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and Twenty-sixth New York, with seventeen other commissioned officers. The intrenchments were "turned," and were closely connected with those taken by General Smith on the 15th.
We have seen how, on the 15th, the golden opportunity to seize Petersburg was lost. We have seen how, on the 16th, the late arrival of Barlow's division and lack of enterprise on the part of General Birney during the first hours of daylight allowed the enemy, so completely discomfited the evening before, to seize and fortify strong and welladvanced positions. We saw how, at eight o'clock in the morning, Egan repeated his brilliant coup of the North Anna; and how, near evening, the Second Corps, supported by brigades from the Ninth and Eighteenth, made a general assault, which resulted in the capture of three more redoubts, but without success corresponding to the heavy losses sustained. At daybreak of the 17th Potter's division of the Ninth Corps by a most brilliant assault captured the enemy's lines at the Shand House, with guns, colors, and prisoners. Encouraged by this success, the Ninth Corps made other assaults, two of which were supported on the right by Barlow's division. At the last of these, which began about dark and continued until ten o'clock, Barlow 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 even to approximate the losses of this day. Eleven officers were killed or mortally wounded, including Lieutenant-Colonel Bates, of the Eighth New York Heavy Artillery.
The morning of June 18th found General Meade in a state of mind to demand the most strenuous and persistent assaults, with a view to carry, if possible, at any cost, the lines of the enemy defending Petersburg. Most inopportunely it happened at this date that Hancock had become completely disabled. Fragments of bone had for the past few days been making their way to the surface, and after the action of the 17th the gallant general had been obliged to relinquish his command to Birney. This officer at daybreak pushed forward strong bodies of skirmishers, which disclosed the fact that the enemy had withdrawn to a new line behind the Hare House. At twelve o'clock, noon, under peremptory orders from Meade, Gibbon's division was thrown forward in two lines of battle, but was repulsed, General Byron R. Pierce, of Michigan, being wounded. Again, under orders from Meade still more peremptory in their tone, Birney advanced the division of Mott, supported by one of Gibbon's brigades and by the division of Barlow, and made a strenuous assault, which was repulsed with terrible slaughter. The attack of Mott from the Hare House is especially memorable for the heroic bearing and the monstrous losses of the First Maine Heavy Artillery, which advanced for three hundred and fifty yards over ground swept by musketry, and only retired after six hundred had fallen, the heaviest loss sustained by any regiment of the Union army in any battle of the war.
Thus ended the last of the series of assaults upon intrenched positions in the campaign of 1864. The limits of human endurance had been reached. At five o'clock General Meade became satisfied that it was impracticable to carry the enemy's lines, but his latest dispatch to Birney shows how firmly he had set his soul on the attempt: "Sorry to hear you could not carry the works. Get the best line you can, and be prepared to hold it. I suppose you can not make any more attacks, and I feel that all has been done that can be done." We do not know the losses of June 18th, but not less than twenty-six officers were killed or mortally wounded in the Second Corps, twelve of them being from the heroic First Maine. Colonel John Ramsey, of New Jersey, was wounded at the head of a brigade.
After the battle of the 18th the Second Corps, still under Birney, was withdrawn from the front and massed in rear of the left center of the general line. On the morning of the 21st the corps marched across the Norfolk Railroad and the Jerusalem plank road, and then, advancing to the front, continued Warren's line to the left, this being the first of that series of southward extensions which had for their object the cutting of the Weldon Railroad. June 2 2d was destined to be a very humiliating day in the experience of the Second Corps. General Meade had devised a great wheeling movement, in which three corps were to be swung around in unison, to envelop and, if possible, overlap the enemy's line. The Second, which in this movement formed the center, kept its hold firmly upon the Fifth Corps on ts right, and made its own way toward its assigned position; but the corps upon the left, the Sixth, having a longer distance to compass, failed to keep up. General Birney more than once halted to maintain the connection, but at last Meade, growing impatient at the delay, directed him to go forward without further regard to the troops on his left. Hardly had the Second Corps resumed its movement when a Confederate division, which had been lying in a place from which it would have been driven by the advance of the Sixth Corps, assailed our own left flank with the utmost vehemence and threw the troops into momentary confusion, the line recoiling like a man from the bite of an adder. The affair lasted but an instant. The corps, recovering itself, went forward and drove the enemy out; but meantime the exultant Confederates had drawn off the four guns of McKnight's Twelfth New York Battery, and had captured seventeen hundred prisoners, more than the corps had lost on the Peninsula—more than it had lost at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville combined. The enemy's success was facilitated, if not alone made possible, by the thickets 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 nth 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 f and Joshua T. Owen J 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, f See page 180. % See page 222.