« PreviousContinue »
Meade, remarking, however, that he (General dismount; the enemy are engaging your front; Sickles) would doubtless receive orders immedi- the council is over." . it was an unfortunate moately.
ment, as it proved, for a council of war. Sickles, Two P.M. came, and yet no orders. Why was putting spurs to his horse, flew back to his comthis? Other orders than those expected by Gen- mad, and, finding that Graham's brigade was not eral Sickles were, it appears, in preparation at advanced as far as he desired, he was pushing headquarters. It has since been stated, upon that brigade and a battery forward about a hununquestionable authority, that General Meade dred yards, when General Meade at length arhad decided upon a retreat, and that an order to rived on the field. The following colloquy ensued, withdraw from the position held by our army which I gathered from several officers present: was penned by his Chief of Staff, General But. “ Are you not too much extended, General ?” terfield, though happily its promulgation never said Meade. Can you hold this front?" Yes, took place. This order is probably on record in replied Sickles, “until more troops are brought the Adjutant-General's office.
up; the enemy are attacking in force, and I Meanwhile the enemy's columns were moving shall need support." General Meade then let rapidly around to our left and rear. These facts drop some remark, showing that his mind was were again reported to headquarters, but brought still wavering as to the extent of ground covered no response. Buford's cavalry had been massed by the Third corps. Sickles replied : “General, on the left, covering that flank with outposts, I have received no orders. I have made these and videttes were thrown forward on the Em- dispositions to the best of my judgment. Of metsburgh Road. While awaiting the expected course I shall be happy to modify them accordorders, Sickles made good use of his time in ing to your views.” No," said Meade, “I will levelling all the fences and stone walls, so as to send you the Fifth corps, and you may send for facilitate the movements of his troops and to fa- support from the Second corps.” “I shall need vor the operations of the cavalry. What, then, more artillery,” added Sickles. “Send for all was the surprise of Sickles to see of a sudden all you want,” replied Meade, "to the artillery rethe cavalry withdrawn, leaving his flank entirely serve. I will direct General Hunt to send you exposed! He sent an earnest remonstrance to all you ask for.” The conference was then abGeneral Meade, whose reply was that he did not ruptly terminated by a heavy shower of shells, intend to withdraw the cavalry, and that a part probably directed at the group, and General of this division (Buford's) should be sent back. Meade rode off. Sickles received no further orIt never returned. Under these circumstances, ders that day. There is no doubt, I may venSickles threw forward three regiments of light ture to add, that Sickles's line was too much extroops as skirmishers and for outpost duty. The tended for the number of troops under his comcritical moment had now arrived. The enemy's mand; but his great aim was to prevent the enemovements indicated their purpose to seize the my getting between his flank and the Roundtop Roundtop Hill; and this in their possession, Gen- alluded to. This was worth the risk, in his opineral Longstreet would have had easy work in ion, of momentarily weakening his lines. The cutting up our left wing. To prevent this disas- contest now going on was of the most fierce and ter, Sickles waited no longer for orders from Gen- sanguinary description. The entire right wing eral Meade, but directed General Hobart Ward's of the enemy was concentrated on the devoted brigade and Smith's battery (Fourth New-York) Third corps; for the object of Lee, as he states, to secure that vital position, and at the same time was "to carry the ground which Sickles occu advancing his line of battle about three hundred pied, and which both generals evidently regarded yards, so as to hold the crest in his front, he ex- as of the highest importance. While this terrific tended his left to support Ward and cover the combat was raging on our left, Lee ordered Ewell threatened rear of the army.
