to turn the tables 
upon his adversary, in the advanced position which the 
Union army occupied. On the 8th General Sedgwick 


reported a movement of the enemy's cavalr}^ around our 
right, and the day following brought information that 
infantry was mingled with the columns then crossing the 
Upper Rapidan. For the next twenty-four hours grave 
doubts existed as to General Lee's immediate purpose. 
It was thought that he meditated an attack upon the 
Army of the Potomac, in position near Culpepper Court 
House ; then, that his columns were directed toward the 
Shenandoah ; then, that the Confederate leader had 
really begun a movement upon Warrenton, on Meade's 
right and rear. At last, on the evening of the loth, it 
was deemed sufificiently manifest that General Lee was, 
in fact, moving on Warrenton, to require the Union army 
to fall back behind the Rappahannock, which was accom- 
plished during the nth. The rear was covered by the 
cavalry, which had a sharp engagement with Stuart at 
Brandy Station. The almost accidental presence of a 
body of Confederate infantry at this point led General 
Pleasanton and General Sykes, whose corps, the Fifth, 
was nearest at hand, to suppose that the Confederate 
army was really being directed upon Culpepper; and 
consequently, at the very time when our columns should 
have been making their way back, on the line of the rail- 
road, as rapidly as possible, to protect their threatened 
communications with Washington, General Meade, on 
this erroneous advice from his rear-guard, turned about, 
and threw the Fifth, Sixth, and Second Corps, with 
Buford's cavalry, again across the Rappahannock, with 
instructions to push forward and find and strike the 
enemy, if at Culpepper. These corps accordingly re- 
crossed the Rappahannock during the afternoon of the 
1 2th, and advanced to Brandy Station. It was soon as- 
certained that the Confederate army was not there or 
in that neighborhood. This still left the question open 



where that army really was, which was settled during 
the evening by intelligence from General Gregg, com- 
manding the Second Cavalry Division, that he had been 
driven from the Rappahannock, and pushed back for 
several miles, by heavy columns of infantry, crossing at 
Waterloo and Sulphur Springs, 

New J3a2timjOi 



Line of Retreat 

Oct 11-15.1863 

There was no misunderstanding this, and the mistake 
which had sent three corps across the Rappahannock was 
to be rectified as promptly as possible. Before midnight 
the forces assembled around Brandy Station were in re- 
treat. The Second Corps, which had marched from near 
Culpepper to Bealton on the nth, and on the 12th had 
marched from Bealton to Brandy Station, again took 
the route for Bealton at eleven o'clock that night. As 
the column approached Bealton there was heard what 
seemed to be a rapid and persistent fire of skirmishers, 


and the troops, who had already " caught on " to the 
general situation, at once concluded that Lee had gained 
our rear, and that another battle of the John Pope order 
was imminent. On arriving at Bealton, however, it was 
found that the noise was occasioned by the destruction 
of a large amount of small-arms ammunition, ordered by 
some over-zealous subordinate. The troops were tired 
enough to sleep at Bealton, but the time was not yet 
come for rest ; and, indeed, the movement upon which 
the Second Corps had entered was to be among the most 
arduous in all its history. Pushing northward to the sup- 
port of Gregg, Fayetteville was reached about six in 
the morning, and the troops were told to get their break- 
fast. " The halt made the evening before," says General 
Warren, in his ofificial report, " but little more than suf- 
ficed for the establishment of sentinels, preparation of 
meals, etc., so that sleep had scarcely closed the eyes of 
one of the command since they awoke on the morning of 
the 1 2th." After only three-quarters of an hour, however, 
the order to fall in was heard, and the tired men, who had 
scarcely been allowed time to prepare a cup of coffee, 
were again summoned to the route. The day's march 
was long and wearisome ; the distance covered was not 
great ; but such were the delays and interruptions, due 
to the presence of another corps (the Third) on the road 
in front, and to the necessity of guarding continually 
against attacks upon our left flank, that it was not 
until nine o'clock in the evening that the corps bivou- 
acked on the south side of Cedar Run, not far from 
the little village of Auburn. Thus ended the 13th of 

The rest allowed to the troops was a very short one. 
General Lee was known to have been at Warrenton, 
close upon our left flank, General French's column of 


infantty, the Third Corps, having actually encountered 
the Confederate cavalry, under Lomax, in making its way 
to Greenwich. Whether morning would find that Lee 
had used the hours of darkness to throw an adventurous 
column between our retreating army and Washington, or 
that he had turned his whole attention to attacking 
Meade's retreating army, and, if possible, cutting off its 
rearmost corps — in either case it behooved the Second 
Corps to be up and doing very early on the morning of 
the 14th of October, for all the other infantry corps had 
gone on, and the Second was, through the coming event- 
ful day, to act as rear-guard. 

Now the duty is sometimes a simple one ; at times it 
is very perplexing and dangerous. If the enemy can ad- 
vance only over the road by which the rear-guard is 
retreating, and if the troops and trains ahead keep mov- 
ing briskly, so that the rear-guard can count upon being 
allowed to fall back rapidly, it is rather good fun to cover 
a retreat, provided there is no marked superiority in 
point of cavalry on the part of the following force. If, 
however, the enemy's cavalry are very much more power- 
ful, or if the troops and trains ahead render necessary 
frequent and irregular halts, or if the enemy be moving, 
not by your own line of retreat, but by one nearly par- 
allel, and at no great distance, from which they may at 
any time diverge in order to fasten upon the rear and 
assail the flank of the retreating column, the duty of the 
rear-guard may become embarrassing, critical, or in the 
highest degree dangerous. In the further narrative of 
the 14th of October we shall see how far the conditions 
were favorable or unfavorable for the performance of the 
service charged upon the Second Corps. 

General Meade's order of the day, so far as it con- 
cerned the Second Corps, was as follows : 


Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
October 13, 1863, 10.30 p.m. 

The army will be massed at Centreville to-morrow, if practica- 

6th. General Warren, Second Corps, will move to the railroad, 
passing by Catlett's house ; keep on the south side of the railroad ; 
cross Bull Run at Blackburn Ford, and mass in rear of Centre- 
ville, looking toward Warrenton. 

8th. As the heads of columns approach Manassas Junction and 
Bull Run, great caution will be observed ; and at the crossing of 
Bull Run dispositions will be made to meet any attempt on the 
part of the enemy to attack in flank or dispute the passage. 

9th. The movement will commence at daybreak by each corps 
and the reserve artillery ; and the commanding general calls upon 
all for the utmost promptitude and despatch. 

Corps commanders will keep their flankers well out on the left 
flank, and picket all roads coming in from that direction. 

nth. General Kilpatrick will move by way of Haymarket to 
Sudley Springs, if practicable, and reunite with Colonel Gibbs and 
hold that point. 

General Gregg will cover the rear and left flank of General 
Warren. General Buford will protect the trains. 

By command of Major-General Meade. 

S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant- General. 

Half an hour later General Meade issued an additional 
circular, marked "confidential," of which the following is 
the text : 

" There is good reason to believe that Lee's army is 
moving on our left fllank — Ewell's corps by the Warren- 
ton pike, and Hill by Salem and Thoroughfare Gap. 
It is hoped we are sufficiently far ahead to enable the 
seizure of the Centreville Heights in advance of the 


enemy ; but if the movement is detected our flank and 
rear may be attacked, to guard against which all precau- 
tions must be taken. The supply trains will move by 
way of Wolf Run Shoals to Fairfax Station, and will be 
in striking distance if we are successful," 

It will be seen that General Meade, in issuing these 
orders and admonitions, apprehended two sources of 
danger. The primary one was that the enemy, pursuing 
the race with the Army of the Potomac, on which they 
had entered and in which they had got " a start," owing 
to the recrossing of the Rappahannock on the 12th, 
might get first to Centreville Heights, and by occupying 
these interpose between Washington and its defenders. 
The second source of danger, intimated in the ninth 
paragraph of the 10.30 order, and strongly set forth in 
the " confidential " circular, was in the opportunity Lee 
would have, if he failed of his main purpose, or came 
seriously to doubt his ability to execute it, of turning 
sharply around, as he might at any moment do, to dash 
into Meade's extended column, stretched out in the great 
race, and either cut the Army of the Potomac in two, or 
fasten like a tiger upon the rearmost division and de- 
stroy it before succor could arrive. It was the last of 
these which the 14th of October was to see attempted. 


I have said that the rest allowed the troops, arriving 
tired at Auburn, at nine o'clock on the evening of the 
13th, was a short one. The regiments were called up at 
between three and four o'clock, and at the very break of 
day, amid a heavy fog, were on their way to cross Cedar 
Run at the village of Auburn, described by Stuart's biog- 
rapher as a " little hamlet, consisting of the residence of 


Stephen McCormick, a post-office, and a blacksmith's 
shop." The line of the Second Corps march was, for the 
first mile or two, that is, until Cedar Run should be 
crossed, actually toward and not away from the enemy ; 
while for two or three hundred yards, just before the 
crossing, the road skirted the foot of a precipitous and 
wooded hill, on the other side of which ran the road 
coming down to the ford from Warrenton, the ford being 
common to the two roads. Beyond the crossing the 
road again forked, the left-hand branch winding around 
the base of a bald and tolerably prominent ridge, while 
the right-hand road bore sharply off to the southeast 
toward Catlett's Station. The latter was the destined 
route of the Second Corps ; the former had been followed 
by the Third Corps, the night before, on its way to 
Greenwich. The crossing itself was particularly difficult, 
on account of the extreme steepness of the hills leading 
down to the creek and the narrowness of the path. 

General Warren was well aware of the disadvantages 
of encamping, as he had done, on the south side of Cedar 
Run ; but he had felt that there was no alternative, the 
single ford being occupied by the troops of the Third 
Corps till long after the weary men of the Second had 
dropped on the ground senseless from fatigue. The 
situation had caused him great anxiety during the 
night, and made him particularly urgent to be off in the 
early morning. Promptly, however, as the Second Corps 
had risen for its severe labors of the 14th of October, the 
Confederates were not long after them. Even while the 
leading division of the corps, Caldwell's, was crossing 
Cedar Run, the skirmishers of Gregg's cavalry division, 
which had been assigned to the duty of covering the left 
and rear of the Second Corps during the coming day, 
were rapidly driven in by the cavalry of the enemy, 


pushed out from Warrenton. It was of great impor- 
tance that the passage of the infantry should not be de- 
layed for any trifling cause, and General Warren there- 
fore requested Gregg to hold his line stififly against all 
comers. But soon the pressure became more severe, and 
the presence of Confederate infantry was detected on that 
flank. This, in the situation, was a serious matter, since 
the cavalry had not far to retire before uncovering the 
road by which the trains, consisting of one hundred wag- 
ons and one hundred and twenty-five ambulances, were 
now passing the ford. As Gregg felt the ground slip- 
ping from beneath his feet, under the increasing press- 
ure of the enemy coming down the Warrenton road, 
he had no choice but to appeal for infantry support. 
Although regretting the delay thus occasioned, General 
Warren at once sent Carroll's brigade, which had during 
the night been guard to the trains, to Gregg's assistance. 
The dense fog, still enveloping everything in the most 
oppressive manner, made it exceedingly difficult for 
commanders or staff to get the necessary outlook, and 
even to communicate orders or receive reports. 

While Gregg, supported by Carroll, was thus engaged 
in " standing off," first the Confederate cavalry, and then 
the infantry of Rodes' division of Ewell's corps, advanc- 
ing upon the left and rear of the Second Corps column, 
from the direction of Warrenton, a new danger, break- 
ing forth suddenly, in an altogether unexpected quarter, 
menaced the Second Corps, for a brief half-hour, with 
absolute destruction. Probably never during the Rebel- 
lion was any considerable body of troops more strangely 
beset. It was this unlooked-for encounter which has 
given Auburn a name, though not a great one, in the 
history of the war. 

The form which this new danger took was as follows: 



Caldwell's division, having crossed Cedar Run, was 
halted, with the batteries of Ricketts, Arnold, and Ames, 

: ^A^-^ '"^n%Jm Rear Guard" 

o°V^ ^^"'/^ \.AiiburR-0ctl4,1863 

while Hays' division took the advance on the road. 
Brooke's brigade was thrown out to cover the angle 


made by the Catlett's Station road turning so sharply 
to the southeast. On the right two companies of the 
Sixty-fourth New York were deployed as skirmishers, 
facing almost north up the road to Greenwich ; then 
came the Fifty-seventh New York, partly deployed and 
partly in reserve ; then, on the left, the Second Delaware, 
facing west and northwest ; the One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania and eight companies of the 
Sixty-fourth New York being in support of the line 
thus formed. The remainder of Caldwell's division, 
with the batteries, occupied the hill, which we described 
as "a bald and tolerably prominent ridge," lying between 
the road to Greenwich and that to Catlett's Station. 
The latter troops then, finding themselves with a little 
time on their hands, very generally began to make cof- 
fee, which the early start of the morning had not per- 
mitted them to do. 

While thus engaged in their domestic duties, a bolt, 
out of what was anything but a clear sky, brought every 
man to his feet. Through the mist, from adown the 
road to Catlett's, the very line of our communication 
with the rest of the army, the destined avenue of our 
escape, were seen flashes in quick succession, and the 
rush of shells was heard, followed by the sharp crack 
which told that the fuses had done their deadly work. 
The First Division, massed upon the hill, which was lit- 
erally packed, presented to the battery, thus terribly un- 
masked, such a mark as few gunners ever had offered 
to them. For the instant there was a good deal of ex- 
citement, and of course some confusion, among Cald- 
well's men, avIio ran instantly to arms, while the unex- 
pected foe made the most of his opportunity by a rapid 
and well-directed fire. 

Who was this enemy thus appearing in a quarter where 


only friends were to be looked for, and barring the road 
by which the Second Corps was to retreat ? The pres- 
ence of this force, in such a place, at such a time, con- 
stitutes one of the curiosities of warfare. It was the 
famous General J. E. B. Stuart, with two brigades, Fun- 
sten's and Gordon's, of his cavalry, and seven pieces of 
artillery, under Major Beckham, caught by accident the 
previous evening between two columns of the Union 
army. Finding himself hemmed in on all sides, Stuart 
had hidden his force away in dense pine-woods along 
the road from Auburn to Catlett's. He did not dare to 
attempt to break out at night, not knowing in which di- 
rection he might find his enemies strongest ; and so he 
waited, very quietly it may be believed, until morning. 
It is said that his fireless bivouac was close to the head- 
quarters of General Meade, and that, had he known of 
that proximity, the daring raider might have crowned 
his exploits by carrying to Richmond the commander of 
the Army of the Potomac, with the laurels of Gettysburg 
still un faded upon his brows. But this was not to be. 
For the time General Stuart, like his great civil chief- 
tain, only wanted " to be let alone." With morning, how- 
ever, came fresh audacity. The road to Catlett's was, for 
a distance at least, open behind him, Buford's cavalry 
having moved away from it toward Wolf Run Shoals ; 
while cross-roads and wood-paths, known to his officers 
and men, afforded a way out of what had seemed, the night 
before, a perfect trap. With this discovery hope revived ; 
and though the sound of moving troops and trains, which 
came from nearly every side, made Stuart anxious to see 
his way more clearly, he was ready to strike a blow be- 
fore leaving, and so go off with glory. It would appear, 
also, from Major McClellan's memoirs of Stuart, published 
since these lines were written, that that chieftain had a 


more serious purpose in availing himself of his highly 
peculiar position, thinking that, should Ewell press heavily 
from the other side, while he himself threw his two cav- 
alry brigades upon the rear of the Union force, it might 
even be destroyed. However serious or jocose Stuart's 
purpose, his regiments were drawn up across the road 
from Auburn to Catlett's, fronting the former place ; his 
guns were put into battery, and the Confederates awaited 
events. Suddenly either the breaking of the mist or the 
lighting up of the great fog-banks by the fires of the cof- 
fee-makers discovered to the straining eyes of the Con- 
federates the position of Caldwell. Instantly their can- 
noneers sprang to their guns, and a score of shells were 
sent hissing among the quivering masses of the First Di- 

But there was something on that field which Stuart 
and his cannoneers had not seen, either directly or by re- 
flection from the mist. Nearer than they reckoned were 
the avengers of the dead of " CofTee Hill." Hays' divi- 
sion, which had taken the road from Caldwell, was al- 
ready on the march to Catlett's, and the missiles intended 
for the First Division flew over the heads of his men. Of 
the proximity of Hays' troops Stuart, whether because 
the fog, which was now rapidly lifting, still concealed the 
road up which Hays was marching, or because his atten- 
tion was absorbed by the tempting opportunity afforded 
by the massed division on the ridge, was not conscious. 

Astonished and amazed as was the com.mander of the 
Third Division at this fire breaking forth adown the road 
which he had every reason to suppose was held by friends, 
it was nothing of that size or shape which could daunt 
the mind or paralyze the arm of Alexander Hays. Quick 
as thought he dashed to the front ; and while Caldwell 


Ricketts' Pennsylvania battery was coming into action 
against Stuart, the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New 
York, Lieutenant-Colonel Bull, was deployed as skir- 
mishers, supported by the Twelfth New Jersey, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Davis, and pushed against the unknown 
enemy. What might be the force thus encountered, 
whether in numbers or in character, General Hays could, 
of course, form no conjecture. This was exactly what he 
proposed to find out, and that, too, in the shortest possible 

Hays' skirmishers advanced rapidly to their work. 
Unused to encounter cavalry they yet did not shrink 
from attacking the compact line they saw formed across 
the road, but pushed forward to close quarters, and 
opened a sharp fire upon horses and men. Right gal- 
lantly the enemy essayed to charge, and even drove the 
skirmishers back upon the Twelfth New Jersey, which, 
in line of battle, poured in a withering fire that speedily 
sent the horsemen to the right about with no small loss. 
Among those who fell was Colonel Thomas Rufifin, First 
North Carolina Cavalry. 

At last, Stuart, seeing Hays' line of battle rapidly de- 
veloping in his front, concluded that he had played the 
game as long as it was safe ; and, putting his horses at 
a gallop, went down the road toward Catlett's. Hays' 
skirmishers, pushing forward, ascertained, to the great 
relief of the officers and men of the Second Corps, that 
no infantry force stood behind these audacious challen- 

I say to their great relief, for the brief space which 
intervened since Stuart's guns opened iire had been one 
of much anxiety. If two thousand Confederates could 
be there, why not five thousand ? Why not ten ? And 
if so much as two brigades of Confederate infantry, in ad- 


dition to Stuart's cavalry, had, that morning, interposed 
between the Second Corps and Catlett's, with Ewell's 
divisions attacking its left and rear, the corps might have 
been destroyed. As it was, the delay encountered gave 
a dangerous opportunity to Ewell to further enwrap the 
column with his superabundant brigades ; for, let it be 
borne in mind throughout this narrative, while the Sec- 
ond Corps was that day less than one-sixth of Meade's 
infantry, Ewell had with him one-half of Lee's, and 
we now know that it was all concentrated the night 
before at Warrenton. In such a situation the unex- 
pected interposition of Stuart's brigades upon our line 
of retreat was not only a strange but an embarrassing 
circumstance. Not only did Stuart's interference, by 
checking the movement of the Second Corps, afford 
Ewell additional time for enwrapping Meade's rear-guard, 
but it served to heighten the ardor of his attack.' The 
Confederates had been informed, by disguised messengers 
sent through our lines, of Stuart's strange predicament, 
the night before ; and, as Stuart's artillery gave the signal, 
the Confederate guns attached to the infantry broke out 
into fury. A powerful battery, supposed to be Jones' 
battalion of sixteen pieces, among them some twenty- 

' This does not agree with the view of Stuart's biographer, who 
complains that " as the fire of Stuart's guns, which were served 
with inlensest energy, continued and increased, the fire of the in- 
fantry, on the opposite side, diminished to a weak skirmishing." 
Such was not the opinion of those who stood between Stuart and 
Ewell, and had the best opportunity to hear, see, and feel what 
either of the bodies of Confederates were doing. I don't say that 
Ewell did all he might. Throughout the day the Confederates 
seemed to me unusually tardy in their movements ; but the force 
of the attack certainly increased rather than diminished from first 
to last— that is, until the time when the Second Corps fell back 
from Auburn. 


pounders, opened from the direction of Warrenton, and 
even farther around to the south, gallantly replied to by 
Arnold's " A," First Rhode Island, which, having been in 
action against Stuart, had literally executed the order — 
seldom, if ever, heard except on the drill-ground — " Fire 
to the rear ! Limbers and caissons, pass your pieces ! " 
The shells of still another Confederate battery, which 
had got around upon the Greenwich road, flew in a di- 
rection exactly opposite to that taken by the shells 
leaving Stuart's guns. Meanwhile the infantry of Rodes' 
division was pressing so hard upon our skirmish line that 
another quarter-hour must have brought on an engage- 
ment between the lines of battle. It for a time seemed 
very much as if the Second Corps, through no fault of 
its own, was caught in a trap, and would be baited to 
death by its exulting enemies. The closeness with which 
the corps was environed may be judged from the fact that 
shot from Stuart's guns passed clear over our troops, and 
fell among the advancing lines of Ewell on the other 
side, actually checking their advance — at least so Major 
McClellan states. 

The disappearance of Stuart removed that feature of 
the situation which had been, for the moment, appall- 
ing. General Warren knew well enough that the Second 
Corps could be relied upon to give account of many 
more than its own numbers, while retreating down a 
clear road. No sooner, then, did Hays report the way 
open, than Webb, with the Second Division, took the 
advance to Catlett's ; Hays fell in behind ; Gregg and 
Carroll were told that they might abandon the ground 
they had so stubbornly contested ; Caldwell's men, 
marching off the hill where they had already buried the 
bodies of eleven of their comrades, assumed the defence 
of the column adown the road, while Gregg's regiments 


disappeared through the woods to protect the flanks. 
Everyone was perfectly well disposed to march, and 
there was, for the nonce, no complaint as to the pace set 
by the head of the column. 

So long had been the delay, however, that the with- 
drawal of Brooke's brigade was a matter of no small dif- 
ficulty. Lieutenant-Colonel Chapman, commanding the 
Fifty-seventh New York, found that, through the pre- 
mature retreat of a portion of the cavalry, the enemy had 
already interposed between him and the rest of the bri- 
gade, but by making a wide detour to the right, under a 
severe fire, was enabled to get through. Lieutenant An- 
derson, the ambulance ofificer of the division, exhibited 
here the greatest enterprise in removing even the wounded 
of this running fight, loading his ambulances under fire, 
and at last carrying off a wounded man on his saddle out 
from the very hands of the enemy. 

From every direction, now, Ewell's skirmiishers were 
felt rapidly following up the corps. But little we recked 
so long as the road was clear in front. Brooke was on 
the skirmish line, and that gallant soldier, who had few 
equals in this trying position — impetuous, cool, and mas- 
terful — struck out right and left at the enemy whenever 
they proved too saucy. In order to give ample time to 
clear the road for future contingencies. General Warren 
directed Hays and Webb to push rapidly on to Catlett's 
with the trains and the greater part of the artillery, while 
he himself posted Caldwell's division on an excellent 
natural position about two miles from Auburn. Line of 
battle was accordingly formed by the infantry across the 
road to Catlett's, while that brigade of Gregg's cavalry 
which had followed the infantry across Cedar Run at Au- 
burn took post on the right (looking, of course, to the 
rear), and the other brigade of the cavalry division, under 



Colonel Irwin Gregg, which had crossed Cedar Run about 
two miles and a half below Auburn, now came in and 
joined the infantry on the left. Here General Warren 
sought at once to gain time to clear the road ahead for a 
rapid retreat if required, and also to cause Ewell to de- 
velop his purposes — -whether to follow us to Catlett's, or 
to move off to his own left toward Greenwich. Guns 
were run out at various points to fire into the woods, 
where the enemy's skirmishers were pressing Brooke, 
and a brave show of force was made, especially upon the 
wings; the skirmish line was heavily reinforced, and ex- 
cited to renewed activity and audacity ; the aggressive 
was assumed at points, and dashes were made upon the 
enemy's skirmishers. Whether deceived by these demon- 
strations into supposing that the Union force on the Cat- 
lett's road was greater than it really was, or in pursuance 
of a plan agreed upon between himself and General Hill, 
Ewell, after feeling Caldwell's position along its entire 
length, moved off to his left, and disappeared in the direc- 
tion of Greenwich. 

So soon as the enemy were seen to have abandoned 
direct pursuit the line of battle was broken up, and Cald- 
well's troops were again put in motion. With the excep- 
tion of six or seven hours' rest at Auburn, the troops had 
been almost continuously on the road or in line of battle 
since the morning of the 12th, having started out with 
ammunition both in the boxes and in the knapsacks, and 
with five days' rations on the person in addition to the 
ordinary average of equipments. All the diminution that 
had occurred in this heavy burden had been through the 
ammunition expended at Auburn, and in the hard-tack 
and salt pork eaten at two or three hurried halts, or 
gnawed and nibbled by the hungry troops upon the 
march ; but, for all that, the brigades filed rapidly and 




in good form into the road, and again took up the 

And so, though footsore and weary, Caldwell's soldiers 
trudge manfully onward under their heavy burdens. An 
hour moves slowly by ; Catlett's is reached. Here Webb's 
and Hays' divisions are found in positions selected by 
Colonel Morgan ; the trains of the corps, joined by 
the wagons of Gregg's cavalry, have passed to the rear, 
directed upon Centreville, via Wolf Run Shoals, with 
Colonel Baxter's Pennsylvania brigade of the Second 
Division as guard. Upon the arrival of Caldwell the 
whole corps is put upon the march up the railroad toward 

While on the road from his last position to Catlett's, 
General Warren received the following despatch from 
General Humphreys. [The Italics are my own.] 

Bristoe, October 14, 1863, 12 m. 
Major-General Warren, 

Commanding Second Corps. 

The Major-General commanding directs me to say that the 
road is entirely clear beyond this point. General Kilpatrick, 
at Buckland's Mills, reports that the enemy's infantry are massing 
on the Warrenton pike.' General Kilpatrick will leave Buckland's 
Mills at twelve o'clock. Move forward as rapidly as you can, as 
they may send out a column Jrom Gainesville to Bristoe. General 
Sykes is directed to keep up commimication with you, and to keep 
in supporting distance. The road is all clear for Sykes also. 
French is directed to keep up cotnmunication with Sykes, and 
within supporting distance. Sykes will remain here until you are 
up. A. A. Humphreys, 

Major- General^ Chief of Staff. 

You are not to protect anything but your own train. Push it 

' This erroneous statement of General Kilpatrick had much to 
do with causing the complications which ensued. 


" Notwithstanding," says General Warren, " the as- 
surances of finding our own forces at Bristoe, and the 
arrangement I had made with General Gregg to watch 
my flank with his cavalry, every precaution was taken, 
in putting the troops in motion for Catlett's Station, to 
move them along the railroad in a proper disposition for 
battle. General Webb's division, with two batteries of 
artillery, took the northwest side of the railroad ; Gen- 
eral Hays, the southeast side ; the ambulances and ar- 
tillery of General Gregg's cavalry followed, and General 
Caldwell's division continued to protect the rear. This 
was done expeditiously, and the troops moved off rap- 
idly. Lieutenant -Colonel Morgan accompanied the 
advance of the Second and Third Divisions, to select 
a position at Bristoe and cover our crossing at Broad 


We have seen the column put in motion from Catlett's 
toward Bristoe. Step by step the ground is measured 
off by the w^eary troops, under their unusual burdens. 
It is nearly three o'clock — Warren, with his staff, is riding 
at the rear of the column, watching for the possible re- 
appearance of Ewell ; when suddenly, from up the track, 
at the distance of two miles, breaks forth a furious can- 
nonade. Has Sykes, then, been attacked at Bristoe, 
while awaiting our arrival ? The spurs are sharply 
pressed on the flanks of the horses ; and the young 
commander dashes out of the road, that he may not 
hinder the troops or be hindered by them, and, through 
brush and timber, makes his way at a furious gallop to 
the front. Kettle Run, a mile and a half from Bris- 
toe, is reached ; one or two desperate plunges, and it 
is crossed ; the bank is gained, and in a brief moment 


the Staff burst out from the bushes upon the plain of 
Bristoe. Here a sight greets their eyes which might 
appall older soldiers. 

That we should understand the array of Confederate 
brigades which there, unopposed, were moving down to 
seize the crossing.of Broad Run, and cut the Second Corps 
off from the Army of the Potomac, let us go forward and 
see how General Meade's instructions of twelve o'clock 
were carried out. General Sykes, with the Fifth Corps, 
had duly arrived at Milford, on Broad Run, just above 
Bristoe, and covering it ; and here he remained awhile, 
most reluctantly, awaiting the arrival of the Second 
Corps, which, as we have seen, had been detained — first, 
at Auburn, by the skirmish with Ewell and the unex- 
pected intervention of Stuart across the road to Cat- 
lett's, and then, to gain time for the crossing of the trains 
at Wolf Run Shoals. General Sykes had looked upon 
Warren's delay with great impatience, being eagerly de- 
sirous of hastening on to Centreville, whither he believed 
Lee's columns were directed. Mindful, in part, however, 
of General Meade's warning ' that a Confederate column 
might be sent down from Gainesville to Bristoe, and of 
his orders to stay there until the Second Corps should 
arrive. General Sykes remained, torn by conflicting im- 
pulses. At two o'clock he sent the following despatch 
to General Warren : 

' " General Sykes ivas 7t07i> directed not to move until the Second 
Corps came up j and orders were sent to the Third Corps {next in 
advance of the Fifth) to halt until the Fifth Corps began to move. 
By this arrangement it was expected to have three corps available 
to meet any force of the enemy that might be encountered here (at 
Bristoe). General Warren was advised of these instructions.''' 
Humphreys : Gettysburg to the Rapidan, p. 24. 


Headquarters, Fifth Army Corps, 
October 14, 1863, 2 p.m. 
General Warren : 

French is on Manassas Heights ; and I am at Bristoe,' waiting 
to see the head of your column. I shall move on the moment I 
see it. There is a long interval between French and I (sic), which 
I ought to close up as soon as possible. Are you delayed by any- 
thing ? Let me hear from you. 

Yours respectfully, 

George Sykes, M.G. 

Shortly after this despatch was sent, General Sykes 
was informed by his aid-de-cainp, Lieutenant Snyder, 
Third United States Infantry, that the Second Corps 
was coming. So it was, and so was Christmas. The 
writer heard it said at the time, although he has never 
been able to verify the statement, that Lieutenant Snyder 
had mistaken a squadron of the First Massachusetts Cav- 
alry for the head of the Second Corps column. How- 
ever this may have been, General Sykes, receiving a re- 
port, made in undoubted good faith, that Warren was 
coming with his corps, put his own troops in motion for 
Centreville, Already the whole of the Fifth Corps had 
had time to stretch itself out upon the route, leaving 
only the rear of its column still in view from Bristoe, 
when the head of A. P. Hill's corps — which Lee had, from 
the first, directed, not upon Centreville at all, but upon 
the crossing of Broad Run by the Orange & Alexandria 

' General Sykes' own letter to General Warren, on the 30th of 
October, speaks of his corps as being " massed at Milford," and 
states that his aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Snyder, Third United 
States Infantry, " was sent to the vicinity of Bristoe," to give no- 
tice when the head of Warren's column should arrive. In one 
sense, General Sykes was at Bristoe — that is, his position at Mil- 
ford covered Bristoe perfectly. 


Railroad — came out upon the hills from which Milford 
could be seen on the left, Bristoe in front. 

Of Bristoe it may be said that it was of even less im- 
portance, if possible, as a seat of residence, than Auburn. 
The village, big or little, which had once given name to 
the place had disappeared ; only a few " burnt chimneys " 
remained to show where once it stood. One insignifi- 
cant house on the right (south) side of the stream, known 
on the map as " Dodd's," constituted the sole human 
feature of the scene. This stood on the right of the road 
running from Brentsville to Gainesville, about one hun- 
dred yards north of the railroad. The ground on the 
right, or south, bank of Broad Run, is more than usually 
diversified, a number of humpy hillocks affording consid- 
erable relief from the plain and good positions for artillery. 

Heth's division is in the advance of Hill's corps. Heth 
looks toward Bristoe, and sees no Union force confronting 
him. The Army cf the Potomac has, then, escaped ! He 
looks off to his left, and there, across the plain, a mile or 
so away, he sees, with arms stacked, the last brigade of 
the Fifth Corps. That, then, is the rear-guard of the Po- 
tomac army, and the prize is lost ! Quickly he orders 
Poague to place a battery in position to rake the retreat- 
ing column, and hastens to throw his leading brigade 
(Walker's) across the stream in sharp pursuit, while Cooke 
and Kirkland prepare to follow. 

It is the sound of Poague's guns opening on the rear 
of the Fifth Corps which so startled Warren as he rode 
with the rear-guard, and which brought him at such a 
pace to the head of the column. But, fast as the staff 
moves, before it has reached the open ground- at Bristoe 
answering guns are heard, and the Confederates no longer 
have the music to themselves. It is the well-known, 
long-proved B, First Rhode Island, under Fred. Brown, 


back from his Gettysburg wounds, which tells Hcth 
that he is not to have it all his own way. 

For, while Heth is deploying Walker's, Cooke's, Kirk- 
land's, and Davis' brigades to assail the rear of the Fifth 
Corps, the head of the Second Division under General 
Webb, weakened by the detachment of Baxter's brig- 
ade, which has accompanied the trains, is crossing Ket- 
tle Run a mile and a half away. The men, weighed 
down with unusual burdens, worn with loss of sleep and 
the almost utter absence of cooked food for two days, are 
toiling along without a thought, on their part or on that 
of their commanders, that they are about to be thrown into 
the immediate presence of an enemy in full array of bat- 
tle. Sykes is supposed to be holding the ground in front 
of them, against any possible appearance of the enemy. 
And so Webb is pursuing his way up the left side of the 
I'ailroad ; when, first, the sound of Poague's fire upon the 
Fifth Corps, across the run, and then a report that skir- 
mishers of the enemy have been seen upon his own left, 
put him on his guard, not a minute too soon. Webb 
turns his column across the railroad to get on the south 
side. This, for the time, cuts the path of Hays' division, 
which has been moving in parallel column, and gives 
Webb the lead. As the latter clears the edge of a bit of 
woods, which here comes down to the railroad, he sees a 
Confederate battery already in position on his left, com- 
manding the whole of the open ground at Bristoe ; and 
instantly the sharp rattle of musketry tells that the flank- 
ing regiment, the First Minnesota, has encountered the 
skirmishers of the enemy. There is now no room for 
doubt that a fight, and a smart one, is at hand. 

A pretty to do it is ! A moment more discloses the 
Confederate infantry forming upon the crest on the left, 
to advance arainst the flank of our column. Those are 


the brigades of Cooke and Kirkland, coming fast into line 
to face the railroad instead of the stream ; while Poague's 
pieces, diverted from their practice upon the rear of the 
Fifth Corps column, are galloping into battery on a new 
line, to turn their fire upon Webb, who, discerning the 
importance of securing the crossing of Broad Run, moves 
at double-quick toward the ford. 

Brown's B, First Rhode Island, was marching literally 
at the very head of the column. Upon the discovery of 
the enemy, the bugle cry, " Cannoneers, mount ! " rings 
out, and, with " trot, march ! " the battery dashes across 
the plain, goes splashing through Broad Run, and comes 
at once into action from the other side. The race has 
been a sharp one, with the Confederates moving squarely 
down on Webb's flank ; but Webb gets to the stream, 
and even crosses the Eighty-second New York, to hold 
the opposite bank with Brown, while he faces his re- 
maining regiments to the left to meet the impending 

But surely the sound of this artillery contest, suddenly 
springing up on the lately peaceful banks of Broad Run, 
will call back the Fifth Corps ! 

The very first gun of Poague's artillery told certain 
things : 

1st. That there was little probability of an attempted 
concentration of Lee's army at Centreville, in advance of 
the Union army. 

2d. But if Lee, while reaching out to Centreville with 
one hand, was attempting with the other to seize Bristoe, 
it was as plain as day that it behooved the troops of the 
Potomac army farthest to the rear to fall, with all their 


force, upon the detachment sent to Bristoe, both because 
this would be the most effective means of causing the 
recall of the Centreville column to its assistance, and 
because, should the Bristoe column be badly defeated, 
the Centreville column would thereby be placed in 

3d. If, on the other hand, the appearance of the enemy 
at Bristoe signified, what appeared to be its plain con- 
struction, that Lee was not trying to reach Centreville 
at all, but was doing what Meade's " confidential " circu- 
lar of II P.M., of the 13th, indicated as not unlikely to 
be attempted — namely, turning in upon the line of march 
of the Potomac army, to cut off its rearmost divisions — ■ 
then, indeed, the reasons for the return of the Fifth Corps 
to Bristoe became of terrible urgency. 

As a matter of history, however, the Fifth Corps did 
not at once return to Broad Run upon the Second Corps 
being attacked in the place itself had thus prematurely 
abandoned. On the contrary, the pace of the rear divi- 
sion was only quickened by the fire from the Confederate 
guns; and before the first men of the Second Corps 
came upon' the field of Bristoe the last of the Fifth had 
passed out of sight, leaving one corps, and that the 
smallest of the Union army, to fight its battle unaided, 
against all the troops which Lee could bring up before 

I have no wish to reflect on General Sykes' motives. 
No one could have served long in the Army of the Po- 
tomac without learning that George Sykes was an hon- 
orable, brave, and resolute soldier, who never meant to 
do anything less than his full duty, and who was ever 
fearless in executing his trust as he understood it. His 
assertions — that he did not hear the sound of the conflict 
at Bristoe, did not even know that his own rear was 


fired into, and that he supposed Warren was all the time 
moving, like himself, on Centreville, until he received in- 
telligence of the result of the Second Corps' encounter 
with Hill — must be accepted without challenge. As to 
the premature withdrawal from Broad Run, it can only 
be said that Sykes, a slow, painstaking, persistent man, 
had wrought himself into such a conception of the su- 
preme necessity of making haste in getting to Centre- 
ville that, for the time, he could see, hear, and think of 
nothing else. Meade's warning about the danger of a 
column being sent down from Gainesville to Bristoe had 
fallen idly on his ears. His one thought was Centre- 
ville, Centreville, Centreville! And even after learning 
that Warren had been engaged, had captured guns and 
prisoners, he insisted that it could only have been some 
small force which Warren had encountered, and that the 
great object was still to get to Centreville.' 

Return we, then, to the Second Corps, left out on the 
south side of Broad Run alone, with only Gregg's cavalry 
in support, to encounter the whole fury of the enemy ; for, 
as a matter of fact, not one of Lee's infantry brigades had 

' There are, among General Warren's papers, two despatches 
from General Sykes, written after the Second Corps fight. The 
hours of writing are not given. One reads : " It is everything 
that the army should be concentrated at Centreville. I think you 
ought to move toward Manassas as soon as dark, if not before. 
The longer you delay, the more force they can bring against you ; 
and if Lee's army is on your left, two corps are little better than 
one." In the other General Sykes says : " I understand there are 
but few infantry opposed to you. If so, of course you can manage 
them with your corps." 


attempted to cross that stream — excepting only Walk- 
er's, at Milford, in pursuit of Sykes — and all were now 
being directed against the smallest of the five corps of 
the Union army, which was coming up the railroad to 

We left Brown's battery, which had crossed Broad 
Run, opening upon Poague's artillery from the Confed- 
erate left flank ; while Webb's somewhat straggled regi- 
ments, just emerged from Kettle Run, after a march of 
almost unparalleled fatigue, beheld two full lines of bat- 
tle advancing against them from the direction of Green- 
wich. Colonel Morgan, the inspector-general of the 
corps, was, at this moment, at the head of the column, 
having gone to the front in the expectation of meeting 
General Sykes at Bristoe, and receiving from him there 
information and suggestions regarding the position. 
Upon Webb and Morgan, therefore, was thrown the re- 
sponsibility of the first steps toward meeting this unex- 
pected danger. 

Their decision was to throw the two brigades of the 
Second Division present — the First, under Colonel Fran- 
cis E. Heath, of the Nineteenth Maine, the Third, under 
Colonel J. E. Mallon, Forty-second New York — upon a 
ridge to the south of the railroad, and distant from it 
about three hundred yards; and this formation was in 
progress, the Eighty-second New York having been re- 
called from the other bank, when Warren dashed at a 
gallop into the open. His quick intelligence, his falcon 
eye, his trained engineering sense, instantly took in the 
whole field ; and hardly could he turn in his saddle, be- 
fore he shouted to his adjutant-general, " Tell General 
Hays to move by the left flank, at the double-quick, to 
the railroad cut ! " 

The order scarcely required to be repeated, for already 


Hays was at Warren's side, sword in hand. " By the left 
flank ; double-quick ; railroad cut ! " rang sharply out in 
three voices at once, and was taken up by the colonels of 
the leading regiments of Owen's brigade which was mov- 
ing at the head of Hays' division. There was no time — 
there was no need — to send orders " through the regular 
channels." Every eye, when once attention was called 
to it, saw the immense advantage offered by the line of 
the railroad, which from Broad Run ran southwestward, 
over an embankment of varying height, for six hundred 
yards, to the point where the road from Brentsville to 
Gainesville crossed at grade. Here, and in the immediate 
vicinity, right and left, the shelter was small ; but as the 
railroad ran still farther southwestward the embankment 
rose again to a height of several feet, and continued, with 
two interruptions by " cuts," to afford excellent cover for 
troops. Up behind this admirable intrenchment dashed 
the brigade of Heath, which had been longest on the 
ground, occupying a space extending from about two 
hundred yards short of the stream to near the Brentsville 
road ; here joined them the Forty-second New York, of 
Mallon's brigade. On the other side of the road fell in 
the Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, the Sev- 
enth Michigan, and the Fifty-ninth New York ; while the 
brigade of Owen, now coming upon the plain, faced to 
the left and ran for the railroad, in almost perfect order, 
under a shower of balls. 

There was literally not a moment to be lost. The bri- 
gades of Cooke and Kirkland, with colors advanced, with 
Davis' and Walker's brigades covering their flanks, had 
already charged more than half way down the hill toward 
the railroad when they were first met by the fire of 
Webb's men. 

The line of fire was, at the opening, much shorter than 



the line of the enemy ; but, as regiment after regiment 
dashed forward, with loud shouts, and took position in 
the cut or behind the embankment, that fire spread rap- 
idly from right to left, and when Hays' brave fellows 
were in place our line overlapped the front of the charg- 
ing column, while Brown's battery, from beyond the run, 
and Ricketts' Pennsylvania battery, which had made its 


way at a gallop through the throng of infantry to the 
ridge above mentioned, back from the railroad, near the 
stream, poured in a rapid and most effective fire. " It is 
conceded," says General Morgan, "that the finest artillery 
practice in the experience of the corps was witnessed 
here." A few minutes later Arnold's Rhode Island bat- 
tery (A), breaking through the bushes, went into action 
behind Owen's brigade. Thus far, it had been simply a 
question of five minutes. Had that time been lost, the 


Confederates would have seized the railroad ; and the 
Union troops would have been fortunate to have so 
much as formed line of battle on the ridge to the south, 
abandoning the crossing of Broad Run to the enemy, 
who, with Anderson's division already advancing against 
our left, would soon have seized the crossing of Kettle 
Run, which, with Caldwell's division and Carroll's bri- 
gade, still to come up, would have meant little less than 
the complete destruction of the corps. As it was, the five 
minutes saved, the railroad seized, and our troops, to the 
number of about three thousand, esconced in the railroad 
cut or behind the embankment, it was still a question 
whether the advance of the enemy could be checked. 
Right gallantly they press forward in the face of a with- 
ering fire. If a battle-flag drops from one hand, it is in- 
stantly seized and held aloft by another. 

