ePub 版

rout, but whirled along in its resistless current. Beside the road was General Lee, irritated and excited beyond precedent, eager to stem' the torrent of flight hy catching hold of any organized body of men and launching them in person against the head of the Federal advance. Upon this hurly-burly of confusion and alarm supervened at the most critical moment Longstreet and his Corps. This fresh body of troops, with Kershaw's Division in advance, came forward upon the exhausted Federal troops in such force, overlapping the left, that the Third Brigade, Colonel Frank, broke and fled back. The pressure was so great along the whole line of the command thus assaulted, that it was also broken in several places. Portions of the front line retreated in disorder. Officers who commanded there, commanded in some instances troops not their own, and of whose fighting qualities they knew nothing. Those officers did their best, but could not stem the panic. General Wadsworth,* galloping, appealing, commanding, fell dead from his horse in the front of the battle, deserted by more than half his troops.

The line fell back before the advancing rebels, and the ground whence Heth and Wilcox had been forced once more passed into their bands. Hancock's whole force retired behind the line intrenched the day before on the Brock road. In this encounter the enemy lost Geneneral Jenkins killed, and General Longstreet wounded. The circumstances under which the latter was injured were thus described by a Southern spectator: “ At this moment (the retreat of Hancock) Longstreet, after brief cousultation with General Lee, suggested a flank movement not dissimilar to that by which, twelve months before, the bloody day of Chancellorsville was decided by Jackson. It was commenced: the promise of the first movement was richly encouraging. Generals Longstreet and Jenkins rode in great glee with their staff along the plankroad, when one of those unforeseen accidents which are inseparable from war, and doubly hazardous with undisciplined troops, checked in an instant all laughter and merriment. A volley at short range, issuing from Mahone's Brigade of Confederates as they poured obliquely through the tangled undergrowth of the Wilderness, struck Longstreet's little party like a white squall; General Jenkins sprang high from his saddle and fell dead with a bullet through his brain; Longstreet himself lay stretched in the road pulseless and inanimate, and, as all thought, with but few minutes of life left in him. Instantly the flank movement was arrested. About an hour later, Longstreet, awaking from his swoon, exclaimed to Dr. Cullen: 'In another half hour, but for my wound, there would not have been a Yankee regiment standing and unbroken on the south of the Rapidan.'” It is somewhat remarkable that this took place very near the spot where “ Stone

* James Samuel Wadsworth was born in Gene August, 1861, and in March, 1862, becamo Military sco, New York, October 30th, 1507, was educated at Governor of Washington. In the fall of that year Jlarvard and Yale Colleges, and admitted to the he was the Union candidate for Governor of New bar in 1933. But having inherited an immense York, but was defeated by Horatio Seymour. As landed estate in Western New York, he devoted commander of a division of the Army of the Pohinself chieily to its improvement. He was a tomnc he fought with reputation at Fredericks. prominent member of the Republican party from burg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and fell the period of its formation, and a commissioner at the head of the Fourth Division of the Fifth to the Peace Conference at Washington in 1861. Corps, at the battle of the Wilderness, May 6th, He embarked heartily in the cause of the Union, 1864, as described in the text, was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers

wall” Jackson, a year previous, lost his life by a similar mistake of his own men.

A comparative lull occurred at noon, and our forces took the opportunity it afforded to draw up and concentrate their lines, interposing the greater part of Burnside's Ninth Corps between Hancock and Warren. The left also was brought forward a little from the Brock road, to which it had been driven, towards the centre. Hardly had these fortunate dispositions been made, when again, in the middle of the afternoon, the enemy fell upon our left and centre with great fury, and again pushed them back. At the junction of the left and centre the attack was particularly severe, Crawford's Third Division of the Fifth Corps, Carr's Fourth Division of the Second Corps, and Sterenson's Division of the Ninth Corps suffering its brunt. The latter division, on Hancock's right, giving way overpowered, the enemy rushed through the gap. Hancock then dispatched Carroll's Third Brigade, Second Division of the Second Corps, to sweep along the whole line and attack the enemy in flank. The manæuvre was most gallantly and successfully executed, the enemy retiring with much loss, and our troops gradually gaining their old alignment. The left and centre of the army, thus having attacked and been attacked throughout the day, stood firm at last—the field and forest floor before it and around it sirewa with its and the enemy's dead, and throbbing with its wounded. It had taken in the course of the day many prisoners; it held a larger part of the field than that occupied in the morning; its losses were severe.

The resolute and persevering enemy was not yet at rest, however, but now massed his troops for a final rush at the extreme right, where were posted the commands of Shaler and Seymour. On the extreme right, towards the river, a dark column wound its way out of the breastworks of the enemy, through the thick forests towards our right flank, moving with such deliberation that a working party was enabled to throw up a slight earthwork between themselves and our troops. A supporting column formed bebind this work. Between six and seven P. M., the attack burst with resistless force upon the troops of Shaler and Seymour, who were mostly captured, with their commanders, a few only escaping to Germania Ford. This disaster on the right exposed the whole army to imminent peril. Amid the panic, however, are seen Sedgwick and the officers upon his staff building up order ont of the ruin. The grand old commander-his hat off, his bridle dropped, a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other is an assurance of safety preventing further panic. The enemy come on, but to no further conquest. For there is a line of steel which cannot be broken-Neill's Brigade. Against it, as a billow against a rock, the exultant masses of the enemy fall and break, and are thrown back, and retire.

