« 上一頁繼續 »
through which our troops were moving, and by their own intimate knowledge of the ground.* On the 23d Colonel William Blaisdell, of Massachusetts, who had distinguished himself at the Salient, was killed on the picket line. By June 27th Hancock had sufficiently recovered to resume command. On July 11th the corps was withdrawn from its intrenchments and massed near the Williams House, and on the following day went into camp behind the Fifth Corps, Hancock making his headquarters in the shot-riddled building upon the Norfolk road known as the “Deserted House.” On July 18th Brigadier-Generals J. H. Hobart Ward t and Joshua T. Owen I were mustered out by order of the President. These officers had for some time been awaiting trial on charges of misconduct, but it had not been found convenient to assemble a court-martial of sufficient rank to try them. A change in the personnel of the Second Corps of a very different character occurred when, on July 23d, Major-General Birney gave up his division to take command 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
* General Mahone, who commanded the division engaged, had been the engineer of the Petersburg and Norfolk Railroad. # See page 180. # See page 222.
had an excellent understanding of military principles. In temper he was signally cool and composed. He was succeeded in command of the Third Division by Brigadier-General Gershom Mott, of New Jersey, a man perfectly brave, with much of the natural instinct of leadership, though lacking a little in that stirring ambition which brings to their highest activity the qualities of a commander. On the 25th of July General Grant addressed the following letter to President Lincoln:
“CITY POINT, VA., July 25, 1864. “PRESIDENT A LINCOLN : After the late raid into Maryland had expended itself, seeing the necessity of having the four departments of the Susquehanna, the Middle, West Virginia, and Washington under one head, I recommended that they be merged into one. . . . It would suit me equally well to call the four departments referred to a ‘military division,’ and to have placed in command of it General Meade. In this case I would suggest General Hancock for the command of the Army of the Potomac, and General Gibbon for the command of the
“Hoping that you will see this matter in the light I do, I have the honor to subscribe myself, etc.,
“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant General.”
THE terrible experiences of May and June in assaults upon intrenched positions naturally brought about a reaction even in Grant's resolute mind, so that the months of July and August were largely occupied in rapid movements, now to the right and now to the left of a line thirty 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 even more the 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 critical moments when a little of the fire which had been exhibited in the great assaults of May would have crowned a well-conceived enterprise with victory. That fire for the time had burned itself out; and on more than one occasion during the months of July and August the troops of the Army of the Potomac, after an all-day or all-night march which placed them in a position of advantage, failed to show a trace of that enthusiasm and elan which had characterized the earlier days of the campaign. In two of these expeditions—one in July and one in August—the Second Corps, which had always maintained the highest reputation for its quick and clean marches, took the leading part. The July expedition to Deep Bottom, as it was called, on the north bank of the James River, had in view two possible results: First, that the enemy's lines might be found so slimly held as to allow our powerful corps of cavalry, after the Confederate infantry should have been pushed back on Chapin's Farm, to capture Richmond by a rush, or, at least, cut up the railroads on the north of the city. Second, that whether Hancock should succeed or should fail in the first object, the movement might serve as a feint to draw a large part of Lee's army away from Petersburg, which the other corps were preparing to enter through the ghastly avenue to be laid open by the explosion of Burnside's mine. In execution of his instructions, Hancock led his corps out of camp on the 26th of July; and, crossing Bermuda Hundred behind Butler's line, reached the James with the head of his column on the morning of the 27th. Hancock at once threw his infantry
* Thus Grant, in his dispatch to Meade, July 27th, says: “I do not want Hancock to attack intrenched lines.”
across the river by the only bridge that was available. Sheridan * followed with his numerous cavalry. It was found that the enemy had since Grant's last advices advanced their troops to occupy the strong defensive line of Bailey's Creek, which was thus necessarily to be carried before the Confederates could be forced back on Chapin's Farm, as contemplated in Hancock's instructions. One division— Kershaw's—had been thrown forward from this line to hold the edge of the woods which skirted on the west the great plain of Deep Bottom. This force was intrenched, with artillery. As soon as Kershaw was discovered, the First Division was formed in line of battle, and its skirmishers, under command of Colonel James C. Lynch, of Pennsylvania, but with General Miles superintending the movement, were pushed toward the enemy. Hereupon ensued one of the most dashing operations of the war. So skillful and adroit were the dispositions made, so rapid and impetuous was the advance of the skirmish line, that, without a regiment of the reserves showing itself, Kershaw's works were carried at the first rush and his line of battle was driven back through the woods. The fruits of this brilliant dash were four twenty-pounder Parrotts—great splendid fellows— which, it may well be believed, were brought in with much jubilation. Following up this initial success, the enemy were driven back behind Bailey's Creek.