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thousand prisoners, Gettysburg was to Hancock allglorious, all-fortunate. Even the desperate wound which he received in the moment of victory hardly seemed to cast a shadow over the great triumph he had achieved during the first month of his career as the commander of an army corps.
The wound from which Hancock had fallen among the ranks of the Vermont brigade proved to be a severe one. On the first examination, it was thought to be due wholly to a nail which had been driven by an enemy's bullet from the wood of the saddle, or from a neighboring fence, into the general's thigh near the groin. Six weeks later, however, the wound still remaining open, with great weakness on the part of the patient, a deeper probing discovered that the musket ball itself had lodged in the thigh, causing often excruciating pain and at times complete disablement, as we shall see in the campaign of 1864. It is one of the penalties to which a man of powerful frame, accustomed to active exercise, is especially liable, that if from any cause he is long disabled and kept in confinement he acquires flesh with great rapidity, sometimes with important consequences to his physique and habits of life. After his Gettysburg wound Hancock underwent a marked change physiologically, gaining weight rapidly during his enforced idleness and suffering a permanent loss of some portion of his former activity and elasticity. To the observer, however, the change in no degree diminished the impressiveness of his carriage and bearing. He was, if anything, statelier, with an appearance of greater power and more composure.
During Hancock's long absence the Second Corps saw much of severe and trying service, though no great battle was in that period fought by the Army of the Potomac. General Gibbon, next in rank, having been seriously wounded, BrigadierGeneral William Hays was provisionally assigned to the command. Under General Hays, a sensible, quiet, firm officer, the corps took part in the pursuit of Lee, and afterward moved to the left bank of the Rappahannock, at Morrisville. On the 12th of August, Major-General Gouverneur K. Warren, who had been promoted in recognition of his distinguished services at Gettysburg and who in an especial degree possessed Meade's confidence, was assigned as temporary commander. Under Warren the corps took part in the forward movement across the Rappahannock about the middle of September; and between the 10th and the 15th of October bore a conspicuous and glorious part in the somewhat bewildering operations of those days. On the 14th it was twice engaged with the enemy while acting as rear guard during the retreat on Centreville—in the morning at Auburn and in the afternoon at Bristoe Station. At the latter point, where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad crosses Broad Run, the corps, through the error of General Sykes, found itself entirely cut off from the rest of the army, and was obliged to confront both the pursuing columns of Lee without the possibility of support from any quarter until night fell. In this perilous position the superb soldiership of Warren not only rescued the troops from impending destruction, but won a brilliant victory. The Second Corps marched that night to join its comrades on the heights of Centreville, carrying with it five captured cannon, two Confederate flags, and five hundred prisoners, the trophies of as pretty a fight as the whole war witnessed.
In the last days of November the corps took a creditable part in the Mine Run expedition, during which Meade almost succeeded in interposing his army between Hill and Ewell and getting a fight out of the latter on his own terms. On the 29th of December, 1863, Hancock returned to the army and resumed command, Warren being absent on leave. This, however, was but a brief episode. On the 8th of January, 1864, Hancock again relinquished the command to Warren and went back to the North, to continue the efforts in which he had been engaged to fill up his depleted regiments. On the 6th of February the corps took part in a demonstration on Morton's ford, which was intended to favor a movement upon Richmond by General Butler from the South. The division of General Alexander Hays was thrown across the river and some sharp fighting ensued; but when night fell the troops were withdrawn and went again into camp.
It was early in March, 1864, that Hancock definitively relieved General Warren. The Army of the Potomac was now in the body looking across the Rapidan toward Richmond, and in the spirit contemplating the opening of the great campaign which all believed, even after the disappointments of 1862 and 1863, was to close the rebellion. Again and again the Confederate armies had escaped seemingly inevitable destruction—in part by their own extraordinary gallantry and endurance; in part by good luck and the accidents of war; in part by manifest blunders of management or the hopeless incompetency of Union commanders. The almost incessant battling of two years had told for the national cause in training soldiers and officers for this great final effort; it had told against the Confederate cause through losses both of men and of material which could not be replaced. Moreover, the renowned chieftain who in July had opened the Mississippi to the Gulf, and in November had driven Bragg's army from the heights of Chattanooga, had come from the West to give a last crushing blow to the army of Northern Virginia.
On the 26th of February, 1864, Congress passed