« 上一頁繼續 »
patches of the morning he had a right to anticipate that the troops massed on Warren's left, only four miles away by the Halifax road, would promptly be sent down to re-enforce him. The advance of such a force would have covered his right and prevented the enemy from working around upon that flank, which, as it proved, was the vulnerable point. The disposition of the troops in the intrenchments was as follows: Miles, with the First Division and a brigade of cavalry, occupied the front and right; Gibbon, the left; Gregg, with the bulk of the cavalry, prolonged the left against any attempt of the enemy to reach around and get upon the road leading to the Jerusalem plank road. Meanwhile, what was being done at headquarters, either to provide for the safety of the small force at Reams's or to seize the opportunity to get a fight out of the Confederates under circumstances so favorable 2 It is in trying to answer this question that we encounter two singular features of the 25th of August. The first is that, although the field telegraph had before noon been open from the Station to Warren's headquarters, where Meade passed the day, and although Hancock, on his part, used the telegraph, sending a dispatch as early as I 1.45 A. M., Meade, throughout the whole afternoon and until 7.30 in the evening, continued to send his messages by staff officers, involving in each case not only a delay which might be serious in its conse
quences, but also a liability to misunderstanding, due to messages crossing each other. The other remarkable feature of the day was that the troops dispatched to Hancock's relief were sent down the Jerusalem plank road to its junction with the Reams's Station road, instead of directly down the Halifax road. This direction more than doubled the distance the re-enforcements had to march. At one o'clock Meade sent the following message in reply to Hancock's of 11.45:
“HEADQUARTERS, FIFTH CoRPs, 1 P.M., August 25, 1864.
“MAJOR-GENERAL HAN cock : Warren has informed me of your dispatch announcing the breaking through your left of the enemy's cavalry. I have directed Mott to send all his available force down the plank road to the Reams's Station road, and to take one of Parke's (Ninth Corps) batteries, now at the Williams House, with him. The officer in charge of this command is directed to report to you his arrival. I think, from all the information I can obtain, that the enemy is about assuming the offensive, and will either attack you or interpose between you and Warren. Under these circumstances, I fear we can not do much more damage to the railroad. That being the case, you can exercise your judgment about withdrawing your command and resuming your position on the left and rear of Warren, either where you were before, or in any other position which in your judgment will be better calculated for the purpose, and based on the knowledge of the country your recent operations may have given you. Let me know by the bearer the condition of things on your front, and your views. GEORGE G. MEADE.”
This dispatch was brought by Captain Saunders, of the headquarters staff. Had it been sent by telegraph it might have arrived in time to enable Hancock to withdraw deliberately, of his own motion; but, coming as it did, Hancock did not receive it until after the enemy had both driven in his skirmishers and made, at two o'clock, a serious assault upon the portion of the intrenchments held by Miles, some of the Confederates falling within three yards of his line. To retire from the presence of an enemy actually formed for attack was a very serious matter, rendered more serious by the formation of the works and the nature of the inclosed ground, which made it impossible to move without observation.
What were the forces thus threatening Hancock at Reams's 2 Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill was in command, but that spirited officer was this day so far disabled by sickness that he was obliged to leave the practical direction of affairs to his principal lieutenants. Of these, the first upon the field was General Wade Hampton, with a powerful column of