Already they have reached Dodd's house, near the 
track, without halting or breaking, and still they come 
on. Warren, Webb, and Hays, with their staffs, among 
whom are conspicuous Mitchell, Bingham, and Haskell, 
gallop up and down along the track, encouraging the men 
with cheers mingled with imprecations — which, let us 
hope, the troops hear, and the recording angel judiciously 
does not. Upon the line the gallant Mallon, colonel of 
the " Tammany " regiment, to-day commanding Webb's 
Third Brigade, sets an example of heroic bravery. His 
own regiment for the moment falters, and a company or 
two fall back as the Confederates dash up onto the rail- 
road track, at the crossing of the Brentsville road, and leap 
inside the line of the brigade. Mallon springs to the 
front, checks the disorder, and brings his men forward 
in handsome style, but in the act is mortally wounded, 
while three of his stafT are struck down. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Ansel D. Wass, Nineteenth Massachusetts, as- 


sumes command of the brigade on Mallon's fall. While 
thus, for the instant, the Confederates gain the railroad at 
the crossing of the Brentsville road, some of their bravest 
spirits also reach the embankment beyond Webb's ex- 
treme right, which rests a hundred or two yards from 
the stream, and begin to fire down the line of Heath's 

But the matter, really, has now gone far enough. Ex- 
cept for the momentary wavering of a company or two, 
the troops have kept up their fire with regularity and 
coolness, even the very conscripts fighting like men. 
There is no sign of panic at seeing the enemy in two 
places within our lines. The Confederates who have 
reached the railroad at grade, in the centre, are shot or 
knocked down by the men of the Forty-second. On the 
right, the Eighty-second New York change front, and 
drive out, or kill, or capture, all who have crossed the 
track near the run. A few men mount the embank- 
ment where it is held by the Nineteenth Maine,' but 
are instantly shot or stabbed, and the general mass of 
Cooke's and Kirkland's men, now at varying distances, 
from twenty-five to seventy-five yards from our front, 
halt, waver, and then fall back. Quick as thought, amid 
loud cheers, the men of half a dozen regiments spring 
across the railroad, and dash forward to gather the 
trophies of the fight; while, on the left, the impetuous 
Smyth advances his brigade — the Second, of the Third 
Division — in line of battle, into the woods lately held by 
the enemy. And soon four hundred and sixty prisoners," 

' Sergeant Small, of Company I, shot one Confederate at mus- 
ket's length, and ran another through with his bayonet. 

' It was at the time related that these men, brought into the line 
of the Second Division, recognised their old antagonists of Gcttvs- 


with two colors, are brought in from under the very noses 
of the supporting brigades of Davis and Walker, while 
five of Poague's guns are drawn across the track by the 
rollicking skirmishers, each piece bestridden by a crow- 
ing " Yank." And so " first blood " and " first knock- 
down " are awarded to the Second Corps. 

But although the recent peril had been escaped, or, 
rather, turned to victory, over which there was much 
noisy gratulation among the troops, the situation, as 
viewed by the higher of^cers, was a gloomy one. Cooke's 
and Kirkland's brigades had indeed been driven back 
Avith severe loss, including both brigade commanders ; 
but the moment the prisoners were brought in. General 
Warren ascertained that all of Hill's corps was in his 
immediate front or fast coming up, while Ewell's con- 
tinued progress toward our left and rear was reported 
every few minutes by messengers from the cavalry. Very 
soon the Second Corps alone, of all the army, would be 
face to face with both of Lee's grand divisions, and that, 
too, on the wrong side of a creek the crossing of which 
was, at that moment, commanded by the Confederate 
artillery, whose line of fire was now lengthening as Mcin- 
tosh's battalion, from the artillery reserve of Hill's corps, 
arrived — three batteries taking position on the Con- 
federate right, while one was sent to replace the lost 
guns on the left. Smyth's brigade was withdrawn from 
the position to which it had been advanced, on the re- 
pulse of Cooke and Kirkland, by the impetuosity of its 
commander, and resumed its post along the railroad. 

Caldwell's division now began to arrive— Miles was 
sent to the extreme right of our line, to support the bat- 

burg, and, on seeing the white trefoil of their captors, exclaimed, 
" Those damned white clubs again ! " 


tcries ; while the other brigades were placed on the left 
of Hays. Carroll's brigade of the latter division, which, 
^\'ith French's battery, had filed out of the column near 
Kettle Run, before the action commenced, to hold the 
Brentsville road against a possible irruption of Stuart's 
cavalry, and had thus become the rear infantry brigade, 
now came up — the Seventh Virginia and Fourteenth In- 
diana going in between the Irish brigade and Brooke, 
the Fourth Ohio on the left of, and perpendicular to, 
Brooke's line, forming a crotchet, the Eighth Ohio in re- 
serve. The line of the Second Corps was then extended 
by Gregg's First Cavalry Brigade, under Colonel Taylor, 
along the road leading to Brentsville. This brigade had, 
in its hard day of almost continual skirmishing, exhausted 
a full supply of carbine ammunition, and had only the 
pistol and sabre left for defending its line. 

The Second Corps was now in position, about eight 
thousand strong, one brigade being detached ; and, hav- 
ing made the best dispositions it could, was compelled to 
await its fate. Despatches sent to General Sykes, repre- 
senting the severity of the attacks sustained or threatened, 
had, indeed, caused a countermarch of the Fifth Corps, 
Avhich, as General Warren was advised, was hastening 
back from the plains of Manassas to his support; but 
Sykes could not possibly return in season to recross 
Broad Run, and help the Second Corps hold its ground 
there. All that his advance could do was to keep the 
enemy from crossing Broad Run at Alilford ; or, in case 
Warren were worsted in the approaching encounter on 
the right bank, the presence of the Fifth Corps on the 
other side might help him to get off his shattered com- 

But will that battle, so fearfully impending, take 
place ? Assuredly it will, unless the Confederates are 


more tardy and less agressive than we have before found 
them. Everything urges them to action. It is their last 
chance to deal a blow at the Army of the Potomac in 
this series of movements; for, if unmolested until night- 
fall, Warren can steal away, and morning may find him 
behind Bull Run, with all five corps in line. The next 
hour must determine whether the Confederate army is to 
have gained anything by these forced marches, this stu- 
pendous effort to disconcert and defeat the victors of 
Gettysburg. Moreover, the loss already experienced — of 
two flags, five guns, and nearly five hundred prisoners — 
may be expected to sting the enemy into putting forth 
all their power to avenge Heth's defeat. 

Time, certainly, has not been wanting to the Confed- 
erates for bringing up an overwhelming force. At half- 
past four o'clock, it has been more than two hours since 
Heth's head of column arrived in the immediate vicinity. 
Two divisions, Heth's and Anderson's, together far out- 
numbering Warren, have already been deployed in con- 
tact with the Second Corps ; and eight batteries, at the 
least, are on the ground ; Wilcox's division is also fully 
up and massed in rear. So much for Hill's corps. On 
Ewell's part the case is plain. Since ten o'clock he has 
had nothing to do but keep up a steady continuous 
march in pursuit of Warren, either on the road by which 
the latter retreated, or by some better route. If Ewell 
has not taken the road through Catlett's, it is because he 
has chosen to take a shorter road across country. 

Indeed, at half-past four o'clock everything presaged 
the early commencement of a general attack, which, on 
all grounds that can be assigned, should have resulted in 
the complete destruction of the Second Corps, thus at 
bay. Perry and Posey, supported by the other brigades 
of Anderson's division, were pushed forward, on Heth's 


right, against the left of Hays' division and the right of 
Caldwell. A sharp skirmish ensued in which Posey was 
mortally wounded, the third brigadier on that side who 
had fallen ; the Confederate artillery, so near our line, 
on the left, that the orders given in firing were distinctly 
heard, swept the plain of Bristoe with a furious cannon- 
ade, from which the troops found shelter in the railroad 
cut or behind the embankment, leaving the full benefit 
to the staff, who rode over the field, with shot and shell 
from guns not five hundred yards away passing between 
man and man, beneath the horses' bellies, overhead, un- 
derfoot, everywhere, with a tedious iteration. Fortu- 
nately there was in rear of the Second Division, about 
half-way back toward the crest where Ricketts' battery 
had taken position, a deep ditch which was used as a 
hospital, and served to protect the wounded and the 
surgeons, in a measure, from the cannon fire. Hither 
the brave Mallon was borne, and here he breathed his 

And now word comes in from the south that, at last, 
Ewell is at work upon Caldwell's front. But yet the 
great assault does not fall. Is it possible that Lee will 
forfeit a chance he may never have again, to achieve the 
destruction of a Union corps ? Can it be that he will 
let the sun go down upon his own defeat ? As every 
quarter of an hour is told off, we scarcely know whether 
to feel relief, or a greater dread because of the increasing 
numbers that may now take part in the anticipated as- 
sault. At last the sun touches the horizon just behind a 
long row of Confederate guns ; then sinks out of sight ; 
the short twilight of October passes quickly, with only 
a few flurries on the part of the cavalry and of Carroll's 
and Caldwell's infantry, caused by the rapid arrival of 
Ewell's brigades. We breathe freely once more, after 


that painful suspense. It is dark, and " Bristoe Station " 
has passed into history. It can no longer be written that 
the Second Corps threw off the first attack of Heth, but 
was crushed beneath the gathering masses of Hill and 
Ewell. The corps has accomplished its difificult and per- 
ilous task ; and is now at liberty to withdraw, as fast as 
the weary legs of the men will carry them, to join their 
comrades behind Bull Run. Its spirited young leader 
has made himself a reputation of the first class ; and, 
though only temporarily assigned to the command, it 
cannot now be doubtful that he will find a place among 
the permanent corps commanders of the Army of the 

The victory had, as such things are computed, not 
been dearly bought. If to the losses of the infantry in 
the sudden encounter at Bristoe we add the losses at 
Auburn in the early morning, we have a total of 31 offi- 
cers and 354 men reported killed and wounded. Two 
ofificers and 159 men, some doubtless killed or wounded, 
were reported missing, which, for such a day of sudden 
surprises, sharp skirmishing, running fights and hard 
marching, was wonderfully small. 

The enemy's casualties had, owing to their more ex- 
posed position at Bristoe, been much greater, reaching a 
total of 782 ofTicers and men killed and wounded. Allow- 
ing for the prisoners taken at Bristoe, the day's opera- 
tions had cost Lee 1,244 men, including three general ofifi- 
cers, while two colors and five guns were held as trophies 
by the Second Corps. 

Among the Second Corps losses, however, was one 
painfully felt. Colonel James E. Mallon, of -the Forty- 


second New York, had fallen in command of Dana's old 
brigade. Colonel Mallon, while major of his regiment, 
had served as provost-marshal of the Second Corps un- 
der General Couch ; and, alike on staff duty and in com- 
mand of troops, had on all occasions proved himself a 
gallant and capable officer, one of the best of that fast 
thinning, never to be recruited class, the generous and 
spirited young volunteers of 1861. 

The staff had suffered severely, being exposed in an 
unusual degree. Lieutenant Michael Coste, of the Sev- 
enty-second Pennsylvania, serving on the staff of General 
Owen, was killed. Of Mallon's staff three had been 
wounded : Captain Cooper, Forty-second New York ; 
Captain Smith, Seventh Michigan ; Lieutenant W. R. 
Driver, Nineteenth Massachusetts. General Webb, in a 
letter to his wife written the next day, says he more than 
once ran away from his staff, to keep them out of mis- 
chief, yet two of them were wounded. Captain Wessels, 
judge advocate, and Captain Smith, acting assistant in- 

Of the total number of 161 missing, 71 were from the 
brigade of Brooke, which had been engaged for several 
hours in skirmishing with Ewell's advance at Auburn, 
and had formed the rear-guard of the corps. The First 
Division lost 1 1 killed and 65 wounded, substantially all 
at Auburn, on skirmish or by the fire of Stuart's guns. 
The Second Division lost 17 killed and loi wounded, sub- 
stantially all at Bristoe, the three regiments suffering 
most being the Forty-second New York, which was at 
the point where the enemy broke through, on the centre ; 
the Eighty-second New York, which met those of the 
enemy who crossed the railroad on the right ; and the 
First Minnesota, which had been out as flankers, on the 
first encounter, and had shown a stubbornness rarely dis- 


played in that position. The losses of the Third Di- 
vision, 20 killed and 145 wounded, had been sustained in 
part at Auburn, where the One Hundred and Twenty- 
sixth New York and Twelfth New Jersey encountered the 
Confederate cavalry, and in part at Bristoe, where the 
Third Brigade, which lost 12 men killed and 91 wounded, 
advanced to the railroad embankment under a severe 
fire, for which they took full payment in kind after- 

The artillery brigade lost 2 killed and 24 wounded, the 
loss being very evenly distributed among the four batter- 

The following officers were killed or mortally wound- 
ed : Colonel James E. Mallon, Forty-second New York ; 
Captain William H. Plumb, One Hundred and Twenty- 
fifth New York ; Captain Charles H. Stevens, Fifteenth 
Massachusetts ; Lieutenant Michael Coste, Seventy-sec- 
ond Pennsylvania; Lieutenant James T. Lowe, Twelfth 
New Jersey. 

Great as was the relief of the Union commander 
when night closed down upon the field of Bristoe, all 
cause for anxiety had not disappeared. It was no longer 
in Lee's power to sweep down from the west and from 
the south, with superior force, and drive the Second 
Corps in disorder from the railroad, to be captured or 
destroj^ed almost entire. It was, indeed, not in his power 
to prevent the retreat of the Union troops under the 
cover of darkness. But it was in his power to set up a 
fire from his numerous artillery which should make a 
withdrawal a most unpleasant and dangerous business. 
Moreover, should an exploding shell have shown the 


corps in retreat, it was in the caissons and limber-boxes 
of Hill's batteries to make the plain shriek with a can- 
nonade so fierce as to throw a column marching by the 
flank into the direst disorder, for the bravest men must 
cringe under a rapid fire of artillery in the darkness. 

It was in view of such possibilities that General Warren 
gave the most punctilious instructions as to the withdrawal 
from the railroad embankment and cut. Until the troops 
Avere fairly across Broad Run no word of command was to 
be spoken above a whisper ; each man was to keep his hand 
upon his cup and canteen that these might not rattle ; 
and thus, in ghostly silence, the corps was to steal away, 
marching by the flank across the enemy's front, within 
three hundred yards of their skirmishers and half-cannon 
range of their smooth-bore guns. 

Never will the writer of these lines forget the sights, 
the sounds, and the queer sensations of those hours of the 
early evening, when, slowly riding down the railroad, he 
saw each regiment, in its turn, quietly started on the 
long march that still remained to be added to the ex- 
ertions of the last sixty hours. The little camp-fires of 
the Confederate host were burning at a hundred points, 
across the plain still strewn with the dead of Heth's 
charge, and up on the hill beyond, where new brigades 
were even now coming up to the expected battle of to- 
morrow ; the voices of the Confederate soldiers, in famil- 
iar talk around those camp-fires, the challenge of the 
sentinels, the low groans of the wounded, Vv^ere borne on 
every breeze. Within the Union lines was silence and 
darkness ; no camp-fires showed their flickering light, no 
hum of voices was heard, not a cigar was lighted in the 
column, as eight thousand men stole away from the pres- 
ence of the great army which had for hours held them 
at its mercy. The five captured guns were not forgot- 


ten, but, having with some difficulty been furnished by 
Colonel Morgan with extra horses, accompanied the 
artillery brigade. Crossing Broad Run, partly by the 
ford and partly by the railroad, the infantry made their 
way over the great plain stretching toward Manassas, 
and, between three and four o'clock on the morning of 
the 15th, the jaded troops who, of the sixty-nine hours 
that had elapsed since they left Bealton on the morning 
of the 1 2th, had been in column in the road, or in line 
of battle, or skirmishing or fighting with the enemy 
more than sixty, carrying the heaviest load I have ever 
known troops to carry in campaign, were allowed to 
throw themselves upon the ground, on the left bank cf 
Bull Run, near Blackburn's Ford, and for the time 
rest from their labors. Well may General Morgan say 
his campaign, short as it was, " was more fatiguing than 
that of the Seven Days on the Peninsula, since the 
marches were much longer." 

Leaving Stony Mountain at three o'clock on the 
morning of the nth, the corps had marched, through 
Culpepper, across the Rappahannock, to Bealton ; thence, 
on a false report, back, on the 12th, to Brandy Station ; 
from which it moved again, at ten o'clock in the even- 
ing, through Bealton, to Fayetteville ; retracing its steps, 
after a short hour's halt, to march, through Bealton, to 
Auburn ; bivouacking from nine o'clock in the evening of 
the 13th till between three and four in the morning of 
the 14th, when it again took the route, skirmishing for 
hours in and around Auburn and on the road to Cat- 
lett's, and in the afternoon fighting the battle at Bristoe ; 
to resume the march, as soon as. night had fairly fallen, 
to halt only on Bull Run, between three and four of the 
morning of the 15th. 

For its exertions and sacrifices the corps received a gen- 


erous measure of praise, alike from the country, from its 
comrades, and from the commander of the Army of the 
Potomac. The following is General Meade's order an- 
nouncing the affair at Bristoe : 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
October 15, 1863. 
[General Orders, No. 96.] 

The Major-General Commanding announces to the army that 
the rear-guard, consisting of the Second Corps, was ;ittacked yes- 
terday while marching by the flank. 

The enemy, after a spirited contest, was repulsed, losing a bat- 
tery of five guns, two colors, and four hundred and fifty prisoners. 
The skill and promptitude of Major-General Warren, and the 
gallantry and bearing of the officers and soldiers of the Second 
Corps, are entitled to high commendation. 

By command of Major-General Meade. 
S. Williams, Assistant Adjutant- General. 

General Morgan justly remarks that even the high 
credit which General Warren received for his conduct on 
this occasion did not equal his deserts, owing to facts not 
generally known. " General Warren had," he says, " not 
only to meet the enemy, but to change the formation 
made before he arrived on the field, and to effect this in 
the face of a powerful advance of the enemy. His quick- 
ness and decision inspired the corps with great confidence 
in him." This testimony is worth all the more because 
the first formation of Webb's division, to which Morgan 
alludes, was one in which he had himself, as Warren's 
stafT ofificer, concurred. If it be asked how it happened 
that the Second Corps escaped annihilation on the 14th of 
October, it can only be answered that it was because the 
Confederates were slower than they often showed them- 
selves on occasions of equal importance. General Hill 
was on the high ground above Bristoe more than an hour 


in advance of Webb ; and Heth had four brigades de- 
ployed while Webb's troops were still toiling along the 
road, more or less straggled by the long march and by 
the recent crossing of Kettle Run. There was nothing to 
prevent Ewell, on the other hand, from following Warren 
through Catlett's, up along the track, to Bristoe, advanc- 
ing as fast as Warren retired, and from being up, skir- 
mishing on Carroll's and Brooke's front, with lines of bat- 
tle forming behind, by half-past four o'clock. If Ewell 
left the road by which the Second Corps retreated, as he 
did, it was only to take a shorter route, cutting off the 
unnecessary angle at Catlett's. A most curious feature 
of this case is that not only had Ewell fought Hooker on 
this very field, the year before, during the second Bull 
Run campaign, but that this was his own home country. 



Scarcely was the race between Lee and Meade, from 
Brandy Station to Centreville, October nth to 15th, 
well over, when the Army of the Potomac was again 
called upon to go forward to the Rappahannock, justify- 
ing General Humphreys' expression of regret that the 
Army of the Potomac had not been formed on the 14th, 
along Broad Run, about Bristoe and Milford, when that 
general engagement, which both commanders seemed to 
desire but which it was yet so difficult to bring about, 
would surely have taken place. 

The following troops had joined while the corps was 
on the Bull Run : One Hundred and Fifty-second New- 
York, October i6th, assigned to First Brigade, Second 
Division; Twenty-sixth Michigan, October 17th, as- 
signed to First Brigade, First Division. 

At this place the famous Battery I, First United States 
Artillery, so long and honorably associated with the 
Second Corps, was mounted and sent to join the cavalry. 
Its place was taken by Weir's Battery C, Fifth United 
States. Independent Battery C, of Pennsylvania, was 
also assigned to the artillery brigade. 

On the 19th the corps, which had remained undis- 
turbed except by a reconnoissance of Stuart's about 
noon of the 15th, during which some fiendish Hotchkiss 
shells were thrown into camp, moved, in the afternoon, 


from Blackburn's Ford to Bristoe. The next morning, 
the 20th, the corps moved to Gainesville ; thence to 
Greenwich ; thence to Auburn, no enemy appearing on 
the line of march. During the 21st and 22d the corps 
stayed in camp at Auburn. On the 23d the camp was 
moved to the railroad crossing at Turkey Run, about 
midway between Warrenton and Warrenton Junction, 
where the troops remained a fortnight. It was camp and 
headquarters rumor, at this time, that General Meade 
had proposed a movement by the flank toward Fredericks- 
burg, like that which Burnside had made from Warren- 
ton almost exactly a year before, but that the project 
had been vetoed by the President. On the 28th of 
October Lieutenant-Colonel J. Albert INIonroe, First 
Rhode Island Artillery, relieved Captain Hazard as chief 
of the artillery brigade. Captain Hazard resumed com- 
mand of his battery. 

On the 7th of November camp was broken, and the 
army moved to the Rappahannock — the Fifth and Sixth 
Corps to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge ; 
the Third and Second to Kelly's Ford, the latter passing 
through Warrenton Junction, Bealton, and Morrisville. 

The Sixth Corps, as is well remembered, carried the 
works defending the railroad bridge by one of the most 
brilliant assaults of the war, in which fifteen hundred 
prisoners, six colors, and four guns were captured by the 
brigades of Upton and Russell. The Third Corps, on 
its part, effected a crossing at Kelly's Ford with little loss, 
securing two or three hundred prisoners. On the follow- 
ing morning the Second Corps crossed the river in sup- 
port of the Third. General Morgan states that General 
Warren was exceedingly anxious that the Second and 
Third Corps, constituting the left column, should be 
pushed, with all haste and force, to Germanna Ford, up- 

MINE RUN. 367 

on the Rapidan, to prevent Lee from escaping out of the 
peninsula between the two rivers. 

General Meade would appear to have been confident 
that Lee was prepared to give battle on the great plains 
around Brandy Station, and therefore called the Third 
and Second Corps over toward the right, to be in readi- 
ness to support the Fifth and Sixth Corps. Lee, how- 
ever, withdrew across the Rapidan. Whether he would 
have been intercepted by the movement proposed by 
General Warren, or whether that movement would have 
involved undue danger to either of the two columns, we 
need not discuss. Certain it was that Lee's retirement 
was abrupt, although in good form ; and that the Con- 
federates had counted upon very comfortable winter- 
quarters between the two rivers. Their camps consisted 
of cosey and substantial huts, while the construction of 
corduroy roads had made considerable progress. The 
prisoners captured were much better clad than had been 
usual, many having good English blankets and shoes. 

The withdrawal of Lee's army behind the Rapidan 
having been ascertained, the Second Corps went into 
camp in the vicinity of Berry Hill, near Stevensburg, 
with headquarters at Thorn's House, a fine old mansion 
commanding a view of the country for miles in every 
direction. Here the troops rested until the 24th of 
November. Early on that day camp was broken, under 
orders to move down to the Rapidan ; but at 7 A.M. 
those orders were countermanded in consequence of a 
heavy rain. 


Two days later, viz., on the 26th of November, began 
the series of operations which have passed into history 
under the name of " Mine Run." 


At 6.30 P.M. the Second Corps moved to Germanna 
Ford ; the First Corps (Newton) and the Fifth Corps 
(Sykes) proceeding to Culpepper Mine Ford ; the Third 
Corps (French) and the Sixth Corps (Sedgwick), to 
Jacobs' Mill. The Second Corps thus constituted the 
centre column ; the First and Fifth Corps the left col- 
umn ; the Third and Sixth Corps the right column. 

The object of this well-conceived movement was, by a 
rapid march, to get inside of Lee's line of defence at Mine 
Run, and there to bring on a fight on a fair field, with 
the possible added advantage of finding the two Confed- 
erate corps of Hill and Ewell so widely apart, for con- 
venience of v/inter quarters, as to allow them to be 
beaten in detail. From the first, however, the move- 
ment was embarrassed by delays and blunders. 

The Second Corps reached Germanna Ford promptly ; 
but was there halted by General Meade, as the Third 
Corps, which had been expected at the upper ford, was 
reported behind its time. When, at last, the Second 
Corps was ordered forward, the ford was secured with- 
out opposition, the enemy's vedettes withdrawing rap- 
idly. A few men from the Fourth New York Cavalry 
dashed across in pursuit, and a small party of infantry 
w^as thrown over, wading up to their necks in the cold 
water, to get possession of the opposite landing. The 
engineers immediately began to lay the bridges, where- 
upon it was found that we were " short " by one or two 
pontoons, as also proved to be the case at Jacobs' Mill. 
This was attributed to the recent rains, which had 
swollen the Rapidan and extended its banks. As a re- 
sult of the second delay, thus experienced, night found 
the Second Corps advanced but four miles beyond the 
ford, namely, to Flat Run church, instead of Robertson's 
tavern as had been contemplated. The right column was 

MINE RUN. 369 

even more backward, not all the infantry behii^ able to 
cross at Jacobs' Mill before morning. 

Notwithstanding this unfortunate beginning, it was be- 
lieved to be still possible to get in behind Mine Run be- 
fore Lee could bring up anything like his whole army ; 
and, early in the morning of the 27th, the troops were 
again put in motion, the Second Corps, the centre, tak- 
ing a Avood road across from the Germanna Plank Road 
to the turnpike, and then going up the latter at a swing- 
ing rate, Carroll's Westerners setting the pace. 

The enemy's vedettes had been encountered at the 
point where the corps struck the turnpike, two miles 
from Robertson's tavern ; but these retired rapidly before 
our small cavalry detachment. At about ten o'clock the 
head of the column arrived at Robertson's, where the 
sound of sharp firing came up from the swale beyond. 
When the staff reached the crest, the situation was 
found to be as follows : Down in the valley the cavalry 
skirmishers were exchanging shots rapidly, while, pro- 
truding from the woods half-way up the opposite hill, 
appeared the head of a Confederate cavalry column 
which had evidently given all the ground it meant to 
give, and was sullenly occupying the road by fours. The 
opportunity to get a few cannon-shots at these people, 
in retaliation for " Coffee Hill," and then to charge with 
infantry, was too valuable to be neglected ; and in a 
few minutes a gun from the leading battery was hauled 
by hand close up to the crest, and two of Carroll's small 
regiments were thrown forward to follow up the first 

But, just as the gunners were ready, the explanation of 
the confident, if not impudent, halt of the Confederates 
was given, somewhat to our surprise. Dashing out from 
the woods at the double-quick appeared a body of infan- 


try, whicli, turning to their left, began to form line of 
battle, fronting Robertson's Tavern. 

The situation had changed ; Carroll's regiments were 
halted ; Hays' brigades were brought rapidly up to form 
line along the crest, looking toward Mine Run ; and 
Webb's division, next in column, was directed to form 
on Hays' right, where French's Third Corps, with the 
Sixth behind, ought already to have made its appear- 
ance. Webb moved forward at the double-quick ; and 
it was well he did, since, as his leading brigade came 
up, in line, to within a few yards of the crest, upon the 
right, it encountered, face to face, a Confederate line of 
battle which was advancing to seize the same position. 
Webb was just enough ahead in the race to gain the 
crest, and the enemy, apparently not then prepared for a 
contest, fell back after a brief skirmish. 

But where on earth was French ? The Second Corps 
was up on the centre ; but that position might become a 
very critical one unless the right column, which also was 
directed on Robertson's, and which was already overdue, 
should soon, very soon, come up. Warren had ten thou- 
sand men ; French and Sedgwick, together, had more 
than twenty-five thousand. The numbers of the enemy 
were of course unknown ; yet this was manifestly the 
point where Lcc would concentrate the bulk of his 
available force. In point of fact, the troops opposing 
Warren were the divisions of Rodes and Early. Assist- 
ance could not yet be expected from the other column, 
the left, consisting of the First and Fifth Corps, which 
had the longer route, and which could now be heard, far 
away, fighting with the enemy's cavalry. Indeed, this 
column had not been directed on Robertson's Tavern at 
all, but was to proceed through Parker's Store. 

Eleven o'clock passed, and it was soon high noon, and 



yet no sign of French. General Meade, who had come 
up the pike and estabHshed his headquarters a mile or 
so in rear of Robertson's, was raging over the non-appear- 
ance of the right column, concerning which it was now 

evident that something more than mere tardiness was 
the matter. The Third Corps, leaving camp as it was 
known to have done, could hardly have moved so slowly 
as to fail to reach Robertson's by twelve o'clock. 


The situation was fast getting to be disagreeable. The 
enemy's lines were reported as becoming longer on both 
the right, occupied by Webb, and on the left, where 
Caldwell was now deployed ; and the pressure on our 
skirmish line was constantly growing heavier. It seemed 
to General Warren that this was an occasion where au- 
dacity might be of service ; and the skirmishers of Hays' 
division, on the centre, were ordered to make things 
lively. The order came to Carroll, who commanded the 
skirmishers ; and never was order more exactly obeyed. 
Dashing up and down his line, on horseback, a mark for 
hundreds of rifles, this intrepid fighter again and again 
thrust his skirmishers into the very faces of the men who 
formed the Confederate line of battle. No matter how 
often the Confederate skirmish line was reinforced, it 
had to go back under the daring advance of the men of 
the Seventh West Virginia and Fourth Ohio. 

While thus the enemy's attention was occupied in 
front, every eye and ear was intent to catch the first 
sight or sound of French's advance from the right ; but for 
either sight or sound of French the troops at Robertson's 
waited in vain. Hour after hour passed, the danger of 
the Confederates assuming the offensive momentarily in- 
creasing, until, at last, to Warren's infinite relief, the sun 
went down ; and the Second Corps, in its advanced and 
isolated position, one-sixth of the army thrown far out 
in front, was, for ten hours at least, safe. 

Now, where, all this time, %vas French ? That officer 
had left his camp, in good season, but had taken the 
wrong road,' a road which would, indeed, have brought 

' General Humphreys is very severe upon General French, and 
seems to show that his mistake was inexcusable, committed against 
positive and repeated warnings. At any rate, it cost French his 
command and his rank. 

MINE RUN. 373 

him, ill time, to Robertson's, but which led him, in the 
immediate instance, across the path of Johnson's Con- 
federate division, of Early's corps, which, on the report 
of the crossing of the Rapidan, was hurrying forward to 
meet Meade's army and delay its movements until Hill's 
corps could come up from its distant cantonments, south 
of Orange Court House. Johnson fulfilled his mission of 
delay to perfection. It would seem as though the Third 
and Sixth Corps would not long have been blocked by 
a single Confederate division, but the first collision of 
the two bodies, near Morris', resulted disastrously to 
the head of French's column. That fact caused elaborate 
preparations for battle to be made, and these, with the 
not very decisive fighting which ensued, consumed the 
entire day. This action, in which French lost about 
seven hundred, and Johnson about five hundred, men, 
proved to be full of fate for the Army of the Potomac. 
It cost all the time that was needed to bring forward 
the divisions of A. P. Hill, and to enable the Confeder- 
ate engineers to extend their intrenchments toward the 
south, to cover the roads by which the centre and left 
Union columns were advancing. 

Yet, even after this third cause of delay, so disconcert- 
ing to his plans, and, indeed, destroying all possibility of 
surprising the enemy and of interposing between Ewell 
and Hill, General Meade did not relinquish his purpose 
of bringing on a fight. Communication was established 
with the errant right column ; and General Sedgwick, 
passing by French, took the lead in a march which, be- 
fore morning, brought the Sixth Corps to Robertson's. 
Meanwhile, the left column, consisting of the Fifth and 
First Corps, was brought over to form on Warren's 

Thus the morning of the 28th found Meade's army in 


line, stretching across the turnpike, with Gregg's cavalry 
on the Orange Plank Road. 

But for the successive delays which have been recited, 
the Army of the Potomac could easily have occupied 
this position, only two or three miles from Mine Run, by 
daybreak of the 27th. 

But, though a day had been lost in a movement es- 
sentially of the nature of a surprise, General Meade, as 
has been said, was still determined to bring on an action ; 
and accordingly the several corps were pushed forward, 
in the morning of the 28th, against the position which 
had been occupied by Rodes and Early when night fell ; 
but those positions were found abandoned. Lee, having 
gained all the time he needed, by detaining French at 
Morris', and, in consequence, holding Warren back at 
Robertson's Tavern on the turnpike, and Sykes on the 
plank road, had fallen back upon the strong line of Mine 

We have said that the line of Mine Run was a strong 
one, and so, by nature, it was ; but, when Meade planned 
the campaign, this position had not been intrenched. 
The commander of the Army of the Potomac had relied 
on carrying his columns, by a rapid movement, across 
Mine Run before Hill could get up. When, however, 
the advance of the five Union corps, pushing forward from 
Robertson's Tavern, on the morning of the 28th, came 
in sight of the valley of Mine Run, a very ugly looking 
line of hills had been rendered more repulsive in aspect 
by fallen trees and lines of freshly dug earth. The creek, 
swollen with the recent heavy rains, had overflowed its 
banks, turning the valley at many places into a marsh. 
General Meade might, indeed, on the first sight of the 
enemy's line, have brought his corps rapidly up to attack 
it, and thus prevent its being further strengthened by 

MINE RUN. 375 

fortifications ; but the day that had been lost had both 
diminished the occasion for haste, there being no longer 
any chance of fighting Ewell and Hill separately, and 
had, for the same reason, vastly increased the difficulty of 
carrying the position by a co2{p dc main and the danger 
of attempting this without careful arrangements. Meade 
had but five men to the enemy's three, and this, against 
such an army as that of Northern Virginia, so tenacious, 
so resolute, so well led, occupying fortified positions of 
their own choosing, was not odds enough to justify pre- 
cipitate action and partial preparation. 

What, we can now see, might, in spite of the delays of 
the 27th, have been undertaken, with strong hopes of 
success, if promptly begun on the evening of that day, 
is as follows : Whatever the embarrassments caused by 
French's inopportune encounter with Johnson, on the 
27th, the approach of night rendered new dispositions 
possible, to do the next best thing to that in General 
Meade's view when he crossed the Rapidan. The First 
and Fifth Corps should not have been called in from the 
plank road, but, on the contrary, should have been rein- 
forced by Sedgwick's corps marched across behind Warren. 

French's corps should have been drawn in to Robert- 
son's, and there united with the Second Corps, to hold 
the turnpike and occupy the enemy on the right, advanc- 
ing, of course, to Mine Run, if not strenuously opposed. 

Meanwhile, the three corps on the plank road, with 
Gregg's cavalry, should have initiated a vigorous turning 
movement, early on the 28th, over the same ground as 
that covered by Warren's operations of the 29th. This 
would not have restored the lost day of the 27th, but it 
would have saved the 28th, and the three corps forming 
the left column could have got a fair fight out of Hill 
behind Mine Run. 


But, while we can see that this course would have 
given the Army of the Potomac at least a chance to re- 
deem the campaign from failure, it is not at all surprising 
that, with his plans so completely disconcerted as they 
had been. General Meade should have let the night of 
the 27th go by without initiating a new turning move- 
ment. Moreover, the Comte de Paris states that Meade's 
mind had been much impressed by the appearance of 
Johnson's Confederate division in the Jacobs' Mill Road. 
This, which was a mere stroke of audacity, had given the 
Union commander the belief that General Lee really 
intended to pass his right and cut him off from the 
Rapidan, an apprehension similar to that which, as we 
shall see, caused an early halt of the Army of the Po- 
tomac on the 4th of May, i S64. 

warren's flank march. 

During the 28th the army, now heavily massed on the 
two sides of the turnpike, confronted the enemy's posi- 
tion behind Mine Run. The more it was inspected the 
uglier it appeared, justifying General Morgan's expres- 
sion, " almost impregnable strength." During the after- 
noon and evening. General Meade made his plans, 
which involved a renewal of the movement along the 
plank road from Hope Church, the position from which 
Sykes and Newton had been called away in the late 
afternoon of the 27th. All this ground was now to be 
retraced by the turning column. When we come to see 
that the attempted movement actually failed for want of 
daylight, we can appreciate the mistake which led to the 
original abandonment of the advanced position, by which 
the upper valley of Mine Run could be most easily en- 
tered and the enemy's rear reached. 


The command of the turning column was intrusted to 
Genera! Warren, in whom General Meade had great con- 
fidence, both from long acquaintance and also, and es- 
pecially, from his conduct at Gettysburg and Bristoe. 
The troops taken for this purpose were to be General 
Warren's own corps, the Second, which had been relieved, 
at the centre, by the Fifth, and Terry's strong and highly 
disciplined division of the Sixth Corps. Only three bat- 
teries were to accompany the column. The movement, 
which involved a countermarch to Robertson's, was be- 
gun late in the afternoon, and resumed at an early hour 
on the 29th ; yet so heavy were the roads that it was 
after noon before Hope Church had been reached and 
Warren's sixteen thousand men were massed behind the 

And here, while every minute was precious, occurred a 
most perplexing complication. An officer from General 
Gregg's division, the body of which was stationed on the 
plank road two or three miles in rear of the church, 
came dashing in to announce that the cavalry had been 
cut in two and their trains captured. The messenger 
declared that the attack on Gregg had been made with 
both cavalry and infantry. Upon this report it became a 
very serious question whether, if the enemy v/ere real- 
ly attempting a movement into General Meade's rear 
around our left, the Second Corps might not be only 
venturing farther into a trap by pursuing its march. 
This incident, with its important consequences, illus- 
trates the value in war of that restless activity, unflinch- 
ing audacity, and spontaneous enterprise by which the 
Confederate commanders were so strongly marked, but 
in which many of the most resolute and stubborn fighters 
in our own army seemed lacking. 

At last after a delay, brief, indeed, but long with rcf- 


erence to the fast passing hours of a short winter day, 
General Warren decided to leave a brigade of infantry to 
support Gregg and to guard against an irruption into his 
own rear, and with the rest to push vigorously forward. 
Later and more authentic intelligence showed that the 
report which had proved so perplexing was false, the at- 
tack having been made by cavalry only and having been 

The time had now come for the Second Corps, which 
had thus far been marching in rear of our own lines or 
under the cover of the cavalry vedettes, to break through 
and announce to the enemy its purpose of attacking 
their flank and rear. The main body advanced up the 
Orange Plank Road, while a smaller column, under Col- 
onel N. A. Miles, marched up the unfinished railroad, 
which here runs nearly parallel with the plank road. 
Our progress was disputed only by cavalry vedettes, who 
afforded considerable amusement by their long-range 
shots with carbines, each discharge being greeted with 
derisive cheers. General Warren fully appreciated the 
fact that his purpose was now known to the enemy, and 
every nerve was strained to push the column inside the 
enemy's natural line of defence before he could send 
down troops from his left. 

At one point only was time lost. The tenacity of a 
few skirmishers, with the appearance of newly dug earth, 
led General Warren to take the time necessary to get a 
brigade into line, and to bring up a section of artillery to 
support the charge of our cavalry detachment, before 
which, however, the enemy rapidly fell back. And yet, 
press on as we would, the sun of the 29th of November 
was fast going down in the west, toward which we were 
marching. Three miles beyond Hope Church the first 
important resistance was encountered by Miles, from a 

MINE RUN. 379 

regiment of North Carolinians just forming. Miles' skir- 
mish line charged swiftly and broke the regiment, which 
retreated into intrenchments which could be discerned in 
the rear. 

And now we had reached the point toward which the 
whole movement had been directed. We were evident- 
ly on the extreme right of the enemy ; his works were 
slight and thinly occupied. Manifestly the troops there 
had but recently been sent down. The appearance of 
Warren's column agitated them not a little, and they 
were to be seen moving at the double-quick to confront 
Miles. Under these conditions success seemed to be 
Avithin our grasp, and so it would have been but for one 
circumstance^the day was nearly spent. 

Would the light hold long enough even to carry the 
slight intrenchments, now apparently held by only the 
heads of Confederate columns ? Hays' division was or- 
dered over from the plank road to support Miles, who 
had formed facing the enemy's line, awaiting the order 
to attack. By the time Hays' troops were in order 
Warren reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was 
too late. 

On the plank road, a mile away, Caldwell's division, in 
the lead, had also found the enemy. Colonel Byrnes, of 
the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, pushed the skirmishers 
of the division against a regiment deployed to protect 
the construction of the works, and drove them rather 
precipitately into the intrenchments. But here, too, be- 
fore the division could be brought up in line, the day 
was failing. Whether it w^ould or would not have been 
better, in the result, to try an assault with such troops as 
were up, it is difficult to say. There is every reason to 
suppose the enemy were coming up on their side as 
rapidly as we on ours. At an}' rate, Warren, profoundly 


interested as he had every reason to be in the success of 
this movement, decided not to attack. So night came 
down on the turning column while the rear divisions 
were arriving, and the troops went into bivouac in front 
of the enemy's position. 

Again the hope of anticipating the enemy had been 
foiled ; and it was not to be doubted that, as the Con- 
federates had, on Meade's approach, extended their in- 
trenchments southward from Bartlett's Mills to the old 
turnpike, so now they would, with this warning, still 
farther extend their works to cover the Orange Plank 
Road. Yet, upon the favorable reports of the early even- 
ing, both from Warren and from one of his own staff 
of^cers, Meade resolved to undertake, on the next morn- 
ing, an assault in force upon the enemy's intrenchments, 
such as they should then be found to be, in front of the 
Second Corps. To this end Warren was to be strength- 
ened by two divisions of the Third Corps, viz., those of 
Carr and Prince. These reinforcements would raise the 
attacking column, including Terry's division, to about 
twenty-six thousand men. 

Topographically, the situation was this : Although 
General Warren had, in order to conceal his movements, 
marched a long way roundabout — first eastward from 
Mine Run back to Robertson's Tavern ; thence south- 
ward to the plank road ; thence westward to the place 
he had reached just before nightfall — he was really but 
a short distance from the army, though separated from 
the nearest troops by some bad woods and by two small 
creeks. The order of the Union corps was as follows : 
Sedgwick, with the Sixth Corps lacking Terry's division, 
was on the extreme right, his corps and Sykes' holding 
the ground north of the old turnpike ; on the south of 
the pike were Newton's and French's corps. At about 

MINE RUN. 381 

the interval which would have required two corps for its 
occupation lay Warren's troops, facing westward, like the 
others, but a little more advanced, and having for their 
immediate purpose to break the enemy's line in front, and 
then make a half right wheel. 

It was now proposed to detach two of French's three 
divisions and send them to Warren, to strengthen his 
coming attack, while French, with his remaining troops, 
should hold the interval, trusting to the difficulty of the 
woods and sw^ampy ground, and to the threat of Warren's 
movement adown the Confederate line, to keep the enemy 
from assuming the aggressive. On the extreme right 
Sedgwick, supported by Sykes, was to follow up Warren's 
attack, if that were successful, by an advance against a 
position which General A. P. Howe, commanding divis- 
ion, deemed practicable. 

The artillery was to open from the Union right and 
centre at eight o'clock, when Warren's column should 
assault ; at nine, Sedgwick was to go in. It was a 
night of intense expectation. For the first time since 
December 13, 1862, the Army of the Potomac stood 
awaiting the signal to attack the army of Northern Vir- 
ginia in an intrenched position. No one doubted that 
the morrow would see a bloody sunrise; no one doubted 
that the contest would be long and furious and obstinate; 
and, as the cold of the last day of November grew more 
and more intense, it was impossible to think without a 
shudder of the fate of the wounded of the coming fight. 
General Warren decided to make the following forma- 
tion. Four divisions were to assault at the same mo- 
ment, each in two lines of battle. These were, from left 
to right, Hays, Webb, Prince, Cam On Hays' left, hold- 
ing the Catharpin Road, was Terry's division ; and on 
Carr's ridit, Caldwell's — both to be held back from the 


advance to await contingencies. Certain it was that 
there was a deal of fight in those six divisions, the flower 
of three corps ; certain it was that, if they were put in, it 
would be for all they were worth ; and that, if beaten, it 
would not be at any trivial cost in life and limb. And 
as the night wore away, and as morning dawned, there 
was probably not one man in all that host who thought 
otherwise than that, in a few short hours, the upper 
valley of the Mine Run would be wrapped in flame and 
smoke in one of the deadliest actions of the war. 

But what was the position which the light of Novem- 
ber 30th revealed to the expectant column ? From the 
front of the divisions of Carr and Prince, forming the 
right of the column, and even from their skirmish line, 
nothing could be seen of the enemy's position, so dense 
were the woods in which these divisions were formed. 
In front of Hays and Webb, however, the ground was 
open. The enemy's intrenchments were in plain view, 
and in a single battery fourteen guns looked angrily down 
the field across which these divisions were to charge. 
Between us and them ran a small stream which was, in- 
deed, the beginning of Mine Run. On the left, where 
Carroll's brigade lay, the woods sprang up again and con- 
cealed from the skirmish line the intrenchments to be 
assaulted. Wherever they could be seen, however, the 
works were as strong as field works need be made. 

The enemy had manifestly labored with zeal all night 
to cover themselves from the impending storm. From 
where Webb's and Hays' lines would come under fire, it 
was eight minutes, at double-quick, to the intrenchments. 
There was no opportunity, on our part, to mass a power- 
ful artillery. Indeed, we could bring fewer guns to bear 
than could the enemy. 

" As soon as it became light in the morning," says 

MINE RUN. 383 

General Morgan, in his narrative, " the men commenced 
to peep over the little bluff behind which they were 
formed, to see what kind of a task was before them. 
The sight appeared, generally, to give very little satisfac- 
tion ; and I saw that the men had quite generally made 
up their minds that the affair was desperate." 

