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be undertaken on the 3d of June. The enemy were all up and in position, so that no advantage from surprise was to be hoped for. Had the 3d or the 4th been utilized for a reconnoissance, in which the enemy should have been driven everywhere into his works while the engineers and the fighting staff carefully surveyed each portion of the line, some weak point might have been discovered* upon which an attack could be delivered with a reasonable chance of success. Opposite such a point should have been concentrated at least six divisions, to take advantage of any opening that might be made. As it was, with the enemy's position practically unknown to commanders and staff, the Second Corps on the left, the Sixth in the center, and the Eighteenth on the right, were to assault, each on its own front, at half past four in the morning.
Much to the relief of the troops, who had suffered intensely from the torrid heat and the choking dust of the preceding day and night, rain began to fall in the late afternoon of the 2d and continued, with intervals, until morning. When day broke the corps had been formed in columns of assault as follows: Barlow's division had, in front, the brigades of Miles and Brooke, deployed; the brigades commanded by Colonels Byrnes and McDougall constituted the second line. On the right, Gibbon's division was also in two lines—Tyler's and Smyth's brigades deployed in front, Owen's and McKeen's in close column of regiments behind. Birney's division was in support. Promptly at the signal Barlow advanced and found the enemy strongly posted in a sunken road, from which Brooke drove them, after a severe struggle, following them into their works under a heavy fire. Two or three hundred prisoners, one color, and three cannon fell into Brooke's hands. The captured guns were at once turned upon the enemy and the most strenuous efforts made to hold the position; but an enfilading fire of artillery swept down the line, the works in rear opened, and large bodies of fresh troops advanced with the utmost determination to retake the position. The first line held on with great stubbornness, but was finally forced out, General Brooke being severely wounded, Colonels Byrnes and O. H. Morris killed. Miles's brigade also effected a lodgment in the works, Hapgood's Fifth New Hampshire being foremost in the assault; but these troops in turn were driven out by the fire of the Confederate artillery and by the strong bodies of infantry advanced against them.
* As, for a possible example, the point opposite Wright, referred to in Meade's dispatch, given on page 223.
Upon the right, Gibbon had no better fortuneThat officer had directed his second line to follow closely, and at a given point push rapidly forward, pass the first line, effecting, if possible, a lodgment in the enemy's works, and then deploy. In its advance Gibbon's division was cut in two by an impassable swamp, which widened as it approached the works. The existence of this, in the absence of any reconnoissance, had not been known. The fire of artillery and musketry was terrific. General Tyler fell, seriously wounded; Colonel McKeen, bringing his brigade gallantly up by the side of Tyler, was killed; Colonel Haskell, Thirty-sixth Wisconsin, succeeding to McKeen's command, fell mortally wounded; but the troops still struggled on through a furious blast of fire from the fully manned works on the high ground. Colonel McMahon, of the One Hundred and Sixty-fourth New York, separated by the swamp from the rest of Haskell's brigade, gained the breastworks at the head of a portion of his regiment, with his colors in his hand, but fell dead among the enemy. A part of Smyth's brigade, also reforming and advancing after their first repulse, gained the intrenchments, but the failure of Owen* to bring up his brigade left Smyth's shattered command unsupported.
Scarcely twenty-two minutes after the signal had been given, the repulse of the corps was complete. Three thousand had fallen. Among officers, the losses had been portentous. Six full colonels— namely, McKeen, Byrnes, Haskell, O. H. Morris, McMahon, and Porter—had been killed. Generals Tyler and Brooke had been severely wounded. When the losses of the preceding month are remembered, it will be seen how extraordinary was the proportion of officers of high rank killed in this brief contest. And in every case those named were well worthy of the positions they held. They were, in truth, the very flower of the corps—men who were to be terribly missed in the subsequent severe trials through which their troops were so soon to be called to pass —men who never could be replaced. Among officers of lower rank, forty-six had been killed or mortally wounded. The other corps had been no more successful in their attacks. Wright and Smith had assaulted, each on his own front, but had been repulsed after a severe struggle. At nine o'clock Hancock received the following dispatch:
* See page 244.
"Headquarters Of The Army Of The Potomac, "June j, 1864, S.4J A. AT.
"Major-general Hancock: I send you two notes from Wright, who thinks he can carry the main line if he is relieved 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."
It need not at this stage of our narrative be said that such an appeal would come to Hancock with as much force as to any man that ever lived. But he also owed a duty to his troops; and, feeling perfectly sure that another attack would be fruitless, he took advantage of the discretion given him by General Meade to save his men. Birney's division, which had not suffered in the assault, was sent over to the extreme right to report to Warren, whose long line was threatened by the enemy. Hancock's decision not to attack again at Cold Harbor was at the time made the subject of a sensational newspaper story, to the effect that the order to attack was given and that the troops refused to move. An unprincipled writer has, in a book published within the last few years, not only repeated the story, but described the episode as occurring under his own observation. Nothing of the kind took place. Wright's and Smith's second attack met with no better fortune than the first. In the Second Corps, although the repulse of both divisions had been decisive, the troops still clung tenaciously to the ground nearest the Confederate works wherever so much as half cover could be found. In some cases our men lay within thirty yards of the enemy; in other places, according to the configuratiop of the ground, the line ran away to fifty, seventy, a hundred, or more. Here the troops intrenched themselves as well as they could with bayonets and tin plates; and waited for night to go to worl< on a larger scale and with better tools. As evening; came