The disaster to the extreme right of the Sixth Corps was of a serious character, and might have proved fatal had the enemy been in a condition to follow up his advantage. But so dearly was the advantage gained that their effort to thrust themselves between us and the Germania Ford was left unprosecuted, even when it was nearest being successful. Artillery, however, had been posted to command the column of rebels, in case it should burst through and orer the right flank of our army. Our losses in this wing fell little below six thousand, of which four thousand, probably, occurred during the enemy's assault. Our losses in the Second Corps ranged in the neighborhood of three thousand. And our total losses in the two days' fighting were not far from fifteen thousand men. Those of the enemy were probably no less severe. In these battles there was an unusual proportion of wounded among the casualties, arising from the fact that so little artillery was used on either side. Among our general officers killed in the two battles were Hayes and Wadsworth; and on the rebel side, Jones and Jenkins, with Longstreet, Pegram, and Hunter severely wounded.

It is remarkable that in the official dispatches on both sides, including those of our Secretary of War and of General Lee, each army claimed to have “repelled the fierce attack of the enemy," rather than to have initiated the attack. At all events, it seems clear that both armies designed attack. On Tuesday our forces undoubtedly moved out to find the enemy, and discovered him advancing to oppose us. In like manner, it is certain that an attack both on the right and left was ordered for our forces at five A. M. on Friday. On the left it was made, but on the right it was anticipated by the enemy, who had the same intent, but had set the time of execution a few minutes earlier than we. The same mutual disposition to attack reappeared more than once during the day, and with marked emphasis in the afternoon, and at the attack on Hancock. It may be added, that this terrific infantry contest of Friday closed on a disputed field, neither army having gained great advantage, and friend and foe lying side by side over a broad stretch of territory in attestation of the equal fortune of the day. General Grant held substantially the same line as on Thursday evening, but he had strengthened it on the left. During the night, preparations were made to strengthen the right also, and to repair the disaster which the enemy's last charge had wrought on that flank. Except for this work, the night was comparatively quiet, our army lying silently along their hasty lines of rifle-pits, and the rebels still keeping their more formidable intrenchments on the edge of the woods, while the intervening space so often fought over was held by the dead and wounded of both the combatants.

Movement upon Spottsylvania.—The Enemy on the Alert.-Attack of May 10th.-

Death of Sedgwick.—Position of the Troops.—Grant "to Fight it out on that Line."
--Assault by the Second Corps on May 12th.-Large Captures of Prisoners and
Guns.-Results of the Struggle.—Sheridan's Cavalry Raid.—Death of General
Stuart.-Battle at Meadow Bridge.-Sheridan at the James River.

The morning of Saturday, May 7th, opened with an interchange of shot and shell. The right wing had been protected and strengthened in view of renewed attack. The morning wore away, however, with nothing of more importance than skirmishing. About noon a rather vigorous demonstration was made against our centre, and repelled by a portion of the Fifth Corps and a battery which obtained position in

the woods. Reconnoissances in the afternoon discovered that the main body of the enemy had fallen back some distance. Preparations were at once made for a further advance, but in view of the exertions of the last few days, a brief respite for rest was allowed. The following passage, written by an eye-witness, gives a graphic description of the scene at head-quarters at this moment: “The lieutenant-general here, at ihe foot of a tree, one leg of his trowsers slipped above his boois, his hands limp, his coat in coufusion, his sword equipments sprawling on the ground; not even the weight of sleep erasing that persistent expression of the lip which held a constant promise of some thing to be done. And there, at the foot of another tree, is General Meade-a military hat, with the rim turned down abuut his ears, tapping a scabbard with his fingers, and gazing abstractedly into the depths of the earth through eye-glasses that snould become historic. General IIumphreys, chief of staff—a spectacled, iron-gray, middle ayed officer, of' a pleasant smile and manner, who wears his trowsers below, after the manner of leggins, and is in all things independent and serene, paces vonder to and fro. That rather thick-set officer, with closely-trimmed whiskers, and the kiadest of eyes, who never be. trays a harsh impatience to any comer, is Adjutant-General Williams. General Hunt, chief of artillery, a hearty-faced, frank-handed man, whose black hair and whiskers have the least touch of time, lounges at the foot of another tree, holding lazy converse with one or two members of his staff. General Ingalls, chief quartermaster of the army, than whom no more imperturbable, efficient, or courteous presence is here, plays idly and smilingly with a riding-whip, tossing a telling word or two hither and thither. Staff officers and orderlies and horses thickly strew the grove.”