General Morgan goes on to relate the purport of his 
conferences with the leading of^cers of the several com- 
mands during the interval between daylight and the 
time set for the assault. " None of the officers seemed 
to have confidence in the success of the contemplated 
assault, although, of course, they did not permit their 
fears to become known to their men." " Among these 
ofificers," he says, " might be named General Alexander 
Hays, than whom no of^cer was more buoyant and dar- 
ing on the field. It is true," he further remarks, " as re- 
lated by Swinton, in his ' Army of the Potomac,' that 
some of the soldiers pinned their names on their over- 
coats, as if contemplating a general slaughter. While on 
the picket line reconnoitring, my uniform concealed by 
a soldier's overcoat, I asked an old veteran of the noble 
First Minnesota, on picket, what he thought of the pros- 
pect. Not recognizing me as an ofificer he expressed 
himself very freely, declaring it ' a damned sight worse 
than Fredericksburg,' and adding, ' I am going as far as I 
can travel ; but we can't get more than two-thirds of the 
way up the hill.' " 

The cold had increased steadily for hours, and had 
now become intense and almost intolerable. It was 
enough to strike the heart out of any man. In such an 
eager and nipping air, it was pitiful to think of thousands 
of men lying on that slope, or scattered through the 
woods, perishing not so much of wounds as of frost. 

At last the hour of eight approached. General War- 


ren, who had spent a large part of the night upon the 
line of battle, and had been out, at break of day, to study 
the position he was to assault, suddenly announced that 
he would not attack unless he received renewed instruc- 
tions from General Meade ; and at once rode off to con- 
sult the commander of the Army of the Potomac. This 
was the act which virtually closed the campaign of Mine 
Run, which had from its inception been attended with such 
evil fortune. This was the act for which General Warren 
was as eagerly blamed by some as he was praised by others. 

" So far as I know," says General Morgan, " this step 
was taken without consultation with anyone whatever, 
General Warren assuming the responsibility. It seems 
to me that he gave evidence of great moral courage, for 
he could not, in any event, be a greater loser than by the 
course he decided on. A young, ambitious, and rising 
commander, he had been given a force of thirty thousand 
men to accomplish a task he had the night before regard- 
ed as entirely feasible. Had he attacked with success, 
no matter what his loss, he would have .added greatly 
to his fame, particularly as it was understood that the 
original flank movement was made partly upon his solic- 
itation. Had he failed, he could hardly have done so 
Avithout a loss of seven or eight thousand men, for the 
troops under him were not accustomed to easily abandon 
an enterprise in which they were once engaged ; and his 
defeat would have been charged upon the impregnable 
position of the works of the enemy, and credit awarded 
him for the gallantry and persistency of the attack. 

" Now it would be said that he persuaded General 
Meade to give him one-third of the army on magnificent 
promises ; but when the time of action had arrived his 
courage and self-reliance had evaporated. And, if rumor 
is ever to be credited, similar language was addressed to 

MINE RUN. 385 

General Meade by a corps commander who had been 
partiall}' stripped of troops to reinforce General War- 
ren. ' You have taken all my troops away from me, an 
old veteran in the service, and have given them to a beard- 
less boy, and for what ? Where is your young Napo- 
leon ? Why don't we hear the sound of his guns ? '" 

The Mine Run campaign was over. General Meade, 
indeed, arrived upon the field between eight and nine 
o'clock, and had an interview with General Warren, but 
pertinaciously declined to examine the position of the 
enemy, or to give any further directions for an attack. 
In this he was undoubtedly right. Since General War- 
ren had taken it upon himself to say that the position 
could not be carried, and had assumed the responsibility 
of arresting the attack, it was proper that General War- 
ren, and not himself, should carry that responsibility. 

One word is necessary to explain a point of essential 
importance which will otherwise be misconceived by 
most persons familiar with the history of the war in the 
}'ears following 1863. It will be thought that it should 
have been assumed, as a matter of course, that the enemy 
would be found, on the morning of the 30th, too strongly 
intrenched for an assault. In fact, however, that marvel- 
lous capacity for constructing field works in a night, and 
even between the arrival of the head and of the rear of a 
column, which subsequently caused the whole country 
between the Rapidan and the Appomattox to be crossed, 
in every direction, by lines strong enough to resist field 
artilleiy, had not yet become recognized as the domi- 
nating feature of our war. During 1862 and 1863, except 
when troops were assigned to positions which they were ex- 


pected to hold more or less permanently, possibly against 
inferior force, stone walls or rail fences were considered 
good enough for anybody. The Second Corps was not 
intrenched, even on the 3d of July, when it received the 
charge of Pickett and Pettigrew. Here and there a little 
dirt, loosened by bayonets and scooped out with tin plates, 
was heaped up, to protect in part the soldiers' persons. 

The covering of the Confederate right at Mine Run, 
between November 29th and November 30th, by a com- 
pact line of works, constructed, not by engineering de- 
tails, but by the whole body of troops turning out and 
Avorking through the night, was by far the most striking 
instance which had, down to that time, been given of the 
capability of this species of defence. Historically, that 
instance stands related far more closely to the operations 
of 1864 and 1865, than to those of 1862 and 1863. It 
was a prophecy of that great change in the tactics of the 
two armies, by which it was to become almost impossible 
to get a fair fight anywhere in open ground ; which was 
to create a system of rapid, effective intrenchment, such 
as previously had not been dreamed of by soldiers, and 
had formed no part of the theory of military operations ; 
which was to make the sanguinary struggles of 1864 and 
1865 nothing but a series of assaults upon fortified lines, 
the troops covering themselves everywhere, spontaneously 
and instinctively, the moment they came into line in 
front of the enemy. 

In explanation, in part at least, of the failure of the 
turning movement of the 29th of November, the Comte 
de Paris states, in his " History of the Civil War in Amer- 
ica," that General Warren not only did not seek to con- 

MINE RUN. 387 

ceal his forces from the enemy, but, on the contrary, " ap- 
plied himself, while placing them in sight of the enemy 
and lighting large fires, to make them appear still more 
considerable than they were in reality. He has himself 
stated this fact, without explaining the reason of these 
tactics, which are incomprehensible on the eve of an at- 
tack." To this strange conduct of General Warren the 
Comte de Paris attributes the fact that Hill's entire 
corps, twenty thousand strong, was sent over to oppose 
the turning column. 

This statement is altogether a mistake. Not only were 
large fires not made on the evening and night of the 29th, 
for the purpose of magnifying the forces on the Orange 
Plank Road, the railroad, and the Catharpin Road, but no 
fires whatever were allowed to be lighted that night, not- 
withstanding the severity of the weather, the cold being 
so intense that several men were frozen on picket.' The 
fires to which the count alludes were those kindled after 
the assault proposed for the morning of the 30th had 
been abandoned, when Warren withdrew his men from 
their advanced position and suffered fires to be lighted ; 
and these, since Prince's and Carr's divisions were to be 
sent back to their own corps, he caused to be made as 
large as possible, in order to create the impression upon 
the minds of the enemy that the concentration of our 
troops along the Orange Plank Road was still going on. 

The contemplated assault of the 30th, on the left, hav- 
ing failed, the question presented itself to General Meade, 

' General Carroll states that he caused his pickets to be relieved 
every half-hour. 


whether he would continue the turning movement still 
farther to the left This he quickly decided not to un- 
dertake, as it would have drawn him too far from his 
supplies. Had he been free to change his base to Fred- 
ericksburg, he would gladly have done so, and attempted 
a new movement up the Orange Plank Road into the 
enemy's rear. 

The question then arose, Should an effort be made 
upon our right ? This still seemed feasible, especially as 
the enemy were known to be in great force in front of 
Warren ; and accordingly the divisions of Carr and Prince, 
which had been attached to the turning column, were 
sent back to French, The day of the 30th was occupied 
in reconnoitring the enemy's positions, and in making 
preparation for a grand attack on the ist of December; 
but the dawn of that day disclosed such formidable forti- 
fications covering the whole front of the Confederate 
army that all further efforts were abandoned, and the 
Army of the Potomac, remaining quietly in position 
throughout the day, retreated during the night of Decem- 
ber 1st, returning to the old camps beyond the Rapidan. 
The Second Corps had, necessarily, the longest march, 
which it accomplished between 10 P.M. of the ist and 4 
P.M. of the 2d, crossing the river at Culpepper Mine Ford. 

The losses suffered by the corps during the six days 
had been 164 in killed and wounded ; but, owing to the 
negligence of the officer charged with withdrawing the 
skirmish line, a loss in prisoners was sustained, about 
one hundred good men having been left behind to fall 
into the enemy's hands. Terry's division lost a few men 
during the 30th, Stuart having occupied with his cav- 
alry an eminence on the extreme right flank of the Con- 
federate line, from which he shelled this division for a 
time very actively. 

MINE RUN. 389 

The officers killed or mortally wounded in the Second 
Corps during the expedition were Lieutenant-Colonel 
Theodore Hesser, Seventy-Second Pennsylvania ; Cap- 
tain David J, Phillips, Eighty-first Pennsylvania; Lieu- 
tenant D wight Newbury (x\djutant), Fifteenth Massa- 
chusetts ; Lieutenant George W. Rotramel, Fourteenth 

It has recently been made to appear that if the Army 
of the Potomac had remained a day longer in position 
opposite Mine Run, it would have had the fight it 
wanted, and that upon the Confederate initiative. 

In his very clear, comprehensive, and candid " Memoirs 
of General J. E. B. Stuart," published in 1885, Major 
McClellan, Stuart's adjutant-general, writes as follows : 

" I desire to state one incident in this campaign which, 
so far as I know, has never been recorded. Hampton 
occupied the extreme right of the Confederate line, A 
personal reconnoissance, on the 30th, brought him into a 
position where he was in rear of the Federal left wing, 
which was fully commanded by his post of observation. 
Hampton was looking down on the rear of the Federal 
guns as they stood pointed against the Confederate lines. 
There seemed to be no reason why a heavy force could 
not be concentrated at this point, which might attack 
the Federal lines in reverse, and perhaps re-enact some 
of the scenes of Chancellorsville. This information was 
quickly communicated to Stuart, who, after himself ex- 
amining the ground, conducted General R. E. Lee to 
the same place. A council of war was held that night. 
The talk among the staff was that General Lee and Gen- 
eral Stuart favored an immediate attack, but that Gen- 
erals Ewcll and Hill did not deem it best. General Lee 
made another personal reconnoissance on the ist of 
December. He [Gen. Lee] says in his report : 


" ' Anderson's and Wilcox's divisions were withdrawn 
from the trenches at 3 A.M. on the 2d, and moved to 
our right, with a view to make an attack in that 
quarter. As soon as it became light enough to distin- 
guish objects it was discovered that the enemy's pickets 
along our entire line had retired, and our skirmishers were 
sent forward to ascertain his position. The movements of 
General Meade, and all the reports received as to his in- 
tentions, led me to believe that he would attack, and I de- 
sired to have the advantage that such an attempt on his 
part would afford. After awaiting his advance until Tues- 
day evening, preparations were made to attack him on 
Wednesday morning. This was prevented by his retreat.' " 

This is all very well. Anderson's and Wilcox's divis- 
ions could undoubtedly have made a formidable attack 
upon Warren's left, in the position it occupied at nightfall 
of December ist ; but if any one supposes that Chancel- 
lorsville could have been played over again, or that there 
would have been any Eleventh Corps business on the 
Catharpin Road, with Terry's splendid division of the 
Sixth Corps and the three divisions of the Second to be 
reckoned with, he is much mistaken. Movements into 
the enemy's rear do not always succeed, as witness the 
19th of May, 1864, and in surprises the surpriser some- 
times wishes he hadn't surprised, as witness the 14th of 
October, 1863. On the occasion referred to Warren had 
under his command sixteen thousand of the choicest 
troops of the Potomac Army, twice as many as he had 
at Bristoe Station ; twice as many as Howard had at 
Dowdall's Tavern ; our pickets were well out ; com- 
manding officers and staffs were on the alert. There 
would have been no surprise, no stampede ; nothing 
but a hard, bitter, long fight between two nearly equal 
bodies of brave men. 

MINE RUN. 391 

The changes among the regimental field officers of the 
corps during the months of October and November had 
been as follows : 

Discharged. — Major Samuel Roberts, Seventy-sec- 
ond Pennsylvania, October 27th ; Lieutenant-Colonel 
Robert McFarland, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Penn- 
sylvania, November 4th ; Colonel Alonzo Ferguson, One 
Hundred and Fifty-second New York, November 23d ; 
Colonel Robert Nugent, Sixty-ninth New York, Novem- 
ber 28th (subsequently recommissioncd Colonel, Octo- 
ber 30th, 1864), 

Resigned. — Major Philo D. Phillips, One Hundred 
and Twenty-sixth New York, October 29th ; Lieutenant- 
Colonel Edward P. Harris, First Delaware, October 
28th ; Colonel Francis E. Heath, Nineteenth Maine, 
November 4th. 

Promoted. — Major Samuel C. Armstrong, One Hun- 
dred and Twenty-fifth New York, November loth, to 
be Lieutenant Colonel of the Ninth Regiment United 
States Colored Troops. 

Dismissed. — One officer was dismissed the service in 
this period. Major John Garrett, Sixty-ninth New York. 



After the return from the pitiful Mine Run expedi- 
tion the troops felt that they would at last be permitted 
to go into winter quarters ; and accordingly, after a re- 
moval from Stevensburg to Cole's Hill, on the 7th, set 
about building their huts or walling around their tents 
in good earnest. 

On the 1 6th of December General Warren left camp 
on a leave of absence of fifteen days. 

On the 29th General Hancock returned and took 
command of the corps, from which he had parted while 
even yet the remnants of Longstreet 's column were flee- 
ing across the plain which separated them from Semi- 
nary Ridge. General Hancock remained with the corps 
until January 8th, when he again relinquished the com- 
mand to General Warren. 

The monthly returns of the corps, August to Decem- 
ber inclusive, had shown the aggregate strength as fol- 
lows : 

















7. 754 


Artillery Brigade 

First Division 

Second Division 

Third Division 










These several aggregates had been distributed as fol- 
lows : 

3 'St. 





Present for duty 

On extra or daily duty 






















This table shows the following percentages : 







Present for duty 

On extra or daily duty 

Sick or in arrest 




2.-; 4 








The close of the year 1863 found the corps still in 
camp on Cole's Hill, near Stevensburg, headquarters at 
the Thorn House. After the return from Mine Run the 
policy was adopted of giving furloughs to such of the 
troops as should, on the expiration of the three years of 
enlistment, re-enlist for another three years ; and under 
this order many of the old regiments were sent home, 
both to enjoy their brief vacation, and, if possible, to re- 
cruit their numbers for the strife of the coming year. 
Leave of absence was also given, in moderation, to the 
officers of the command. 

During January corps headquarters were advised that 
Brigadier-General Francis C. Barlow, formerly the in- 
trepid and adventurous Colonel of the Sixty-seventh 
New York, and afterward division commander in the 
Eleventh Corps, with which he had been desperately 
wounded at Gettysburg, was assigned to duty with the 


Second Corps. General Barlow, however, for a time re- 
mained upon recruiting service. 


Early in February occurred the first break in the long 
winter rest of the troops. It had been arranged at 
Washington that General Butler, commanding the army 
of the James, should move rapidly upon Richmond from 
the south, and seek to capture that city by surprise, 
while the Army of the Potomac should so far co-operate 
as to move down to the Rapidan and, by a show of in- 
tention to assume the aggressive, detain Lee's army on 
the line of that river. 

In pursuance of this plan, the Second Corps broke 
camp early in the morning of the 6th of February, and 
moved to Morton's Ford, under the command of General 
Caldwell, General Warren being, at the time of start- 
ing, disabled from service, although he came up in the 
afternoon. Upon arriving at Morton's Ford, the enemy's 
skirmishers were found at the crossing, which was com- 
manded by the high ground on our own side. Further 
back the enemy's works were seen upon hills which ran 
around in a semicircle resting at either end upon the 
river. A body of skirmishers from the Third Division, 
conducted by Captain Robert S. Seabury, the gallant 
and accomplished assistant adjutant-general of General 
Owen, was thrown forward, and, advancing with caution 
until the situation could be clearly discerned, dashed 
with great resolution through the ford, capturing the 
enemy's picket entire. 

The artillery on either side opened promptly, while 
Hays' division was thrown down to the river and crossed 
with comparatively little loss. A strong skirmish line 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863 -64. 395 

was now thrown out under the command of Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel W. H. Baird, One Hundred and Twenty- 
sixth New York, and the enemy's skirmishers, though re- 
inforced and resisting stiffly, were driven step by step 
backward into their works. The field was an amphi- 
theatre, and from the high ground on the other side, 
where a brilliant staff, consisting of Generals Meade, 
Humphreys, Warren, and two score of officers were as- 
sembled, a perfect view of the affair could be obtained. 
Colonel Baird's gallantry was all the more to be re- 
marked, because he was one of those ofificers who had 
been dismissed for misconduct at Harper's Ferry in 1862, 
and had, but a few weeks before,' been restored to his 
regiment. Certainly no man resolved to wipe out the 
stains of the past ever had a fairer opportunity, or im- 
proved it better. 

No thought was entertained of actively assaulting the 
works, but the semblance of it was kept up with vigor. 
General Hays taking part in the frequent demonstrations 
with that reckless exposure of himself which always 
characterized him in battle. After dark the Third Di- 
vision was relieved, on the farther bank, by Webb's Sec- 
ond Division, and preparations were made to hold the 
ground and keep up the show of force through the next 
day, if required. During the night, however. General 
Meade decided that the demonstration had been pro- 
tracted sufficiently, and Webb was withdrawn, a strong 
skirmish line, supported by artillery fire, being left on 
the other side. During the 7th the corps remained in 
position on the north bank, until six o'clock, when it re- 
turned to camp. 

It is needless to say that General Butler's movement 

' Recommissioned November 5, 1863. 


on Richmond, from the South, amounted to nothing. 
The only report which the writer ever saw of his opera- 
tions acknowledged the loss of six forage-caps by the men 
of his command. The losses of the Second Corps, in 
the demonstration intended to open the way for him, were 
two hundred and sixty-one ' killed, wounded, and miss- 
ing. Among the officers wounded were Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Sawyer, Eighth Ohio ; Lieutenant-Colonel Lock- 
wood, Seventh West Virginia ; Lieutenant-Colonel 
Pierce, One Hundred and Eighth New York ; Major 
Coit, Fourteenth Connecticut. From the last-named 
regiment six officers were wounded. 

On the 27th of February was received a reinforcement 
in the One Hundred and Eighty-third Pennsylvania 
Volunteers, commanded by Colonel James C. Lynch, 
formerly a captain in the One Hundred and Sixth Regi- 
ment from that State, and long a highly useful staff- 
officer in the Second Division. The One Hundred and 
Eighty-third was assigned to the Fourth Brigade, First 
Division. The same month the First Minnesota was 
sent home to recruit, after its terrific losses. 

During December, 1863, and January and February, 
1864, the following changes had occurred among the field 
officers of the corps : 

Discharged. — Major Hugo Hildebrandt, Thirty- 
ninth New York, December loth ; Major James Duffy, 
Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, December 14th ; Colonel 
William Colville, First Minnesota, Brevet Brigadier-Gen- 
era!, January nth; Colonel Daniel G. Bingham, Sixty- 
fourth New York, February loth ; Major John T. Hill, 

' Ten enlisted men killed ; sixteen officers and one hundred and 
ninety-three enlisted men wounded ; one officer and forty-one en- 
listed men missing. 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863-64. 397 

Twelfth New Jersey, February 24th. The four officers 
first named had been severely wounded at Gettysburg. 

Resigned. — Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Freudenburg, 
Fifty-second New York, December 12th. Colonel Freu- 
denberg had been severely wounded at Gettysburg. 


A most important period in the history of the Second 
Corps had arrived. During the two years that had 
elapsed since its organization by President Lincoln, in 
March, 1862, the corps, notwithstanding the trying de- 
mands made upon it ; notwithstanding the rapidity with 
which one wearing campaign succeeded another^ — each 
battle finding the wounds of the last still unhealed ; not- 
withstanding the enormous sum total of its losses in men, 
and even more in officers, had remained essentially a unit, 
having a strongly marked character of its own, with an 
unbroken continuity of life as between one of its periods 
and another, and an almost perfect harmony as between 
its constituent parts. Its first commander, indeed, the 
heroic Sumner, had at last suffered the sword to fall from 
his nerveless grasp ; Richardson had fallen mortally 
wounded, at the head of the First Division, and the orig- 
inal commanders of the two remaining divisions, Sedg- 
wick and French, had been called away to command other 
corps, as also had Howard, one of the original brigade 
commanders; Zook, Cross, Mallon, and Willard had been 
killed at the head of brigades; Max Weber, Dana, and 
Kimball had been wounded, never to return ; twelve 
thousand six hundred men had been killed, wounded, 
or captured, in action during 1862 ; and even out of those 
depleted ranks, seven thousand two hundred had been 
lost in the battles of 1863. Yet through all this the 


corps had retained its unity and its characteristic quality. 
New regiments had, from time to time, been sent to re- 
cruit its ranks; four entire brigades had joined it : Kim- 
ball's at Harrison's Landing, Max Weber's and Morris' on 
the way to Antietam, Hays' on the road to Gettysburg ; 
yet there was still enough remaining of the old body and 
the old spirit to take up, assimilate, and vitalize the new 

Moreover, between the rapid, exhausting marches, and 
the desperate battles, had been intervals of rest and dis- 
cipline, in winter and in summer camps, when the shat- 
tered regiments regained form and tone ; when the new 
men learned the ways of the old, and caught the spirit 
of the organization they had entered. The time had 
now come for a fierce and o'er-mastering change in the 
constituents, and, by necessary consequence in some de- 
gree, in the character of the Second Corps. Men, more 
than there were remaining in the original regiments, were, 
on a single day, to be poured into the corps, and the new 
body, thus composed, was to be thrown into one of the 
most furious campaigns of human history, the strength 
of a regiment, the strength of a brigade, to be shot down 
in a day, with as many more the next ; a month to be 
one continuous battle, only interrupted by long and 
fatiguing marches; two, or three, or four ofificers com- 
manding the same regiment or brigade in a single week. 
This, with no long, benign intervals for rest, for healing, 
for discipline, for mutual acquaintance, was to be the 
experience of the Second Corps, in the months immedi- 
ately following the period that has been reached in our 

On the 26th of February, both houses of Congress 
passed a bill to create the grade of lieutenant-general 
of the armies of the United States. On the ist of March, 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863 -64. 399 

the President by his approval made the bill law ; and, on 
• the same day, nominated to that high office Major-Gen- 
eral Grant, the appointment being, on the 2d of March, 
confirmed by the Senate. On the day following, the new 
lieutenant-general was summoned by telegraph from the 
West. On the 8th of the month, he arrived in Washing- 
ton ; on the 9th was presented to the President and re- 
ceived his commission; and on the loth passed over the 
Orange & Alexandria Railroad to Brandy Station, where 
he had a conference with General Meade. General 
Grant's views requiring a visit to the West, he spent the 
interval between the nth and the 23d of March in mak- 
ing that journey, and in arranging plans with General 
Sherman, The days between the 23d and the 26th Gen- 
eral Grant spent in Washington ; and on the latter day, 
he established his headquarters at Culpepper, that he 
might, in the coming great struggle, personally direct the 
movements of the Army of the Potomac. 

Meanwhile, certain very important changes were ef- 
fected in the organization of that army. The five corps 
which had fought together, in victory or defeat, from the 
Chickahominy to Mine Run, were consolidated into three, 
involving the discontinuance of two honored, historic 
names. Whether this consolidation was, in the result, 
advantageous; whether, for practical or for equitable 
reasons, the corps to be retained were wisely or rightly 
selected, we need not here inquire. Sufifice it to say that 
the two corps organizations to be sacrificed, for what was 
sincerely believed to be the public good, were the First 
and the Third. The First was to be transferred entire 
to the Fifth, which was thereafter to be commanded by 
Major-General G. K. Warren. The Third Corps was to 
be parted; its Third Division, under Brigadier-General 
Ricketts, was to form a part of the Sixth Corps, to be 


commanded, as heretofore, by Major-General John Sedg- 
wick; its First and Second Divisions, divisions rendered 
illustrious by Kearny and Hooker, were to be transferred 
to the Second Corps, at the head of which Hancock, re- 
turning from his Gettysburg wounds, had again drawn 
his sword. 

Of the grief and anger of the ofificers and men of the 
Third Corps at the dismemberment of that noble body 
of troops, with which they had been so long connected, 
of which they had justly been so proud, and which had 
become to them a sacred thing, it is not meet to speak 
here. That wound has never yet wholly healed in the 
heart of many a brave and patriotic soldier. Certain it 
is that, since the break must come, these old divisions of 
Kearny and Hooker could not have been sent to any 
body of troops where their gallantry and discipline 
would have been more cordially recognized, or where 
they would have found heartier comradeship. Here- 
after, the names of Birney and INIott, Egan and Mc- 
Allister, Pierce and Madill, Brewster and De Trobriand, 
were to be borne on the rolls of the Second Corps, in 
equal honor with Barlow and Gibbon, Hays and Miles, 
Carroll and Brooke, Webb and Smyth ; the deeds of 
these new-comers were to be an undistinguishable part 
of the common glory ; their sufferings and losses were to 
be felt in every nerve of the common frame ; the blood 
of the men of Hooker and Kearny, the men of Rich- 
ardson and Sedgwick, was to drench the same fields 
from the Rapidan to the Appomattox, 

By General Orders No. 77, of the series of 1864, head- 
quarters of Second Army Corps, the reorganization of 
the corps, to meet the requirements of the new situation, 
was effected. The former three divisions of the original 
corps were consolidated into two, while the new divisions 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863-64. 401 

arriving from the former Third Corps were retained entire, 
as the Third and Fourth Divisions of the Second. 

The following was the composition of the command 
on the 31st of March, 1864. 

The Corps, Major-General WINFIELD S. HAN- 
COCK, commanding. 

The Artillery Brigade, Colonel J. C. Tidball, com- 
manding : Battery K, Fourth United States ; Battery C, 
Fifth United States; Tenth Massachusetts Independent; 
Batteries A and B, First Rhode Island ; Battery B, First 
New Jersey; Battery G, First New York ; Twelfth New 
York Independent ; Battery F, First Pennsylvania ; First 
Battalion of the Fourth Regiment New York Heavy 

First Division, Brigadier-General Francis C. Bar- 
low, commanding. 

First Brigade, Colonel N. A. Miles, commanding : Six- 
ty-first New York ; Eighty-first, One Hundred and For- 
tieth, and One Hundred and Eighty-third Pennsylvania ; 
Twenty-sixth Michigan. 

Second Brigade, Colonel Thomas A. Smyth, command- 
ing : Twenty-eighth Massachusetts ; Sixty-third, Sixty- 
ninth, and Eighty-eighth New York ; One Hundred 
and Sixteenth Pennsylvania. 

Third Brigade, Colonel Paul Frank, commanding: 
Thirty-ninth, Fifty-second, Fifty-seventh, One Hundred 
and Eleventh, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth, and One 
Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York ; detachment of 
the Seventh New York. 

FoiirtJi Brigade, Colonel John R. Brooke, command- 
ing : Second Delaware; Fifty-third, One Hundred and 


Forty-fifth, and One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania; Sixty-fourth and Sixty-sixth New York. 

Second Division, Brigadier-General John Gibbon, 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General Alexander S. Webb, 
commanding : Nineteenth Maine ; Fifteenth, Nineteenth, 
and Twentieth Massachusetts ; Forty-second, Fifty-ninth, 
and Eighty-second New York ; Seventh Michigan. 

Second Brigade, Brigadier-General J. T. Owen, com- 
manding : Sixty-ninth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, 
and One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania; One Hun- 
dred and Fifty-second New York. 

Third Brigade, Colonel S. S. Carroll, commanding : 
Fourth and Eighth Ohio ; Fourteenth Indiana ; Seventh 
Vv^est Virginia ; One Hundred and Eighth New York ; 
Tenth (Battalion) New York; First Delaware; Four- 
teenth Connecticut ; Twelfth New Jersey. 

Third Division, Major General David B. Birney, 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General J. H. Hobart Ward, 
commanding: Third Maine; Fortieth, Eighty-sixth, and 
One Hundred and Twenty-fourth New York; Ninety- 
ninth, One Hundred and Tenth, and One Hundred 
and Forty-first Pennsylvania; Twentieth Indiana; Sec- 
ond United States Sharpshooters. 

Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Alexander Hays, 
commanding : Fourth and Seventeenth Maine ; Third 
and Fifth Michigan; Fifty-seventh, Sixty-third, Sixty- 
eighth, and One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania ; First 
United States Sharpshooters. 

Fourth Division, Brigadier - General Joseph B. 
Carr, commanding. 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General Gershom Mott, com- 
manding: Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863-64. 403 

New Jersey; Twenty-sixth and One Hundred and Fif- 
teenth Pennsylvania; First and Sixteenth Massachusetts. 

Second Brigade, Colonel W. R. Brewster, command- 
ing: Seventieth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, Seventy- 
third, Seventy-fourth, and One Hundred and Twen- 
tieth New York ; Eleventh Massachusetts ; Eighty-fourth 

Although General Carr was announced as commander 
of the Fourth Division, he did not serve in that capacity, 
but was relieved by orders from the Headquarters of the 
armies of the United States, and assigned to another 
field of duty. General Mott succeeded to the command 
of the Fourth Division. 

The aggregate force in the enlarged command was 
43,035, distributed as follows : ' 

Corps Staff 18 

Artillery 663 

First Division 12,250 

Second Division . 11,367 

Third Division 10, 174 

Fourth Division 8,563 

The same aggregate was further distributed as follows : 

Present for duty 23,877 

On extra or daily duty 4.422 

Sick '. 1,278 

In arrest or confinement 152 

Absent 13.306 


' The Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania was detached in April. The One 
Hundred and Fourteenth Pennsylvania, which had belonged to 
Graham's Brigade of the Third Corps, was permanently detained 
at headquarters Army of the Potomac. The Twenty-sixth Wis- 
consin, One Hundred and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, and Sixth 
Minnesota, were assigned to the Second Corps by Special Order 
123, War Department, March 21, 1864. The Thirty-sixth Wis- 
consin was subsequently substituted for the Twenty-sixth. The 
Sixth Minnesota never joined. The One Hundred and Eighty- 
fourth Pennsylvania joined during the campaign. 


One notable change in the personnel of the corps takes 
place at this time, Brigadier-General John C. Caldwell 
retiring permanently therefrom, upon the reorganization 
incident to the assignment of the troops from the Third 
Corps. General Caldwell had served continuously in the 
corps since his promotion to the grade of general officer. 
He had seen much hard and dangerous service ; had been 
more than once wounded at the head of a brigade or di- 
vision. He was a loyal and patriotic soldier, of more than 
usual intellectual ability and scholarly accomplishments. 

A striking feature of the foregoing roster is the 
number of brigades commanded by officers below the 
grade of general, being not less than six out of the 
eleven infantry brigades. When it is considered that this 
was at the opening of a campaign and that it was after 
a most extensive consolidation, which had swollen some 
of the brigades to seven, eight, and even nine regiments, 
the inadequacy of the number of general officers allowed 
the army will be seen. The result was due, first, to 
the parsimony with which the army was treated by Con- 
gress, and secondly, to the political trifling of the Execu- 
tive, which could find a brigadier's commission for the 
Hon. Dick Busteed, who wouldn't have known a co- 
horn from an apothecary's mortar, but which could not 
find a brigadier's commission for men who had, in many 
a desperate battle, shown the highest qualities of general- 
ship. It is idle to say that a man can administer, march, 
and fight a brigade equally well, if " colonel commanding," 
as he could if a brigadier-general. Rank and position 
necessarily count for a great deal ; and while Colonel 
Miles, or Colonel Carroll, or Colonel Brooke could un- 
questionably command troops in action quite as well as 
Brigadier-General Busteed, not one of them could do 
nearly as well by the service as if he had the rank cor- 

THE WINTER CAMPS OF 1 863-64. 405 

responding to his duties. The Confederates knew bet- 
ter. They had always brigadier-generals to command 
their brigades, and usually major-generals to command 
their divisions. General Humphreys's roster of the Con- 
federate army, on the eve of the campaign of 1864, shows 
but three brigades of Lee's entire army without general 
ofificers. Even the vacancies caused by the casualties of 
the campaign were filled as fast as possible. Thus Gen- 
eral Humphreys's roster of Lee's army in August repre- 
sents only two brigades in thirty-eight as without as- 
signed general officers. At that time, of the nine in- 
fantry brigades to which the Second Corps had been 
reduced, four were reported as commanded by brigadier- 
generals (of whom one was absent, wounded), three by 
colonels, and two by lieutenant-colonels. 

Although the two veteran divisions of the Third Corps 
had been assigned to the Second, no change of camps was 
deemed advisable, in view of the speedy advance contem- 
plated ; and thus the troops, although under the same com- 
mand, found little more opportunity to form acquaintance- 
ships than when they had borne different corps names. 

On the 22d of April, the reinforced corps was for the 
first time brought together, on the occasion of a review 
by General Grant. Of this General Morgan says : 
" The day, the first bright, sunny one after many days 
of storm ; the ground, so admirably adapted that from the 
position of the reviewing officer the eye could take in 
the whole corps without effort ; and the brilliant assem- 
blage of spectators, combined to make this the finest 
corps review I have ever seen in the army." 

The troops were arranged in four lines directly in front 
of the " stand " of the reviewing officer, the divisions be- 
ing placed in their numerical order : the First, Barlow ; the 
Second, Gibbon ; the Third, Birncy ; the Fourth, Mott. 


The artilleiy was formed on the right flank of, and 
perpendicular to, the infantry, so that the two arms of 
the service formed two sides of a square. Among the 
spectators were Generals Meade, Humphreys, Williams, 
Hunt, and others from army headquarters ; and Gen- 
erals Sedgwick and Warren, commanding respectively the 
Sixth and Fifth Corps. More than twenty-five thousand 
men actually marched in review. The appearance and 
bearing of the troops was brilliant in the extreme ; but 
among all the gallant regiments which passed the re- 
viewing ofificer, two excited especial admiration — the One 
Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, Colonel Bea- 
ver, from the old Second, and the Fortieth New York, 
Colonel Egan, from the former Third Corps. 

Besides the departmental staff officers, the corps head- 
quarters staff embraced Major William G. Mitchell and 
Captains J. B. Parker and William D. W. Miller, aides- 
de-camp ; Captain Edward B. Brownson, Commissary of 
Musters ; Captain H. H. Bingham, Judge Advocate ; 
Captain Charles INIcEntee, Assistant Quartermaster [as- 
sistant to Colonel Batchelder] ; Captain John G. Pelton, 
Fourteenth Connecticut, Chief of Ambulances ; Major 
S. O. Bull, Fifty-third Pennsylvania, Provost Marshal ; 
Major A. W. Angell, Fifth New Jersey, topographical 
ofificer ; Major W. H. Houghton, Fourteenth Indiana, 
Acting Assistant Inspector-General ; Captain W. P. 
Wilson, One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, 
and Captain W. R. Driver, Nineteenth Massachusetts, 
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Generals; Captain Thickston 
and Lieutenant Neil, Signal Ofificers. 

By the close of April the command had been swollen, 
by recruiting, to an aggregate of 46,363. The number 
present for duty was 28,854, or 62.23 P^^ cent, of the 




On the night of the 3d of May, the Army of the 
Potomac broke camp and marched to the Rapidan. 
General Badeau, in his " Life of Grant," has stated that 
general's plan of campaign in terms which must doubt- 
less be accepted as official and conclusive. General 
Badeau declares that it was not the purpose of the com- 
mander-in-chief to move on Gordonsville, or to reach any 
position by evading Lee's army or stealing a march upon 
it ; that his sole objective was that army itself ; that he 
went for a fight and for nothing else; and that his only 
preference as between positions, was, first, for that po- 
sition which would most surely constrain the Confeder- 
ates to give battle ; secondly, for that position which 
should afford his own army the highest degree of advan- 
tage which might be compatible with giving the Confed- 
erates no chance to escape or delay a battle. These 
being his objects, General Grant decided not to attack 
Lee's army in front, either along the Rapidan or along 
Mine Run. It remained, therefore, by a rapid march to 
gain a position on Lee's right, threatening his communi- 
cations with Richmond, which should compel him to 
come out and give battle. But as General Grant had 
to consider the possibility of offensive action, on Lee's 
part, it would be necessary, for a time, that he should 
hold a line extending from the point so taken northward 


to the vicinity of the Rapidan. So soon as he should be 
prepared to take up Fredericksburg as a base of supplies, 
and so soon as he should have swung the vast body of 
his trains around into his rear upon the new line, he 
would then be able to shorten his own front. 

In pursuance of this plan, Sedgwick's consolidated 
Sixth Corps was to cross the Rapidan and hold the ground 
immediately on the south, to prevent an offensive move- 
ment by Lee to cut the Army of the Potomac off from 
the river ; Warren, with the consolidated Fifth Corps, 
was to move further south and get upon the Orange 
turnpike ; Hancock was to go to Chancellorsville and 
then move forward, coming up on Warren's left and 
forming the column which should threaten Lee's com- 
munications. Meanwhile Burnside, with the Ninth 
Corps, about twenty thousand strong, not then deemed 
a part of the Army of the Potomac, should advance 
down the railroad from Centreville to the Rapidan as 
soon as Meade's crossing became an accomplished fact. 

The first march toward carrying out this plan was be- 
gun on the night of the 3d of May. The Second Corps, 
which had by far the longest distance to traverse, started 
at eleven o'clock, and crossing Ely's ford between six and 
eleven o'clock on the morning of the 4th, reached Chan- 
cellorsville with the head of the column about ten o'clock. 

The corps headquarters were placed in the edge of that 
peach orchard from which Lepine's battery had been 
drawn off by hand, after the terrible struggle of Sunday 
morning, just a year before. The ground was still strewn 
with the wreckage of battle. The march, though a very 
long one, had been accomplished in good form, except 
for the inevitable throwing away of blankets and over- 
coats on the first march following a winter in camp. War- 
ren, meanwhile, had crossed at Germanna Ford and came 


into position, at or before noon, at Wilderness Tavern, at 
the intersection of the Germanna Ford road with the old 
turnpike. Sedgwick had also crossed at Germanna and 
occupied the heights above the ford. Before i P.M., 
Grant had learned from the enemy's signals that Lee had 
taken the alarm and was concentrating on the line of 
Mine Run. Ewell's Corps was already on that line- 
Hill was now being drawn down from the upper Rapi- 
dan, while Longstreet had taken up his long march from 

The writer of this narrative has never been able to re- 
gard this early halt on the 4th of May otherwise than as 
the first misfortune of the campaign. The troops had 
made a stiff, but, except in the case of the Second Corps, 
not an exhausting march, and were in the best of condi- 
tion and spirits. There was nothing, at any hour during 
that day, to prevent the Army of the Potomac being es- 
tablished on any north or south line it might have chosen 
to take up between " the Wilderness " and Mine Run. 
Only Ewell, with twenty thousand men, would have 
been near enough to attack at dark of the 4th. Fifty 
thousand men might have been established before night, 
eighty thousand by morning, upon such a line, say at 
Robertson's Tavern, with roads cut by the engineers with 
the aid of infantry details along the rear. The country 
thereabouts was well known to our of^cers, through the 
Mine Run campaign, and though not altogether paradis- 
iacal in character, it was vastly better than the Wilder- 
ness, in which our troops had been smothered the pre- 
vious May, and were to be smothered again this May. 

But if it were not thought desirable to attempt to push 
the invading columns so near to Mine Run, an interme- 
diate line could, without question, have been assumed. 
General Humphreys, then chief of staff, admits this in 


his history of the campaigns of 1864 and 1865. He says, 
" The troops might have easily continued their march five 
miles further, the Second Corps to Todd's Tavern, the 
head of the Fifth Corps to Parker's Store, the head of 
the Sixth Corps to Wilderness Tavern. But," he adds, 
" even that would have left the right too open during the 
forenoon of the 5th ; and it was more judicious to let the 
troops remain for the night where they had halted, as it 
made the passage of the trains secure and the troops 
would be fresher when meeting the enemy next day, of 
which there was much possibility." 

Here we have reappearing the apprehension that Lee 
might pass between the Union right and the river, which 
had caused Meade to withdraw the First and Fifth Corps 
from the Orange Plank Road, on the evening of the 27th 
of November previous. But surely Torbert's cavalry, 
supported, if need were, by two out of the eleven infantry 
divisions, would have sufficed to protect the trains until 
the morning of the 5th, when all danger in that quarter 
would cease, Burnside's head of column then arriving 
at the Rapidan ; and it seems certain that even nine 
divisions out of the Wilderness would have been better 
than eleven in the Wilderness. 

But it was not so ordered ; and the three corps of the 
Army of the Potomac encamped as narrated, with Burn- 
side's Ninth Corps coming up by a long night march 
from Warrenton. 

During the afternoon and night of the 4th, the reports 
of General Lee's movements were such as to cause some 
change of plans ; and the orders for the 5th of May re- 
quired the Sixth Corps to move up to Old Wilderness 
Tavern, leaving a division to cover the bridge at Ger- 
manna Ford until Burnside, the head of whose column 
was to arrive shortly after eight o'clock in the morning, 


should come up in sufificient force. Warren was to move 
to Parker's Store, his right joining Sedgwick's left ; while 
Hancock was to move to Shady Grove Church, on the 
Catharpin Road, extending his right toward Warren at 
Parker's. Wilson's cavalry division was to hold off the 
enemy on the several roads by which they might ap- 
proach Hancock's left or move into his rear. Hancock's 
line of march would lead him through Todd's Tavern, 
and keep him, while on the route, at a considerable in- 
terval from the other two corps, which, in fact, by this 
programme, constituted one column confronting the en- 
emy, while the Second Corps constituted a turning 

It is difficult to understand why Hancock should have 
been sent so far away to the left, unless his movement 
was to be persisted in, except only in some extraordinary 
emergency; unless, that is, the commmanding general 
felt strong enough to fight, or at least to hold in check, 
the enemy with the Fifth and Sixth Corps, while push- 
ing the Second into their rear. Yet when General Lee 
attacked the two corps on the right, Hancock, before the 
battle had been fought out, was ordered to halt at Todd's 
Tavern, which his advance had already passed two miles, 
and, a little later, was directed to countermarch, and to 
proceed up the Brock Road to the Plank Road. 

It has been said that Hancock, in pursuance of orders, 
moved past Todd's Tavern in the morning of the 5th 
of May. The head of column was an hour's march be- 
yond that point when a staff officer arrived with intelli- 
gence that Warren had become engaged with the enemy 
toward the north, and with orders for Hancock to halt. 
This was at about nine o'clock. What would have been 
the result had Hancock, instead of being halted and 
subsequently recalled, been ordered to push with all his 


force into the enemy's rear, is fairly a matter of question. 
Only five out of nine of Lee's divisions were up : might 
not the Fifth and Sixth Corps have been trusted to hold 
these in check ? The day was only fairly opened ; the 
commander of the turning column was a resolute and 
energetic soldier ; he had under him twenty-eight thou- 
sand men. A rapid movement into the rear of the forces 
opposing Warren would have raised a very interesting 
issue. Hancock should have been able to fight all day 
against anything that could have been brought against 
him, in such an enterprise, provided only the Fifth and 
Sixth Corps did their duty, as they were sure to do, at 
the old Wilderness Tavern. Certainly, had but eight of 
the fourteen thousand men who were the next week to 
be sent down from the defences of Washington been that 
day behind Hancock, there could have been no question 
of the entire safety of such a movement. 

But whatever else might have been done in the situa- 
tion developed by Lee's initiative, Hancock was, in fact, 
halted at nine o'clock ; and, about two hours later, re- 
ceived orders to move by the Brock Road to its junction 
with the Orange Plank Road, Lee being reported as mov- 
ing troops out the Plank road from Parker's Store, as if 
to interpose between the two Union columns. Hancock 
accordingly countermarched to Todd's Tavern and then 
took the route northward to Getty's support. Birney's 
division, which, having formed the rear in the advance 
of the early morning, took the lead in the retrograde 
movement, arrived at the intersection of the Brock and 
Plank Roads about two o'clock, and began at once to form 
in two lines of battle along the Brock Road, mainly south 
of the Plank Road, connecting with Getty's left. 

