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cock as he lay at rest beneath the drooping flag of his country on Governor's Island, in February, 1886, would have seen Reams's Station written on brow and brain and heart as palpable as, to the common eye, were the scars of Gettysburg.
Night was now coming on, and Hancock sent back to halt the re-enforcements approaching the field, which, had they been sent by the Halifax road, they would easily have reached before the main assault fell. He had no fear of further attack from the enemy, who seemed content to let him alone. It was more than two hours since the Confederates had gained their signal success, yet so stubborn up to the very moment of panic had been the resistance offered by our troops, so savage had been the onslaught of the small column which retook and carried off Dauchey's guns, that they showed no disposition to renew hostilities. After dark Hancock drew off his broken battalions. At the same moment the enemy began their march back to the Petersburg lines, carrying with them nine guns, seven colors, and seventeen hundred prisoners. Of Hancock's staff, Captain Edward B. Brownson, commissary of musters, a most gallant, devoted, and accomplished officer, had been killed; the assistant adjutant general, Colonel Walker, had been captured.
The Second Corps returned to the Union lines, which it had left for the ill-fated expedition to Reams's Station, reduced in numbers and sad at heart. In the language of a few paltry souls that had heard its customary praises with something of envy, "its comb had been cut." But not from the commander of the Army of the Potomac or from the great silent chief who ordered all the armies of the United States came one word of reproof or of blame. General Meade did not even allow the night to pass without sending a message of consolation to the faithful lieutenant who had never failed him in act or thought, and whose perfect subordination had throughout the whole campaign been as conspicuous as his resolution, daring, and address in battle. Before midnight came, the gallant, knightly gentleman at the head of the Army of the Potomac sent this dispatch:
"Headquarters, Army Of The Potomac,
"11 P. M., August 25, 1864.
"Dear General: No one sympathizes with you more than I do in the misfortunes of this evening. McEntee gave me such good accounts of affairs up to the time he left, and it was then so late, I deferred going to you as I intended. If I had had any doubt of your ability to hold your lines from a direct attack I would have sent Willcox with others down the railroad; but my anxiety was about your rear, and my apprehension was that they would either move around your left or intervene between you and Warren. To meet the first contingency I sent Willcox down the plank road, and for the second I held Crawford and White ready to move and attack. At the same time I thought it likely, after trying you, they might attack Warren, and wished to leave him, until the last moment, some reserves. I am satisfied you and your command have done all in your power, and though you have met with a reverse, the honor and escutcheon of the old Second is as bright as ever, and will on some future occasion prove it is only when enormous odds are brought against them that they can be moved.
"Don't let this matter worry you, because you have given me every satisfaction. Truly yours,
"George G. Meade, Major General."
THE BOYDTON ROAD.
The Boydton plank road expedition, toward the end of October, was the last effort made by General Grant to reach the Southside Railroad before winter should close in upon the armies confronting each other upon the Appomattox and the James. The general plan of the expedition was that Hancock, with two divisions of his corps, emerging from behind our lines, should move rapidly to the left, carry the Vaughan Road crossing of Hatcher's Run; thence, by cross roads and over the open country, make for the Claiborne road, which passes over Hatcher's Run farther up the stream, and, crossing here, should, if practicable, advance upon the Southside Railroad and seize a commanding position near it. Gregg's small division, which was about all there was left of the cavalry of the Potomac Army, the rest being in the valley with Sheridan, was to form a part of Hancock's column, moving upon his left and covering his rear. At the same time Parke, with the Ninth Corps, which held the end of our established line, was to move to the left in the early morning and attack the enemy on the hither side of Hatcher's Run. "It is probable," the order read, "that the enemy's line of intrenchments is incomplete at this point, and the commanding general expects, by a secret and sudden movement, to surprise them and carry their half-formed works." Should, however, Parke not break the enemy's lines, he was to remain confronting them. Warren, with the Fifth Corps, was to support Parke in his attack; but if Parke failed to get through, Warren was then to cross Hatcher's Run and move up on the right rear of Hancock, ready to recross the Run and turn in on the enemy's flank should he find it exposed.
The palpable criticism upon this plan of movement is that practically it made everything turn upon the truth of the report that the enemy's works were not finished as far as Hatcher's Run. So that when Parke, moving in the early morning, found that the Confederate line had been completed through the entire distance to the stream, and was therefore, under his orders, brought to a stand, all that threatened any serious consequences to the enemy was over and past. It is true that Hancock's column was still to proceed on its way toward the Southside Railroad; but that force, comprising only two meager divisions of infantry with one of cavalry, was too small to accomplish much in the way of a turning movement. Had two corps been set on foot, as was to be done in the expedition of the fol