Amid these reposing men drops an occasional shell from the enemy, and as the day draws to a close there are signs of renewed activity. At dusk an order was issued for the whole army to move towards Spottsylvania Court-Hou-e, via Todd's Tavern. The Fifth Corps marched in advance, the Sixth Corps next, Ilancock and Burnside following. The Sixth Corps marched on the Chancellorsville road, reaching Piney Branch Church towards the latter part of Sunday furenoon, the 8th. A part of our trcops stretched across and occupied Fredericksburg, the Twenty-second New York Cavalry entering that city at eight o'clock on Saturday evening. A dépôt for our wounded was established there, and a basis for supplies arranged. Hancock's and Burnside's Corps pressed on, on Saturday night, resuming the chase again at daylight on Sunday morning, and camping at noon twenty miles away southerly from the Old Wilderness battle-field. The Fifih Corps, remaining till dark on the battle-ground, marched all Saturday night, though exhausted by the events of the four days and nights preceding, taking the Brock road past Todd's Tavern, towards Spottsylvania.

Jeanwhile the enemy's cavalry was on the alert, and Stuart reported to Lee that Grant bad resumed his flank movement, and that under cover of the thick woods he was throwing a force forward in the direction of Spottsylvania Court-House, on the direct road to Rich

mond. Orders were immediately issued for Anderson's Corps (late Longstreet's) to march at eleven o'clock at night for that place, and preparations were immediately made to put the whole army in motion for the same destination on the following day. The distance from the battle-field, which is near the western boundary of Spottsylvania County, to the Court-House, is fifteen miles. Warren's Corps left the Wilderness Tavern with Bartlett's Brigade in the advance as skirmishers. These pushed forward with confidence, but incautiously advancing, when near Spottsylvania Court-IIouse, beyond the main body, were assailed by a heavy fire and driven back with severe loss. General Robinson fell, wounded in the leg. A line of battle was then formed, with Griffin on the right, Robinson on the left, and on his left Crawford's and Wadsworth's (now Cutler's) Divisions. The troops in the rear were brought up, and a portion of the Sixth Corps formed on the right. Meantime, Ewell's Corps had joined Longstreet's (now Anderson's) at Spottsylvania Court-House, where Lee had succeedel in throwing his army in advance of Grant's movement to the same place. Hill's Corps had not yet arrived, but was hourly expected.

These events of the 7th were officially given to the public as follows :

“WASHINGTON, Monduy, My 9-4. P. M. "A bearer of dispatches from General Meade's head-quarters has just reached here. He states that Lee's army commenced falling back on the night of Friday. Our army commenced the pursuit on Saturday. The rebeis were in full retreat for Richmond by the direct road. Hancock passed through Spottsylvania Court-House at daylight yes. terday. Our head-quarters at noon yesterday were twenty miles south of the battlefield. We occupy Fredericksburg. 'The Twenty-second New York Cavalry occupied that place at eight o'clock last night. The dépôt for our wounded is established at Fredericksburg.

"EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of Wur."

Sunday night, the 8th, found the Union army intrenched, facing the enemy northwest of Spottsylvania Court-House in an irregular line. Monday, the 9th, was occupied by the two armies in getting into position and preparing for battle. There was more or less skirmishing throughout the day, and some artillery firing, which began at dawn. There were some changes in the disposition of the troops. The enemy's sharpshooters were very busy, depriving the Union army of many a valuable officer. General W. H. Norris, of the Sixth Corps, and numbers of others, were killed or wounded. The most severe loss was that of General Sedgwick,* who, accompanied by his staff, had walked

* John Sedgwick was born in Connecticut, I ville campaign, he stormed and captured Marve's abont 1515, anil graduated at West Point in 1837 Heights, in the rear of Fredericksburg, and sube He was brevetted captain and major for gallant sequently, after hard fighting against overwhelmiconduct in the Mexican war, and at the outbreaking numbers, succeeded in crossing the Rappaof the rebellion hold the position of lieutenant- hannock with his cominand. He had an honorcolonel of the Second United States Cavalry. He abie share in the Gettysbur, campaign, and in Was soon after promoted to the coloneley of the November, 1963, was publicly thanked by General Fourth Cavalry, and on August 31st was commiis. Meade for a well-executed maneuvre on the Rapi. sioned a brigadier-general of volunteers. As com- | dan, by which we captured a whole rebel division, minder of the Third Division of Sumner's Corps, with several guns and colors. lie died in the he participated in the Peninsnlar campaign, and manner described in the text, leaving a reputation particularly distingnished himself at Fair Oaks. as a brave, judicious, and accomplished officer, He was wounded at Antietam, was promoted in second to that of no man in the army. Ile seyDecember, 1862, to be a major-general of volun- eral times held temporary command of the Army teers, and in February, 1963, took command of of the Potomac, and more than once declined the the Sixth Army Corps. During the Chancellors- supreme command.

« 上一頁繼續 »