At this moment the bullets of the enemy's skirmishers 
were crossing the Brock Road by which the troops were 


coming up. Mott's division was the next to arrive ; and 
it took position in a similar formation on Birney's left. 
Gibbon was also ordered up, to form in two lines, on the 
left of Mott. Frank's brigade of Barlow's division was 
left behind to hold the junction of the Brock and a road 
leading to the Catharpin Road, The rest of Barlow's di- 
vision was ordered to occupy some high, cleared ground 
which ran backward from the left of our general line, the 
only open ground to be found in that " Wilderness," 
rightly so called ; and here all the artillery of the corps, 
since it could be used nowhere else, was established, with 
the exception of Dow's Sixth Maine, which was put in 
the second line on Mott's left, and of a section of Rick- 
etts' Pennsylvania battery, which came into action on the 
Plank Road itself, under the orders of General Getty. 

The situation, as Hancock learned it on his arrival, was 
as follows. Getty, with his division of the Sixth Corps, 
had been sent south from the turnpike to the Plank Road, 
on a report that the enemy were pushing up this road, from 
Parker's Store. Arriving about eleven o'clock, he had 
encountered the advance of Hill's corps, Heth's division 
leading, with Wilcox behind.' No serious engagement 
had taken place, for General Lee was well disposed to 
put off the impending battle until Longstreet's corps 
could come up from Orange Court House. Meanwhile 
a heavy battle had been fought, away to the north, be- 
tween the Fifth Corps supported by a portion of the 
Sixth, and the Confederate corps of Ewell, in which our 
troops, owing to the dense woods, tangled with under- 
brush, in which men strange to the country could scarcely 
avoid losing direction, had been rather roughly handled, 
Grififin losing two guns. 

' Anderson's division of this corps was far back. 


General Hancock found General Getty anxious to 
make an early attack, in consequence of repeated instruc- 
tions from General Meade, who addressed similar urgent 
representations to Hancock himself upon his arrival on the 
ground ; but the latter was strongly desirous of getting 
his whole corps up and in hand before beginning the fight. 
It is no small matter to bring up twenty-five to thirty 
thousand men by a single road and form them for battle; 
and the difficulty was, in the present case, increased by 
the narrowness of the Brock Road, and the density of 
the woods on either side. The greatest efforts of the 
staff were put forth to hasten the work ; to get the artil- 
lery out of the way and to push the infantry forward. 
At 4,15 r.M., however, General Getty, feeling himself 
constrained by General Meade's orders, moved forward 
to undertake to drive the enemy down the Plank Road 
toward Parker's Store. Scarcely had his troops moved 
three hundred yards through the thickets when Hill was 
encountered ; and so fierce became the fighting that, 
although the Second Corps formation still lacked much 
of completeness, Hancock had no resource but to throw 
Birney forward, with his own and Mott's division. Bir- 
ney advanced on both Getty's right and left, the section 
of Ricketts' battery on the Plank Road moving forward 
with the troops. 

As the line of fire grew longer and longer, the impor- 
tance of a more complete preparation for the attack be- 
came painfully evident. It was scarcely possible to bring 
up the remaining troops with sufficient rapidity to meet 
the demands from the leading divisions for reinforcements. 
One of the fiercest battles of history had begun ; and 
both armies were entering into the first action of the 
opening campaign with ferocious resolution. Owen's 
brigade, from Gibbon, was thrown in on either side of 


the Plank Road, to support Getty. Then Smyth's and 
Brooke's brigades, from Barlow, went in on our extreme 
left, with all the force which the nature of the country 
would allow them to exert, and drove back Hill's right a 
considerable distance. Carroll's brigade, from Gibbon, 
was pushed up the Plank Road in support of the troops, 
on either side, which had received a savage countercharge 
and had for the moment been forced back, leaving behind 
them Ricketts' two guns. But before the Confederates 
could secure the coveted trophies, detachments from the 
Fourteenth Indiana and the Eighth Ohio succeeded in 
retaking the guns, and hauled them down the road. And 
so, amid those dense woods, where foemen could not see 
each other — where colonels could not see the whole of 
their regiments, where, often, captains could not see the 
left of their companies — these two armies, thus suddenly 
brought into collision, wrestled in desperate battle until 
night came to make the gloom complete. Thousands on 
either side had fallen. Of those that survived many had 
not beheld an enemy ; yet the tangled forest had been 
alive with flying missiles ; the whistling of the bullets 
through the air had been incessant ; the very trees seemed 
peopled by spirits that shrieked and groaned through 
those hours of mortal combat. 

The fighting ceased at dark. Neither side had secured 
any decided advantage. Hill had been driven some dis- 
tance backward ; and his two divisions had been consid- 
erably broken and disordered. General Humphreys, a 
very cautious commentator, does not hesitate to express 
the opinion that, had there been but an hour more of 
daylight, Hill would have been wholly driven from the 
field, for he was both outnumbered and outfought ; but 
Hancock's late arrival, owing to his long detour, prevented 
a complete success. Grant certainly had not expected to 


be attacked at that time and place, or he would not have 
sent Hancock toward Shady Grove Church. Calling the 
Second Corps back from its turning movement he had 
sought, with one tremendous effort, to lift and throw his 
antagonist. But he had underrated the valor and endur- 
ance of the Army of Northern Virginia, not to be daunted 
and not to be surprised, commanded by resolute, auda- 
cious, untiring leaders, defending a country with which it 
had become perfectly familiar by long occupation, and 
which was, more or less, of a kind with that in which all 
its soldiers had been reared. Upon the Union right the 
Fifth and Sixth Corps had met with varying fortune in 
their contest with Ewell, but with no serious reverses, 
although obliged to relinquish much of the ground they 
had at first gained. 

The losses had been very heavy. Among the killed 
of that afternoon was General Alexander Hays.' At 
Gettysburg, at Bristoe, at Mine Run, at Morton's Ford, 
this devoted officer rode, with his staff and flag behind 
him, the mark of a thousand riflemen, the admiration of 
two armies, only to fall in a tangled wilderness where 
scarcely a regiment could note his person and derive in- 
spiration from his courage and martial enthusiasm. The 
contrast has a significance extending far beyond the sin- 
gle loss of this brave commander. All the peculiar ad- 
vantages of the Army of the Potomac were sacrificed in 
the jungle-fighting into which they were thus called to 
engage. Of what use here were the tactical skill and the 
perfection of form, acquired through long and patient 
exercise ; of what use here the example and the personal 
influence of a Hays or a Hancock, a Brooke or a Bar- 

' The command of General Hays's brigade devolved upon Colonel 
John S. Crocker, Ninety-third New York. 


low ? How can a battle be fitly ordered in such a tangle 
of wood and brush, where troops can neither be sent 
straight to their destination nor seen and watched over, 
when, after repeatedly losing direction and becoming 
broken into fragments in their advance through thickets 
and jungles, they at last make their way up to the line of 
battle, perhaps at the point they were designed to rein- 
force, perhaps far from it ? Here chance has heaped up 
regiments till the men are six or eight deep ; there, a 
single thin line continues the front, westward or east- 
ward ; here, again, a gap appears. Appears, did I say ? 
No, it does not appear at a greater distance than fifty or 
a hundred yards ; but it exists, nevertheless, and through 
this accidental breach may, at any moment, enter a hos- 
tile column which shall disrupt and throw back the 
whole line, so that the extremity of valor shall be use- 
less ; so that the highest soldiership shall be in vain ; so 
that brigades shall not know whether the fire from which 
men are dropping by hundreds in their ranks comes 
from the foe or from their own comrades who have lost 
their way in the tangled forest.' It will never cease to 
be an object of amazement to me that, with such a tract 
in prospect, the character of it being known, in general, 
to army headquarters through the ChanccUorsville cam- 
paign, in which General Meade and General Humphreys 

' "One tangled mass of stunted evergreen, dwarf chestnut, oak 
and hazel, with an undergrowth of low-limbed bristling shrubs, 
making the forest almost impenetrable." It is thus that Badcau 
describes the Wilderness, and it is as follows he describes a battle 
in such a country. " A wrestle as blind as at midnight ; a gloom 
that made manojuvres impracticable ; a jungle where regiments 
stumbled on each other and on the enemy by turns, firing some- 
times into their own ranks, and guided often only by the crackling 
of the bushes or the cheers and cries that arose from the depths 



had taken a prominent part the year before, a supreme 
effort was not made, on the 4th of May, to carry the 
Army of the Potomac either through these jungles to- 
ward Mine Run, or past it, toward Spottsylvania ; and 
thus to reach positions which, while far from being as 
advantageous as the open country around Gettysburg 
and Sharpsburg, should be, at least, more tolerable than 
that in which the encounter of May 5th took place : po- 
sitions in which the magnificent artillery of the Army of 
the Potomac could come into play; in which the high 
tactical efificiency of its infantry could be brought to 
bear; in which the courage and skill of commanding 
officers could have their due effect. As it was, of the 
one hundred and fifty guns accompanying the infantry 
corps into the Wilderness, there was not real use for one 
third in that battle ; while the ablest general was able to 
control his men and influence their actions in only the 
faintest and remotest degree. 

When night fell on the 5th of May the woods were 
full of the wounded, as of the dead ; yet the utmost ex- 
ertions of the medical staff and the Ambulance Corps 
could not avail to bring off the sufferers. The under- 
growth was so dense that it was almost impossible to 
find the victims of the afternoon's battle ; and the hostile 
lines were so close that any movement over the interven- 
ing ground quickly brought down a heavy fire. During 
the night Grant, Meade, and Humphreys were earnestly 
engaged in preparing for the struggle of the coming day. 
On either side fresh troops were coming up : Anderson's 
division of Hill's Corps, with Longstreet's powerful 
corps, from Orange Court House ; Burnside's Ninth 
Union Corps, from the line of the Rappahannock. The 
relative value of these reinforcements was far from equal. 

Burnside's corps was in numbers only one-fifth of 



Grant's infantry ; while, with the exception of one vet- 
eran division, Potter's, lack of experience and discipline 

on the part of those troops reduced their efificiency far 
below their numerical importance. It was therefore for 
the interest of the Union army that the encounter should 


take place at the earliest possible hour in the morning. 
With this view, the commander-in-chief decided to at- 
tack at half-past four of the 6th of May. That attack 
he determined to make against the Confederate right, 
upon the Plank Road : that is, from Hancock's front. 

In the latter view, Getty's division was directed to con- 
tinue on the Plank Road, while Wadsworth's division of 
the Fifth Corps, which had fought its way, the after- 
noon previous, down to a point not far north of the 
Plank Road and somewhat more advanced westward 
than Hancock's general line, was to attack simultaneously 
with the Second Corps, in the expectation of reaching 
the left flank of Hill, whose corps should be fully en- 
gaged by Hancock in front. Wadsworth had been re- 
inforced by a brigade of Robinson's division of the Fifth 
Corps, commanded by General Baxter, form.erly lieuten- 
ant-colonel of the Seventh Michigan. Meanwhile Sedg- 
wick and Warren, with the remaining divisions of the 
Sixth and Fifth Corps, to the northward, should oc- 
cupy Ewell so closely as to prevent his sending reinforce- 
ments to Hill. In a word. Hill was to be crushed by 
the attack of Hancock's four divisions of the Second 
Corps with Getty's division of the Sixth Corps, upon 
his front, and of Wadsworth's division of the Fifth, upon 
his left and rear. 

This was to conclude the first episode of the day. 
The second was to open with the arrival of Burnside's 
Ninth Corps from the bridge over the Rapidan, directly 
opposite the Union centre. Assuming Hill's corps to 
have been disrupted by the tremendous assault preparing 
against him, Burnside was relied upon to pierce the Con- 
federate centre, Ewell being kept occupied by the real or 
feigned attacks of the Fifth and Sixth Corps, which 
would become more serious as news of success should 


arrive from the south. Hancock was to command about 
one-half the army, six divisions. The remaining divi- 
sions of the Fifth and Sixth Corps, with Burnside's 
troops, expected to arrive shortly after light, were to 
remain under the personal observation and direction of 
General Meade, whose headquarters, with Grant's, were 
established at the Old Wilderness Tavern, behind 
Warren's line. 

It has been said that Hancock was to begin at half- 
past four. In order to perfect the preparations required 
for so great an enterprise, involving such vast bodies of 
troops operating in so difficult a country. General Meade 
requested General Grant to authorize a delay until six 
o'clock ; but this the commander-in-chief was unwilling 
to permit, assenting reluctantly to name five o'clock. At 
that hour Hancock advanced to the attack ; but already, 
a few minutes before, Ewell had opened on Sedgwick in 
order to relieve the anticipated pressure on Hill and to 
give time for Longstreet to get up. 

The fire thus kindled swept fast down the line from 
the right, across the front of Warren. Wadsworth ad- 
vanced gallantly to his appointed work of striking Hill's 
flank ; and promptly at five o'clock the divisions of 
Birney and Mott, with Getty's division of the Sixth, and 
Carroll's and Owen's brigades, from Gibbon's, all under 
the general command of Birney, threw themselves furi- 
ously upon the Confederate intrenchments which crossed 
the Plank Road. The attack and the defence were alike 
of the most desperate nature. The night had given time 
for commanders to rectify their lines and get their troops 
in hand ; the Confederates were near, and the contest at 
once become close and savage. The impetus of that well- 
prepared assault could not be resisted : Hill's troops gave 
way. Hancock's men leaped, first a log entrenchment, 


and then, three or four hundred yards farther back, a 
line of rifle-pits; in less than an hour the Confederate 
right was routed and in flight, colors and prisoners were 
taken, and for the moment all presaged a complete vic- 
tory for the Union arms. 

The Confederates were driven more than a mile 
through the forest, almost to their wagon trains. The 
Confederate commander-in-chief, who had from the first 
made his headquarters with Hill, threw himself among 
the troops and used every exertion to rally the broken 
brigades which had recoiled from that terrible assault. 
But now three causes were combining to relieve the press- 
ure upon the Confederate right, and to give the Army 
of Northern Virginia that one chance of which it knew so 
well how to take advantage. The Union columns had 
become terribly mixed and disordered in their forward 
movement, under the excitement and bewilderment of 
battle, through woods so dense that at the best no body 
of troops could possibly preserve their alignment. In 
some cases they were heaped up in unnecessary strength ; 
elsewhere great gaps appeared ; men, and even officers, had 
lost their regiments in the jungles ; the advance had not 
been, could not have been, made uniformly from right to 
left, and the line of battle ran here forward, and there 
backward, through the forest ; thousands had fallen in 
the furious struggle ; the men in front were largely out of 
ammunition. Moreover, Wadsworth's advance south- 
ward had brought him down upon the right flank of 
Birney, and crowded that division greatly in toward the 
left. So great was the disorder that General Birney, 
whom Hancock had placed in command of the attack, 
took the responsibility of staying the advance and di- 
recting the division commanders to rectify their lines 
before proceeding farther. He then rode back to Gen- 


eral Hancock, who had taken his station at the junction 
of the Brock and Plank Roads, to report what he had 

A second cause was now entering to give the Confed- 
erate arms reHef. This was the arrival of Kershaw's di- 
vision of Longstreet's corps, coming up from the distant 
rear. These troops, undismayed by the signs of wreck 
which met their view on every side, moved gallantly into 
action against Hancock's left, which was farthest ad- 
vanced, and, throwing themselves with the utmost deter- 
mination upon that portion of our line, forced it back 
till it came abreast of the centre. 

The third, and even more important, cause which now 
operated to check the course of Hancock's victory, and 
even to turn it to defeat and mourning, was a misunder- 
standing, never explained, between himself and General 
Gibbon as to the disposition to be made of the forces 
under the command of the latter oflficer. Even while 
Hancock was forming his columns for attack, before 
break of day, he had been embarrassed by intelligence 
from army headquarters that the advance of Long- 
street's corps, instead of coming up in rear and in support 
of Hill, was bearing off southward, moving along the 
Catharpin Road, as if to pass around our left flank and 
penetrate into our rear ; and he had been especially 
warned that, in all his arrangements for the day, he must 
provide fully for the exigencies which might arise in that 
quarter. Hancock had at his command no means of as- 
certaining the truth of the reports regarding Longstreet, 
and was bound to proceed as if they might be true. He 
accordingly placed General Gibbon in charge of the left, 
giving him all the artillery massed there and the infantry 
of Barlow. General Gibbon, than whom no man knew 
better the use of artillery, disposed his great battery of 


forty pieces upon the comparatively high and clear ground 
which we spoke of in connection with the first day's 
fight, and placed his infantry in position to support the 
guns. Had Longstreet, indeed, approached from that 
quarter, there is no reason to doubt that he would have 
met a terrible repulse. 

Before Birney moved out, his line was in connection 
with Gibbon's, on the Brock Road ; but when Birney 
went forward, at five o'clock, Gibbon remained in position, 
and the farther Birney advanced the wider became the 
interval between his troops and Gibbon's. The arrival 
of Kershaw's Confederate division had already brought a 
heavy pressure on Birney 's left, and caused great anxiety 
to himself and to Hancock. Two of Gibbon's own bri- 
gades, Owen's and Carroll's, had followed Birney 's and 
Mott's divisions up the Plank Road, in the early morning, 
and Gibbon's remaining brigade, Webb's, had not long 
after to be sent up the road to relieve Getty's division, 
which had sustained heavy losses, including its gallant 
commander, who was severely wounded. 

The battle was now about to be resumed on our side, 
after the pause needed to rectify the formation, to reor- 
ganize, as well as could be done in the dense woods, the 
shattered troops, and to replace those which had suf- 
fered most severely by brigades from the second line. 
Stevenson's small division of the Ninth Corps had re- 
ported at the junction of the Brock and Plank Roads. 
Of this, Leasure's brigade had been sent down the Brock 
Road, in reserve against Longstreet 's possible attack ; Car- 
ruth's brigade had been sent forward to support Birney. 
Wadsworth's division, having accomplished its special 
task, in the first charge, was now formed on Birney 's 
right, in prolongation of his line. Still farther to the 
rieht, as General Meade announced through a staff offi- 


cer, Burnside, with two divisions, was advancing into the 
space between Hancock and Warren, meeting, thus far, 
little resistance and heading directly for Parker's Store, 
threatening the flank and rear of the troops in front 
of Birney. This heavy concentration of forces on the 
Union left and centre seemed to promise a speedy and 
complete triumph ; but the promise was a most fallacious 
one ; Burnside's reported attack proved to be unreal ; the 
interval between Birney and Gibbon was still unfilled ; 
and powerful reinforcements were at once stiffening 
Hill's resistance in front, and aiming at the dangerous 
gap in the Union line. Field's division of Longstreet's 
corps had followed close on Kershaw's, coming upon the 
field at the double-quick ; and was, in turn, followed by 
Anderson's division of Hill's corps, giving the Confeder- 
ates more fresh troops than they had at the opening 
of the battle. Moreover, intelligence was received that 
Cutler's brigade, on the left of Warren's corps, had been 
driven from its position in great disorder ; and General 
Birney was obliged to detach two brigades to rcoccupy 
the ground and hold back the enemy seeking to pene- 
trate between Warren and Hancock. 

The misunderstanding to which we have alluded, as 
bringing about such fatal consequences, related to the dis- 
position of Barlow's division, which, with the artillery, was 
under the command of General Gibbon, facing down the 
Brock Road. Several incidents had conspired to increase 
the apprehensions felt at daybreak that this was the point 
at which Longstreet's attack was to be delivered. Heavy 
firing had been heard in the direction of Todd's Tavern, 
supposed to signify an encounter between the enemy and 
Sheridan's cavalry ; and a column of Union convalescents, 
sent after the army on the wrong road, had been seen, at 
the distance of about two miles, wending its way around 


our left, and had been mistaken for Confederate Infantry. 
Notwithstanding, however, the grave possibilities attend- 
ing the left, General Hancock determined to withdraw 
Barlow's division from the Brock Road, and send it for- 
ward to join the left of the forces at the front. In his 
official report of the battle of the Wilderness, General 
Hancock states that he so instructed General Gibbon ; 
and this declaration General Hancock repeated to the 
end, asserting it in letters written within a short time of 
his death. Morgan and Mitchell both affirmed the same 
thing. On the other hand. General Gibbon as clearly 
and persistently declares that he did not receive such in- 
structions ; that while the " pros and cons " of the situ- 
ation were discussed, the definitive order to send in Bar- 
low Avas not given. Only Frank's brigade from Barlow 
had gone forward. This, after severe fighting, had se- 
cured a place on the left of Birney's line. 

Whatever may be the true explanation, the conse- 
quences of the failure to send forward the division of 
Barlow, the largest division in the army, were momen- 
tous. The Confederate linie was now being greatly 
strengthened at the front, where Birney, Wadsworth, and 
Mott were delivering a furious attack, and, at the same 
time, was being rapidly lengthened in a direction which 
would soon cause Birney to be taken in rear from his 
left. As yet, the latter danger had not made itself mani- 
fest ; but the strain at the front had become terrible, as 
the disordered masses of our troops encountered the 
fresh divisions of Field and Anderson. 

In this moment of anxiety every ear was turned to 
catch the sound of Burnside's assault, with his two divi- 
sions, upon the enemy's left and rear, toward Parker's 
Store. Two hours had passed since Hancock had • been 
told that this was then taking place, but as yet not a 


sound from that direction told that Burnside had got to 
work ; and it was to be hours yet before this promised 
assistance to our hard-pressed troops was to be given — 
assistance it could be hardly called, for, when Burnside 
at last made his attack, Hancock had already been driven 
back to the Brock Road. 

The crisis was now fast approaching. The enemy, 
having discovered the gap in our line, where Barlow's 
division should have been, drew down four brigades — G. 
T. Anderson's, of Field's division ; Mahone's, of R. H. 
Anderson's division ; Wofford's, of Kershaw's division and 
Davis', of Heth's division — to find their way around Bir- 
ney's flank. These troops, moving by their right, reached 
the bed of the unfinished Fredericksburg Railroad, and 
there formed, facing north, for their decisive charge. At 
eleven o'clock they moved forward with an impetuosity 
characteristic of Confederate flank attacks. Frank's bri- 
gade, which had already lost heavily and was nearly out 
of ammunition, was struck on end, broken into fragments, 
and hurled back in dire disorder. The next troops 
encountered comprised McAllister's brigade of Mott's 
division, and these too, although they had partially 
changed front on the alarm given by the attack on 
Frank, were quickly overlapped, crushed, and driven 
back. Advised now, by the firing and shouting of the 
turning column, of the success of this movement against 
our flank, the Confederate divisions of Kershaw, Field, 
and Anderson threw themselves with great impetuosity 
upon the front of the Union forces, and after a desperate 
struggle our troops began to give way. Perceiving the 
hopelessness of any attempt to repair the disaster on his 
left, Hancock made the utmost exertions to hold the ad- 
vanced position which we had occupied to the north of 
the Plank Road, "rcfusinir" his left. Had it been on 


open ground, in plain view, Hancock's command of men, 
his inspiring presence, and his great tactical skill, might 
have availed ; but in the tangled forest, with the troops 
in the condition in which more than six hours of hard 
fio-hting had left them, there was not time for this. On 
the left, Mott's division was fast crumbling away, under 
the fire upon their flank ; on the right, the heroic Wads- 
worth had been killed, at the head of his division, and 
his regiments were staggering under the terrific blows of 
the encouraged and exultant enemy ; in the centre, Bir- 
ney's division and the brigades of Carroll, Owen, and 
Webb, worn with fighting and depleted by their enor- 
mous losses, were being slowly pressed back. Down the 
Plank Road thousands of broken men were going to the 
rear, giving to the onlooker the impression of a perfect 
rout. In this situation, Hancock, on Birney's representa- 
tions, reluctantly gave the order to withdraw the troops 
to the Brock Road, 

It was now high noon ; and the battle of the Wilder- 
ness, in all its essential features, had been fought and 
finished. A great assault had been made in the early 
morning, with overwhelming success ; but the disorder 
of the troops and the powerful reinforcements arriving 
upon the field on the Confederate side, consisting of the 
divisions of Kershaw, Field, Anderson, had stayed and 
then turned the tide of battle. The Union side was 
not reinforced as fast, or, owing to the character of the 
country, as intelligently, as the Confederate; Burnside 
had delayed for hours, as at Antietam ; and, at last, the 
entrance of four brigades into the gap between Mott 
and Barlow disrupted our line, and caused the whole to 
be thrown back violently and in disorder. But, while 
the stream of fugitives would not have allowed anyone 
standing at the junction of the Brock and Plank Roads, 


at noon of the 6th of May, to think anything else than 
that the whole left wing of the Army of the Potomac had 
gone to pieces, things were far from being so bad as that. 
Through the forest the steadier troops were falling back, 
in as good order as the tangled thickets would permit, 
still facing the foe. In half an hour more the intrench- 
ments along the verge of the Brock Road, which the 
troops had left in the morning for their great charge, 
were filled with armed men — much broken up, it is true, 
alike by advance and by retreat, but not men whom it 
was safe to attack in position. The losses in killed and 
wounded had been enormous ; but the enemy, notwith- 
standing their great success, had captured comparatively 
few prisoners, and had been themselves so severely pun- 
ished that they made no attempt to follow up our re- 
treating troops on the right of the Plank Road, and did 
little in the way of annoying Frank's and Mott's men 
falling back from the left. 

The question now is, Will the enemy, relying on their 
success in the late encounter, take the initiative and at- 
tack our troops along the Brock Road ? Should they do 
so at once, the result will be doubtful. We have, in per- 
fect form, three brigades of Barlow's division, Leasure's 
brigade of Stevenson's division of the Ninth Corps, and 
a brigade of Getty's division of the Sixth Corps, none of 
which have been engaged. All the men remaining belong- 
to brigades which have been in the desperate fighting of 
the morning, and have been dragged hither and thither, 
forward and backward, to right and to left, through the 
thickets, until they have been greatly scattered. On the 
right of the Plank Road, where the troops came back 
under orders, the regiments are generally entire, though 
greatly depleted by losses and by straggling ; but on the 
left of the plank road, many regiments are to be found 


in companies or squads. Thousands have fallen in the 
fight and are still lying in the woods, which, to intensify 
the confusion and horror, have taken fire in many places 
in front of the Brock Road. But in the lines now formed 
in the trenches along the Brock Road are men as good 
as ever fired a shot .in battle, and, though much disor- 
ganized, the command is, in general, not demoralized. 
The dispersion of regiments has, in the main, been the 
result purely of the natural obstructions, and of rapid 
and bewildering movements in the gloom of the forest. 
Should Longstreet give an hour or two to get ofificers 
and men together, out in the sunlight along the open 
road, he will find his old antagonists on hand to receive 
him with right good-will. 

That respite is given. Just as Jackson, riding out in 
front of his troops after his great victory at Chancellors- 
ville. May 2d, 1863, to survey the ground over which he 
purposed to follow up his victory, fell mortally wounded 
under the fire of his own men, so Longstreet, on this 6th 
of May, 1864, having thrown back the Second Corps and 
its supporting divisions, largely through the enterprise of 
the flanking column, received a volley while riding down 
the front of the brigades that had made this decisive 
movement, which severely wounded him and killed Gen- 
eral Jenkins. Such an accident, occurring at such a time, 
was fraught with momentous consequences. The com- 
mand of Longstreet's corps devolved upon General R. 
H. Anderson ; and General Lee, arriving on the ground, 
postponed the attack. 

On our side the time was well improved — soldiers 
sought their regiments along the line ; and many of the 
stragglers returned from the rear, whither they had gone 
believing all was lost ; ammunition was served out ; the 
men, who had taken their hasty breakfast at four o'clock, 


nibbled their hard-tack and ate their salt pork, and 
straightway felt better. The sunlight into which they 
had emerged cheered alike body and soul. The normal 
influence of commanders and staffs was restored, now 
that they could once more be seen, as they rode up and 
down the Brock Road, completing the preparations to 
receive the enemy. Word was passed along the line that 
Burnside was " going in on the right." 

Among the wounded of the morning had been Colonel 
S. S. Carroll, commanding Gibbon's third brigade. 
Meeting Carroll with his arm bound up. General Han- 
cock asked him whom he would wish to have assigned 
to command his brigade, to which Carroll replied, with 
spirit, that he had not yet left the field, and proposed to 
command his own brigade himself. The events of the 
next few hours were to show that it was well he did so, 
well both for him and for the Second Corps. Mean- 
while, Hancock, determined to know what the enemy 
was doing in his immediate front, placed Leasure's small 
brigade of the Ninth Corps, about one thousand strong, 
in line of battle at right angles to the intrcnchments, 
their right resting about one hundred yards therefrom, 
and sent it forward to sweep his front. This order was 
executed by Colonel Leasure with intelligence and spirit, 
the brigade crossing the entire front of Mott and Birney, 
encountering only a small force of the enemy, which it 
drove away, and then resumed its position in support of 
the main line, near the Plank Road. At about two 
o'clock Lyle's brigade, from the right, reported to Gen- 
eral Hancock, together with two regiments of heavy artil- 
lery. By three o'clock Hancock had his troops again in 
such form that he was ready for the enemy. 

Generals Meade and Grant, however, were not disposed 
to be content with a defensive position, and orders were 


received from general headquarters to prepare for an at- 
tack all along the line at six o'clock. That order was 
destined to be anticipated by the enemy's initiative, for at 
4.15 P.M. our skirmishers were driven in, and the Confed- 
erates advanced against the intrenchments on the Brock 
Road. The attack was a real one, but was not made 
with great spirit ; nor, it must be confessed, was the re- 
sponse from our side as hearty as it was wont to be. The 
enemy's line advanced to within about one hundred 
yards, and then halted and commenced firing, to which 
our troops replied, with noise enough, but keeping too 
much down behind the log intrenchments and thus dis- 
charging their muskets upward. The breastworks had 
now taken fire at more than one point, from the dried 
leaves and twigs in front, kindled by the discharges of 
the musketry. The heat at times became intense, and 
the smoke, blown backward over the intrenchments, not 
only concealed the enemy from view, but blinded and 
stifled our men. At last, in the most unexpected and 
unnecessary form, came a break in our lines, just at the 
junction of the Brock and Plank Roads. Some of Mott's 
troops in the second line gave way, without the slightest 
cause other than excitement and the strain, the labors 
and the losses of the morning ; and a portion of General 
J. H. Hobart Ward's brigade, of Birney's division, rushed 
pell-mell to the rear, their commander jumping upon a 
caisson, which was driven rapidly off. Following up this 
altogether undeserved success, a Confederate brigade, 
understood to be Jenkins', now commanded by Colonel 
Bratton, dashed forward through the smoke, mounted 
our intrenchments on our left of the Plank Road, and 
planted their colors .on the breastworks. It was a critical 
moment, rather from the generally strained and tired con- 
dition of our troops, than from the actual number of the 


Confederates who had thus gained entrance ; but startHng 
as was the exigency, it was met as promptly. Carroll's 
brigade at this moment lay in reserve on the right of the 
Plank Road. The time had come for him to do the same 
feat of arms which he had performed on the night of the 
2d of July at Gettysburg. Putting his brigade into mo- 
tion, himself, with bandaged arm, at the head of the col- 
umn, Carroll dashed on the run across the road, and then 
coming to a " front," charged forward, encountering the 
exultant Confederates in the very moment of their tri- 
umph, and hurling them headforemost over the intrench- 
mcnts. In an instant the danger had arisen and had dis- 
appeared. The enemy fell back into the woods, and in a 
little while the firing died down along the left. Had 
Carroll been two minutes later, the same friendly office 
would have been performed by Brooke's brigade, which 
came up at the double-quick from the left. Dow's Sixth 
INIaine battery, which was stationed at the crossing of the 
roads, rendered excellent service at this juncture in re- 
pelling the enemy. Half an hour afterward. General 
Burnside, urged by repeated orders from General Meade, 
began his long-meditated attack with Potter's and Will- 
cox's divisions, which achieved a temporary success, 
though too late to be of assistance to Hancock as de- 
signed. Burnside was finally checked and brought to 
stand by Confederate reinforcements arriving on his 
front. The general attack, which had been ordered for 
six o'clock, was, by General Meade's orders, postponed, 
and no more fighting occurred on the left during this day. 
It does not belong to the scope of this history to tell 
of the severe fighting of the morning, on the front of 
Sedgwick and Warren, who loyally carried out their as- 
signed tasks of keeping Ewell occupied, or of the start- 
ling episode of the early evening, when Gordon's and 



Johnston's Confederate brigades, getting on the flank of 
the Sixth Corps, with Pegram attacking in front, rolled 
up the brigades of Shaler and Seymour, capturing large 
numbers of prisoners, including both those accomplished 
general officers. It was at this time that Getty's division 
of the Sixth Corps, now commanded by Wheaton, was 
sent back to rejoin its comrades on the right. At a later 
hour Stevenson's and Wadsworth's divisions were di- 
rected to report to their respective corps commanders. 

Such, so far as the Second Corps was called to take 
part in it, was the famous battle of the Wilderness. The 
corps, sent beyond Todd's Tavern on the morning of the 
5th of May, had been ordered to countermarch and move 
by the way of the Brock Road to the Orange Plank Road, 
to resist the attempt of Hill's two divisions to penetrate 
between the columns of Hancock and of Warren. Ar- 
riving here about two o'clock, it found Getty confront- 
ing large odds, and as soon as its two leading divisions 
could be brought up and deployed, it went into action, 
driving the enemy before it, but was deprived, by the 
coming on of night, of the opportunity to achieve a com- 
plete success. Hill having, as it proved, no supports that 
could have been brought up for many hours to come. 
On the morning of the 6th, the Second Corps had again 
attacked, strongly supported by the divisions of Wads- 
worth and Getty. It had, in a charge made wath great 
spirit, routed Hill's two divisions then in position, as 
Confederate troops were rarely to be routed ; but in pur- 
suing its initial success through the dense and tangled 
woods, its brigades and regiments had been broken and 
confused. In this condition it had encountered one fresh 
Confederate division after another, until, at last, a force 
of four brigades, searching out the gap which existed in 
its lines, owing to the failure to send Barlow forward on 


Mott's left, struck in flank the troops fighting out the 
Plank Road, and rolled up Frank's and McAllister's bri- 

This disaster, combined with a renewed assault by 
three Confederate divisions in front, led to the retire- 
ment of the corps, the right generally in fair order, con- 
sidering the nature of the ground ; the left in confusion — 
confusion due, however, far more to the nature of the 
physical obstructions than to the actual effect of the very 
severe fighting that had taken place. Withdrawing, 
thus, to its original line of the early morning, it had been 
reorganized and there awaited an attack, which was de- 
livered and repulsed between 4.15 and 5 P.M.; and the 
corps passed the night of the 6th in the position it had 
occupied twenty-four hours before. 

The losses of the Army of the Potomac, and of Burn- 
side's Ninth Corps (which, until the 24th of May, was not 
formally treated as a part of that army), on the 5th and 
6th of May, comprised 2,265 killed, 10,220 wounded, and 
2,902 missing ; total, 15,387. Many of the missing were 
doubtless killed or wounded in the thickets, unobserved 
by their comrades. The losses of the Second Corps had 
been 699 killed, 3,877 wounded, 516 missing; total, 

Among the killed, besides General Hays, had been 
many valuable officers who were to be severely missed in 
the ensuing battles of the corps. The field officers killed 
or mortally wounded were Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin 
Burt, Third Maine ; Lieutenant-Colonel A. B. Chap- 
man, Fifty-seventh New York ; Lieutenant-Colonel A. 
B. Myer, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth New York ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Jacob W. Greenawalt, One Hundred 
and Fifth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant-Colonel Milton 
Opp, Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania ; Major Henry L. Ab- 


bott, Twentieth Massachusetts ; Major Thomas Touhy, 
Sixty-third New York ; Major Robert H. Gray, Fourth 
Maine. Two of these officers deserve especial notice in 
a history of the Second Corps. Colonel Chapman had, 
on a score of battlefields, displayed the highest soldierly 
qualities ; his figure had always been conspicuous in the 
front line of battle ; and whether on the skirmish line or 
in the column of attack, he had proved himself one of the 
bravest and most capable officers in the corps. Major 
Abbott was at the time of his early death greatly dis- 
tinguished for his efficiency as a commander in camp, 
and for his gallantry in battle. Justly did General Han- 
cock in his official report, say of him : " This brilliant 
young officer, by -his courageous conduct in action, the 
high state of discipline in his regiment, and his devotion 
to duty at all times, had obtained the highest reputation 
among his commanding officers." 

The other commissioned officers killed or mortally 
wounded, so far as I have been able to complete the list, 
were Captains Robert S. Seabury and James B. Turner, 
Assistant Adjutant-Generals; Captain H. T. Walcott, 
Fortieth New York ; Captains Edwin Libby and Amos 
B. Wooster, Fourth Maine ; Captain Andrew Nickerson 
and Lieutenant Milton Leonard, Third Michigan ; Cap- 
tain P. T. Boyle, Sixty-third New York ; Captain Pat- 
rick Nolan, Seventy-first New York ; Captain Patrick 
Ryder and Lieutenant John Sparks, Eighty-eighth New 
York ; Captains John Bailey and Dennis E. Barnes, and 
Lieutenants Norman F. Eldridge and Robert L. Gray, 
Ninety-third New York ; Captains George W. Harvey 
and George O. Getchell, Third Maine ; Captain W. W. 
Hulser, One Hundred and Fifty-second New York ; 
Captain Henry Quigley and Lieutenant Edward C. 
Sutherland, Twentieth Indiana ; Captain Richard L. R. 


Shreve, Seventy-second Pennsylvania ; Captain George 
W. McCuIloch ; Captains James Hamilton and William 
J. Clyde, One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania; Cap- 
tain Albert Buxton and Lieutenant Thomas J. Tarbell, 
Second United States Sharp Shooters; Captains George 
W. Rose and Wilberforce Hurlbert, Fifth Michigan ; 
Captain Joseph S. Hills and Lieutenant John U. Wood- 
fin, Sixteenth Massachusetts ; Lieutenant H. J. Caldwell, 
Fourteenth Indiana; Captain Samuel Fisk and Lieuten- 
ant Frederick Shalk, Fourteenth Connecticut ; Captains 
James A, Mclntyre and Charles V. Smith, Twenty- 
eighth Massachusetts ; Lieutenant Channing L. Petti- 
bone, Fourth Ohio ; Lieutenant John M. Fogg, Twelfth 
New Jersey; Lieutenant Michael ^McGeough, First 
United States Sharp Shooters ; Lieutenants Horace G, 
Hill and James W, Snedeker, One Hundred and Eleventh 
New York ; Lieutenant John J. Lockwood, One Hun- 
dred and Twentieth New York ; Lieutenant Christopher 
C. Gray, Fourth Maine ; Lieutenant Henry Chamber- 
lain, Seventieth New York ; Lieutenant John Kelly, 
Eighty-second New York ; Lieutenant Benjamin Doe, 
Seventeenth Maine ; Lieutenant Christopher Smith, 
Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania. 

Among the many field-of^cers wounded were Colonel 
Carroll, commanding brigade ; Colonel John Pulford, 
Fifth Michigan ; Colonel George West, Seventeenth 
Maine ; Colonel Peter Sides, Fifty-seventh Pennsyl- 
vania ; Colonel C. A. Craig, One Hundred and Fifth 
Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant-Colonel John Danks, Sixty- 
third Pennsylvania, At Corps Headquarters, Captain 
E. P, Brownson was severely wounded on the 6th of 

Major C. P. Mattocks, Seventeenth Maine, was cap- 



The losses of the Second Corps were distributed by 
divisions as follows : 






Staff and Escort 















Third Division .... 





The losses were thus distributed as between commis- 
sioned officers and enlisted men. 



Enlisted men. 











A comparison of the proportion of killed and wounded 
who were commissioned officers, with the like proportion 
at Gettysburg, becomes highly instructive as to the na- 
ture of the fighting in the Wilderness. At Gettysburg, 
of the killed ' 8 j^ per cent., and of the wounded 8 per cent., 
were commissioned officers. In the Wilderness but 5.7 
per cent, of the killed, and 5 per cent, of the wounded, 
were officers. This great disparity in the proportion of 
officers to enlisted men, among the killed and wounded. 

' These statements do not include those who subsequently died 
of their wounds. 


was due to the difference in the topographical conditions 
of the two battles. .Vt Gettysburg the fighting was al- 
most wholly in the open. Here not only had the sharp- 
shooter a chance to do the most mischief ; but the higher 
responsibility of officers led them, in critical moments, to 
expose themselves with a freedom which caused heavy 
additions to the lists of casualties. In the Wilderness, 
the greater part of those who fell were struck by men 
who could not even see them ; sounds directed the firing 
rather than sight. In conditions like those, there was 
little special exposure of officers, and their share in the 
casualties sank to something very near their numerical 
proportion. Of the entire command, on the morning of 
April 30th, 1864, the proportion of officers was 4.6 per 
cent. Of the entire number killed and wounded, May 
5th to 6th, the proportion of officers was 5 per cent. 
The slight difference in these ratios we may believe to be 
wholly accounted for by the higher degree in which 
officers stayed through the later stages of the fighting ; 
by their being the first to rise up from the ground when a 
charge was ordered, and by their greater indisposition to 
seek the shelter of trees in action; not at all by any 
special direction of the enemy's fire at them, as officers. 
In a word, that which caused this slight excess of casual- 
ties among officers, above their numerical proportion, 
was subjective, not objective. 

The respective losses of the two armies, May 5th and 
6th, and the effects produced thereby on the respective 
strength of the two armies, has been much misunder- 
stood, owing, doubtless, to the fact that this battle is 
commonly taken as the type of the whole campaign, as 
when we say " the Wilderness Campaign," whereas it 
was far from being a typical battle of 1864. Viewed 
in the light of General Grant's professed policy of 


reducing Lee's army by continuous "hammering" or 
" attrition," the battle of the Wilderness was the most 
successful, always excepting the glorious but terrible I2th 
of May, of all the actions of that year. It was true that 
the Union army had sustained enormous losses ; it was 
likewise true this expenditure of life had not secured any 
such result as might reasonably have been expected from 
the superior numbers of that army, had the encounter 
taken place on ground better suited to tactical manoeuvres 
and to the use of artillery, such as was to be found, in 
almost any direction, five miles from that unhappy battle- 
field ; but it is also true that Lee's army sustained heavy 
losses,' which, if not equal to those of the Army of the 
Potomac, were probably as great in proportion to its 
numbers. In the battle of the Wilderness entrenchments 
played no such dominant part as they were to play at 
Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Peters- 
burg. The rifle-pits dug and the log entrenchments 
constructed were generally of a slight character; while 
very much of the fighting, both on the 5th and on the 
6th, was done by the two armies altogether outside of 

' The statement of Confederate losses made in the Medical and 
Surgical History of the War gives 2,000 killed, 6,000 wounded, 
and 3,400 missing. 


todd's tavern and to river. 

When the sun went down on the smoking woods of 
the Wilderness, on the 6th of May, the first great battle 
of the campaign of 1864 was over and done. Lee had 
no disposition to renew the action which he had brought 
on to gain time for bringing up Longstreet's Corps. Be- 
sides, he knew the Army of the Potomac well enough to 
be aware that his greatest advantage was likely to be ob- 
tained in the first encounter, in the earliest stages of a 
movement. After Gettysburg the Confederate com- 
mander was very unlikely to attack the Army of the Po- 
tomac on a third day. On the Union side, Grant was 
nowise daunted by the bitter fighting of the 5th and 6th; 
and in the early morning of the 7th General Birney was 
directed to make a reconnoissance ' in force down the 
Plank Road, to develop the position of the enemy. This 
was found to be so well retired from our front as to 
cause Grant to decide not to make a further effort in that 
direction, but to throw his whole army to the left, with 
a view to get between Lee and Richmond, or to place 
himself in a position so threatening as to compel the 
Confederates to attack. There was an additional reason 
for this movement at this time, namely, that Butler's 

' Captain J. C. Briscoe, Fortieth New York, serving on General 
Birney's staff, distinguished hnnself greatly on this occasion. Cap- 
tain Briscoe was wounded at the SaUent, May 12th. 


army of the James had reached City Point from the 
south. Grant's ultimate plan of action involved the 
union of the two armies. 

In the execution of this purpose, the cavalry were to 
hold the roads crossing the Po River, by which the en- 
emy would have their most direct route from the Wil- 
derness down to Spottsylvania Court House, the point 
selected by Grant as his immediate objective. The 
Fifth was to take the lead of the infantry corps. It was 
expected, by a rapid march down the Brock Road, under 
cover of the cavalry, to occupy Spottsylvania, to be re- 
inforced by the Sixth Corps coming up on its left by a 
road interior to the Brock Road, and subsequently by the 
Ninth Corps coming up on the left of the Sixth. Mean- 
while, when Warren's Corps should have passed by, leav- 
ing open the Brock Road for Hancock, the Second Corps, 
previously the left of the army, should move to Todd's 
Tavern, about half way to Spottsylvania, becoming thus 
the right of the army ; and should here hold the Cathar- 
pin Road, which, running east and west, crosses, nearly at 
right angles, the north and south roads the army was to 
occupy in the turning movement thus initiated. The 
Orange & Alexandria Railroad was to be definitively 
abandoned for Fredericksburg, as the base of operations. 
The transfer of the vast provision, ammunition, and en- 
gineer-trains of so great an army, and of the hospitals 
burdened with thousands of wounded, from one line to 
another, was a task of a difficulty inconceivable to one 
who has not witnessed such operations. The trains were 
to begin to move at 3 P.M. of May 7th ; Warren was not 
to set out until dark. 

