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complete surprises they struck the enemy's flank; and crushing his array as they swept forward majestically, drove everything before them like chaff before the wind. Brigade after brigade fled from the Federal works, and, attempting, one after another, to wheel around into line in order to check the advance, was borne back under the rapidity of Gordon's movement before the seething mass that struggled down upon it in
Gordon swept all before him for a distance along the enemy's line of two miles. The forest through which he advanced was so dense with undergrowth, that by the setting in of nightfall he had become separated from his supports. Pegram's brigade paused, however, after nightfall, upon his left. He paused before he had completed a movement that, if undertaken earlier in the day, would have completely routed at least the Federal right. The enterprise, notwithstanding its incompleteness, was crowned with brilliant success. The Confederate loss in that service numbered, in killed and wounded, but twenty-seven. To the enemy, the results involved terrible slaughter. Four hundred Federalists were buried next day in the ground over which that admirable movement had been made.
The field for two miles in extent was strewn with trophies, flung wildly away-knapsacks, blankets, cartouche-boxes, cooking utensils, and even large supplies of abandoned rations. The route was one of indescribable panic. The woods in front were alive with masses of men struggling to escape with life. The Sixth corps of the Army of the Potomac was so completely broken up that, unable to restore its spirit, Gordon bivouacked for the night in its immediate front, in undisturbed repose. A brilliant stroke thus closed on Ewell's front the second day of the battle of the Wilderness in a crowning triumph.
Victory smiled during the night of the 6th of May on the warriors that lay sleeping, from right to left, behind Lee's works. The losses of the Confederates in killed, wounded, and missing, do not exceed, for the two days, six thousand.
The results to the enemy in some parts of the field cannot be described by any word less forcible than massacre. Eleven hundred and twenty-five Federal dead were buried in front of
Ewell's line lying to the left of the turnpike. Five hundred more were buried on the right of that road; and, in addition to about one hundred dead officers, whose bodies must have been removed, the number of corpses lying on the field, within range of the enemy's sharpshooters, is estimated at fully three hundred. The Federal killed in the struggle on the right may, therefore, be declared positively, to number as many as two thousand. I have no data on which to estimate the breadth of the slaughter in the fierce conflicts of the right; but from the stubbornness and volume of these, feel quite confident that they must have added to the slain as awful an account as that rendered in front of Ewell. With three thousand prisoners and four thousand dead, the usual proportion of six or seven to one for the wounded, would show that the losses of Grant in the battle of the Wilderness, cannot have been less than thirty thousand men.
General Lee in attempting to lead Gregg's Texans into the jaws of death, has given history a striking proof of the attachment of his troops to his person. The world did not, however, want any evidence of his own devotion; and can hardly fail to pronounce judgment against his course on that occasion as one of rashness. His exposure during the present campaign has been so unusual, and apparently so unnecessary, as to have impressed his troops with profound concern. The explosion of a shell under his own horse, the killing of the horse of his Adjutant General, Lieutenant-colonel Taylor, and the wounding of another officer attached to his person, Lieutenant-colonel Marshall, have had the depressing effect of a deep anxiety on he morale of his army. The President, sharing the general apprehension in and out of the field for the safety of General Lee, has, I am glad to say, written to him a touching letter of remonstrance. The relations, private and public, of the two men, will, no doubt, give great weight to that protest, notwithstanding it comes from a man who, though charged in a struggle for all that is dear to a freeman with the fate of millions, had, under an error of his own devotion, but just returned from alarming exposure to the terrible missiles that screamed, and burst, and crashed in thunder-claps around Drury's Bluff.