The attempt to seize Spottsylvania in advance of the 
Confederates failed through one of those misadventures 
which are so frequent in war. General Lee had become 


aware that the Union commander contemplated a move- 
ment in some direction ; and to his mind all the signs 
of change pointed toward Fredericksburg. He therefore 
ordered Anderson, who had succeeded the wounded 
Longstreet, to move on the morning of the 8th of May 
to Spottsylvania. Anderson, however, was so far in- 
fluenced by the fact that the woods in which his corps 
lay were still burning, from the fires kindled in the fight- 
ing of the 6th, that he determined to set out on the even- 
ing of the 7th and make a night march of it, a distance 
of about fifteen miles. By this it came about that, when 
the head of Warren's column, having been delayed by 
Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry on the Brock Road, arrived at 
Spottsylvania, anticipating a contest with Stuart only, 
it found Anderson already in position, in strong force. 
The latter's instructions from General Lee had not con- 
templated an attempt by the Union forces to seize Spott- 
sylvania ; but finding Stuart heavily engaged with in- 
fantry, he at once set about constructing breastworks. 
Warren, coming up with the head of his column, having 
no advices as to any general movement of the enemy, 
and believing that only cavalry was in his front, attacked 
with slight preparation. Grififin's and Robinson's divis- 
ions, thrown impetuously in, were repulsed with heavy 
loss. General Robinson falling severely wounded. This 
check compelled Warren to bring up his remaining divis- 
ion ; and hard fighting ensued, with varying success, but 
with the general result that the Fifth Corps line was 
drawn close in front of Anderson's breastworks, where- 
upon Warren determined to await the arrival of Sedg- 
wick. It was not until late in the afternoon that the 
second attack was made by Sedgwick and Warren. Gen- 
eral Badeau evidently means to be understood as reflect- 
ing upon the spirit in which the attack was made ; but 


that person is so eager to sacrifice reputations, as a burnt 
offering of sweet savor upon the altar of Grant's fame, 
that we may well disregard his imputations. Whatever 
might or might not have been done on the late after- 
noon of the 8th of May, Anderson's line was not carried 
before night, and already other Confederate columns were 
pressing to his support. 

Meanwhile Hancock was, during the whole day of the 
8th, performing the part assigned him, at Todd's Tavern, 
of holding the Catharpin Road against any attempt of the 
enemy to cut the north and south roads by which Grant's 
troops and trains were moving. That attempt was very 
near to being made, for General Lee, full of his thought 
that Grant was moving on Fredericksburg, had ordered 
Early, in temporary command of Hill's corps, to move by 
Todd's Tavern to Spottsylvania Court House, as a part 
of his own general plan to push his army rapidly south- 
ward to interpose between Fredericksburg and Rich- 
mond. Whether General Lee, had he known that the 
Army of the Potomac was moving to Spottsylvania, 
would have chosen to assail it by an attack out the Ca- 
tharpin Road we cannot know. Certain it is that Early^ 
arriving in front of Hancock's position, interpreted his 
orders to mean essentially that he was to go to Spott- 
sylvania, and not that he was to fight a battle at Todd's 
Tavern ; and so, his designated route being barred against 
him by a force which would, at the least, have exacted 
a hard fight and a long delay before letting him pass. 
Early made no serious efforts to break through here. 

Hancock had arrived somewhat later than was antici- 
pated, owing to the occupation of the Brock Road by the 
Fifth Corps, his leading brigade not being able to move 
out of its entrenchments until daylight, at which time 
it had been assumed in the general plan that the corps 


would be at the Tavern. Nothing, however, occurred to 
make the delay important. On arriving, Miles, with his 
own brigade of infantry, a brigade of Gregg's cavalry and 
a battery was sent forward on the Catharpin Road, nearly 
to Corbin's Bridge, where it remained until late in the 
afternoon. About 5.30 P.M., while Miles was retiring, 
under orders, he encountered Mahone's division moving 
under the instructions from General Lee which we have 
recited. The collision was sharp; but Miles, twice facing 
about, beat back the enemy advancing upon him. 
Smyth's brigade was advanced to Miles' support. 

Expectation of battle was now at its height, as it was 
not doubted that the Confederates were attempting to 
" counter " upon General Meade, answering his advance 
upon Spottsylvania by a movement into his right and 
rear. Inasmuch as Gibbon's division had been called for 
at 1.30 P.M. to move down toward Warren, to support 
the Fifth Corps, if required, Burton's brigade of heavy 
artillery was sent up by General Meade at 6.30 to re- 
inforce Hancock in view of the anticipated attack. A 
reconnoissance was at this time made, out the Brock Road, 
in consequence of a report, which proved to be unfound- 
ed, that the enemy were advancing from that direction. 
And so the Second Corps stood to arms, all the after- 
noon and into the early evening, believing that another of 
its great days of battle had come and that it was to be 
called upon to resist a supreme effort of the Confederate 
general, who had shown such capacity for dangerous in- 
itiative, to break through into Meade's right rear and to 
turn the whole course of the campaign. But the sun 
went down, and darkness came on, and the great battle 
of Todd's Tavern was never fought. It is not known 
how many men had fallen in the skirmishing of the day, 
and in Miles' brush with Mahone ; but among the killed 


were Captains William A. Collins and Thomas G. Mor- 
rison, of the Sixty-first New York, and Lieutenant Per- 
rin C. Judkins, First United States Sharp Shooters. The 
latter officer was serving on the staff of the Second Bri- 
gade, Third Division. 

During the night of the 8th to 9th of May, the sounds 
reported from the picket line intimated a concentration 
of troops in our front ; and when morning came there 
were indications of an advance by the enemy upon 
Birney's front, along the Catharpin Road. This caused 
Gibbon's division to be drawn in somewhat, perhaps 
a mile, from its advanced position, toward Spottsylva- 
nia, so that it made connection with Birney; and the bri- 
gade of heavy artillery in the rear was again called up. 
The anticipated attack was, however, not delivered. It 
was during this interval of suspense that the sad intelli- 
gence was brought to the headquarters of the Second 
Corps that Sedgwick, the beloved commander of the 
Sixth Corps, had fallen, 


By noon the information received as to the movements 
of the enemy was sufficiently clear to establish the prob- 
ability that no serious attempt would be made to pene- 
trate into the Union rear by way of Todd's Tavern. 
Mott's division ' and Burton's heavy artillery were ac- 
cordingly left to hold the Catharpin Road at this point ; 
and the other divisions were, under General Meade's 
orders, despatched southeastward, down the Brock Road, 

' Still later in the day, the enemy having disappeared from the 
vicinity of the Tavern, Mott's division was sent down to the left 
of Sedgwick's Sixth Corps, with which it operated throughout the 
dav of the loth. 


to and beyond the position occupied by Gibbon the 
.afternoon before. Here the three divisions were drawn 
up on high open ground overlooking the valley of the 
Po River. 

While the troops were coming into position General 
Hancock rode forward toward Spottsylvania, and, on a 
hill-side overlooking the river, he dismounted and joined 
Generals Grant and Meade in consultation on the situa- 
tion developed by the failure of the plan to seize Spott- 
sylvania. While the conversation was in progress a 
Confederate wagon train was seen passing along a road 
on the opposite side of the river, within such exasperat- 
ingly easy range that a battery was ordered up to open 
fire upon it. The effect of the first few shots was to 
create a wild stampede among the non-belligerents and 
to send the wagons flying to cover. How serious was 
the intention which underlay the next step it is not easy 
to say ; but it was not without important consequences. 
Hancock was directed to throw a division over the river 
and try to capture the train. This, perhaps, would have 
been effected if the teams had not been goaded into a 
wild flight by the shelling administered to them. At 
any rate, Barlow's division, Brooke leading, crossed, 
though with much difficult}', the banks being steep and 
densely wooded ; but the obstacles were overcome with 
energy, and the division was soon over, followed at once 
by the divisions of Gibbon below, and Birney above; for 
now something besides the wagon train (at this time 
safe within the Confederate lines) was pressing upon the 
mind of the commander-in-chief. He thought he saw 
an opportunity of getting, in this way, upon the flank of 
the Confederate force at Spottsylvania. Had the cross- 
ing been ordered earlier a good beginning of a serious 
turning movement might have been effected. But it 



was nearly dark when the last two divisions succeeded in 
getting over, Birney having to drive the enemy's cavalry 
and a section of artillery from a mill-race at which he 
crossed, and Hancock found it impossible to push the 
troops forward, as he desired, to the bridge on the Shady 
Grove and Block House Road, which led directly into 
Lee's rear. 

The following sketch shows the e^eneral relation of the 

roads and bridges with which this movement of Hancock 
was concerned. 

Owing to the lateness of the crossing, the distance and 
the density of the woods, Hancock was only able by 
dark to get his skirmishers up to the bridge. And here, 
in the space between Glady Run and the Po, the troops 


rested for the night. Engineering details were actively- 
employed, however, in building bridges at three points, 
and before morning communications were well estab- 


The morning of the loth of May found three divis- 
ions of the Second Corps across the Po, threatening Lee's 
left flank, Barlow's division in advance being formed to face 
eastward on the Block House and Shady Grove Church 
Road, just where that road crosses the river to run 
into the Confederate rear. As soon as it was light Hancock 
caused a reconnoissance to be made of the Confederate 
position, to ascertain the feasibility of cariying the bridge 
by assault. The enemy were seen to be in force in in- 
trenchments which commanded the bridge and its ap- 
proaches, while the stream had been found by the skirmish- 
ers, during the night, to be too deep for fording. It was 
therefore decided to turn the position, and Brooke's bri- 
gade, accompanied by Colonel Morgan, chief of staff, was 
sent along the river, while General Birney was directed to 
push three or four regiments out on the Andrews' Tavern 
road to cover the movement. Brooke succeeded in 
crossing the river half-way between the bridge and the 
mouth of Glady Run, throwing out a detachment, under 
Lieutenant-Colonel John S. Hammill of the Sixty-sixth 
New York, who pushed his reconnoissance w^ith great 
vigor and despatch, until the enemy were driven into 
their works and their real line uncovered. 

Hancock now prepared to follow up Brooke's success 

by throwing across a suf^cient force to take in flank and 

rear the force holding the bridge-head, thereupon to 

cross with his remaining troops and continue his turning 



movement ; but at this moment he received intelligence 
that an attack was to be made at 5 P.M. upon the enemy 
opposite the Union centre, near Alsop's, and was directed 
at once to send down two divisions to join therein. He 
was also notified that he was to take command of all the 
troops engaged in the assault. Gibbon at once recrossed 
to the north bank of the river, and formed on Warren's 
right ; while Birney followed, his brigades being massed 
in reserve in rear of Warren. General Hancock accom- 
panied Gibbon and Birney, and proceeded to make an 
examination of the ground over which the assault was to 
be delivered. The withdrawal of two divisions had left 
Barlow alone to hold the position south of the Po, and, 
of course, put an end to all thoughts of turning Lee's left 
flank. It also placed Barlow in a singularly exposed and 
isolated position. 

Already, even while Birney was withdrawing, his 
skirmishers were being driven in by those of Heth's di- 
vision crossing the Po about the mouth of Glady Run, 
who, still farther advancing, soon engaged the skirmish- 
ers of Barlow. This intelligence, brought to General 
Meade, caused him much anxiety, and led him to request 
General Hancock at once to recross the river and attend 
in person to the withdrawal of his remaining division. 

As Hancock, riding rapidly up from the centre, re- 
joined his troops on the south bank of the Po, the skir- 
mishers of Heth, advancing from the direction of Glady 
Run, were sharply engaged with the skirmishers of the 
First Division, a division that had long made skirmishing 
a profession. It is a melancholy fact that three men out 
of four who entered the service of the United States left 
it, if alive, without ever having seen a really good piece 
of work of this character. Indeed, most regiments in the 
service had as little idea of skirmishing as an elephant. But 


to Barlow's brigades the very life of military service was 
in a widely extended formation, flexible yet firm, where 
the soldiers were thrown largely on their individual re- 
sources, but remained in a high degree under the control 
of the resolute, sagacious, keen-eyed ofTficers, who urged 
them forward, or drew them back, as the exigency of the 
case required ; where every advantage was taken of the 
nature of the ground, of fences, trees, stones, and prostrate 
logs; where manhood rose to its maximum and mechan- 
ism sank to its minimum, and where almost anything 
seemed possible to vigilance, audacity, and cool self-posses- 

Just at the moment, say 2 P.M., at which the order came 
to withdraw Barlow, the skirmishers of the advanced 
brigades, Brooke's and Brown's, after a fine display of 
address and gallantry, were retiring before the advance 
of Heth's line of battle. It seemed a pity to interrupt 
the fight that was imminent ; and had it been left to the 
vote of Barlow and his brigadiers the duel would have 
come ofT. A prettier field for such a contest was rarely 
to be found in that land of tangles and swamps. The 
forces were far from being unequally matched. A Con- 
federate division was, in general, much larger than a di- 
vision of Union troops; but Heth's column had suffered 
heavily in the Wilderness ; while Barlow's was at this 
time much the strongest division of the Army of the 
Potomac. Never, to the end of the war, did the oflficers 
of the First Division, there present, cease to speak with 
an affectionate sadness of the chance that was that day 

In the situation existing, to fight seemed as easy as it 
Avas imminent ; but to retreat with their backs to a river, 
the enemy in full advance, was a most critical matter; 
and such Barlow and Hancock felt it to be. They threw 


themselves with their staffs, at the head of the troops. 
Brooke's and Brown's' brigades, with Arnold's battery, 
which formed the front line, were ordered to fall back 
and take post on the right of Miles. The enemy were 
pressing on rapidly and the fire was furious ; but these 
two gallant bodies of veterans retired wdth the utmost 
coolness, reaching the position assigned them in perfect 
order. The first step in the critical operation was accom- 
plished. The next act of General Hancock was to direct 
that Miles and Smyth should retire to the last crest in 
front of the bridges. This was rapidly and skilfully done, 
both brigades being handled to perfection ; and the troops, 
the moment they were in place, began to cover themselves 
with rails and such other materials as they could lay 
hands upon. All the batteries except Arnold's were or- 
dered to pass over and take position on the north bank, 
to sweep the ground over which the enemy must advance. 
Other batteries had by this time been brought up from 
below by Colonel Tidball ; and Birney's division had 
moved by its right, to be nearer Barlow in case of dis- 
aster. While all this was doing, Heth's troops, doubtless 
deeming the withdrawal of Miles and Smyth a sign of 
fear, fell upon the brigades of Brooke and Brown, For 
a description of the contest which ensued I cannot do 
better than quote the words of Hancock's ofificial report : 
" The combat now became close and bloody ; the 
enemy, in vastly superior numbers, flushed with the an- 
ticipation of an easy victory, appeared determined to 
crush the small force opposing them, and, pressing for- 
ward with loud yells, forced their way close up to our 
line, delivering a terrible musketry fire as they advanced ; 

' The Third, commanded in the Wilderness by Colonel Frank, 
here commanded by Colonel H. L. Brown, One Hundred and 
Forty-fifth Pennsylvania. 


our brave troops again resisted their onset with un- 
daunted resolution ; their fire along the whole line was 
so continuous and deadly that the enemy found it im- 
possible to withstand it, but broke again and retreated 
in the wildest disorder, leaving the ground in our front 
strewed with their dead and wounded. 

" During the heat of this contest the woods on the 
right and in rear of our troops took fire ; the flames had 
now approached close to our line, rendering it almost im- 
possible to retain the position longer. The last bloody 
repulse of the enemy had quieted him for a time, and 
during this lull in the fight General Barlow directed 
Brooke and Brown to abandon their position and retire 
to the north bank of the Po. Their right and rear en- 
veloped in the burning woods, their front assailed by over- 
whelming numbers of the enemy, the Avithdrawal of the 
troops was attended with extreme difficulty and peril, 
but the movement was commenced at once, the men dis- 
playing such coolness and steadiness as is rarely exhib- 
ited in the presence of dangers so appalling ; it seemed, 
indeed, that these gallant soldiers were devoted to de- 
struction. The enemy, perceiving that our line was re- 
tiring, again advanced, but was again promptly checked 
by our troops, who fell back through the burning forest 
with admirable order and deliberation, though, in doing 
so, many of them were killed and wounded, numbers of 
the latter perishing in the flames. 

" One section of Arnold's batteiy had been pushed for- 
ward by Captain Arnold, during the fight, to within a 
short distance of Brooke's line, where it had done effec- 
tive service ; when ordered to retire, the horses attached 
to one of the pieces, becoming terrified by the fire and un- 
manageable, dragged the gun between two trees, where it 
became so firmly wedged that it could not be moved ; 


every exertion was made by Captain Arnold and some 
of the infantry to extricate the gun, but without success ; 
they were compelled to abandon it. TJiis zvas the first 
gun ever lost by the Second Corps. 

" Brooke's brigade, after emerging from the wood, had 
the open plain to traverse between the Block house road 
and the Po ; this plain was swept by the enemy's mus- 
ketry in front, and by their artillery on the heights above 
the Block house bridge, on the north side of the river. 
Brown's brigade in retiring was compelled to pass through 
the entire woods in its rear, which was then burning 
furiously. Although under a heavy fire, it extricated it- 
self from the forest, losing very heavily in killed and 
wounded. Colonel Brown crossed the river some dis- 
tance above the pontoon bridge, forming his troops on 
the right of Brooke, who had also crossed to the north 
bank on the pontoon bridge. 

" I feel that I cannot speak too highly of the bravery, 
soldierly conduct, and discipline displayed by Brooke's 
and Brown's brigades on this occasion. Attacked by an 
entire division of the enemy (Heth's), they repeatedly 
beat him back, holding their ground with unyielding 
courage until they were ordered to withdraw, when they 
retired with such order and steadiness as to merit the 
highest praise. Colonel James A. Beaver, One Hundred 
and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel D. L. Strieker, Second Delaware Volun- 
teers, are particularly mentioned by Colonel Brooke 
for marked services and conspicuous courage." 

The brigades of Brooke and Brown, one-half of Bar- 
low's division, were now back again on the north bank of 
the river. Smyth's and Miles' brigade remained. The 
north bank, far up and down, was lined with artillery 
and infantry, to cover the withdrawal of this force in the 


face of an enemy resolute to destroy it. Colonel Smyth 
was first ordered to retire by the central (a pontoon) 
bridge, the upper (extemporized) bridge having already 
been destroyed by General Hancock's orders. As soon 
as Smyth had crossed, his command was deployed to 
protect the crossing of Miles, whose regiments held their 
line of fence-rails without a flutter. Before Miles could 
move, the enemy opened a tremendous fire of artillery 
from the front and from our left, under cover of which 
their infantry sought to cross the open ground in front 
of Miles, But our artillery was too numerous and too 
well placed to allow this long to continue, and after hav- 
ing a caisson or two blown up, their guns were silenced, 
the advance of their infantry having been even earlier 
checked. Miles took advantage of the repulse to with- 
draw rapidly, but in perfect order, by the two bridges. 
The pontoon bridge \\as at once taken up ; the lower 
(extemporized) bridge was thoroughly destroyed. 

The withdrawal of Barlow's division from the south 
bank of the Po, in the presence of Heth's division, was 
magnified by the Confederates into a great victory. 
General Heth published a congratulatory order to his 
troops, which was indorsed by Lieutenant-General Hill 
and by General Lee, praising them for their valor in 
driving us from our intrenched lines. The simple fact 
was that the withdraw^al took place in consequence of 
General Meade's explicit and peremptory order; not a 
regiment gave way for a moment in the critical move- 
ment ; the Confederates did not hasten the pace by any- 
thing they did ; our troops retired just when and as they 
were directed. Among the Confederate losses at this 
point was General Walker, of Heth's division, severely 

General Badeau expresses the opinion, which is un- 


doubtedly the opinion of Grant, that the movement of 
the Second Corps across the Po had the effect to weaken 
the Confederate centre, and thus to prepare for the con- 
templated assault to be delivered there. It is to the lat- 
ter that we are now to turn our attention. 


It will be remembered that while three divisions of the 
corps were across the Po, in the early morning of the 
loth, bent apparently upon prosecuting a vigorous move- 
ment against Lee's left and rear, two of these, Birney's 
and Gibbon's, were withdrawn, by General Meade's order, 
to support the Fifth Corps on the centre, in a combined 
assault on the Confederate works. Hancock had been 
directed to take command of all the forces here engaged ; 
but the jiecessity of withdrawing Barlow's division from 
the south side of the river, under the critical circum- 
stances described, had caused General Meade to ask him 
to proceed thither and give General Barlow the benefit 
of that assistance and advice which, in such a situation, a 
senior may render to the most capable and trusted junior. 
Meanwhile General Warren sought by the advance of 
his troops, at points, in considerable force, to obtain in- 
formation regarding the enemy's position. 

The ground around Spottsylvania differed from the 
country of the Wilderness very greatly, yet the two had 
much in common ; differed, in that the proportion of 
open ground was here veiy much larger ; had this in 
common, that, where the forest still remained, it was 
scrubby and dense, rendering movement in line of battle 
difficult, and observation over any considerable space 

General Lee, who since the mornins: of the 8th had 


been engaged in fortifying Spottsylvania, had taken the 
utmost advantage of the nature of the ground, much of 
his front being covered by tangled woods, ahnost as diffi- 
cult to pass through as extensive abattis, though giving 
free passage to the fire of musketry and artillery. 

It was through a wide stretch of forest of this charac- 
ter, that General Warren, at eleven o'clock, advanced 
two brigades of Gibbon's division, which had been sent 
down from the right and placed under his orders. The 
resistance was obstinate, and the troops were soon com- 
pelled to retire with loss, but not without gaining the 
desired information regarding the extent and direction of 
the enemy's works. A little later, Warren sent forward 
two of his own divisions, with a view to gain ground for 
the formation of the column of assault ; and although 
these troops, also, were forced to give way, the view ob- 
tained of the enemy's position was such as to induce 
Cxeneral Warren to report to General Meade that, in his 
judgment, a general assault would be successful. This 
report, combined with the knowledge that considerable 
bodies of the enemy had been drawn off to their left, to 
meet the threat of Barlow's advance, led General Meade, 
about 3.30 P.M., to order the attack on the centre to be 
made at once. On the left. General H. G. Wright, who 
had succeded Sedgwick in command of the Sixth Corps, 
was ordered to attack with his own corps and Mott's di- 
vision of the Second. I cannot do better than to quote 
in full General Humphreys' explicit and careful account 
of the further operations of this day. 

warren's and HANCOCK'S ATTACKS. 

" General Warren, wearing his full uniform, proceeded 
to assault the enemy's position at once with Crawford's 


and Cutler's divisions, and Webb's and Carroll's brigades 
of Gibbon's division, under Gibbon's orders. Opposite 
the right of this attacking force the wood in front of the 
enemy's entrenchments was dense, and filled with a low 
growth of dead cedar-trees, whose hard, sharp-pointed 
branches, interlaced and pointed in all directions, made 
it very difficult for the troops to advance under the heavy 
artillery and musketry fire they met at the outset. They 
emerged into the open ground near the entrenchments, 
with disordered ranks and under a heavy artillery and 
musketry fire, part direct, part flanking, that swept the 
whole ground, but went forward, some to the abattis, 
others to the crest of the parapet, but were all driven 
back with heavy loss. General Carroll says that the 
right of his line gained the enemy's breastworks, and his 
whole line reached the abattis. It is claimed that some 
of Crawford's men did the same, or it may be. Cutler's. 
The Official Diary of Longstreet's corps says, ' Some of 
the enemy succeed in gaining the works but are killed in 
them,' Brigadier-General Rice, commanding a brigade 
in Cutler's division, a very gallant officer, was mortally 
wounded in this assault. 

" General Hancock returned to the ground at about 
5.30 P.M., just before the close of the assault. He was 
ordered to renew it at 6.30 P.M., but, under orders, de- 
ferred it until 7 P.M., when he attacked with Birney's and 
Gibbon's divisions, part of the Fifth Corps uniting with 
him, but with no more success than the preceding at- 
tempt. In this second attack the wood was on fire in 
some places. 


" The examination of the enemy's works under cover 
of the skirmishers of the Sixth Corps developed a part 


of them which General Wright deemed to be vulner- 
able to a systematic, resolute attack. The other por- 
tions in his front were covered by a wide slashing and 
had a flanking artillery fire. The vulnerable part ' was 
the right of Rodes' front held by Doles' brigade, whose 
right rested at the west angle of what I have called 
the apex of the salient, and the part of the apex itself 
held by the left of Johnson's division. The entrench- 
ment held by Doles was in open ground, two hundred 
yards from a pine wood with abattis in front and trav- 
erses at intervals. In the re-entrant of the line there 
was a battery with traverses. One hundred yards in 
rear was a second line partly finished, occupied by a line 
of battle. A wood-road led from the open ground of the 
Scott or Shelton house, where the column of attack was 
formed, directly to the point of attack. Colonel Upton, 
commanding Second Brigade, First Division, Sixth 
Corps, was designated to make the attack on Doles. 
General Russell now commanded the First Division. 
Colonel Upton's command was composed of his own 
brigade, the third brigade, formerly Russell's, and four 
regiments of Neill's brigade of the second division. Gen- 
eral Russell, Colonel Upton, and all the regimental com- 
manders examined the ground. 

" In conjunction with Upton's attack, Mott early in 
the day moved to the open ground of the Brown house, 
which is three-quarters of a mile north of what I have 
called the apex of the salient ; open ground connected 
Brown's farm with Landron's, on the south end of which 
lay the apex ; but there was wood on each side of that 
open connecting space that came up to within four or 
five hundred yards of the apex. At 2 P.M., General Mott 

' See the general map of the Confederate intrenchments, facing 
page 465. 


was instructed by General Wright, under whose orders 
he had been placed, to be ready to assault the works in 
his front at five o'clock. These works, like those of 
Doles, had abattis and were well traversed and well sup- 
plied with artillery, 

" Upton's column was formed in four lines. They 
were led quietly to near the edge of the wood, two hun- 
dred yards from the enemy. A heavy battery of the 
Sixth Corps had been put in position to give a direct 
fire on Doles' front and to enfilade the apex line of the 
salient, which, as before said, adjoined Doles' brigade. 

" This battery kept up a constant fire until the mo- 
ment of Upton's charge arrived. Its cessation was the 
signal to charge. The column had been led up silently 
to the edgC'Of the wood, and, upon the signal being given, 
rushed forward with a hurrah under a terrible front and 
flank fire, gained the parapet, had a hand-to-hand des- 
perate struggle, which lasted but a few seconds, and the 
column poured over the works, capturing a large number 
of prisoners. Pressing forward and extending right and 
left, the second line of entrenchments with its battery 
fell into Upton's hands. The enemy's line was com- 
pletely broken and, Colonel Upton says, an opening made 
for the division, Mott's, which was to have supported the 
left, but it did not arrive. Colonel Upton says further, 
that reinforcements to the enemy arrived and assailed 
him in front and on both flanks, the impulse of the 
charge was over, and it remained for them to hold the 
entrenchments won, which they did until General Rus- 
sell ordered them to withdraw, which they effected un- 
der the cover of darkness. Their loss in the assault 
Colonel Upton states to have been about i,ooo in killed, 
wounded, and missing. The enemy, he says, lost at 
least I GO killed at the first intrenchment, and met with 


a much heavier loss in trying to regain their works ; that 
he captured between 1,000 and 1,200 prisoners, and sev- 
eral stand of colors." 

Of the failure of Mott's division, General Humphreys 
thus writes : " There is no report on the files of the War 
Department from General Mott of his attack, nor is 
there any from General Wright of that or any other op- 
eration of that part of the campaign. The only report 
upon it that I found in the War Department is that of 
Colonel McAllister, who commanded the First Brigade of 
Mott's division ; Colonel William R. Brewster com- 
manded the Second Brigade. The division consisted of 
two brigades. Colonel McAllister says that his brigade 
formed the first line, Colonel Campbell, with two regi- 
ments of the Sixth Corps, being on his right ; that the 
Second Brigade formed the second line, and that the 
command moved forward to the attack punctually at five 
o'clock ; but he must be mistaken in the hour, since it is 
evident that the attack of Mott was intended to be simul- 
taneous with that of Upton, and must have been set in 
motion by the same signal, the cessation of our artillery 
fire in that quarter. On entering the fields, McAllister 
says, the enemy opened his batteries upon them, enfilad- 
ing their lines, and the men fell back in confusion, except 
a small part of the front line, and that, after consulting 
with his colonels, he fell back to the foot of the hill, 
where he massed his command. He says nothing of 
General Mott, who was well known as a gallant officer. 
Colonel McAllister was also well known to myself and 
many others as a man of courage and coolness. 

" Mott formed his division for attack in view of the 
enemy, who made every preparation to meet it. Upton's 
attack was concealed from their view and was a surprise, 
and the plan of assault, being well arranged and carried 


out, was a success. The plan and manner of Mott's as- 
sault, on the contrary, did not admit of its being a sur- 
prise. The formation of his troops probably kept the 
attention of the enemy upon him, and in that way helped 
more effectually to conceal Upton's preparations. The 
failure of Mott's division did more than neutralize the 
success of Upton. Had Mott joined him, the two press- 
ing forward, taking the enemy on the right and left in 
flank and rear, and receiving further reinforcements from 
the Sixth Corps as they progressed, the probabilities 
were that we should have gained possession of Lee's in- 

Such, in its various phases and diverse fortunes, was 
the battle of the loth of May. Unquestionably General 
Humphreys is right, in reviewing the situation of the 
morning, where he says : " It is to be regretted that Han- 
cock had not been directed to cross the Po at daylight of 
the loth, instead of being ordered to cross late in the 
afternoon of the 9th. Had he been, there appears to be 
every reason to conclude that the Confederate left would 
have been turned and taken in rear, while the Fifth Corps 
attacked it in front. As it was, Hancock's crossing in the 
evening of the 9th put Lee on his guard, and enabled 
him to bring troops to the threatened flank by daylight 
of the lOth, and throw up intrenchments. It was a mis- 
take, too, as Hancock had crossed, to abandon the turn- 
ing movement on the morning of the loth, and make, 
instead of it, a front attack on the strong intrenchments 
of Longstreet's left. It would have been better to have 
continued the turning movement, the Fifth Corps aiding 
by sending one of its divisions to Hancock and making 
a front attack with the other two at the critical mo- 

The assaults on the enemy's intrenchments in the cen- 


tre had all been bloody and fruitless. Assuming the 
withdrawal of Hancock's corps across the Po to be neces- 
sary, the opportunity of the day was in the assault of 
Upton. Nothing that can be said of that heroic young 
of^cer, or of General David A. Russell, his division com- 
mander, could exaggerate the deserts of these two sol- 
diers, the shining ornaments of the Sixth Corps. Whether 
it would not have been possible for that corps itself to 
furnish the support needed to turn this initial success in- 
to a great victory, I will not undertake to say. Gen- 
eral Humphreys rightly says that General Mott was a 
gallant officer, and that Colonel McAllister was a man of 
coolness and courage ; but certain it is that on the lOth 
of May, through whatever misunderstandings or misad- 
ventures, through whatever faults of ofificers or men, the 
Third Division failed to give to Upton a prompt and 
effective support. 

But the support of Upton should not have been left 
to a single division. If the position he was ordered to 
attack was practicable, the assaulting columns should have 
been backed up by the divisions of the Sixth Corps, by 
Gibbon, and by the divisions of the Fifth Corps uselessly 
engaged in assaulting the centre. This the more needs 
to be said because the characteristic fault of the campaign 
then opened was attacking at too many points. Few 
lines can be drawn by engineering skill which, owing to 
the nature of the ground, have not a weak point ; few 
will be drawn by good engineers which have more than 
one weak point. It is the office of the commander of 
the army to discover that weak point; to make careful 
and serious preparation for the attack, and to mass be- 
hind the assaulting column a force that shall be irresisti- 
ble, if only once the line be pierced. It is gratifying to 
record that the splendid conduct of Colonel Upton re- 


ceived cordial recognition ; and that he was at once pro- 
moted to be brigadier-general of volunteers. 

The losses of the Second Corps, in killed and wounded 
during the iQth of May, are given approximately by Gen- 
eral Humphreys as 2,050, or almost exactly those of the 
Fifth and Sixth Corps combined. The Confederate 
losses, in killed and wounded, are estimated by General 
Humphreys to have been only one-half those of the 
Union troops. The Confederate loss in prisoners was 
considerable, through Upton's captures. Among the com- 
missioned ofificers killed or mortally wounded in the 
Second Corps were Captain O. F. Angel 1, and Lieuten- 
ant William H. Monk, Tenth New York ; Captain M. 
D. Purtell, Seventy-third New York; Captain John 
Evans, Second Delaware; Captains Samuel F. Stone, 
and John Finney and Lieutenant James Cherry, Eighty- 
sixth New York ; Captain Ira Munson, One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York ; Lieutenant M. O. McGarry, 
Thirty-ninth New York, and Lieutenant Herman Von 
Haake, Fifty-second New York ; Lieutenants Edward 
Sturgis and L. E. Hibbard, Twentieth Massachusetts ; 
Lieutenant George B. Simonds, Fifteenth Massachu- 
setts ; Lieutenant Henry O. Ripley, Fourth Maine; 
Lieutenant Josiah W. Barker, One Hundred and Forty- 
fifth Pennsylvania; Lieutenant Charles Dussuet, Seventy- 
fourth New York ; Lieutenants James D. Simpson and 
Charles J. Steele, First Delaware. 

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THE I2TII OF may: the salient. 

Nothing of importance occurred' on the nth, except 
in preparation for the morrow, General Meade having 
decided to attack the enemy on the I2th near the point 
where Mott's division had made its ineffectual assault. 
The Confederate intrenchments had been extended to 
meet the successive threats of the Army of the Potomac 
until they measured several miles, having been stretched 
westward to cover the Shady Grove Road, down which 
Hancock had advanced on the evening of the 9th ; and 
southward below Spottsylvania Court House. Our 
map, opposite this page, docs not attempt to follow all 
the sinuosities due to the nature of the ground, but 
shows, in a general way, the Confederate line as it existed 
on the evening of the nth of May. It will be seen that 
that line consisted of two faces : one (the Confederate 
left) looking mainly north, held by Longstreet's corps ; 
the other (the Confederate right) looking mainly east, 
held by Hill's corps ; but that, at the point where these 
faces would have met, in an angle at the northeast, the 
intrenchments were carried northward to enclose a space 
approximately a mile in vertical direction and half a mile 
in width, of the general shape of an acorn. 

' Miles' brigade was sent on a reconnoissance as far as Todd's 
Tavern, but did not encounter the enemy : two regiments were 
also thrown across the Po, to feel the enemy in that direction. 




The " salient," or obtrusive portion of the Confeder- 
ate line, the faces of which, taken together, covered per- 
haps two and a quarter miles in length, was occupied 
mainly by Ewell's corps. 

It was against this portion of the Confederate works 
that General Meade designed to deliver the assault of 
May 1 2th. 

It will be observed that Longstreet's corps held the 
left of the portion of the Confederate line here repre- 
sented, extending from the Brock Road northeast ; then 
came Rodes' division of Ewell's corps ; then Johnson's 
division of the same corps, Johnson's four brigades 
(showing faintly through the woods, on the map) being, 
in order from left to right, as follows : Walker, York, 
Terry, Stuart. The line was then taken up b}^ Hill's 
corps, which stretched away to the south. 

General Grant's order, directing the assault at four 
o'clock on the morning of the 12th, and assigning three 
divisions of the Second Corps to the work, bears date 3 
P.M. Gibbon's division was in a position where it could 
not be moved without attracting the enemy's atten- 
tion. It was, however, to be brought up later. Gen- 
eral Meade's order to General Hancock bears date four 

The oral instructions accompanying contemplated a 
thorough survey of the ground by Colonel Comstock, 
United States Engineers, of General Grant's staff, and 
by officers of General Hancock's staff. The Inspector- 
General of the corps and two other officers were, accord- 
ingly, assigned to this duty. It was also assumed that 
General Mott, having attacked, with his division, near 
the designated spot on the loth, and being then in posi- 
tion near it, at the Brown House, would be in possession 
of valuable information regarding the enemy's works. 


General Morgan thus recounts the experience of the 
staff on this reconnoissance : 

" Colonel Comstock, of General Grant's staff, taking 
with him three of General Hancock's staff, set out, in 
the midst of a pouring rain, to reconnoitre and decide 
upon the exact point of attack Unfortunately the Colo- 
nel missed his way, and after riding many miles the 
party struck the Ninth Corps. Colonel Comstock took 
a survey of the angle from the hill opposite the Landron 
House; but made no remark to indicate that it was to 
be the point of attack. Owing to the time spent upon 
the road it was nearly dark before the party arrived at 
the Brown House, the point indicated by General Meade. 

" Here General Mott was found; but could tell little 
about the ground. An attempt to drive in the enemy's 
pickets that day, for the purpose of gaining some infor- 
mation, had failed ; and nothing remained but to add to 
the little learned from General Mott and the field-officer 
of the day, by inspecting so much of the ground as was 
held by our pickets. It was only possible, before dark, 
to select the line for the formation of the corps." 

. General Morgan thus describes the incidents of the 
march of Birney's and Barlow's divisions, and the forma- 
tion of the column of assault : 

"At ID r.M. the troops were put in motion. Major 
Ivlendell of the Engineers guiding the column. The 
night was pitch dark, and the road quite bad ; but the 
march to Mott's position was made without any incident 
of note. The troops showed a little nervousness per- 
haps. At one point where the command was closing up 
on the head of the column, a runaway pack-mule, laden 
with rattling kettles and pans, bursting suddenly through 
the ranks, seemed to threaten a general stampede. At 
another the accidental discharge of a musket startled the 


column into the momentary belief that the corps had 
run into the enemy's lines. Having arrived at the 
Brown House about midnight, the column was passed 
quietly over the intrenchments, and as near to the 
picket line of the enemy as possible, and the formation 
of the lines began. The ground was thickly wooded, 
with the exception of a clearing some four hundred yards 
wide, running to the Landron House, thence curving 
to the right toward the salient of the enemy's works. 
Barlow's division was formed across this clearing in two 
lines of masses, each regiment being doubled on the cen- 
tre. Brooke's and Miles' brigades constituted the first 
line, and Sm}^th and Brown the second. Birney formed 
on Barlow's right, in two deployed lines. Mott formed 
in rear of Birney, and Gibbon's division, which had 
joined sooner than was expected, was placed in reserve. 
It was nearly daylight when these preparations were 
made. General Barlow made anxious inquiries about 
the nature of the ground over which he was to move, 
and not getting any satisfactor}^ information desired, at 
length, to be told whether there was a ravine a thousand 
feet deep between him and the enemy. When he could 
not be assured even on this point, he seemed to think 
that he was called upon to lead a forlorn hope, and 
placed his valuables in the hands of a friend." 

The requisite preparations had been completed by the 
time assigned for the assault ; but, owing to a heavy fog 
which spread over the scene, it was not sufficiently light 
to enable objects to be clearly discerned until half-past 
four, when the order to charge was given. Birney met 
some difficult ground in his advance ; and for a few mo- 
ments Barlow's line, steadily moving forward in the 
dead silence, was ahead ; but Birney's men made super- 
human exertions, and pushing through the obstacles 


again came up abreast of the First Division. Near the 
Landron House the enemy's picket reserves opened fire 
on the left flank of Barlow's column, which was swiftly 
passing them, mortally v/ounding Lieutenant-Colonel 
Strieker, Second Delaware. As soon as the curve in 
the clearing allowed Barlow's men to see the red earth at 
the salient, they broke into a wild cheer, and taking 
the double-quick without orders, rushed up against the 
works. Tearing away the abattis with their hands. Miles' 
and Brooke's brigades sprang over the intrenchments, 
bayoneting the defenders or beating them down with 
clubbed muskets. Almost at the same instant Birney 
entered the works on his side, and the salient was won ! 
Nearly a mile of the Confederate line was in our hands. 
Four thousand prisoners — including Major-General Ed- 
ward Johnson and Brigadier-General George H. Stuart 
— upward of thirty colors, and eighteen cannon, were the 
fruits of the victory. Crazed with excitement Birney 's 
and Barlow's men could not be restrained, but followed 
the flying enemy until their second line of works, half a 
mile in the rear, was reached. Here the disorganized 
masses were brought to a stand by the resolute front pre- 
sented by the Confederate reserves, true to those tradi- 
tions which made the men of that army even more dan- 
gerous in defeat than in victory. 

Thus far the attack had been a magnificent success, 
even though Burnside, attacking upon his side, had, after 
lodging the head of column of Potter's division inside the 
enemy's works, been driven out with loss. But now the 
moment of failure of connection, of delay in bringing up 
reserves, of misunderstanding and misadventure, inevita- 
ble in large military operations in such a country, had 
come. Everything that Hancock and his subordinate 
commanders could do to prepare for a new advance was 


done ; the reserve divisions were ordered to man the 
, captured works ; and the leading brigades, broken by the 
fury of the assault, were got together as well as possible 
under the furious fire now poured in from the second 
Confederate line. The Sixth Corps coming up took post 
on the right of the Second, occupying the line from the 
west angle southward ; Mott joined the Sixth Corps at 
that angle ; Birney came next on the left ; then Gibbon ; 
then Barlow. All these at once set to work to " turn " 
the captured intrenchments, for use against those who 
had constructed them. There was not a moment to spare, 
for into that bloody space were now advancing thousands 
of stout soldiers, desperately determined to retrieve the 
fortunes of the* day that had set so strongly against the 
Confederacy, and even promised to result in the disrup- 
tion and destruction of Lee's army. On the Union side 
the confusion had become extreme ; the long lines formed 
for the assault had insensibly converged as the salient 
was reached, and were heaped one upon another. Car- 
roll's and Owen's brigades, of Gibbon's division which 
was formed in reserve, had been caught by the wild ex- 
citement of the charge, and dashing to the front struggled 
even past some of the leading troops, and entered the 
Confederate works, on Stuart's line, almost at the same 
moment with the brigades of Miles and Brooke. Mc- 
Allister's brigade of Mott's division also pushed forward 
from the second line, and threw itself over the enemy's 
works almost simultaneously with Birney's division of 
the first line. This enthusiasm of the charging column was 
in itself very commendable ; but, taken in connection with 
the originally dense formation, it had led to an unneces- 
sary and dangerous massing of the troops. Such a body 
was, for the purpose of the impending collision, scarcely so 
formidable as would have been a single well-ordered line. 


On the Confederate side, Gordon's division was, at the 
time the storm burst, theoretically in reserve; but he 
had, in fact, sent one of his brigades — Pegram's — into the 
trenches near Johnson's left ; of the other two, Evans' 
was in front of the McCool House ; Johnston's near 
Harrison's House. On hearing the firing at the east 
angle of the salient, he had sent forward Johnston, who, 
encountering Barlow's right and Birney's left, as they were 
pressing forward from the intrenchments, was broken 
and driven back, Johnston being wounded. Withdrawing 
Pegram's and Evans' brigades at the double-quick, Gor- 
don formed them near Harrison's House and advanced 
them with great vigor against the left of Hancock's col- 
umn, driving the disordered assailants some distance 
back toward the east angle, and momentarily recovering 
some of the lost guns. At the same time General Rodes 
sent the brigades of Daniel and Ramseur against the 
troops of Birney and Mott, which were moving tumultu- 
ously down the west face of the salient. Daniel was 
killed and Ramseur severely wounded ; but soon, re-en- 
forced by Perrin's and Harris' brigades, from Mahone, 
and still later by McGowan's brigade, from Wilcox, the 
Confederates regained some part of the captured in- 
trenchments. In these successive encounters all the 
troops which had crossed over the breastworks into the 
space enclosed by the salient had been driven out, and 
the Second Corps now held only their own, that is, the 
outer, side of the intrenchments they had captured in 
the assault. It was about this time that General Wright 
arrived with Wheaton's and Russell's divisions of the 
Sixth Corps, and took post on Hancock's right, that is, 
on the west face of the salient. The conflict had now 
become the closest and fiercest of the war. The Con- 
federates were determined to recover their intrenchments 


at whatever cost. For the distance of nearl}^ a mile, 
amid a cold, drenching rain, the combatants were literally 
struggling across the breastworks. They fired directly 
into each other's faces, bayonet thrusts were given over 
the intrenchments ; men even grappled their antagonists 
across the piles of logs and pulled them over, to be 
stabbed or carried to the rear as prisoners. General 
Hancock had, as soon as the first success was achieved, 
brought up some of his guns to within three hundred 
yards of the captured works, and these Avere now pour- 
ing solid shot and shell, over the heads of our troops, 
into the space crowded with the Confederate brigades ; 
he even ran a section of Brown's Rhode Island, and a 
section of Gillis' Fifth United States, up to the breast- 
works; and though the muzzles protruded into the very 
faces of the charging Confederates, the begrimed cannon- 
eers for a time continued to pour canister into the woods, 
and over the open ground on the west of the McCool 

The contest had settled down to a struggle for the re- 
cover>^ of the apex of the salient between the east and 
the west angle. No efTort was made by the enemy to 
" counter " upon Hancock, by emerging from their works 
on either side. 

On our part the battle assumed a less tumultuous 
character. The brigades that had suffered most severely, 
or had exhausted their ammunition, were relieved by 
others, and drawn to the rear to be reformed and to re- 
plenish their cartridge-boxes, against the time they should 
be sent forward to take their places along the blazing line. 
Never before, since the discovery of gunpowder, had such 
a mass of lead been hurled into a space so narrow as that 
which now embraced the scene of combat. Large stand- 
ing trees were literally cut off and brought to the ground 


by infantry fire alone ; ' their great limbs whipped into 
basket stuff that could be woven by the hand of a girl. 
On either side, a long, ghastly procession of the wounded 
went limping or crawling to the rear ; on either side fast 
rose the mounds of the dead, intermingled with those 
w^ho were too severely hurt to extricate themselves from 
their hideous environment. 

If any comparisons can be made between the sections 
involved in that desperate contest, the fiercest and dead- 
liest fighting took place at the west angle, ever after- 
ward known as " The Bloody Angle." Here Wright's 
Sixth Corps had taken post on coming up at six o'clock. 
So furious were the enemy's charges at this point that 
Wright, with his two fresh divisions, was fain soon to 
call for re-enforcements ; and Brooke's brigade, which had 
been in the front line of the great charge, w^as sent over. 
Nine o'clock came — ten and eleven — and yet the fighting 
did not die down. At the latter hour General Hancock 
received the following despatch from Meade to Grant, 
sent him for his information : " Warren seems reluctant 
to assault. I have ordered him at all hazards to do 
so, and if his attack should be repulsed, to draw in his 
right and send his troops as fast as possible to Hancock 
and Wright. Tell Hancock to hold on." And Han- 
cock held on, with his men four ranks deep, keeping their 
furious assailants at bay across the captured intrench- 
ments. Warren's attack failed, with heavy loss, as that 
judicious of^cer had anticipated ; and in the afternoon 
Cutler's division of the Fifth Corps marched upon the 

' The Confederate General McGowan states that an oak-tree, 
twenty-two inches in diameter, in rear of his brigade, was cut 
down by musket-balls. There is in Washington a tree eight to 
ten inches in diameter, which was so cut down on the line of 
Miles' bricrade. 



field at the Landron House, where the contest was still 
raging with unabated fury along the salient All day 
the bloody work went on, and still the men of the North 
and of the South, now wrought to an inexpressible rage, 
were not gorged with slaughter. The trenches had more 
than once to be cleared of the dead, to give the living a 
place to stand. All day long, and even into the night 
the battle lasted, for it was not till twelve o'clock, nearly 
twenty hours after the command " Forward " had been 
given to the column at the Brown House, that the firing 
died down, and the Confederates, relinquishing their 
purpose to retake the captured works, began in the dark- 
ness to construct a new line to cut off the salient. 

So ended this bloody day ; and those that slept after 
its tremendous labors and its fierce excitements had in 
them, for the time, hardly more of life than the corpses 
that lay around on every side. The chilling rain still 
fell upon that ghastly field ; fell alike on the living and 
the dead, on friend and foeman ; on those who might 
w^ake to battle in the morning, and on those who should 
never wake again. 

It is not possible accurately to distinguish between the 
losses of the 12th of May and those of the days preced- 
ing and following. Surgeon McParlin, in charge of the 
hospital service of the Army of the Potomac, reported 
the wounded of the several corps on the 12th as follows : 

The Second Corps 2,043 

" Fifth '■ 970 

" Sixth " 840 


Making allowance for the killed. General Humphreys 
estimates the total killed and wounded at four thousand 
seven hundred and thirty-three ; the missing as not in 
excess of five hundred. Burnside's corps, the Ninth, 


which was not at this date counted as of the Army of 
the Potomac, is supposed to have lost about one thousand 
two hundred and fifty killed or wounded, and three hun- 
dred prisoners captured in two counter-charges made by 
the enemy, making Grant's total loss approximately six 
thousand eight hundred. General Humphreys estimates 
General Lee's losses, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, 
at between nine thousand and ten thousand men, mak- 
ing a hideous gap in his army. The losses of general 
of^ficers on that side had been excessive, owing to the 
ferocity of the contest around the salient. Generals 
Daniel and Perriri had been killed ; Generals Walker, 
Ramseur, Johnston, and Mc Gowan wounded, all severely ; 
and Generals Johnson and Stuart captured. 

On our side the loss in general officers had not been 
heavy, though rarely were commanders so continuous- 
ly exposed. General Wright, commanding the Sixth 
Corps, was struck by a piece of shell which threw him 
backward several feet ; but, though greatly shaken, in- 
sisted on remaining at the front to the close. General 
Alexander S. Webb, while leading his brigade into action 
at the east angle, with his customary gallantry, received 
a ghastly wound in the head, which long disabled him. 
The officer of highest rank in the Second Corps who was 
killed in this desperate struggle was Colonel John Coons, 
Fourteenth Indiana, who fell dead while giving to his 
men an example of heroic courage, sitting calmly on 
his horse in the trenches, and firing barrel after barrel 
of his revolver at the Confederates, who were swarming 
up on the other side of the breastworks. Colonel Coons 
had long proved himself a cool, capable, devoted officer, 
worthy of the regiment he led. Another officer who fell, 
deeply lamented, was Lieutenant-Colonel Waldo Mer- 
riam, of the Sixteenth Massachusetts, an accomplished 


and graceful gentleman, a brave and intelligent soldier. 
As field-officer of the day of Birney's division he had 
rendered valuable service in forming the corps for the 
assault and in directing the movement of the column. 
The death of Lieutenant-Colonel David L. Strieker, 
from the fire of the Confederate picket reserves at the 
Landron House, has already been mentioned. Three 
other officers of the same rank, all of excellent standing 
in the corps, fell during the action : Lieutenant-Colonels 
Thomas H. Davis, Twelfth New Jersey ; Richard C. 
Dale, One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania, and 
William L. Curry, One Hundred and Sixth Pennsyl- 
vania. The other officers killed or mortally wounded 
were Captain Thomas W. Eayre, Assistant Adjutant- 
General, on the staff of General Mott ; Captains La- 
fayette Gordon and John F. Thomas, and Lieuten- 
ant John C. Bartholomew, Twentieth Indiana ; Cap- 
tain Moses H. Warren, First Massachusetts ; Captain 
Thomas Kelly and Lieutenant Josiah Jack, Sixty-ninth 
Pennsylvania ; Captain Mitchell Smith, Seventy-first 
Pennsylvania ; Captains P. H. Lennon, Joseph W. To- 
bin, and William O'Shea, and Lieutenant John Coffey, 
Forty-second New York ; Captain R. A. Kelly, Sixty- 
ninth New York ; Captain William J. Evans, Seventh 
New Jersey ; Captain Charles W. Devereaux, and Lieu- 
tenants Elias Brockway and Edwin W. Sampson, One 
Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsylvania; Captain John 
Phelan, and Lieutenant Benedict A. Leonard, Seventy- 
third New York ; Captain Edward P. Jones, and Lieu- 
tenants C. E. Cleminshaw, and E. S. P. Clapp, One 
Hundred and Twenty-fifth New York ; Captain Henry 
B. Owen, and Lieutenant George A. Sherman, One 
Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York ; Captain Sam- 
uel T. Sleeper, and Lieutenants William H. Egan and 


J. C. Baldwin, Eleventh New Jersey ; Captain George 
H. Hutt, and Lieutenant John M. Ottinger, One Hun- 
dred and Eighty-third Pennsylvania ; Captain Louis F. 
Waters, and Lieutenant Henry S. Zeisert, Ninety-ninth 
Pennsylvania; Lieutenant Thomas J. O'Keefe, Thirty- 
ninth New York ; Captains Walter Von Amo, William 
Scherrer, and Lieutenants Eugene Walsh, Robert Kar- 
ples, and Otto Von Steuben, Fifty-second New York ; 
Captain George A. Nye, Third Maine ; Captain John S. 
Simons, Fourteenth Indiana; Captain John J. Blake, 
Sixty-ninth New York ; Lieutenant Eugene M. Wright, 
Fifty-ninth New York; Lieutenant Sidney N. Hawk, 
Eighty-first Pennsylvania; Lieutenant James M, Smart, 
Sixty-third New York ; Lieutenants David T. Wiggins, 
George R. Fisk, Pulaski V.Alton, Sixty-fourth New York; 
Captain Thompson Core, and Lieutenants James B. Cook, 
Wesley W, Bearley and John A. McGuire One Hundred 
and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant John J. Fer- 
ris, Nineteenth Massachusetts ; Lieutenant Thomas P. 
Morris, Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant Jere- 
miah C. Greene, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania; Lieuten- 
ants Charles S. Schwartz and Joshua A. Gage, One Hun- 
dred and Sixth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant John W. Man- 
ning, One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania ; Lieutenant 
Charles Manahan, Eighth Ohio ; Lieutenant Abner M. 
Johnson, Seventh Virginia ; Lieutenant Thomas Johns- 
ton, Sixty-sixth New York. On the corps staff, Major 
H. H. Bingham, Judge- Advocate, an officer rarely equalled 
in courage, energy, and intelligence, since distinguished 
in the National Congress, was severely wounded. 

Few officers or men of the corps were captured, even 
in the fierce encounters within the salient ; but among 
these few was one whose loss was greatly felt, namely, 
Colonel Brown, One Hundred and Forty-fifth Pennsyl- 


vania, commanding brigade, whose impetuosity led him 
so far, in attacking Gordon's reserve line, as to render it 
impossible for him to extricate himself from the mass of 
Confederates surrounding him. 

Among the changes in the personnel of the corps, in- 
cident to the action we have recorded, were the promo- 
tions of Colonels Miles, Brooke, and Carroll, to be Bri- 
gadier-Generals of Volunteers. Three finer examples of 
fiery valor in battle, of the steady and faithful perform- 
ance of duty, even to the dreariest work of routine in 
camp and on the march, could not have been found in 
one group in all the armies of the United States. Of 
these General Carroll, by the reckless exposure of his 
person in action, and the delight he found in defying 
danger, was apt to give to on-lookers the impression that 
he was a mere madcap. Like General Alexander Hays, 
however, this genius of the skirmish line had a compre- 
hensive glance over the field, a thoroughly sound judg- 
ment, and a firm and steady temper. Generals Miles 
and Brooke had been conspicuous on every battle-field 
since Sunday morning at Fair Oaks, not more for their 
indomitable valor than for their command over men ; 
their calm intelligence, over which the smoke of battle 
never cast a cloud ; their resistless energy in assault ; 
their ready wit and abounding resources amid disaster. 

The division commanders of the corps, and the brigade 
commanders, with a single exception,' won new honors 
at the bloody salient. Among regimental commanders 
Colonel William Blaisdell, of the Eleventh Massachusetts, 
deserves especial mention for unflinching determination 
in holding his line against the most desperate assaults. 

' Brigadier-General Joshua T. Owen was placed in arrest by 
General Gibbon. He was subsequently mustered out, under 
charges of misconduct. 



When day broke on the morning of the 13th of May 
it was found that the Confederates had retired from the 
salient and had constructed intrenchments cutting off 
entirely this portion of their former line. In order fully 
to develop the enemy's new position, General Gibbon 
was instructed to send forward a brigade, and for this 
purpose selected that of Owen ; but the commander 
being in arrest, he looked around for General Carroll to 
ask him to take the command, having reference to that 
ofificer's unequalled ability alike in skirmishing tactics and 
downright hard fighting. At the moment Gibbon met 
Carroll the latter was riding from the field to go to the 
liospital, the wound which he had received in the Wil- 
derness having become aggravated by the labors and ex- 
posures of the subsequent days. Informed of his division 
commander's wish, Carroll, too high-spirited to confess 
liis pain and weakness, at once put his horse about and 
placed himself at the head of his new brigade. The work 
assigned was well performed, after a sharp and close en- 
counter. A break occurring in the lines in immediate 
contact with the enemy, Carroll, after his fashion, threw 
himself into the breach and was shot by a Confederate 
soldier, a few feet away, who took aim at him with suffi- 
cient deliberation to give Carroll time to wonder inwardly 
where he should be hit. The ball took effect in Carroll's 


left arm, knocking his elbow all to pieces ; and this brav- 
est of brave men was forced to withdraw from what 
proved to be his last battle-field, though he recovered 
from his severe wound sufificiently to take the field in 
1865 at the head of a division of the First Veteran Corps, 

After this encounter little occurred during the day ex- 
cept that General Miles succeeded, after a brisk skirmish, 
in getting out two guns, which had been left between the 
lines on the 12th, thus swelling the captures to twenty 

The heavy losses sustained by Mott's Fourth Division 
during the campaign, together with the expiration of the 
terms of enlistment of several regiments therein, rendered 
necessary a discontinuance of that division, its two bri- 
gades, one of which General Mott was assigned to com- 
mand, being attached to the Third Division, General 
Birney. The Third Division thus came to have four 

During the night of the 13th General Meade under- 
took a movement, by his left, with a view to attacking 
Lee's right flank on the Fredericksburg Road, it being 
known that the fighting of the 12th had drawn the Con- 
federate forces largely toward the scene of that battle. 
General Warren, abandoning his own intrenchments, was 
to take the lead in this movement, and to be supported 
by the Sixth Corps. The route led mainly " across coun- 
tr}^," through fields and woods, first crossing and then re- 
crossing the Ny River. The Sixth Corps was to follow 
the Fifth, form on its left, and attack on the Massa- 
ponax Road. The darkness of the night, the rain and 
heavy mist, and the hideous condition of the ground 
caused so much delay and confusion that neither the 
Fifth nor the Sixth Corps got into position in time for 
the contemplated assault on the morning of the 14th. 


A reconnoisance, out the Massaponax Church Road, by 
Confederate cavalry, in the afternoon, revealed the pres- 
ence of our people and caused Lee at once to despatch 
troops to meet the threatened attack. " Fortune," says 
General Humphreys, " evidently did not favor us on 
the night of the 13th, for the intrenchments on the Con- 
federate right did not extend much south of the Court 
House, and only Hill's corps was on that front. With 
ordinary weather ' the Fifth and Sixth Corps would 
have been able to attack there early in the morning, be- 
fore reinforcements could have been brought from the 
Confederate left." 

The movement of the Fifth and Sixth Corps to the 
left necessitated fresh dispositions on the right ; and in 
the early morning of the 15th, General Hancock moved 
Barlow's and Gibbon's divisions to the Spottsylvania and 
Fredericksburg Road, in the vicinity of the Ny River, 
leaving Birney to cover the right flank of the Ninth 
Corps, which remained essentially in its position of the 
1 2th. The picket line was left to be withdrawn by Bir- 
ney when night should come. During the day the 
enemy administered a vigorous shelling to Birney. 

Affairs remained unchanged on the i6th, except that 

' " The night set in dark and rainy. Every precaution was 
taken by General Warren to mark out the Hne of his march. Men 
were posted at short intervals, and fires built along the line ; but 
the rain and heavy mist obscured and extinguished them. The 
mud was deep over a large part of the route ; the darkness in- 
tense, so that literally you could not see your hand held before 
your face. The march was necessarily very slow ; the fatigue of 
floundering along in such a sea of mud but few can apprehend. 
In spite of all the care taken to prevent it, men lost their way and 
lay down exhausted, until daylight enabled them to go on." — 
Humphreys' Campaign of 1864 and 1865. 


Gibbon's division was sent to move the wounded and 
the hospitals of the Second and Sixth Corps, which was 
accomplished by 10 P.M. On this day Brigadier-General 
R. O. Tyler's division of heavy artillery, from the de- 
fences of Washington, and the Corcoran (Irish) Legion 
were assigned to the Second Corps. The heavy artillery 
comprised the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Colo- 
nel Thomas R. Tannatt ; the First Maine Heavy Artillery, 
Colonel Daniel Chaplin, and the following New York 
regiments : the Second, Colonel J. N. G. Whistler ; the 
Seventh, Colonel Lewis O. Morris ; and the Eighth, Col- 
onel Peter A. Porter. The Corcoran Legion comprised 
the following infantry regiments from New York : the 
One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh 
C. Flood ; the One Hundred and Sixty-fourth, Colonel 
James P. McMahon ; and the One Hundred and Seven- 
tieth, Colonel James P. Mclvor, and the Sixty-ninth 
New York State Militia, Colonel Mathew Murphy. The 
last-named regiment subsequently known as the One 
Hundred and Eighty-second New York Volunteers is 
to be distinguished from the Sixty-ninth New York, 
which had served in the Second Corps from its organi- 
zation. These reinforcements comprised about eight 
thousand men, enough to make good, numerically, the 
losses of the corps in the campaign thus far. The 
material of the new coming regiments, and particularly 
of the heavy artillery, could not have been surpassed. 
During the years of greatest discouragement at the 
North, these regiments, destined as it was supposed for 
garrison duty, had " the pick " of all the volunteers ; 
and finer bodies of men, in line of battle, it would be 
difficult to find. 

Yet all this could not make good the losses which the 
corps had sustained in the first fortnight of the campaign. 


Those who had fallen were men inured to camp life, to 
hardship, exposure, and fatigue ; in bivouac they knew 
how to make themselves almost comfortable with the 
narrowest means ; how to cover themselves in rain and 
storm ; how to make fires out of green wood, find water 
in dry ground, and cook their rations to the best advan- 
tage. On the march they had learned to cover the 
greatest distance with the least wear and tear ; on picket 
and skirmish they had learned a score of tricks by which 
they at once protected themselves and became more for- 
midable to the enemy. In battle, of^cers and men had 
become veterans through a score of fierce encounters ; 
no form of danger could be a surprise to them. With 
a high price bought they this knowledge ! Thousands 
had died that these regiments might know how to ad- 
vance and how to retire as occasion should demand ; 
how to cover themselves most completely through long 
hours of waiting and how to throw themselves, body and 
soul, into one tremendous blow, on the vital spot, at the 
critical instant. Of the troops named, the Corcoran 
Legion was assigned to Gibbon's division. The heavy 
artillery remained, for the time, unattached. 

THE I 8th of may. 

During the 17th preparations were made, in accordance 
with orders received from army headquarters, to attack 
the enemy at four o'clock on the morning of the i8th. 
The point designated was the vicinity of the Landron 
House. That is, the enemy having been drawn off to 
their right by the movement of the Fifth and Sixth 
Corps, on the 13th and 14th, it was proposed that the 
Second and Sixth Corps should suddenly return to a 
point opposite the Confederate left, in the hope of find- 


ing their lines there weak. In carrying out this plan, 
the Second Corps, starting from the works gained by it 
on the 1 2th, was to advance inward through the salient, 
and attack the intrenchments built by the enemy to cut 
off that portion of their line. At the same time, the 
Sixth Corps should advance upon the right of the Sec- 
ond, and Burnside on the left, Warren opening with his 
artillery and holding his troops in readiness to take any 
advantage that might offer on his front. During the 
night the divisions of Barlow and Gibbon were moved 
to the Landron House, Birney being already in position. 
The heavy artillery was formed between the Brown and 
the Landron houses. Barlow and Gibbon were in line 
of brigades. On moving forward, at daybreak, the en- 
emy were found strongly posted in rifle-pits, their front 
completely covered by heavy slashing, while a powerful 
artillery opened promptly upon the column. The as- 
saulting brigades could not penetrate the dense slashing, 
in the face of the musketry and artilleiy fire they en- 
countered, although very gallant efforts were made, the 
troops behaving with steadiness, scarcely a man going 
unwounded to the rear. The Corcoran Legion showed 
itself every way worthy of the company it had come to 
keep. Gibbon for a time succeeded in getting possession 
of an advanced line of rifle-pits, but was unable to hold 
it long. Becoming satisfied that persistence w^as useless. 
General Hancock advised a discontinuance of the assault, 
and General Meade thereupon instructed him to with- 
draw his troops. Inasmuch as General Humphreys 
speaks of the wounded of the i8th of May as "almost 
entirely of the Second Corps," we may suppose that 
neither Wright nor Burnside did much more than was 
necessary to disclose the enemy's real line and ascertain 
that it was of a formidable character. Burnside's attack 


had been equally ineffectual. " In ordering this assault," 
remarks General Morgan, " it was perhaps supposed that 
the corps would be urged to greater efforts to repeat its 
previous achievements on the same ground ; but such was 
not the fact. Large numbers of the dead were still un- 
buried, and having been exposed to the hot sun for 
nearly a week presented a hideous sight. Such a stench 
came up from the field as to make many of the officers 
and men deathly sick. All the circumstances were such 
as to dishearten the men rather than to encourage 

The killed and wounded, of the i8th, in the Second 
Corps, were about six hundred and fifty, in the two divi- 
sions engaged. The officers killed or mortally wounded 
in this brief and partial engagement were Major Andrew 
J. Lawler, and Captains James Magner and William F. 
Cochrane, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts ; Captain John 
J. Stickney, Fifty-third Pennsylvania; Lieutenant John 
S. Fitzmaurice, One Hundred and Seventieth New York; 
Lieutenants Charles Watters and James A. O'Sullivan, 
One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York ; Lieutenant 
Richard P. King, Sixty-ninth New York ; Lieutenant 
William H. Ferguson, First Delaware. 


During the night of the 18th the main body of the 
Second Corps lay on the Fredericksburg road, near An- 
derson's Mill, on the east side of the Ny River, Barlow 
remaining at the Landron House, till eight o'clock in the 
morning, to cover Burnside's flank. The corps had 
hardly settled into its bivouacs when the following order 
was received : 


Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
May 19, 1864, 1.30 P.M. 
Major-General Hancock, 

Commanding Second Corps. 
The Major-General commanding directs that you move with 
your corps to-morrow, at 2 A.M., to Bowhng Green and Milford 
Station, via Guinea Station, and take position on the right bank 
of the Mattapony, if practicable. Should you encounter the en- 
emy, you will attack him vigorously, and report immediately to 
these headquarters, which you will keep advised of your progress, 
from time to time. Brigadier-General Torbert, with a cavalry 
force and a battery of horse artillery, is ordered to report to you 
for duty. An engineer officer and guide will be sent to you. 
Canvas pontoons will likewise be put at your disposal. 

A. A. Humphreys, 
Major- General, Ch ief of Staff. 

On this order General Morgan remarks, " There is an 
old adage that it is the willing horse that is worked to 
death ; " and he breaks out into a somewhat indignant 
recital of the marches and battles of the Second Corps 
from the 3d to the i8th of May, closing with, "and now, 
on the third consecutive night, it was proposed to send 
it on a flank march, over twenty miles, to ' attack vigor- 
ously ' in the morning." 

Providence and the Confederates interfered to pre- 
vent the movement across the Mattapony which had 
been ordered. On the afternoon of the 19th, Ewell 
sought to steal around Meade's right, his primary object 
being to ascertain whether we were really moving or 
not ; the secondary, to do as much mischief as possible. 
Leaving his intrenchments in charge of Kershaw, the 
successor of Jackson made a wide detour around the 
right of our army, and then, sharply turning, bore down 
at about five o'clock in the afternoon upon the Freder- 


icksburg road, which was, at this time, our line of sup- 
ply. General Ewell had doubtless expected to find, so 
far to the rear, a small force or none ; but, as it proved, 
Kitching's brigade and Tyler's division of Heavy Ar- 
tillery were in position to receive him. Kitching was 
promptly re-enforced by the Maryland brigade of infan- 
try, from the Fifth Corps. Hancock, galloping to the 
front, sent word to Birney to come forward with his 
division at the double-quick. The " Heavies " were 
found fiercely engaged in their first battle against some 
of the most redoubtable troops of the Confederate army. 
Hancock at once took command of the line. Birney, on 
arriving, threw in two of his brigades, but the stress of 
the battle was by this time over. On finding so power- 
ful a body in position to meet them, Ewell's leading 
troops recoiled, broken, from the encounter ; their re- 
serves were brought up, but the whole line being hard 
pressed in front, and overlapped on the left, gave way 
and retreated, though without great disorder, across the 
Ny. Ewell concedes a loss of nine hundred in killed, 
wounded, and missing in this enterprise. The Heavy 
Artillery regiments had borne themselves handsomely ; 
they received without panic a sudden attack, which was 
intended to be another Chancellorsville surprise ; faced 
the dread music of battle for the first time without 
flinching ; and in the end beat off Rodes' and Gordon's 
divisions, with some assistance from the infantry coming 
up in their rear. Tyler's division took about four hun- 
dred prisoners. Among the of^cers killed or mortally 
wounded were Major Frank A. Rolfe, Captains W. G. 
Thompson and Albert A. Davis, and Lieutenants Edward 
Graham and Charles Carroll, First Massachusetts Heavy 
Artillery ; Captains Robert H. Bell, John A. Morris, and 
Charles McCuUoch, of the Seventh New York Heavy 



Artillery ; Captains William T. Parker and William R. 
Pattengall, and Lieutenants John F. Knowles, Gershom 
C. Bibber, W. A. Vickery, and George W. Grant, First 
Maine Heavy Artillery; Lieutenant Michael J. Lee, 
Fourth New York Heavy Artillery ; Lieutenant Francis 
Knemm, Second New York Heavy Artillery, 

The losses of the day in the entire army had been 
about thirteen hundred, " chiefly," says Humphreys, " in 
the Second Corps," that is, in Tyler's division of Heavy 
Artillery and in Birney's division. The entire losses of 
the Army of the Potomac and of Burnside's corps during 
the several actions around Spottsylvania Court House, 
from May 8th to 19th, inclusive, are estimated by Gen- 
eral Humphreys as follows : 

Killed 2,447 

Wounded 10,821 

Killed and wounded 13.268 

Missing 1,411 

Total losses 14,679 

The losses of the Second Corps had been as follows : 

Killed 834 

Wounded 3i9S8 

Missing 665 

Total 5,457 

This loss was distributed among the several commands 
as follows : 





Corps Headquarters... 
Artillery Brigade 







Second Division 

Third Division 




The loss was thus divided between enlisted men and 
commissioned officers : 





Commissioned officers . 
Enlisted men 





It will be observed that of the killed 8.6 per cent, were 
commissioned officers ; of the wounded but 5.2 per cent. ; 
of the missing, less than three per cent. 



We have seen that the Second Corps had been ordered 
to move at 2 A.M. of the 20th, directed on the Mattapony 
River. Ewell's irruption into our rear, combined with 
General Hancock's wish to undertake the march at an 
earlier hour, led to a suspension of the movement until 
1 1 P.M. of the 20th. 

At break of day on the 21st, the head of the column 
had reached Guinea Station, from which place Torbert's 
cavalry drove the enemy's videttes. The movement 
was therefore no longer to be concealed. Pushing on, 
the troops reached Bowling Green at ten o'clock. At 
Milford Station, just beyond, Torbert found the enemy, 
on the north side of the Mattapony, in rifle-pits, and by 
a vigorous dash dislodged this force — a portion of Kemp- 
er's old brigade of infantry — capturing about sixty pris- 
oners and saving the bridge from serious injury. 

Barlow's division crossed as soon as it came up. Gib- 
bon followed, forming on Barlow's left, on the high land 
about a mile from the river. Tyler's division of Heavy 
Artillery held the left of the line, Birney remaining in 
reserve. The cavalry were pushed well to the front, to 
give timely notice of the arrival of the enemy, and the 
necessary preparations were made to attack vigorously in 
such a case. 

The reader should understand that it was General 


Meade's hope that the enemy would attack Hancock in 
this position, or, better still, that Hancock would take 
the aggressive against the enemy, advancing to attack 
him, and that thus a fight in the open would be brought 
on between considerable bodies of the two armies. Con- 
sidering, however, that he was alone, on the extreme 
left flank of the army, across an important stream, and 
not knowing but that some accidental or treacherous dis- 
covery of Meade's plans might bring down upon him the 
whole weight of Lee's army. General Hancock set his 
troops to intrenching. The line thrown up in a few 
hours was a marvel for the skill and industry it dis- 
played. The writer well remembers the astonishment 
of General Burnside, when he arrived, at the massive 
character of the works. He could scarcely believe that 
these had not required days for their construction ; and 
after exhausting his powers of expression, would, with a 
brief rest, break forth again in the same vein. 

The troops, worn by the long march and the subse- 
quent labor, were still further harassed at night by a 
groundless alarm on the part of some of the new regi- 
ments. Fortunately the next day was one of complete 
rest, the time being recjuired to bring up the remaining 
corps of the army. General Lee, on his part, had begun 
to change the positions of his troops early on the 2ist; 
and was now in full movement, not to attack Hancock, as 
it had been hoped he would do, but to get again between 
Meade's army and Richmond. He was meanwhile be- 
ing re-enforced, after his severe losses, by all the troops 
which could be brought in from the Valley of Virginia, 
from the James, and from North Carolina, to meet the 
next advance of the undaunted Army of the Potomac. 
These re-enforcements did not equal in numbers those 
reaching Meade from Washington ; but consisted entirely 


of veteran regiments, the Confederate authorities having 
early adopted the policy of filling up their original or- 
ganizations, instead of creating new ones. On his part 
Grant was preparing to draw to his own support a por- 
tion of Butler's Army of the James, which, after its re- 
pulse by Beauregard, was "bottled up" in Bermuda 

By the night of the 22d the other three corps were 
all well abreast of Hancock, or in support of him ; while 
Lee had nearly concentrated his army at Hanover Junc- 
tion, fifteen to eighteen miles away. He was necessarily 
as yet uncertain whether Grant would move straight 
down toward him, or undertake further movements by 
the left. Grant had, in fact, determined to move directly 
to the North Anna River, to force its passage. At five 
o'clock on the morning of the 23d, the Second Corps set 
out on its march, Birney leading; and about mid-day 
arrived on the river, at Chesterfield, where a county road 
crossed the North Anna by a substantial bridge. Here 
Torbert was found skirmishing with the enemy. Birney, 
on the right, formed his line across the Telegraph Road ; 
Barlow occupied the centre ; Gibbon held the left, ex- 
tending across the Fredericksburg Railroad ; Tyler in 
reserve. The long lines of the enemy's jaded troops, 
coming in from their forced march, could be seen on the 
opposite bank, forming simultaneously with ours; and a 
sharp artillery fire was opened upon them, compelling 
them to seek cover in the woods in rear, or in the in- 
trenchments which had already been prepared with a 
\'iew to this contingency. Artillery was also in position 
on their side. They still held a small earthwork on our 
bank of the river, covering the county bridge. 

Our advance steadily pushed the enemy backward 
until their skirmishers were all driven across, though the 


bridge-head Avas held by troops from Kershaw's division. 
This, accordingly, Hancock determined to carry. Two 
of Birney's brigades, now under Colonel Thomas W. 
Egan, Fortieth New York, and Colonel Byron R. Pierce, 
Third Michigan, were formed for attack, and at half-past 
six charged across the fields from nearly opposite direc- 
tions converging upon the earthwork. The two bri- 
gades advanced in splendid style over open ground, vic- 
ing with each other in gallantry of bearing and rapidity 
of movement, and carrying the intrenchments without a 
halt. The enemy were driven pell-mell across the river 
and the bridge seized. Some prisoners were captured. 
The energy and intelligence displayed by the two bri- 
gade commanders on this occasion clearly pointed them 
out as fitting subjects for the military honors they 
were subsequently to receive.' During the engagement 
portions of the corps artillery, under Colonel Tidball, 
were warmly engaged. A section of Arnold's Rhode 
Island Battery was brought up within close musketry 

The enemy had made resolute efforts to burn the 
county bridge when they retreated, and at intervals dur- 
ing the night renewed the attempt, but were foiled and 
beaten off. They succeeded, however, in partially de- 
stroying the railroad bridge. At eight o'clock the next 
morning Birney's division crossed the river and occupied 
the abandoned works around the Fox House, after driv- 
ing away the enemy's skirmishers. Two pontoon bridges 
Avere thrown over, below the railroad bridge, on which 
Barlow's and Gibbon's divisions crossed. Tyler's Heavy 
Artillery remained on the north bank, holding the cap- 

' Colonel Pierce was promoted Brigadier-General, to date from 
June 7th, Colonel Egan, to date from September 3d. 

1^ ^ 

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turcd bridge-head and connecting the Second Corps 
with the Fifth, above. 

The general situation was as follows : Warren's corps 
had reached the river at about the same hour as Han- 
cock, on the 23d, and, without meeting opposition, 
crossed at Jericho Mills, three miles, or more, above 
Hancock's crossing. Here, at six o'clock he had been 
attacked with great fury by A. P. Hill. Cutler's divi- 
sion was broken ; but, after a severe fight, the enemy 
were thrown off from Griffin's front, and Warren's posi- 
tion was made secure. General Lee, however, still held 
up to the bank of the river at Oxford, about a mile above 
Chesterfield, and along the river for perhaps three-quar- 
ters of a mile, and was thus between Hancock and War- 
ren, who could only communicate with or re-enforce 
each other by crossing and recrossing the North Anna. 
From the river the Confederate intrenchments were drawn 
backward to right and to left, as shown on the map 
fronting this page. The position was one which would 
enable Lee to concentrate with great rapidity against 
either wing of Grant's army, for defence or for attack, al- 
though his severe losses in the Wilderness and at Spott- 
sylvania disposed him strongly to await rather than to 
deliver blows. During the 24th Hancock and Warren 
drew close up to the Confederate position, on its two 
main faces. Burnside held the opposite bank of the 
river, at Oxford ; but Stevenson's division of this corps ' 
was afterward thrown over to re-enforce Warren, while 
Potter's was sent to Hancock. The Sixth Corps was as- 
signed to the right wing, to co-operate with Warren. At 
about six o'clock p.m. of this day Smyth's brigade of Gib- 

' It was on this day that the Ninth Corps was incorporated in 
the Army of the Potomac. 


bon's division, forming the left of the Second Corps, was 
smartly engaged with the enemy, who drove in our out- 
posts, but were repulsed, Smyth handling his troops and 
those sent to his support with judgment and resolution. 
On the 25th the Confederate line was thoroughly recon- 
noitred, and tried at various points, and found impreg- 
nable. Although the two main faces of Lee's position 
were apparently subject to an enfilade from our artillery 
on the other side of the river; yet so great was the 
natural strength of the ground, so well were the intrench- 
ments traversed, so tenacious was the Southern infantry, 
that it seemed impossible to produce any serious impres- 
sion upon them by this means. To have attacked the 
army of Northern Virginia across intrenchments of the 
character found here, would have involved a useless 
slaughter, and have invited Lee, after administering a 
bloody repulse, to assume the aggressive and throw near- 
ly his whole force on one or the other wing of the Union 
army. Indeed, the Confederate commander has been 
severely criticised for not taking advantage of the posi- 
tion in which Grant's forces had been placed, to deal a 
crushing blow. 

The losses of the Second Corps during the period 
May 2 1st to 26th, amounted to 543, exclusive of the 
casualties in a few regiments from which reports were 
never received, owing to the rapid succession in which 
marches and battles occurred at this juncture. Of this 
aggregate 100 were killed; 388 wounded; 55 missing. 
Of these the artillery brigade lost 4 ; the First Division, 
95 ; the Second Division, 241 ; the Third Division, 203. 
Of the killed, 8 were commissioned ofificers ; of the 
wounded, 15. 

The commissioned ofificers killed or mortally wounded 
were Major W. C. Morgan, Third Maine ; Captain Pat- 


rick McCarthy, and Lieutenants John W. Griffcn and 
Patrick Logue, One Hundred and Seventieth New York ; 
Captain Henry V. Steele, Twenty-sixth Michigan ; Lieu- 
tenant Heniy W. Wadhams, Fourteenth Connecticut ; 
Lieutenants James S. Roberts and Walter F, Noyes, 
Seventeenth Maine ; Lieutenant James Clark, Seventy- 
first Pennsylvania. 


Finding himself thus held, as in a vice, on the North 
Anna, Grant determined on a yet farther movement to 
the left. The cavalry had returned from their great raid 
begun on the 8th of May, during the course of which 
the brilliant Southern cavalry leader, Stuart, had been 
killed at Yellow Tavern. Advantage was taken of 
Sheridan's arrival to send a heavy column around the 
Confederate left, at once to do as much mischief as pos- 
sible to the railroad, and to create the impression that 
Grant's next enterprise was to be in that direction. 

While the attention of the enemy was thus occupied, 
the indomitable commander of the Union armies pre- 
pared to withdraw his forces from beyond the North 
Anna, and attempt his entrance into the Confederate 
capital by another route. In pursuance of this plan the 
Army of the Potomac set out, at nightfall of the 26th 
of May, to cross the Pamunkey River, near Hanover 
Town, more than thirty miles from the positions occu- 
pied on the North Anna. The Sixth Corps was in ad- 
vance, to move by the roads nearest the enemy which 
Sheridan undertook to cover with his powerful cavalry. 
The Second Corps, which had during the day then clos- 
ing been partially engaged in tearing up the railroad 
toward Milford, was to follow the Sixth. The Fifth 


Corps, followed by the Ninth, was to move by an inside 
route, and to cross the Pamunkey four miles below 
Hanover Town. 

The Sixth Corps did not leave the road clear, in sea- 
son for the Second to start, before ten o'clock a.m. of the 
27th. At ten o'clock that night the corps bivouacked 
three miles from the Pamunkey, having in accordance 
with altered instructions directed its movement on Hunt- 
ley's. The long march over the dusty roads had made 
great demands upon the troops ; but these were bravely 
met, in the cheerful expectation that the strategy of the 
commander-in-chief would at last gain an opportunity to 
close the campaign with one victorious battle, somewhere 
in open country, outside intrenchments. The later ex- 
periences of Spottsylvania. and the contemplation of the 
Confederate line on the North Anna, had not increased 
their zeal for assaulting breastworks covered by slashing 
and abattis. 

The next day, the 28th, the corps crossed the Pamun- 
key, the most important tributary of the York, and went 
into position, on the other side, between the Fifth and 
Sixth Corps, the three corps forming a line in front of 
Hanover Town. There are three Hanovers, all conspicu- 
ous on the map of this region, and frequently named in 
the history of the war : the Junction, the Court House, 
and the Town. The last is about seventeen miles from 
Richmond. Between it and Richmond flows Totopoto- 
moy Creek, which empties into the Pamunkey two miles 
below the town, protecting thus our left flank, as now 
in position, but affording in its upper courses a possibly 
serious obstacle to further progress toward the Confed- 
erate capital. Should this be successfully passed, there 
would still remain to be crossed, in the face of the enemy, 
the Upper Chickahominy, so well known to the Army 


of the Potomac through its experiences of 1862. The 
Totopotomoy presents much the same physical charac- 
ters as the Chickahominy, having but little slope, with a 
broad expanse of low bottom lands on one side or the 
other, or more commonly on both, heavily timbered, and 
certain to become an almost impassable swamp after a 
heavy rain. From Hanover Town a good road runs 
southwest, through Hawes' Shop, Pole Green Church on 
the Totopotomoy, Huntley's Corners, and Shady Grove 
Church, toward Richmond, crossing the Chickahominy 
at Meadow Bridge. 

On the 28th, when the Second Corps crossed the Pa- 
munkey and took position with the Fifth and Sixth, 
Sheridan was engaged at Hawes' Shop in a contest with 
the enemy's cavalry, reinforced by Butler's brigade of in- 
fantry. The action was very severe, and resulted in the 
defeat of the enemy. While the Confederate cavalry 
was thus contesting our advance, Ewell's and Longstrect's 
corps were forming near Huntley's Corners, with Hill's 
corps and Breckinridge's troops (the latter newly drawn 
in from the Valley of Virginia) extending from Ewell's 
left to Atlee's Station. So ended the 28th of May. Lee 
had by forced marches got in between Grant and Rich- 
mond ; and the contest was to be renewed on substan- 
tially the same terms as before, the only difference being 
that it had been transferred to a field nearer the Confed- 
erate capital, a fact rather favorable than otherwise to 
General Lee, as it enabled him to concentrate his forces 
more completely. 

On the day of which we are writing about sixteen 
thousand of the troops, which, under Butler, had been 
conducting a co-operative movement on Richmond from 
the south, were embarking from City Point, to land at 
the White House, on the Pamunkey. Butler's cam- 


paign had proved a costly failure ; and the greater part 
of his army was now to be brought, under General W. 
F. (" Baldy ") Smith, to reinforce the Army of the Poto- 
mac, while Butler himself was left on the James with 
a force sufficient to hold his lines at Bermuda Hundred. 

About noon of the 29th Barlow moved out for a re- 
connoissance to the Totopotomoy. As the First Division 
passed Hawes' Shop, the dead of the cavalry fight of the 
preceding afternoon were seen in considerable numbers. 
Barlow did not strike the enemy until he reached the 
junction of the Cold Harbor and the Hanover Court 
House Roads. Here some cavalry disputed his passage, 
but were speedily dispersed. On Swift Creek, a tribu- 
tary of the Totopotomoy, were found breastworks well 
manned. As Barlow reported that the enemy could not 
easily be dislodged, Birney and Gibbon were brought 
forward and formed on his right and left respectively. 
The other corps were by this time well up. On the 30th 
Brooke's brigade, which was deployed in front of Gibbon, 
supported by Owen's brigade, moved against the ene- 
my's line of skirmish pits, and carried them in handsome 
style. These were immediately converted into cover for 
our own men. The enemy's position was found to be 
exceedingly strong — its front covered by the course of the 
Totopotomoy, much of the ground being marsh. The 
corps artillery was brought up and a large part of it 
placed ill position along the ridge, on which stood a large 
and handsome house. After a fierce duel Colonel Tid- 
ball succeeded in silencing the enemy, the range being 
unusually short. 

An incident of a curious nature occurred in the yard 
of the house referred to, during the artillery contest. 
One of the batteries had removed a limber chest for some 
reason, and while it was being filled with ammunition 


a negro woman, crazy with fright, walked out of the 
kitchen with a shovelful of hot ashes, which she emptied 
into the chest. Two men were killed and others wounded 
by the explosion which resulted, the cause of the mis- 
chief escaping unhurt. In the army it always zvas the 
fool doing the mischief who got off safe. I have known 
several cases of soldiers opening shells, pouring out all 
the powder (they always pour out all the powder), and 
then dropping in a coal or a match to see if there were 
any powder left. Out of all the lives lost in this way, I 
never once knew the original idiot to be injured. Speak- 
ing of the negro woman coming out of the kitchen brings 
up the fact that the house was occupied by its customary 
inhabitants during this cannonade, and recalls a some- 
what amusing correspondence on that subject. 

General Hancock, after deciding to attempt the passage 
of the creek, had instructed me to write to the ladies 
of the house immediately at the crossing, who, as he 
had learned, were there unprotected, informing them 
that their estate was likely to be the scene of a severe 
conflict the next day, and offering them transportation to 
the rear. This was done, and to save time an ambulance 
was sent along. In reply to the letter was received, an 
hour later, a very courteous appeal from the ladies not 
to make their house the scene of conflict ; stating that 
one of the members of the household was sick and could 
not well be moved, and requesting that the Second Corps 
would take some other route. It being not altogether 
convenient to alter the plans of the Army of the Poto- 
mac at so short a notice, it was necessary to reply that 
the Second Corps could not well change its line of march, 
and that if they valued their lives they would retire. I 
not only sent the ambulance a second time, but requested 
the able and humane medical director of the corps, Dr. 


Dougherty, to visit them and see that the sick member 
of the household suffered no harm. Dr. Dougherty went, 
but speedily came back. He had pronounced the sick 
lady to be in a condition to move without the slightest 
danger ; but his opinion had been received with indigna- 
tion not of the speechless variety. I myself received a 
letter, in which the opinions of the household concerning 
the Congress, President, people, and army of the United 
States were set forth with the utmost distinctness. The 
epistle closed with informing me that if any of the family 
were killed on the morrow their blood would rest upon 
my soul forevermore. Inasmuch as the only possible 
chance of their being injured was by shots from cannon 
manned by Confederates, it was difificult to apprehend 
the logic of this denunciation. The upshot was that the 
ladies, sick and well, stayed in the house, having moved 
down into the cellar. As our signal officers used the 
roof for purposes of observation the Confederate can- 
noneers were particularly attentive to it. The house 
was repeatedly struck, but none of the family in the cel- 
lar were hurt. 

I resume the account of the operations of the 30th. 
After the Confederate artillery had been silenced by the 
superior weight of metal and the commanding position 
of the Second Corps artillery, no opening appearing 
which promised success in an assault. General Hancock 
was directed not to press matters, it being understood 
that other corps were to attempt to turn the enemy's po- 
sition; but at a little after seven o'clock in the evening 
General Hancock was informed that Warren, on the ex- 
treme left, at Bethesda Church, had been violently at- 
tacked, and he was directed, " as soon as he could find a 
suitable place," to assault the enemy, in order to relieve 
the pressure on the Fifth Corps. Instantly Barlow's 



division was launched at the enemy — corps, division, and 
brigade commanders equally co-operating to make the 
action prompt and, if possible, successful. In less than 
thirty minutes from the receipt of the first message 
General Meade sent an order to cease the attack ; but 
Brooke's brigade had already carried the enemy's ad- 
vanced line of rifle-pits, in splendid style, over natural 
obstacles of the most formidable character, and against a 
stubborn resistance. Darkness now came on, and opera- 
tions were suspended. 

On the morning of the 31st Hancock resumed his ef- 
forts to force the crossing of the Totopotomoy. Birney 
was sent forward on the right, crossed Swift Run, and 
by a neat dash carried the intrenched skirmish line 
across the Richmond Road. Gibbon and Barlow then 
pushed close up to the enemy's works at all points ; but 
the position was found too strong to afford a reasonable 
prospect of successful assault. The remainder of the 
day was passed in heavy and incessant skirmishing. 

The other corps had met, in general, with no better 
fortune. Grant therefore determined again to retire 
from his direct advance toward Richmond, and to throw 
his army, with all speed, toward Cold Harbor. 

The losses of the Corps on the North Anna and the 
Totopotomoy had been as follows : 





Commissioned o.Ticers. . 
Enlisted men. 










The commissioned ofificers killed or mortally wounded 
on the Totopotomoy were Captain David Crist, One Hun- 


dred and Twenty-fourth New York ; Captain John F. 
McCullough, One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania ; 
Captain Daniel Blauvelt, Eighth New Jersey ; Captain 
D. C. Mumford, Nineteenth Massachusetts ; Captain P. 
B. Burwell, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin ; Lieutenant James 
A. Owens, Sixty-first New York ; Lieutenant Edward 
Jackson, Eighty-second New York ; Lieutenant Wm. H. 
Briggs, Third Maine ; Lieutenant Peter Hunt, First 
Rhode Island Artillery. 

During the latter days of May it was decided to break up 
the division of heavy artillery under General Tyler. The 
Second New York was sent to Miles' brigade ; the Sev- 
enth, to Brooke's brigade ; the First Massachusetts went to 
the Second Brigade of the Third Division, Colonel Tan- 
natt assuming command by seniority ; the First Maine 
was sent to Mott's brigade of the Third Division. A new 
brigade, the Fourth, was constituted in Gibbon's division, 
under command of General Tyler, consisting of the Eighth 
New York Heavy Artillery and the Corcoran Legion. 

The corps return for the 31st of May showed an aggre- 
gate, present and absent, of 53,831, distributed as follows: 

Corps Headquarters 21 

Artillery Brigade (48 guns), Colonel Tidball. . 3,188 

First Division, General Barlow 15,807 

Second Division, General Gibbon 16,046 

Third Division, General Birney 18,769 

The "present for duty" was but about one-half the 
aggregate, as follows : 

Commissioned Officers. Enlisted Men. 

Corps Headquarters 13 7 

Artillery Brigade 61 i ,978 

First Division 379 7,409 

Second Division 410 8,185 

Third Division 429 8,029 

1,292 25,608 — 26,900 


COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 

On the 1st of June Sheridan, who, with the cavalry, had 
occupied Cold Harbor in advance of the infantry, was 
severely engaged with the Confederate cavalry and in- 
fantry, but held on, with great determination, until the 
head of the Sixth Corps came up. Then Sheridan moved 
straightway to the Chickahominy, to cover the left. The 
Sixth Corps was in a position not without danger, since 
Smith's Eighteenth Corps, of the Army of the James, 
moving up from White House, had been sent astray by 
an error in his instructions ; while, on the other hand, the 
Confederates, anticipating the movement to Cold Har- 
bor, had concentrated very strongly on their own right, 
between Cold Harbor and Bethesda Church. By six 
o'clock in the evening the Eighteenth Corps was in 
position, and any danger of disaster was well passed. 
Four divisions of the Confederate army opposed Wright 
and Smith, viz. : Hoke's, Kershaw's, Pickett's, and 

At about six o'clock Wright and Smith attacked, with 
varying fortune and heavy losses, but on the whole suc- 
cessfully. Portions of the enemy's intrenched lines were 
carried, and many hundreds of prisoners taken. The two 
corps under Wright and Smith having thus occupied 
Cold Harbor, and even gained considerable advantages, 
in spite of an unexpectedly large concentration of the 


hostile forces, Hancock was despatched, in haste, to join 
them. General Meade's order was unusually urgent. In 
it he wrote : " You must make every exertion to move 
promptly, and reach Cold Harbor as soon as possible. 
At that point you will take position to reinforce Wright 
on his left, which it is desired to extend to the Chicka- 
hominy. Every confidence is felt that your gallant corps 
of veterans will move with vigor and endure the neces- 
sary fatigue." So much as this is rarely expressed in 
the formal orders from headquarters ; and General Han- 
cock took it in earnest. The instructions of General 
Meade would have been fully carried out had it not been 
for the error of one of his own staff, a faithful and excel- 
lent of^cer of engineers, who undertook to conduct the 
column, by a short cut, through a wood-road. After mov- 
ing for some distance the road was found to narrow 
gradually, until finally the guns were fairly caught be- 
tween the trees and unable to move. In the darkness 
much confusion arose throughout the column, and the 
troops became mixed to a degree which made it difficult 
to straighten them out again. The night had been in- 
tensely hot and breathless, and the march through roads 
deep with dust, which rose in suffocating clouds as it was 
stirred by thousands of feet of men and horses and by 
the wheels of the artillery, had been exceedingly trying. 
The misadventure which occurred through the wrong 
direction given to the column put it out of General 
Hancock's power to reach Cold Harbor at daybreak of 
the 2d of June. It was not until between six and seven 
o'clock that the troops began to arrive, and then in an 
extremely exhausted condition. During the march Gen- 
eral Meade had sent on orders changing the destination, 
and directing an immediate attack ; but on the causes of 
delay and the condition of the troops being reported, 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 507 

the attack was suspended until 5 P.M., and was then put 
off until half-past four the next morning. 

The formation of the Army of the Potomac, with ref- 
erence to the great assault now impending, was as follows: 
Our right, from the Pamunkey to Bethesda Church, was 
covered by Wilson's division of cavalry. General War- 
ren stretched from Bethesda Church about three miles, 
to near Beulah Church, his extended front being par- 
tially protected by swamps. Burnside's corps had been 
ordered to form in rear, in support of Warren's right. 
Then came Smith's Eighteenth Corps ; then Wright's 
Sixth ; the Second Corps held the left of the line : Gib- 
bon's division first ; then Barlow's, on the extreme flank ; 
Birney was in reserve. 

Now, while Grant was thus contemplating an attack 
on the morning of the 3d, Lee was already initiating a 
movement against our right flank. Having discovered 
our abandonment of the line of the Totopotomoy, he 
sent Early's corps against Burnside. The Ninth Corps 
was caught while retiring and many of its skirmishers 
were captured. Early, sweeping down our line, from the 
right, struck the flank of Warren's corps, capturing some 
of his skirmishers, and at once moved on against War- 
ren's right and rear. Here Grififin's division was encoun- 
tered ; and this, after a severe contest, in which the Con- 
federate General Doles was killed, forced back Rodes' 
division ; while Crittenden's division, of the Ninth 
Corps, subsequently reinforced by Potter and Willcox, 
checked and held the division of Heth. So the day 
closed, both armies thoroughly intrenching themselves 
during the night. 

Lee's line was a very strong one. Its right rested on 
the Chickahominy, amid swamps, but soon rose to high 
ground and ran in a direction a little west of north, to 


Early's position, which looked to the northeast. The 
road from Despatch Station, past Barker's Mill, to Cold 
Harbor, ran along the foot of the high ground forming 
Lee's right, much of the way sunken below the general 
level of the ground, until it diverged and ran into the 
Union lines on the front of Gibbon's division. Along 
this part of the road, near the foot of the high ground, 
was an advanced line of Confederate intrenchments. 
Hill and Breckenridge, with probably a part of Hoke's 
division, held this portion of the enemy's lines. It was 
here the Second Corps was to be called to attack, on the 
fateful morning of the 3d. Then followed the rest of 
Hoke's division, then Longstreet's corps, and then Ear- 
ly's, forming Lee's left. The Confederate army was, at 
last, at bay, close on Richmond, the city being distant 
only about six miles ; the forts protecting the city only 
half that distance. It was no longer practicable to turn 
cither flank of Lee's position. His right rested on the 
Chickahominy. His left was hidden among the wooded 
swamps of the Totopotomoy and the Matadequin. No 
opportunity had been afforded to make an adequate re- 
connoissancc of the line, to ascertain whether it could be 
carried in front ; but General Grant determined to hazard 
a grand assault, in view of the momentous consequences 
of a victory here. The Second Corps on the Union left ; 
the Sixth on the centre ; and the Eighteenth on the right, 
were to attack, each on its own front, at half-past four. 

Much to the relief of the troops, who had been suffer- 
ing intensely from the torrid heat and the choking dust 
of the preceding day, rain began to fall in the late after- 
noon of the 2d, and continued throughout the night, 
with occasional intervals. When day broke the Second 
Corps had been formed in column of assault as follows: 
Barlow's division had, in front, the brigades of Miles and 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 509 




June 1-11, 1864 


Brooke, deployed ; the brigades commanded, respect- 
ively, by Colonel Byrnes (Twenty-eighth Massachusetts) 
and Colonel McDougall (One Hundred and Eleventh 
New York) constituted the second line. On the right, 
Gibbon's division was also in two lines. Tyler's and 
Smyth's brigades deployed in front ; the brigades com- 
manded respectively by General Owen and Colonel 
McKeen,^ of the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, in close col- 
umn of regiments, in rear. Birney's division was in 

At the signal Barlow advanced, and found the enemy 
strongly posted in the sunken road, from which he drove 
them, after a severe struggle, following them into their 
works under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. Two 
or three hundred prisoners, one color, and three cannon 
fell into Barlow's hands. The captured guns were turned 
on the enemy by Colonel L. O. Morris, of the Seventh 
New York Heavy Artillery, and the most strenuous ef- 
forts made to hold the position ; but the supports were 
slow in coming up, an enfilading fire of artillery swept 
down the first line, the works in rear opened upon them, 
and large bodies of fresh troops, from Breckinridge's di- 
vision, reinforced by Hill, advanced, with the utmost 
determination to retake the position. The first line 
held on with great stubbornness, but was finally forced 
out, Brooke being severely wounded. Colonel Byrnes 
and Colonel O. H. Morris killed. Though compelled 
to retire, the men of the leading brigades would not go 
far. A portion of the line — Colonel Beaver's regiment, 
the One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, being 
conspicuous for its soldierly bearing — fell back to a slight 

' Colonel McKeen had, a few days before, been sent over from 
the First Division to command this brigade. 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 511 

crest, opposite the enemy's intrenchmcnts, and distant 
only thirty to seventy-five yards therefrom ; and pro- 
ceeded to cover themselves by loosening the earth with 
their bayonets and scraping it up with their hands or tin- 
plates, and here, at little more than pistol range, they 
remained throughout the day. Miles' brigade also ef- 
fected a lodgement in the works, Hapgood's Fifth New 
Hampshire, recently returned from the North, being fore- 
most in the assault ; but these troops also were driven 
out by the enfilading fire of the Confederate artillery, 
and by the strong lines advanced against them. 

On the right Gibbon's division had had no better 
fortune. That ofificer had directed his second line to fol- 
low closely, and, at a given point, push rapidly forward, 
pass the first, effecting, if possible, a lodgement in the 
enemy's works and then deploying. In his advance 
Gibbon's line was cut in two by an impassable swamp, 
which widened as he approached the works. The exist- 
ence of this had not been known, in the absence of any 
reconnoissance. The fire of artillery and musketry was 
terrific. General Tyler fell seriously wounded. Colonel 
McKeen, bringing his brigade gallantly up on the right 
of Tyler, was killed. Colonel Haskell, of the Thirty- 
sixth Wisconsin, succeeding to McKeen's command, also 
fell mortally wounded. The troops struggled on against 
the furious blast of fire from the fully manned works on 
the high ground. Colonel McMahon, of the One Hun- 
dred and Sixty-fourth New York, having become sepa- 
rated by the swamp from the rest of Haskell's brigade, 
at last gained the breastworks, at the head of a portion 
of his regiment, with his colors in his hand, but fell 
dead in the midst of the enemy. A portion of Smyth's 
brigade, also re-forming and advancing after their first 
repulse, gained the intrenchmcnts ; but Owen's failure 


to bring up his brigade left Smyth's shattered command 
unsupported. At last, scarcely twenty-two minutes from 
the time the signal was given, the repulse of the corps 
was complete. Three thousand men had fallen. Among 
ofificers the losses had been portentous. Colonels McKecn, 
Byrnes, Haskell, O. H. Morris, McMahon, and Porter 
had been killed ; General Tyler and Colonel Brooke had 
been severely wounded. When the fearful losses of the 
preceding month are remembered, it will be seen how ex- 
traordinary was the proportion of officers of high rank 
killed in this brief contest. 

Colonel Harry Boyd McKeen, of Pennsylvania, had 
greatly distinguished himself at Fair Oaks and during 
the " Seven Days." At Antietam he commanded his 
regiment with as much address as gallantry; and in 
nearly every subsequent action of the corps his splendid 
figure, the ideal of manly beauty and grace, had been con- 
spicuous. Soldiers loved to follow where he would lead ; 
and where would he not lead ? The idol of his men, the 
admiration of his superiors in rank, the bullet that took 
his life at Cold Harbor extinguished one of the brightest 
lights of the old Second Corps. His regiment remained 
in charge of Lieutenant-Colonel William Wilson, hav- 
ing been so much reduced by losses in battle, as the re- 
sult of the gallantry and devotion of its officers and men, 
that a grateful country deemed it unworthy any longer 
to have a commander of the rank of colonel. 

Colonel Richard Byrnes, of Massachusetts, was an 
officer of the regular army ; a good disciplinarian in camp ; 
cool and resolute in action; mingling, in just proportion, 
impetuosity with sound judgment. His regiment re- 
mained under command of Lieutenant-Colonel George 
W. Cartright. 

Colonel Frank A. Haskell, of Wisconsin, had been 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1864. 513 

known for his intelligence and courage, for his generosity 
of character and his exquisite culture, long before the third 
day at Gettysburg, when, acting as aide to General Gib- 
bon, he rode mounted between the two lines, then sway- 
ing backward and forward under each other's fire, calling 
upon the men of the Second Division to follow him, and 
setting an example of valor and self-devotion never for- 
gotten by any man of the thousands who witnessed it. 
He had been promoted from a lieutenancy to a colonelcy 
for his bearing on this occasion. He was succeeded in 
the command of his regiment by Colonel James A. Sav- 
age, killed a fortnight later. 

Colonel O. H. Morris, of New York, was one of the 
veterans of the corps ; brave, capable, and faithful. The 
regiment remained in command of Lieutenant-Colonel 
John S. Hammill. 

Colonel James P. McMahon, of New York, had been 
but a brief three w^eeks with the Army of the Potomac ; 
but he brought to it a lofty courage and a chivalrous 
sense of duty which did honor even to the old corps of 
Sumner. Colonel McMahon was brother to General 
Martin McMahon, so long and honorably known as Ad- 
jutant-General of the Sixth Corps. Another brother 
had died in 1863, as colonel of the One Hundred and 
Sixty-fourth. After Colonel James McMahon's death, 
the regiment remained under command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel William DeLacy. 

Colonel Peter A. Porter, also of New York, and also 
new to the Second Corps, fell with great honor, at the 
head of his splendid regiment. James jNL Willett be- 
came colonel of the Eighth New York Heavy Artillery. 

The other ofificers killed or mortally wounded were : 

Captain George F. Goodwin and Lieutenant Mason 
W. Humphrey, Fifth New Hampshire. 


Captain Michael O'Brien and Lieutenant Marcus Ken- 
yon, Second New York Heavy Artillery.' 

Captains Alexander Gardner and William J. Hawkins, 
and Lieutenants Joseph S. Caldwell, Fayette S. Brown, 
A. L. Chase, Wallace B. Hard, G. Gladden, and Oliver 
M. Campbell, Eighth New York Heavy Artillery. 

Captain William S. Schuyler and Lieutenant Richard 
Dumphey, One Hundred and Fifty-fifth New York. 

Captains Edward K. Butler and John H. Nugent, 
Sixty-ninth New York Militia (One Hundred and 
Eighty-second Volunteers). 

Captain Isaac Plumb and Lieutenant Joel C. Perring- 
ton. Sixty-first New York. 

Captains Thomas Hickey and William Maroney, and 
Lieutenant Robert Boyle, One Hundred and Sixty- 
fourth New York. 

Captain James McComb, Twelfth New Jersey. 

Captain Joseph R. Smith, One Hundred and Eighty- 
third Pennsylvania. 

Captain M. H. Barclay and Lieutenants John B. Read, 
Thomas J. McClure, and Charles S. Evans, Seventh New 
York Heavy Artillery. 

Lieutenant David F. Potter, Seventh Virginia. 

Lieutenant James E. Byrnes, Eighty-eighth New 

Lieutenant John S. Kinleyside, One Hundred and 
Eighth New York. 

Lieutenants Joseph S. Abraham, James M, Reddy, and 
Edward McCaffrey, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New 

Lieutenant Michael Keating, Eighty-second New York. 

Lieutenant Henry H. Jones, Second Delaware. 

' Captain William H. Roff was killed a few days later. 

COLD HARBOR— JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 515 

Lieutenant Abram Hunton, Jr., One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York. 

Lieutenant James B. West, Twenty-eighth Massachu- 

Lieutenant WilHam Whildey, adjutant, Sixty-ninth 

Lieutenant Benjamin Y. Draper, First Delaware. 

Lieutenant Jacob S. Lander, One Hundred and Forty- 
eighth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant S. R. Townscnd, One Hundred and Sixth 

Lieutenants William D. Williams and S. Hamilton 
Norman, One Hundred and Eighty-fourth Pennsylva- 

Lieutenant William H. Lamberton, Thirty-sixth Wis- 

Lieutenant Samuel C. Snell, One Hundred and Forty- 
fifth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant John B. Thompson, Nineteenth Massachu- 

Although the repulse of both divisions had been de- 
cisive, the troops yet clung tenaciously to the ground 
nearest the Confederate works, wherever so much as 
half-cover could be obtained. Li some cases our men 
lay within thirty yards of the enemy ; at other places, 
according to the configuration of the ground, the line ran 
away to fifty, seventy, a hundred, or more. Here the 
troops intrenched themselves, by bayonet and tin-plate, 
until a beginning had been made, and waited for night 
to go to work on a larger scale with better tools. 

Meanwhile, Wright and Smith had been attacking on 
their respective fronts. Each was beaten back after a 
severe struggle. Burnside had also tried the enemy's line 
and been repulsed. 


At nine o'clock General Hancock received the follow- 
ing despatch : 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, 
June 3, 1864, 8.45 A.M. 
Major-General Hancock : 

I send you two notes from Wright, who thinks he can carry the 
enemy's main Hne if he is reUeved by attacks of the Second and 
Eighteenth Corps. Also, that he is under the impression that he 
is in advance of you. It is of the greatest importance that no effort 
should be spared to succeed. Wright and Smith are both going 
to try again ; and unless you consider it hopeless I would like you 
to do the same. 

George G. Meade, 

Major- General. 

General Hancock declining ' the responsibility of re- 
newing the attack, Birney's division was detached and 
sent to the right to support General Warren, whence it 
did not return until the 5th ; and Ricketts' Pennsylvania 
battery was detached to report to the Eighteenth Corps. 

As evening came on a furious fire broke out along the 
two lines, now so near together that in many cases no 
pickets could be thrown out. This was supposed to in- 
dicate an attempt by an unseen enemy to carry our lines 
in the dark with a rush. The Confederate reports, on 
their part, speak of being attacked at this time ; from 
which it is fair to conclude that at least the greatest part 
of the firing was done from the breastworks on either 
side. The Second Corps intrenchments, so rapidly con- 
structed under heavy fire, at an almost incredibly short 
distance from the Confederate line, had by this time been 
sufficiently strengthened to make them as formidable to 

' It has been publicly stated that the order to attack was given, 
but that the troops refused to advance : the statement is erro- 

COLD HARBOR— JUNE 2 TO 12, 1 864. 51/ 

the enemy as theirs to us ; and in this critical and pain- 
ful situation the two armies settled down to watch each 
other. The day of the 4th was characterized by heavy 
artillery practice and by extreme sharpshooting. When- 
ever a head appeared for an instant, it became the target 
for a score of shots. A portion of Gibbon's line was so 
near that it became necessaiy to dig " covered ways," by 
which alone the troops could be withdrawn or rein- 
forced, or rations and ammunition brought up. Among 
the victims of this day was Colonel Lewis O. Morris, 
Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, who had, on the 
3d, succeeded Brooke in command of his brigade. Col- 
onel Morris, an officer of the old army, had shown great 
courage and capacity in the assault of the preceding day. 
He was succeeded in the command of his regiment by 
Colonel Richard C. Duryea, and in the command of the 
brigade by Colonel James A Beaver, One Hundred and 
Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, an ofificer whose sterling 
worth had grown steadily on the appreciation of troops 
and commanders alike. The approach of night brought 
another outburst of infantry firing, which was again in- 
terpreted by our troops to mean an attempt of the enemy 
to cany our w^orks, so near to them, by a sudden dash ; 
but which probably was due to the collision of pickets in 
the dark. 

June 5th was, in its essential character, a repetition of 
the 4th. Through all this dreadful interval it was know^n 
that scores of our desperately wounded were lying in the 
narrow space between the two lines, uncared for and with- 
out water. 

All who could crawl in, on the one side or the other, 
had done so ; hundreds had been brought in at great risk 
to their rescuers ; but there were still those who lay where 
it was simple death for a Union soldier to show his head 


for an instant. Doubtless many who had been only 
wounded by the bullets of the enemy, in the great charge, 
had already been killed by the firing from' the breast- 
works, during the two evening alarms. Moreover, the 
dead of the 3d nearly all lay where they had fallen. At 
about five in the afternoon Colonel Theodore Lyman, of 
General Meade's staff, and Major Mitchell, of Hancock's, 
carried out a flag of truce, on the Despatch Station Road ; 
and were met by Major Wooten, of the Eighteenth 
North Carolina. General Lee being absent from his 
headquarters, no reply was received until nearly ten 
o'clock. The flag was sent out again on the following 
day, with a letter from General Grant to General Lee ; 
but it was not until the 7th that an arrangement was 
reached for a cessation of hostilities, from 6 to 8 p.m., for 
burying the dead and removing the wounded. 

Of this long delay General Morgan thus speaks : " It 
was understood at the time that the delay was caused by 
something akin to points of etiquette. General Grant 
proposing a flag as a mutual accommodation, and Gen- 
eral Lee replying that he had no dead or wounded not 
attended to, but offering to grant a truce if General 
Grant desired it to attend to his own. The assault oc- 
curred on the morning of the 3d, the first flag was not 
sent until the evening of the 5th, and the cessation of 
hostilities did not finally take place until nearly five full 
days after the assault. 

" It is, perhaps, unnecessary to say that the wounded 
who had not been able to crawl into our lines at night 
were now past caring for, and the dead were in a horrible 
state of putrefaction. Better the consuming fires of the 
Wilderness and the Po than the lingering, agonizing 
death of these poor men, whose vain calls for relief smote 
upon the ears of their comrades at every lull in the fir- 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, 1864. 519 

ing. One man was brought into our lines who had sur- 
,vived the dreadful ordeal, and his accounts of his suffer- 
ings, how he had quenched his thirst by sucking the dew 
from such grass as he could pull at his side, and had 
allayed the pangs of hunger in the same way, were not 
well calculated to encourage his comrades to run any risk 
of being placed in the same position." 

Badeau seeks to throw the responsibility for this delay 
upon General Lee ; and adds to his extended account of 
the negotiations the following remark, clearly intended 
to be sarcastic and cutting; "Whether his military rep- 
utation gained sufficiently to compensate for the sufferings 
he deliberately and unnecessarily prolonged, is question- 
able." But, surely, if the wounded between the two lines 
were Union, and not Confederate, soldiers, as they unmis- 
takably were ; and if the assault of the 3d had been a 
defeat to us, as it clearly was, it became the part of the 
Union commander to ask for an opportunity to care for 
the wounded, as a favor to himself and his army. Noth- 
ing is plainer than that General Lee was fairly entitled 
to all the moral and military advantages to be derived 
from the fact that he had beaten off Grant's assault. 

From the moment the Second Corps had taken po- 
sition at Cold Harbor, General Hancock had kept his 
headquarters in unnecessarily close proximity to the line 
of battle. On the night of the 7th another outburst oc- 
curred, just after dark, which soon rose to the greatest 
fury. The troops in the trenches were comparatively 
safe ; but the plain behind was swept by musketry and 
artillery fire. The headquarters of the corps were rid- 
dled by bullets ; and the Assistant Provost-Marshal, 
Captain Alexander M. McCune, Seventy-fourth New 
York, was killed by a solid shot while standing at the 
door of General Hancock's tent. It was, indeed, a hid- 


eous time. No one who was exposed to the fury of that 
storm will ever forget how the horrors of battle were 
heightened by the blackness of the night. The lesson was 
not lost on General Hancock. However he might choose 
to deal with his own life, he recognized his responsibility 
for the lives of the young men he had called around him, 
and early on the morning of the 8th the corps head- 
quarters were moved back to a more suitable locality. 


I have said that the immediate position which General 
Lee had taken could not be turned either by its right or 
by its left. But afar off to the south, across the Chicka- 
hominy and across the James, lay the city of Petersburg, 
controlling the communications of Richmond with the 
main country of the Confederacy. Hither the indomi- 
table Lieutenant-Gencral had already determined to 
transfer his army, hoping by carefully planned and rapid- 
ly executed movements to seize the Cockade City and 
compel Lee to assume the offensive, for his very life. 
To this end the Army of the Potomac was to be held 
in its trenches in front of Cold Harbor several days 
longer, and all the appearance of active operations was 
to be maintained. The duty was, of necessity, exceed- 
ingly trying to the troops, especially those of the Second 
Corps, which lay nearest the enemy. Through all the 
day, not a man, over large parts of the line, could show 
his head above the works or go ten yards to the rear 
without being shot. The whole corps was kept, day and 
night, in the same trying position as, in ordinary siege 
operations, only the actual engineering and fatigue de- 
tails are expected to occupy. This continued until the 
night of the I2th, when the corps was stealthily with- 

COLD HARBOR— JUNE 2 TO 12, 1864. 52 I 

drawn from its works and set afoot for the crossing of 
the Chickahominy. 

The losses from the 2d to the 12th had, been : 

Killed 494 

Wounded 2,442 

Missing 374 

These losses * were distributed by divisions as follows, 
the Third Division not havintj participated in the main 
assault : 

Corps Headquarters i 

Artillery Brigade 54 

First Division , i ,561 

Second Division i ,674 

Third Division 220 

The losses had been divided between commissioned 
officers and enlisted men as follows : 

Commissioned Officers. Enlisted Men. 

Killed 36 458 

Wounded 113 2,329 

Missing 11 563 

160 3,350 

' In the foregoing statement the correct figures of the Second 
Corps losses at Cold Harbor are given for the first time. This 
has been rendered possible by the courtesy of Colonel Robert N. 
Scott, of the War Department, Washington, whose admirable work 
in compiling and collecting the records of the War deserves the 
gratitude of his countrymen. The figures in the text differ by 
many hundreds from the previously published statements. The 
corrections introduced by Colonel Scott into the account of the 
losses of the Second Corps in the Wilderness are of even greater 
importance, raising the total from 3,761, the usual statement, to 
5,092, the true aggregate. 


Such was Cold Harbor ' to the Second Army Corps. 
I have hesitated long before writing the melancholy 
words of General Morgan : " The Second Corps here 
received a mortal blow, and never again was the same 
body of men." General Morgan goes on to say that be- 
tween the Rapidan and the Chickahominy, a period of 
about thirty days, the losses of the corps had averaged 
over four hundred daily. " It was not in numbers only 
that the loss was so grievously felt. Between those rivers 
the corps had lost terribly in its leaders ; the men whose 
presence and example were worth many thousand men. 
Hays, Abbott, Merriam, Carroll, Webb, Brown, Coons, 
Tyler, Byrnes, Brooke, Haskell, McKeen, McMahon, 
Porter, the ]Morrises, and rrany other gallant men were 
dead or lost to the corps ; and though there were many 
brave and eflficient officers left, the place of those who had 
been taken could not be filled." These are sad words, 
but they are true. 

Down to the point we have reached, the body of troops 
which had been organized by Sumner had, it is true, 
been most fortunate in its opportunities ; but its trans- 
cendent deeds had been mainly of its own daring and its 
own deserving. It had wrested twenty-five cannon from 
the enemy ; it had lost one, disabled. It had taken more 
than eighty flags in battle ; it had yielded perhaps half a 
dozen, in the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, and at Cold 
Harbor. Its " missing," in all its terrible battles, had 
been about five thousand ; it had captured over eleven 
thousand Confederates in action. It had not been more 
impetuous in assault than steady, enduring, and resource- 
ful in disaster and defeat. In the long column which 

' "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor 
was ever made." — General Grant, in his Autobiography. 

COLD HARBOR — JUNE 2 TO 12, I 864. 523 

•wound its way, in the darkness, out of the intrcnch- 
ments at Cold Harbor, on the 12th of June, 1864, and 
took the road to the Chickahominy, Httle remained of 
the divisions that had crossed that river, on the 31st of 
May, 1862, to the rescue of the broken left wing; and 
the historian feels that, as he concludes the story of Cold 
Harbor, he is, in a sense, writing the epitaph of the 
Second Corps. 



Grant's purpose in leaving the ill-omened neighbor- 
hood of Cold Harbor was to occupy Petersburg, far to the 
south. It was not anticipated that the actual capture of 
this place would devolve upon the Army of the Potomac, 
inasmuch as General Butler had been directed to seize 
it in advance. Butler's expedition, however, undertaken 
on the 9th and loth of June, failed, with the sole effect 
of drawing down considerable reinforcements to the gar- 
rison. Yet there was still every reason to hope that the 
great flank movement would be successful, so well had it 
been planned, so prudently and so vigorously had its 
first stages been executed. 

The route chosen covered an extent of fifty miles ; but 
so excellent were the arrangements projected by General 
Humphreys, as chief of staff, that the Confederates were 
not only outmarched but distinctly outgeneralled. 

Warren was to cross the Chickahominy at Long Bridge 
and cover the crossing of the other corps below, while 
the vast trains should move at a still greater distance 
from the enemy. Smith, however, with the Eighteenth 
Corps, was to march to White House, having the right 
of way over everything — infantiy, artillery, or cavalry; 
trains, hospitals, or supplies — and there embark his 
troops to report to Butler at Bermuda Hundred, whence 
he received orders to start at daylight of the 15th for 




Meanwhile the other corps had been toiling on their 
long march overland, and had carried out the plan of 
movement with more success, even, than had been an- 
ticipated, owing to the unexpectedly large effect pro- 
duced upon General Lee's mind by the advance of War- 
ren from Long Bridge, threatening a direct attack on 
Richmond along the Charles City, Darbytown, and New 
Market Roads. 

During the night of the 12th the several divisions of 
the Second Corps — in order, Barlow, Gibbon, and Birney 
— were withdrawn from the intrenchmentsof Cold Har- 
bor, the delicate duty of relieving the picket line, in di- 
rect contact with the enemy, having been performed with 
great skill by Lieutenant-Colonel Hammill, of the Sixty- 
sixth New York, assisted by Captain William P, Wilson, 
of the corps staff; and by early morning of the 13th the 
head of column reached Jones' Bridge, on the Chicka- 
hominy, LTnder cover of Warren's advance up the roads 
to Richmond, Hancock pushed on, and before dark 
brought his divisions into bivouac on the James River, 
at Wilcox's Landing, near Charles City Court House. 
Burnside and Wright, with the Ninth and Sixth Corps, 
were at this time still on the Chickahominy, awaiting the 
laying of the pontoons over which they were to cross 
during the night. As the movements of the Second 
Corps on the r4th and 15th have been made the matter 
of protracted controversy, I quote General Humphreys' 
statement : " As soon on the 14th as any boats were avail- 
able. General Hancock began crossing his troops from 
Wilcox's Landing to Windmill Point, and by four o'clock 
on the morning of the 15th all his infantr>' and four 
batteries of artillery had landed on the south bank. The 
means of crossing were very limited, and the landing- 
places, wharves, and roads were incomplete. At half-past 


six on the morning of the 15th three ferry-boats were 
added to his means of crossing, and greatly facilitated the 
passage of his artillery and wagons. 

" On the evening of the 14th he was directed by Gen- 
eral Meade to hold his troops in readiness to move, and 
was informed that it was probable he would be instructed 
to march toward Petersburg, and that rations for his 
command would be sent him from City Point. At ten 
o'clock that night the following despatch was sent him 
by General Meade : ' General Butler has been ordered to 
send to you, at Windmill Point, 60,000 rations. So soon 
as these are received and issued, you will move your corps 
by the most direct route to Petersburg, taking up a posi- 
tion where the City Point Railroad crosses Harrison's 
Creek, where we now have a work. After Barlow has 
crossed, you will cross as much of your artillery and am- 
munition train as possible up to the moment you are 
ready to move, and, if all is quiet at that time, the ferry- 
age of the rest can be continued and they can join you.' 
But the rations did not arrive, as expected, that night or 
the next morning, and the corps marched without them, 
at half-past ten on the 15th." 

The reader will understand that it was proposed to 
despatch the Second Corps from Windmill Point, on the 
James, to Petersburg, sixteen or seventeen miles, on the 
morning of the 15th ; and that it had been expected that 
the corps would start on this expedition provisioned, 
having taken three days' rations at the Point. It was 
this matter of the issue of rations which proved the first 
cause of delay on the 15th. General Morgan states that, 
having during the night sent both the quartermaster and 
the commissary to the wharf to make preparations for 
the prompt receipt and issue of the stores, he at eight 
o'clock A.M. was informed by the engineer ofificer charged 


with repairing the wharf at w^hich the transport was to 
discharge these rations that the vessel had just arrived. 
Morgan adds : " I saw a transport then lying at the 
wharf, and after watching it for a length of time sufficient 
to allow^ of its being unloaded it disappeared. I reported, 
therefore, to General Hancock that the rations had come 
and were being issued." Now, the information which 
Morgan thus communicated to General Hancock proved 
to be erroneous, the vessel at the wharf not being the 
one expected. But in consequence of that information 
General Meade, who, at half-past seven, had sent word 
to Hancock to move without the rations, authorized 
him to exercise his judgment as to which would be 
best — to issue rations then, or to have the vessel con- 
taining the subsistence stores sent around to the Appo- 

Unfortunately, General Hancock had not been informed 
that General Smith was to make an attack on Peters- 
burg and that great results might depend on his reaching 
his destination an hour earlier or later. He had been 
simply told to move toward Petersburg, and there take 
up a position. As any good commander would. General 
Hancock preferred to march with his troops rationed ; 
and not knowing — what General Meade himself did not 
know — that Petersburg was to be assaulted, he took ad- 
vantage of the alternative offered him, until, at about 
nine o'clock, it was discovered that the information re- 
ceived regarding the arrival of commissary stores at 
Windmill Point was erroneous, whereupon he ordered 
the corps to move without the rations. But here oc- 
curred a second cause of delay. " The signal officer," 
says General Humphreys, "by whom the order was sent 
failed, in some way, to communicate it, and the boat in 
which Colonel Morgan^ who carried the same order, 


crossed the river grounded, so that the cokimn did not 
begin to move until half-past ten." 

Although the immediate cause of this loss of time 
was found in the misunderstandings and miscarryings re- 
lated, the real cause lay in the failure of General Grant 
to inform General Meade of Smith's contemplated at- 
tack. Had this been known by Generals Meade and 
Hancock, there would have been no thought of waiting 
for rations ; the troops would have been off at six o'clock, 
and could have easily reached Petersburg at one o'clock ; 
in which case the city would have fallen beyond a per- 
adventure. But now is to be added a still further cause 
of delay, in the fact that Hancock's marching orders, 
founded upon erroneous information, were self-contra- 
dictory and incapable of execution. Here, again, I pre- 
fer to quote General Humphreys' words : " He was to 
' take up a position where the City Point Railroad crossed 
Harrison's Creek, where we now have a work ; ' and this 
condition did not admit of his continuing on the most 
direct road, but obliged him to leave it, and, turning to 
the right, take one several miles longer, after much de- 
lay in seeking in vain to ascertain from the people of the 
country where Harrison's Creek was, and what roads led 
to it, for the maps in use were, for this section of country, 
so erroneous as to be not only useless, but misleading. 
Harrison's Creek was, in fact, inside the enemy's intrench- 
ments, and was such an insignificant rivulet as probably 
not to be known by any name much beyond the limits 
of Petersburg. 

" There was a run marked on the map as Harrison's 
Creek, but erroneously laid down. This stream, accord- 
ing to the map, was crossed by the railroad about three 
and a half miles from Petersburg. There was actually 
a diminutive stream crossed by the City Point Railroad 


half-way between City Point and Petersburg, about five 
miles from each, and this rivulet emptied into the Appo- 
mattox near the pontoon bridge of General Butler at 
Broadway Landing, Vvhere there was a bridge-head, as 
there was at the site of the pontoon bridge a mile and a 
half above. These works appear to be referred to in the 
despatch by the phrase ' where we now have a work,' for 
we had no work where the railroad crossed the run." 

Sent wrong by these orders, his line of march increased 
several miles, after his time of starting had been delayed 
several hours, Hancock led forward the corps without an 
intimation that his presence was to be imperatively re- 
quired at Petersburg. So far as he had any reason to 
think, it would be sufificient if he brought up his corps, in 
good condition, in season to go fairly into camp by night- 
fall. Under such conditions a judicious commander does 
not allow his men to be pressed to the utmost on a hot 
clay. The corps made the march steadily and continu- 
ously, the ground to be covered being, in consequence of 
the instructions referred to, about twenty miles. As the 
afternoon advanced, random artillery firing was heard 
upon the left and front. Inquiry of the country peo- 
ple elicited the information that General Kautz's divi- 
sion of cavalry had gone out in that direction ; and Han- 
cock saw no reason to attribute to the firing any special 
significance. Meanwhile Smith, who since morning had 
been reconnoitring the works at Petersburg, preparatory 
to assault, had no intimation that any troops of the Army 
of the Potomac were marching to his assistance, until, at 
about four in the afternoon, he was advised by a staff 
officer from Grant that the Second Corps was on the 
way to join him ; upon which Smith at once sent a de- 
spatch to Hancock requesting him to come up as rapidly 
as possible. Hancock received this message at half-past 


five,' when he was still about four miles from Smith's 
left ; but it was now stale news, for, a few minutes before, 
he had received an order from the Lieutenant-General 
directing him to make all haste to get forward to the 
support of Smith, who was stated to have carried some 
of the enemy's works. Everything was at once bent to 
this end ; the search for the apocryphal " Harrison's 
Creek " was abandoned. Birney's head of column was 
just passing a cross road, by which it was sent on to Peters- 
burg ; Gibbon followed ; while Barlow, who, with the 
trains, had been marching on another road, was ordered 
to close the interval as soon as possible. Unfortunately, 
Barlow had lost his way owing to errors in the maps, 
and could not get up till late at night. 

As soon as Grant's despatch was received, Morgan 
rode forward to inform Smith of the approach of the 
Second Corps. " I reported to him on the field," says 
Morgan, " I think as early as 6.30 P.M., informing him 
of the exact position of the corps, and asking him 
Avhere, under the circumstances, the troops ought to go. 
He said, ' On my left,' but neither indicated to me where 
his left was nor sent a staff officer. Finally he referred 
me to General Hinks for the information. Captain Wil- 
son and myself started back to find General Hinks, and 

' A great deal has been made of the despatch said to have been 
sent by General Hancock to General Butler, informing that offi- 
cer that his (Hancock's) leading division connected with General 
Smith " about five o' clock. ^^ Badeau uses this to disprove the state- 
ments of Meade and Hancock relative to the operations of the 
15th. Such a despatch was sent, but the hour named was not five 
o'clock. At that time Hancock was still several miles from Peters- 
burg, and had not the faintest notion that General Smith was as- 
saulting that place. The hour written was probably eight o'clock, 
the figures 5 and 8, when written in pencil, on a scrap of paper, 
by the light of a camp-fire, being easily confounded. 


met a staff officer of General Birney's, sent forward to 
report to General Smith. On my advice he returned 
at once, with Captain Wilson,* to conduct the head of 
column to such point as General Hinks might advise." 
The head of General Birney's column was now, say 
6.30 P.M., at the Byrant House, about a mile in rear of 
Hinks' position. " Leaving instructions," says General 
Humphreys, " for Birney and Gibbon to move forward 
as soon as they could ascertain where they were needed. 
General Hancock rode to General Smith and informed 
him that two of his divisions were close at hand, ready 
for any movements which in his judgment should be made. 
General Smith, informing him that the enemy had been 
reinforced during the evening, requested him to relieve his 
troops in the front line of the captured works. This 
relief was completed by eleven o'clock, by which time. 
General Hancock says, it was too late and too dark for 
an immediate advance." 

Such is the story of the 15th of June, a day which was 
a very black one in the calendar of the gallant commander 
of the Second Corps, who bitterly felt the imputations 
which malice or ignorance led certain persons in high 
station, as well as some irresponsible critics, to cast upon 
him. Stung by the reflections on his conduct. General 
Hancock addressed a letter to General Meade, reciting 
with completeness and particularity the occurrences of 

' Since these lines were sent to press the gallant and capable 
officer named herein. Captain, afterward Colonel, Wilson, has 
died at his home in Trenton. He was of the finest type of staff 
officer : always cool, collected, and sensible ; disregarding alike 
fatigue and danger ; keenly observant of everything that related to 
his mission, and always bringing back reports which meant some- 
thing, and could be acted upon without sending someone else to 
sec, or going yourself to look. 


that day, and requesting an ofificial investigation. This 
letter General Meade forwarded to Lieutenant-General 
Grant, with an indorsement which concluded as follows : 
" I do not see that any censure can be attached to Gen- 
eral Hancock and his corps." The subject cannot be 
better concluded than with the words, in reply, of the 
Lieutenant-General, in whose military character a strong 
sense of justice mingled with that great, that rare wis- 
dom which looks forward to what remains to be done, 
and lets the dead past bury its dead. " The reputation 
of the Second Corps and its commander is so high, both 
with the public and in the army, that an investigation 
could not add to it. It cannot be tarnished by news- 
paper articles or scribblers. No official despatch has ever 
been sent from these headquarters which, by any con- 
struction, could cast blame on the Second Corps or its 
commander for the part they have played in this cam- 


Unfortunately, the misunderstandings and mistakes of 
the 15th were carried into the i6th, permitting the Con- 
federates to strengthen and finally to confirm their hold 
on Petersburg Avhich the excellent strategy of Grant 
had, for thirty-six hours, placed fairly at the mercy of 
the Union army. It is difficult to say how much of 
the failure to seize the opportunity offered was due to 
the fact that the fatigues and excitement of the past forty 
days had brought about a renewal of General Hancock's 
disability from his severe Gettysburg wounds. That gal- 
lant and devoted officer, who, day or night, never spared 
himself, whether in camp, on the march, or in battle, was 
now suffering intense pain, as fragments of the badly 


splintered bone, dislodged by six weeks of almost con- 
tinuous labor in the saddle, began to work their way out 
of the inflamed flesh, requiring him frequently to seek 
rest in an ambulance or on the ground, when otherwise 
he would have been galloping over the field or leading 
the march of his foremost division. 

Another fact which seriously interfered with the proper 
movements of the Second Corps on the morning of the 
i6th of June was Hancock's ignorance of the Confed- 
erate position at Petersburg. Until he received Grant's 
despatch at 5:30 P.M. of the 15th he had not had an in- 
timation that any responsibility concerning the capture 
of Petersburg was to devolve on him ; he had never pre- 
viously served in the region in which Petersburg was sit- 
uated ; the only map of the country furnished him had 
proved grossly wrong, placing Harrison's Creek several 
miles out of its true position ; he had come up on the 
evening of the 15th, only intent on offering to Smith a 
loyal support. Before his divisions were fairly in line of 
battle, night had fallen. Finally, it must, in fairness, be 
confessed that topographical insight was not one of Han- 
cock's strong points. On a field of battle over which he 
could cast his rapid and searching glance, no man sur- 
passed — few soldiers, living or dead, ever equalled — the 
commander of the Second Corps in the promptitude and 
directness with which he made appropriate dispositions, 
whether for attack or for defence, however sharp and Sud- 
den the emergency. Even in a region which his eye could 
not scan, but of which a good map was available, Han- 
cock's well-trained and well-stored mind rarely failed to 
suggest the proper means of meeting the movements of 
the enemy or of pursuing his own initiative. But of that 
faculty of topographical insight, one peculiar form of ge- 
nius which enables some men, even in a strange coun- 


try, to know instinctively the direction of roads, " the lay 
of the land," the course of streams, the trend of ranges — 
all upon indications so slight and subtle as to escape the 
observation of men ordinarily gifted — of this rare, but, 
in a commander or staff-officer, most useful faculty Han- 
cock possessed little. 

For one or another reason it came about that General 
Hancock's orders to his division commanders, about mid- 
night, to govern their actions in the morning of the i6th 
of June, threw upon them much responsibility; not more 
responsibility than is appropriate to the leader of five or 
seven thousand men ; but more than Hancock's habits 
as a corps commander had usually assigned them. The 
orders were addressed in the following terms to Gener- 
als Gibbon and Birney, Barlow's division not having yet 
got into place after its misdirection toward City Point 
the evening previous : " If there are any points on your 
front commanding your position, now occupied by the 
enemy, the commanding general directs that they be 
taken at or before daylight, preferably before, as it is de- 
sirable to prevent the enemy from holding any points be- 
tween us and the Appomattox. It is thought that there 
are one or two such points." These orders were delivered 
to the division commanders between one and two o'clock. 

Morgan, in his narrative, criticizes General Birney for 
his failure to seize the high ground about the Avery 
House on his front. Morgan states that he rode out, 
after daylight, from Birney 's division toward the Avery 
House, without finding any pickets from that division 
until he came close to the enemy, then hurrying down 
from Petersburg to throw themselves into such of their 
redoubts opposite our left as had been by them aban- 
doned in consequence of Smith's capture of other por- 
tions of the line the night before. No vigorous effort 


appears to have been made at daylight to carry out Han- 
cock's instructions to seize all commanding points in 
front. It was between seven and eight o'clock before 
Birney's troops fairly got to work. By this time much 
ground, particularly that around the Ilare and Avery 
Houses, which should have been within our picket line, 
and could have been had for nothing at daybreak, was oc- 
cupied by the enemy, who immediately proceeded to man 
the abandoned redoubts and to connect and strengthen 
them. At eight o'clock Egan led his brigade in a brill- 
iant assault upon one of the Confederate redoubts (Re- 
dan No. 12), carrying it in the very style which he had 
displayed on the North Anna. In the assault Egan was 
wounded, but not severely. Birney was unable to carry 
his success far, and was obliged to leave the enemy in 
possession of a position which was to be taken later, at 
great cost of life. 

Barlow's division was now up on our extreme left ; 
and the Ninth Corps was reported close behind, on the 
road. General Hancock received orders from General 
Meade to assume command of all the troops at Peters- 
burg, and to make a rcconnoissance to develop the en- 
emy's line and ascertain the most suitable place for a 
general assault, which it was proposed to deliver at six 
o'clock in the afternoon. The rcconnoissance was made 
by Birney's division on the left of the Prince George 
Court House Road, bringing on a very animated skir- 
mish, with heavy fire of artillery. General Meade him- 
self arrived while it was in progress, and decided that the 
assault should be directed against the Hare House, in 
Birney's front. The artillery fire and the skirmishing 
continued until the appointed hour arrived. The bur- 
den of the attack fell upon Barlow's and Birney's di- 
visions. Gibbon's troops were, however, engaged ; and 


two brigades of the Eighteenth Corps and two of the 
Ninth were used as supports. Barlow and Birney were 
unable to break the enemy's line, now reinforced by the 
veteran troops of Lee's army, though ground was gained 
and held, three redoubts (Redans 3, 13, and 14) being 
captured, with their connecting works. General Barlow 
led one of his assaults cap in hand ; and he was bravely 
seconded by his staff and leading of^cers. Here was 
killed the gallant Patrick Kelly, Colonel of the Eighty- 
eighth New York, commanding the Irish Brigade. Here, 
too, fell, severely wounded. Colonel James A. Beaver, 
commanding Barlow's Fourth Brigade, the third com- 
mander who had fallen at its head within two weeks. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Baird, One Hundred and Twenty- 
sixth New York, whose gallantry and address at Mor- 
ton's Ford on the 6th of February have been noted, lost 
his life in this assault. Colonel John A. Savage, who 
had succeeded Haskell in the command of the Thirty- 
sixth Wisconsin, was also killed. It is not possible to 
state definitely the losses of the i6th of June. 

The following officers, besides Colonels Kelly, Baird, 
and Savage, were killed or mortally wounded : 

Captain George S. Dawson, Second New York Heavy 

Captain James A. Lothian, Twenty-sixth Michigan. 

Captain Bernard S. O'Neil, Sixty-ninth New York. 

Captain M. Mullery, Seventh New Jersey. 

Captain Sydney M. Layton, Eleventh New Jersey. 

Captain Thomas Hart and Lieutenant John Nolan, 
One Hundred and Fifty-fifth New York. 

Captain Robert M. Jeffries, One Hundred and Fif- 
teenth Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant Charles L. Yearsley, Seventh New York 
Heavy Artillery. 


Lieutenant Walter P. Wright, Eighth New York 
Heavy Artillery. 

Lieutenant George R. Shapleigh, Fifth New Hamp- 

Lieutenant Michael J. Eagan, One Hundred and Sev- 
entieth New York. 

Lieutenant James Shuter, Fortieth New York. 

Lieutenants George A. Bryan and Isaac De Witt Cole- 
man, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth New York. 

Lieutenant John A. McDonald, One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York. 

Lieutenant James R. Wingate, Eighty-fourth Penn- 

After night fell the Confederates made several attempts 
to recover the captured redoubts ; but were beaten off with 
loss. The intrenchments were " turned " for use against 
those who had constructed them, and were closely con- 
nected with those captured by General Smith on the 15th. 


We have seen how, on the 15th, the golden opportu- 
nity to seize Petersburg was lost. We have seen how, 
on the 1 6th, the late arrival of Barlow's division, owing 
to its loss of the road on the preceding afternoon, and 
the lack of enterprise on the part of another division com- 
mander during the first hours of daylight, allowed the 
enemy, so completely discomfited the evening before, 
to seize and fortify strong and well-advanced positions, 
such as those at the Hare and Avery Houses. We saw 
how, at eight o'clock in the morning, Egan repeated his 
brilliant coup of the North Anna; and how, toward 
evening, the Second Corps, supported by brigades from 
the Eighteenth and Ninth, made a general assault which 


resulted in forcing back the enemy and capturing three 
more of their redans, but without success corresponding 
to the heavy loss sustained. 

At daybreak of the 17th Potter's division, comprising 
the veteran troops of the Ninth Corps, by a most gallant 
and brilliant assault captured the enemy's lines at the 
Shind, or Shand, House, with guns, colors, and prisoners. 
Encouraged by this success the Ninth Corps made other 
assaults, two of which were supported by Barlow's di- 
vision on the right. In the last of these, which took 
place about dark and continued until ten o'clock. Bar- 
low was fully engaged and lost heavily, especially in men 
captured. A portion of the enemy's works was for a brief 
time occupied, but was retaken. 

It is impossible to state, or even approximate, the losses 
of this day. The ofificers killed or mortally wounded in 
the Second Corps were : 

Lieutenant-Colonel Willard W. Bates, Eighth New 
York Heavy Artillery. 

Major William A. Kirk and Augustus M. Wright, 
Fifty-seventh New York. 

Captain D. K. Smith Jones, Fourth New York Heavy 

Captain Benjamin C. Pennell, Seventeenth Maine. 

Captain David H. Ginder, Eighty-first Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant James E, Bullis, Sixty-sixth New York. 

Lieutenant Henry M. Adams, Fifty-seventh Pennsyl- 

Lieutenant Isidor Hirsch, Ninty-ninth Pennsylvania, 

Lieutenant Miles McDonald, Sixty-third New York. 

Lieutenant Andrew M. Purdy, One Hundred and For- 
tieth Pennsylvania. 


THE iStH of JUNE. 

The morning of this day found General Mcadc in a 
state of mind to demand the most strenuous and persist- 
ent assaults, with a view to carry, if possible, at any cost, 
the lines of the enemy defending Petersburg. Had such 
a temper presided over the operations of the 15th or the 
1 6th, it is safe to assert, with what we now know, that 
Petersburg would have been occupied by the Union 
forces ; but the time that had elapsed had permitted Lee 
heavily to reinforce Beauregard, and had enabled the 
latter officer, still charged with the defence, to construct 
a strong interior line of works, against which our troops 
were vainly to be hurled, making the i8th of June one of 
the bloody days of the Army of the Potomac. 

Most inopportunely it happened that Hancock had 
become at this date completely disabled. Fragments of 
bone, splintered at Gettysburg, had been for the past few 
days, as already stated, making their way to the surface ; 
and after the close of the action of the 17th the gallant 
general had been obliged to relinquish his command to 
Birney. The history of the succeeding day can never be 
fully written, since no official report regarding it was ever 
made ; and thus, although the operations were of suffi- 
cient magnitude to justify a detailed account, only general 
and vague statements can be given. 

At daybreak General Birney pushed forward a strong 
skirmish line, on both the right and the left of the Prince 
George Court House Road, and found that the enemy 
had withdrawn from the positions they held the night 
before to a new line beyond the Hare House. On send- 
ing this information with a prisoner from Hoke's divi- 
sion, Birney received the following despatch : 


Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, 
7 A.M., June i8th. 
Major-General BniNEY : I have received your despatch 
and Hoke's man. There is every reason to believe the enemy 
have no regularly fortified line between the one abandoned and 
Petersburg ; but if time is given them they will make one. I have 
moved the whole army forward, and directed the commanding 
officers on your right and left to communicate with you. It is of 
great importance the enemy should be pressed, and, if possible, 
forced across the Appomattox. I cannot ascertain there is any 
force in our front but Beauregard's, consisting of Hoke's, Ran- 
som's, and Johnson's (Bushrod) divisions. They cannot be over 
thirty thousand, and we have fifty-five thousand. If we can en- 
gage them before they are fortified we ought to whip them. 

George G. Meade. 

General Meade's information regarding the force of the 
enemy was accurate at the date of the despatch ; but it 
was the fortune of the Potoinac Army that Field's and 
Kershaw's divisions should arrive before the first assault 
could be delivered, followed, during the afternoon, by 
the troops of A. P. Hill. The corps on the left of the 
Second had a long distance to traverse before reaching 
the enemy's new line, and were consequently late in get- 
ting at their Avork ; but between ten and eleven General 
Birney had developed the works in his front, and re- 
ported to General Meade that the Confederate position 
was strong, and that artillery could not assist in the at- 
tack ; but that he was ready to assault as soon as the 
Eighteenth Corps, on his right, should be ready to co- 
operate. General Meade, in reply, directed that the at- 
tack be made precisely at noon ; that the column of as- 
sault be strong, well supported, and vigorously pushed, 
the troops to advance without firing until they should 
penetrate the enemy's line. 

Promptly on the minute. Gibbon's division was 

^ i^ 


his fold-out is being digitized, and will be inserted at a 
future date. 


rhis fold-out is being digitized, and will be inserted at i 
future date. 


thrown forward in two lines of battle, but was repulsed, 
General Pierce, commanding brigade, being wounded. 
Feeling himself strongly urged by the tone of General 
Meade's previous despatches, General Birney, in commu- 
nicating the result, expressed his purpose to renew the 
assault. In reply he received the following : " You will 
attack again, as you propose, with the least possible de- 
lay. The order of attack this morning required strong 
columns of assault. Please conform to this. General 
Martindale ' is about advancing again, and needs your 
co-operation. Select your own point of attack, but do 
not lose any time in examination." 

At a later hour General Birney received the following: 
" I have sent a positive order to Generals Burnside and 
Warren to attack at all hazards with their whole force. 
I find it useless to appoint an hour to effect co-opera- 
tion, and I am therefore compelled to give you the same 
order. You have a large corps, powerful and numerous ; 
and I beg you will at once, as soon as possible, assault in 
a strong column. The day is fast going, and I wish the 
practicability of carrying the enemy's line settled before 

In obedience to these urgent instructions, General 
Birney formed the division of Mott, supported by one of 
Gibbon's brigades and by the division of Barlow, on the 
left, and made a strenuous assault, which was repulsed 
with terrible slaughter. Colonel John Ramsey, Eighth 
New Jersey, commanding brigade, was severely wounded. 
The attack of Mott, from the Hare House, was especially 
memorable on account of the heroic bearing and mon- 
strous losses of the First Maine Heavy Artillery, which 
that general, determined to try what virtue there might 

' Commanding two divisions of the Eighteenth Corps. 


be in the enthusiasm of a new, fresh, strong regiment, 
not yet discouraged by repeated failures, had placed in 
his front line. The older regiments advanced in support 
of the heavy artillery, to take advantage of its success 
should it penetrate the enemy's works. The charge was 
a most gallant one, though unsuccessful, the Maine men 
advancing over a space of three hundred and fifty yards 
swept by musketiy, and only retiring after more than six 
hundred of their number had fallen, the heaviest loss 
sustained by any regiment of the Union armies in any 
battle of the war. 

Thus ended the last of the great series of assaults upon 
intrenched positions. At five o'clock General jNIeade had 
become satisfied that it was impracticable to carry the 
enemy's lines ; but his last despatch shows how firmly he 
had set his soul upon the attempt. 

" Sorry to hear you could not carry the works. Get 
the best line you can, and be prepared to hold it. I sup- 
pose you cannot make any more attacks, and I feel satis- 
fied that all has been done that can be done." 

The commissioned ofificers killed or mortally wounded 
had been : 

Lieutenant-Colonel Guy H. Watkins, One Hundred 
and Forty-first Pennsylvania. 

INIajor Edwin L. Blake, Eighth New York Heavy 

Captains Frederick C. Howes, Samuel W. Daggett, 
A. J. Jacquith, and Lieutenants Allen E. Barry, James 
E. Hall, G. H. Ruggles, Thomas A. Drummond, Albert 
G. Abbott, Samuel W. Crowell, Edward S. Forster, H. 
N. Spooner, and James W. Clark, all of the First Maine 
Heavy Artillery. 

Captain William A. Beny, Second New York Heavy 


Captain William A. Jackson, One Hundred and Twen- 
ty-fourth New York. 

Captain Isaac Morehead, Sixty-third Pennsylvania. 

Captain H. H. Woolsey, Fifth New Jersey. 

Captain E. A, Galloway, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin. 

Captain William A. Norton, One Hundred and Tenth 

Lieutenant A. B. Stanton, Eii^hty-sixth New York. 

Lieutenant Martin V. Stanton, One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York. 

Lieutenant Matthew N. Heiskell, Ninety-ninth Penn- 

Lieutenant Clark M. Lyons, Fifty-seventh Pennsyl- 

Lieutenant Samuel G. Gilbreth, Andrew Sharpshoot- 
ers (Fifteenth Massachusetts). 

Lieutenant Lafayette Carver, Nineteenth Maine. 

Lieutenant William F. Button, One Hundred and 
Eighth New York, was killed on June 20th. 


After the failure of the assaults of the i8th the Second 
Corps was withdrawn from the front and massed in rear 
of the left centre of the general line. Although nominally 
" in reserve," the troops did not found on this fact any great 
expectations of a long rest, for the corps had never for- 
gotten the remark of a member of the Irish Brigade on the 
occasion when Caldwell formed his division in a line of 
battalions in mass, behind Sickles, at Gettysburg, and 
the men were told that they were to be in reserve. " In 
resarve ; yis, resarved for the heavy fightin'." This re- 
mark, emphasized as it was by Caldwell's experience in 
the wheat-field, had become proverbial in the Second 
Corps, and accordingly the troops were little surprised 


when, on the morning of the 21st, they found themselves 
on the march across the Norfolk Railroad and the Jeru- 
salem Plank Road. Advancing then to the front the 
corps took up Warren's line, and extended it to the left, 
this being the first of that series of southward extensions 
which had for their object the cutting of the Weldon Rail- 

In the new position Barlow's division held the left, 
pushing forward to within two miles of the Weldon Road 
and skirmishing sharply with the Confederate cavalry. 
During the night of the 21st the Sixth Corps came up 
on the left of the Second, in anticipation of a united for- 
ward movement on the morrow. 

We have now to record perhaps the most humiliating 
episode in the experience of the Second Corps down to 
this time. The commanding and staff ofificers of the 
corps were never able to see that the disaster to be de- 
scribed was altogether the fault of the corps, though it 
must be confessed that, but for the hideous losses of the 
fifty preceding days, now aggregating nearly twenty thou- 
sand, the Confederates might have found it dangerous 
to go "fooling" around the flank of the Second Corps in 
the fashion they did. 

The disaster referred to occurred in this wise : The two 
corps engaged in the forward movement had been direct- 
ed to maintain close connection with each other. The 
Second Corps moved forward, pivoting its right on the 
left of the Fifth Corps, and advancing its own left as rap- 
idly as the right of the Sixth Corps could be got to move. 
The latter, however, having the greater distance to trav- 
erse in the wheeling movement, was so long detained 
that General Meade became impatient, and ordered Gen- 
eral Birney to advance without any regard to the Sixth 
Corps. Now it happened that at the very moment this 


order was given, the enemy were feeling the right of the 
Sixth Corps line ; and as Birney swung forward the 
Second Corps, he left this force in his rear. Barlow, who 
held the left flank, apprehensive of trouble from this 
source, moved his left brigade by the flank, ready to form 
line fronting southward. More extensive preparation 
did not seem necessary, as it was assumed that the Sixth 
Corps, pushing vigorously forward, would soon be up. 
At three o'clock, however, the Sixth Corps being still 
behind, Barlow's left was thrown into confusion by a 
sharp attack of the enemy in great force. The flanking 
brigade gave way and the front line, finding itself exposed, 
fell hastily back, though in order, to evade the flank at- 
tack. No sooner had Barlow halted his line than the 
enemy attacked in front, but were thrown off by Miles' 

So far nothing serious had happened ; but the enemy 
followed up their initial advantage with an enterprise, 
audacity and shrewdness rarely exhibited, even by their 
able commanders. As the falling back of each body of 
troops in succession uncovered the left flank of the one 
next to it, this was sharply clipped by the Confederate 
column. When the flank of Gibbon was reached, a reso- 
lute attack upon his front, conciding with that upon his 
left, drove his line back in some disorder, due to the sud- 
denness rather than the severity of the assault. Four 
guns of McKnight's Twelfth New York Battery were left 
in the enemy's hands. 

The whole affair was over in a very short time. Noth- 
ing but the extraordinary quickness and precision of the 
Confederate movements on this occasion would have 
made such a result possible. The Second Corps had been 
defeated almost without being engaged. There had been 
very little fighting, and comparatively small loss, ex- 


cept in prisoners. Of these the Second Corps had lost 
seventeen hundred: more than it had on the Peninsula; 
more than it had at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and 
Chancellorsville combined. Four guns, moreover, the 
only ones ever taken from the Second Corps by the 
enemy, except that abandoned, disabled, on the banks 
of the Fo, were the trophies of the Confederate triumph. 
The whole operation had been like that of an expert 
mechanician who touches some critical point with a fine 
instrument, in exactly the right way, producing an effect 
seemingly altogether out of proportion to the force ex- 
erted. The enemy's success was of course facilitated, if 
not, indeed, alone made possible, by the thickets through 
Avhich our troops were moving, and by their own inti- 
mate knowledge of the ground. 

Even as it was it would have been possible, by a vig- 
orous movement, to retake McKnight's guns, but the 
ofHcer commanding that immediate portion of our line, 
although in general a spirited and aggressive soldier, on 
this occasion hesitated until time had been given the 
enemy to draw the battery off the ground. Moreover, 
General Birney, deeply impressed with the responsibility 
of his new charge, apprehended that the attack already 
experienced was but the beginning of a general assault 
upon his corps, and gave his first attention to prepara- 
tions for battle. The Confederates showed no disposi- 
tion to follow up their initial advantage, gained through 
surprise, and returned at dusk to their former position. 

On the morning of the 23d the Second and Sixth 
Corps were directed by General Meade to attack the 
enemy in their front ; but the Confederates were found 
to have withdrawn to their works, and the order for at- 
tack was countermanded. The ofificers killed or mortally 
wounded, during the affair of the 22d, were : 


Captain Morris Brown, Jr., One Hundred and Twenty- 
sixth New York. 

Captain Jacob B. Edmunds, One Hundred and Forty- 
eighth Pennsylvania. 

Captain Joseph W. Kimball, First Massachusetts 
Heavy Artillery. 

Lieutenant M. B. Miller, adjutant, One Hundred and 
Twenty-fifth New York. 

Lieutenant Albert J. Dwight, One Hundred and Fifty- 
fifth New York. 

Lieutenant Francis H. Seeley, One Hundred and 
Seventieth New York. 

In the large number of prisoners were the remains of 
several of the original regiments of the corps, notably 
the Fifteenth Massachusetts, which, after losing three 
hundred and eighteen men, had emerged from the woods 
about Dunker Church, September 17, 1862, bearing not 
only its own but a Confederate color, but which now, a 
mere handful, was captured, almost entire, with its tat- 
tered flag. 

On June 23d Colonel William Blaisdell, Eleventh 
Massachusetts, who had greatly distinguished himself at 
the Salient on May 12th, w^as killed on the skirmish line. 

Lieutenant S. F. Lincoln, adjutant, One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York, was mortally wounded, June 

On the 27th of June General Hancock had suf^ciently 
recovered from his disabilities to resume command of the 



It is now time to take a survey of the Second Corps as it 
lay in the intrenchments of Petersburg, June 30, 1864; 
and to note the effects produced upon its aggregate num- 
bers and upon its constituents by the experiences of the 
six months that had elapsed since the opening of the 

The following table shows the numbers of the Second 
Corps according to each monthly return from January to 
June, inclusive. The great increase in all the items be- 
tween February 29th and March 31st is, of course, due 
to the accession of the two divisions of the Third Corps. 
The still further increase between April 30th and May 
31st, in spite of the enormous number of the killed, is 
due to the accession of the heavy artillery, the Corcoran 
Lesion, and other reinforcements. 


January 31st 10,427 565 10,992 

February 29th 11.203 632' 11,835 

March 31st 23,877 4,422' 28,299 

April 30th 28,854 1,055] 29,909 

May 31st 26,980 3,3941 30.374 

June 30th 17,201 4,369 21,570 







85 11,719 10,464 22,183 
68 12,648 10,798 23,446 
152 29,729 13,306 43.03s 
185 31.735 14.628 46,363 
55 22,613 27.045j49.6s8 


The following table shows the foregoing figures re- 
duced to percentages : 



On extra 

or daily 

Present for 
duty or on Sick or in 
extra or arrest. 
daily duty. 







January 31st 

February 29th . . . 

March 31st 

April 30th 

May 31st 

June 30th 








Here we have the proportion of the aggregate num- 
bers of the corps present for duty, or on extra or daily 
duty, reduced from 64.51 per cent, on the 30th of April, 
to 56.43 on the 31st of May, and still further, to 43.44 
on the 30th of June, as the result of sixty days of almost 
continuous marching and fighting. 

The organization of the corps on the 30th of June was 
as follows : 

The Corps, Major-General WINFIELD S. HAN- 
COCK, commanding. 

The Artillery Brigade, Major John G. Hazard 
commanding: 14 batteries; 56 guns: Third Battalion, 
Fourth New York Heavy Artillery. 

First Division, Brigadier-General Francis C. Bar- 
low, commanding. 

First Brigade, Brigadier-General N. A. Miles, com- 
manding : Sixty-first New York ; Second New York 
Heavy Artillery ; Eighty-first, One Hundred and For- 
tieth, One Hundred and Eighty-third Pennsylvania; 
Twenty-sixth Michigan ; Fifth New Hampshire ; Twen- 
ty-eighth Massachusetts. 

Consolidated Second and Third Brigades, Colonel C. 


D. McDougall, commanding : Seventh (detachment), 
Thirty-nhith, Fifty-second, Fifty-seventh, Sixty-third, 
Sixty-ninth, Eighty-eighth, One Hundred and Eleventh, 
One Hundred and Twenty-fifth, One Hundred and 
Twenty-sixth New York. 

Fo7irtJi Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel John Hastings, 
commanding : Fifty-third, One Hundred and Sixteenth, 
One Hundred and Forty-fifth, One Hundred and Forty- 
eighth Pennsylvania ; Second Delaware ; Sixty-fourth, 
Sixty-sixth New York ; Seventh New York Heavy Ar- 

Second Division, Major-General John Gibbon, 

First Brigade, * Lieutenant-Colonel F. E. Pierce, com- 
manding : Seventh Michigan ; Nineteenth Maine ; Fif- 
teenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth Massachusetts ; One 
Hundred and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania ; Forty- 
second, Fifty-ninth, Eighty-second, One Hundred and 
Fifty-second New York ; Thirty-sixth Wisconsin ; First 

Second Brigade^ One Hundred and Fifty-fifth, One 
Hundred and Sixty-fourth, One Hundred and Seventieth 
New York ; Eighth New York Heavy Artillery ; Sixty- 
ninth New York Militia (One Hundred and Eighty- 
second Volunteers). 

Third Brigade, Colonel Thomas A. Smyth, command- 
ing : Fourteenth Connecticut; First Delaware ; Seventh 
West Virginia; Twelfth New Jersey; Tenth, One Hun- 
dred and Eighth New York ; Sixty-ninth, Seventy- 
second, One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania ; Fourth 

' General A. S. Webb absent, wounded. 
^ General R. O. Tyler absent, wounded. 


Third Division, Major-General D. B. Birney, com- 

First Brigade, Colonel H. J. Madill, commanding : 
Seventeenth Maine; Fortieth, Eighty-sixth, One Hun- 
dred and Twenty-fourth New York ; First Battalion 
Fourth New York Heavy Artillery ; Twentieth Indiana ; 
Ninety-ninth, One Hundred and Tenth, One Hundred 
and Forty-first Pennsylvania ; Second United States 

Second Brigade^ Brigadier-General B. R. Pierce, com- 
manding : Fifth Michigan ; Fifty-seventh, Sixty-third, 
One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania; Ninety-third New 
York ' ; Second Battalion Fourth New York Heavy Ar- 
tillery ; First United States Sharpshooters ; First 
Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. 

TJiird Brigade, Brigadier-General Gershom Mott, 
commanding: Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh 
New Jersey ; Sixteenth Massachusetts ; First Maine 
Heavy Artillery. 

FoiirtJi Brigade, Colonel William R. Brewster, com- 
manding : Seventy-first, Seventy-second (three compan- 
ies), Seventy-third, Seventy-fourth, One Hundred and 
Twentieth New York ; Eleventh Massachusetts ; Eighty- 
fourth Pennsylvania. 

Examination of this roster shows that the veteran 
Fifth New Hampshire and First Minnesota had returned 
to their old command, after absence to be recruited. 

Since the beginning of the campaign the following 
regiments had joined : Thirty-sixth Wisconsin ; One 
Hundred and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania ; the regi- 

' By an accidental omission the accession of this regiment in 
April, as a substitute for the One Hundred and Fourteenth Penn- 
sylvania (see page 403, foot-note), detached as guard at General 
Meade's Headquarters, was not noted in the appropriate place. 



ments of the Corcoran Legion (One Hundred and Fifty- 
fifth, One Hundred and Sixty-fourth, and One Hundred 
and Seventieth New York, and Sixty-ninth New York 
INIilitia) ; and the regiments of heavy artillery brought 
down by General Tyler (First Maine, First Massachusetts, 
Second, Seventh, and Eighth New York): in all, six 
regiments of infantry and five of heavy artillery. 

The following regiments had been lost to the com- 
mand : 

First Massachusetts, mustered out : N. B. McLaughlin, 
Colonel ; Clark B. Baldwin, Lieutenant-Colonel ; Gard- 
ner Walker, Major. 

Seventy-first Pennsylvania, mustered out : Richard 
Penn Smith, Colonel ; Charles Kochersperger, Lieutenant- 
Colonel. The veterans ' and recruits of this regiment 
were transferred to the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania. 

Third Michigan," mustered out ; veterans and recruits 
formed into four companies and attached to the Fifth 

Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, mustered out : Robert L. 
Bodine, Lieutenant-Colonel ; Samuel G. Moffett, Major ; 
veterans and recruits to the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania. 

Fourteenth Indiana, mustered out : E. H. C. Cavins, 
Lieutenant-Colonel; Wm. Houghton, Major; veterans 
and recruits to the Twentieth Indiana. 

Fourth Ohio, mustered out: Leonard W. Carpenter, 
Colonel ; Gordon A. Stewart, Lieutenant-Colonel. 

Eighth Ohio, mustered out : Franklin Sawyer, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel ; Albert H. Winslow, Major. 

The veterans and recruits of these two heroic Ohio 

^ This term is officially used to designate those who had re-en- 
listed after completing one term of service. 

^ A regiment under the same name was subsequently raised by 
Colonel Houghton, and saw service in the Southwest. 


regiments were organized into the Fourth Battalion of 
Ohio Volunteers, Frank J. Spalter, Lieutenant-Colonel, 

Seventieth New York, mustered out : J. Egbert Far- 
num. Colonel ; Thomas Holt, Lieutenant-Colonel ; Dan- 
iel Mahen, Major ; veterans and recruits to the Eighty- 
sixth New York. 

Third Maine, mustered out: Moses B. Lakeman, Col- 
onel ; veterans and recruits to the Seventeenth Maine. 

Fourth Maine, mustered out : Elijah Walker, Colonel ; 
George G. Davis, Lieutenant-Colonel ; veterans and 
recruits to the Nineteenth Maine. 

Another regiment disappeared from the roster of the 
corps during this period, namely, the One Hundred and 
Fifteenth Pennsylvania, which was on the 22d of June 
consolidated with the One Hundred and Tenth Penn- 
sylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel John P. Dunn and Major 
William A. Reilly being discharged as supernumeraries. 

The changes among the field oflficers of the corps dur- 
ing the months of May and June had been numerous. 

Discharged.— In March : Colonel Arthur F. Deve- 
reux, Nineteenth Massachusetts ; Colonel Judson Far- 
rar Twenty-sixth Michigan, Major Henry M. Alles, Sev- 
enty-fourth New York. In April : Colonel Turner G. 
Morehead and IVIajor John H. Stover, One Hundred 
and Sixth Pennsylvania. In May : Lieutenant-Colonel 
Enos C. Brooks, Sixty-fourth New York ; Major Charles 
C. Baker, Thirty-ninth New York ; In June : Colonel 
Benjamin Higgins, Eighty-sixth New York ; Colonel 
Norman J. Hall, Seventh Michigan; Major James H. 
Hinman, One Hundred and Eleventh New York. 

Of the foregoing officers. Colonels Devereux, More- 
head, and Hall had earned specially honorable distinc- 
tion by their long service in the Second Corps. Captain 


William A. Arnold, Battery A, First Rhode Island, was 
also discharged in June. 

Resigned. — In March : Major Thomas C. Harkness, 
Eighty-first Pennsylvania. In April : Colonel James M. 
Bull, One Hundred and Twenty-sixth New York ; Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Isaac M. Lusk, One Hundred and Elev- 
enth New York. In May : Colonel William P. Bailey, 
Second Delaware ; Lieutenant-Colonel William Powell 
and Major John Reynolds, One Hundred and Eighty- 
third Pennsylvania. In June : Lieutenant-Colonel Hen- 
ry W. Cunningham, Nineteenth Maine. 

Mustered Out (on expiration of term of service). — 
Major James W. McDonald, Eleventh Massachusetts. 

Promoted. — Colonels Nelson A. Miles, Sixty-first 
New York ; John R. Brooke, Fifty-third Pennsylvania ; 
S. Sprigg Carroll, Eighth Ohio, to be Brigadier-Generals 
of Volunteers. 

Dismissed the Service. — Colonel Asher S. Leidy, 
Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania (April 9th) ; Major James F. 
Ryan, Sixty-third Pennsylvania (April 12th) ; and Col- 
onel H. W. Hudson, Eighty-second New York (May 

During the month of June Brigadier-General Gibbon 
had received his wxU-earned promotion to be Major- 
General of Volunteers. 



The terrible experiences of May and June in assaults 
on intrenched positions ; assaults made, often, not at a 
carefully selected point, but " all along the line; " assaults 
made as if it were a good thing to assault, and not a dire 
necessity ; assaults made without an adequate concentra- 
tion of troops, often without time for careful preparation, 
sometimes even without examination of the ground — 
these bitter experiences had naturally brought about a 
reaction, by which efforts to outflank the enemy were to 
become the order of the day, so that the months of July 
and August were largely to be occupied in rapid move- 
ments, now to the right and now to the left of a line 
thirty to forty miles in length, in the hope of somewhere, 
at some time, getting upon the flank of the unprepared 
enemy — the sentiment of headquarters, and perhaps the 
orders,' being adverse to assaults. Unfortunately this 
change of purpose did not take place until the numbers 
and morale of the troops had been so far reduced that the 
flanking movements became, in the main, ineffectual from 
the want of vigor in attack, at the critical moments, when 
a little of the fire which had been exhibited in the great 
assaults of May would have sufficed to crown a well-con- 
ceived enterprise with a glorious victory. But that fire 

' Thus General Grant's despatch to Meade, July 27th, says : " I 
do not want Hancock to attack intrenched hnes." 


had for the time burned itself out ; and on more than 
one occasion during the months of July and August, 
1864, the troops of the Army of the Potomac, after an all- 
day or all-night march which had placed them in a po- 
sition of advantage, failed to show a trace of that enthu- 
siasm and clan which characterized the earlier days of the 
campaign. This result was not due to moral causes only. 
Physically the troops were dead-beat, from the exertions 
and privations ' of the preceding two months. Men died 
of flesh-wounds which, at another time, would merely 
have afforded a welcome excuse for a thirty days' sick- 
leave. The limit of human endurance had been reached. 

But more even than the effect of excessive labors, m.ore 
even than the effects of discouragement, were the effects 
of the shattering of that Organization which makes an 
army differ from a promiscuous collection of the same 
number of men, possessing the same moral and physical 
qualities. In the Second Corps, more than twenty ofifi- 
cers had already been killed or wounded in command of 
brigades ; nearly one hundred in command of regiments. 
Nearly seventeen thousand men had fallen under the 
fire of the enemy, and among these was an undue pro- 
portion of the choicest spirits. It was the bravest cap- 
tain, the bravest sergeant, the bravest private, who went 
farthest to the fore and staid longest under fire. Had 
the men who fell at Cold Harbor, alone, been with their 
colors during the months of July and August, victoiy 
would, on more than one occasion, have been the lot of 
the Second Corps, instead of failure or even defeat. 

On the 9th of July the Sixth Corps was withdrawn 

' For over a month the army had had no vegetables, and the 
beef used was from cattle which were exhausted by a long march 
through a country scantily provided with forage. — Humphreys', 
Campaign of 1864-65. 


from the Army of the Potomac and despatched in haste 
to Washington, to meet the invasion of Early, whom 
Lee, knowing well that the army in front of him had 
largely lost its initiative, had sent northward in the same 
spirit which prompted the invasion of Maryland after 
the defeat of Pope, and the invasion of Pennsylvania 
after the defeat of Hooker. 

On the I ith of July the Second Corps was withdrawn 
from its intrenchments and massed near the Williams 
House ; and the following day went into camp behind 
the Fifth Corps, General Hancock making his head- 
quarters in the shot-riddled building on the Norfolk 
Road known as " The Deserted House." Here the 
troops were destined to remain undisturbed for more 
than a fortnight. 

On the 1 8th of July Brigadier-Generals J, H. Hobart 
Ward and Joshua T. Owen Avere mustered out, by order 
of the President. These officers had for some time been 
awaiting trial on charges of misconduct during the early 
part of the campaign ; but it had not been found con- 
venient to assemble a court martial of sufficient rank. 

A change in the pcrsotmcl of a very different character 
occurred when, on the 23d of July, Major General Bir- 
ney gave up his division, to take charge of the Tenth 
Corps, in the Army of the James, for which position he 
had been recommended by Generals Hancock and Meade. 
General Birney had rendered marked services to the 
Army of the Potomac. He was eminently a sagacious 
man ; and had an excellent understanding of military 
principles. In temper he was signally cool and composed. 
So far as the closest observation could discover,' his 
mental processes were not a bit less steady and equable 
in the heat of action and under the severest fire than of 
" a summer's evening in his tent." Among the ofificers of 


the army, generally, he was reputed somewhat cold and 
strongly ambitious. If as a commander he was lacking 
in anything, it was in " creature pugnacity," the capacity 
for getting thoroughly angr}- when struck. This, more 
than anything else, was the element lacking in McClel- 
lan's composition ; and a dash more of animal satisfaction 
in drawing blood would have improved the soldierly 
quality of Birney. Taken all in all, he was one of our 
most successful generals from civil life. 

Shortly before General Birney's departure from the 
Second Corps, he sustained a severe personal loss in the 
death, from disease, of his brother and Assistant Adju- 
tant-General, Major Fitzhugh Birney, a gallant and ac- 
complished officer. 

General Birney was succeeded in the command of his 
division by General Mott, a very genial gentleman, per- 
fectly brave, with much of the natural instinct of leader- 
ship, lacking perhaps in that stirring ambition which 
brings into their highest activity the qualities of a com- 
mander, but withal one who, as man or soldier, is never 
to be mentioned without respect. 


On the 26th of July the Second Corps was di- 
rected, in co-operation with the cavalry, to initiate a 
movement the account of which needs to be introduced 
by a brief survey of the general situation. The Army of 
the Potomac, reduced by the detachment of the Sixth 
Corps, at this time lay in front of Petersburg, its right 
on the Appomattox, its left extending to the Weldon 
Railroad. Actual siege operations had been begun 
against Petersburg on the 9th of July, the siege artillery 
being placed under command of that distinguished of- 

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ficer, General Henry L. Abbott. Upon the front of Burn- 
side's corps, opposite the town, the Forty-eighth Pennsyl- 
vania, a regiment raised in the coal and iron district of 
that State, had run a tunnel out to the enemy's line, 
and had prepared a mine underneath the Confederate 
work known as Elliott's Salient, The tract between the 
Appomattox and the James on the north, known as 
Bermuda Hundred, was occupied by Butler's troops of 
the Army of the James. Butler had laid two bridges 
over the James River at Deep Bottom, the bridge heads 
being held by a brigade under General Foster. 

General Grant's plan was, that the Second Corps, 
making an all-night march across Bermuda Hundred, 
in rear of Butler, should cross the bridges over the 
James and break the enemy's line, which was not sup- 
posed to be held by any considerable force, driving the 
Confederates back to Chapin's Bluff. In the event of 
Hancock's success, Sheridan was then to push across the 
James, and attempt Richmond by a sudden dash. If, 
however, as was most probable, the works defending the 
city were too strongly held to allow its capture, Sheridan 
was to proceed to the north of Richmond, and thor- 
oughly destroy the two railroads on that side as far as 
the Anna rivers. He was reinforced by Kautz's cavalry 
division, from the Army of the James. Should Sheridan 
find Richmond practicable, he was to be supported by 
the Second Corps. 

There was still another object in Grant's view, namely, 
that Hancock's movement to the north of the James 
might draw away from Petersburg a large part of its 
defenders, and prepare the way for exploding Burnside's 
mine. Out of all these possibilities it seemed as if some- 
thing of good must be secured by the contemplated move- 


In pursuance of these instructions, the Second Corps 
left its camp on the afternoon of the 26th, and, at two 
o'clock on the morning of the 27th, the head of column 
reached Deep Bottom. The bridges across the James 
at this point were two, one above and one below the 
mouth of Bailey's Creek. This creek is about five miles 
long, running due south to the James. In its course it 
crosses three important roads. These are the Derbytown 
or Central Road (which it crosses at Fussell's Mill) and 
the Long Bridge and River Roads, the latter two running 
into the Newmarket Road beyond the creek. From the 
line of the creek to Richmond is about twelve miles. 

It was General Grant's plan that the infantry should 
cross the upper bridge and move at once on Chapin's 
Bluff, while the cavalry, crossing by the lower bridge, 
should be making its way toward Richmond. When, 
however. General Hancock arrived at Foster's head- 
quarters, he ascertained that the enemy had drawn a 
line of works around the upper bridge, which were held 
in considerable force. As it seemed undesirable that the 
movement which had been entered upon should begin, 
and perhaps end, with an assault. General Hancock re- 
ported the situation, by telegraph, to General Meade, 
who authorized the infantry to cross by the lower bridge, 
the cavalry to await their turn. This, however, created 
a very different situation from that which had been con- 
templated. It placed Bailey's Creek between Hancock 
and his objective point, Chapin's Bluff. Should the 
stream be found to afford a good natural line of defence, 
a force which could not have fought Hancock an hour 
on the other side of the creek might be enabled to resist 
him, on this line, long enough to defeat the first purpose 
of the expedition. Hancock, on his part, appreciating 
the situation, sought to cross his troops rapidly and to 





push them vigorously up the course of the stream, with 
a view to secure, if not one, then another of its crossings. 
General Foster, meanwhile, undertook to threaten the en- 
emy holding the works over against the upper bridge, and 
thus prevent their being detached to move up the creek. 

On crossing the infantry by the lower bridge, Hancock 
discovered a force, belonging to Kershaw's division, occu- 
pying, with artillery, a line of breast-works on the east of 
the creek. 

The skirmishers of the Third Division, consisting of 
the Ninety-ninth and One Hundred and Tenth Pennsyl- 
vania, were thrown out the Newmarket and Malvern 
Hill Road, where they became so sharply engaged with 
the enemy as to require these regiments to be reinforced 
by the Seventy-third New York. Both the Ninety- 
ninth and One Hundred and Tenth suffered severely in 
this encounter, and Colonel Edwin R. Biles, of the former 
regiment, received high praise for his spirited and intelli- 
gent conduct. At the same time Barlow's skirmish line 
was advanced against the breastworks spoken of. The 
skirmishers consisted of the One Hundred and Eighty- 
third Pennsylvania, Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, and 
Twenty-sixth Michigan; and were commanded by the 
youthful colonel of the first- named regiment, Lynch, 
accompanied in person by General Miles, from whose 
brigade they were taken. Miles, ever on the alert, seized 
certain opportunities afforded by the ground, partially 
protecting and concealing his advance, and threw the skir- 
mish line forward against the breastworks. Although the 
intrenchments were held by both infantry and artillery, 
so spirited was the advance, so skilful were the disposi- 
tions made, that they were actually carried by the skir- 
mishers alone. Some prisoners were taken, though the re- 
treat of the enemy was too precipitate to allow of many cap- 


tures ; and four splendid twenty-pound Parrotts with their 
caissons became the trophies of Lynch's brilliant charge. 

Never, I think, did men of the Second Corps so greatly 
enjoy riding Confederate cannon into camp. Ten-pound 
Parrotts our fellows knew, knew them subjectively and 
knew them objectively; knew them by shelling and 
knew them by being shelled ; but twenty-pound Parrotts 
seemed altogether a different thing, and as the great en- 
gines were one after another hauled out of the works and 
brought down the road on the run, they were greeted 
with loud cheers and accepted as a full compensation for 
JMcKnight's Napoleons. 

So fortunate a beginning promised a successful day. 
Gibbon's division was thrown forward in pursuit of the 
retreating enemy; a battery on the right was speedily 
driven oi^ by our artillery, assisted by the fire of Mott's 
skirmishers, and, moving by a cross road to the Long 
Bridge Road, withdrew behind the stream. When, how- 
ever, the advance was made to Bailey's Creek, the enemy 
were found in well-constructed works, apparently well 
manned and covered with abattis. The position, as de- 
veloped, was one of great natural strength, the creek 
itself, as stated by General Morgan, being an obstacle 
that could not be passed by a line of battle, while the in- 
tervening ground, being perfectly open, could be swept 
from end to end by both musketry and artillery fire. A 
close inspection showing