" to attack” our right wing, and Hill “ to threatThese dispositions were made in the very face en” our centre, both with the object, as he says of the enemy, who were advancing in columns in his report, to divert reënforcements from reachof attack, and Sickles dreaded lest the conflict ing our left, which, as we have seen, Longstreet should open before his dispositions were com- was “directed to carry.” Well may General pleted. At this juncture he was summoned to Meade, in his report, say, "The Third corps susreport in person at headquarters to attend a coun- tained the shock most heroically;" for they fought cil of corps commanders. His preparations were like lions, against tremendous odds, for nearly of such moment and the attack so near that Gen- an hour before the Fifth corps came up under eral Sickles delayed attending the council
, while Sykes, who was immediately put in position by giving all his attention to the carrying out of his General Sickles to the left of the Third corps, and orders. A second peremptory suinmons came General Sykes was desired to relieve Ward's brifrom General Meade, and, leaving his unfinished gade and Smith's battery on the Roundtop, and task to the active supervision of General Birney hold the line from thence to Birney's left, (First and General Humphreys, Sickles rode off to the division, Third corps.). Strange to say, this rear to headquarters. Before he had reached movement was not promptly carried out, and there, the sound of cannon announced that the there was imminent danger of losing the Roundbattle had begun. Hastening rapidly on, he was top, for Longstreet was making desperate exermet by General Meade at the door of his quar- tions to “carry it." Fearing this result, Sickles ters; who said: “General, I will not ask you to 'sent orders to General Crawford, of the Fifth
corps, to reēnforce Ward's brigade, but he de street was reinforced by Pickett's three brigades, clined to move without orders from his own corps and further supported by one division and two commander, Sykes ; but Captain Moore, of Sick. brigades from Hill's corps. les's staff, at length overcame his scruples, and In addition to this heavy mass of infantry, the he reached the disputed point just in time to pre- entire artillery of the rebel army was concentrated vent its falling into the enemy's hands. Consid- against our left. After his oversight of the day ering our force unequal to the exigency, Sickles befote, it may be supposed that General Meade called on the heroic troops of the Second corps was better prepared to defend his left, and had for support, and they gave it with a will. The made adequate preparations. About one P. M. the struggle now became deadly. The columns of enemy opened a furious cannonade upon our left Longstreet charged with reckless fury upon our and left centre, which continued some two hours, troops; but they were met with a valor and stern with occasional responses from us. At about three fortitude that defied their utmost efforts. An P.M., the enemy moved forward in column, and alarming incident, however, occurred. Barnes's once more essayed to carry our position on the division, of the Fifth corps, suddenly gave way; left
. It was during this conflict that General and Sickles, seeing this, put a battery in position Hancock, commander of the Second corps, a galto check the enemy if he broke through this gap lant soldier and accomplished officer, was woundon our front, and General Birney was sent to or- ed by a musket-ball and obliged to retire. He der Barnes back into line. "No," he said ; “im- contributed greatly by his energy and valor to possible. It is too hot. My men cannot stand the success of the day. Meanwhile our artillery it.” Remonstrance was unavailing, and Sickles opened with vigor and inflicted great damage. despatched his aids to bring up any troops they After a severe and prolonged struggle, the enemy met to fill this blank. Major Tremaine, of his at length fell back and abandoned the contest. staff, fell in with General Zook, at the head of “Owing to the strength of the enemy's position," his brigade, (Second corps,) and this gallant offli- says Lee's report, “and the reduction of our amcer instantly volunteered to take Barnes's place. munition, a renewal of the engagement could not When they reached the ground, Barnes's disor- be hazarded." llence it is plain that our good dered troops impeded the advance of the brigade. fortune in preserving our position on the left “ If you can't get out of the way,” cried Zook, gave us the victory at Gettysburgh; and yet “lie down and I will march over you.” Barnes Ge Meade, not having sufficiently examined ordered his men to lie down, and the chivalric the ground before the battle, disregarded the reZook and his splendid brigade, under the per- peated warnings of that sagacious officer, General sonal direction of General Birney, did march over Sickles, as well as the report of his own Chief of them right into the breach. Alas! poor Zook Artillery, General Hunt, who concurred in all the soon fell, mortally wounded, and half of his bri- suggestions of the commander of the Third corps. gade perished with him. It was about this time-Without meaning to do injustice to General near seven P.M.—that Sickles was struck by a Meade, it must be admitted that his report of cannon-ball that tore off his right leg, and he was this great battle is at such variance with all the borne from the field.
statements which have appeared in the press, It was now pretty clear that General Meade that it is due not only to history, but to the inhad awakened to the fact which he treated with domitable prowess of our heroic army, that every such indifference when pressed on him by Sick- fact sustained by concurrent testimony should les in the morning—that our left was the assail- be given in order to fully establish the truth. I able point, if not the key to our position ; for he reserve for any suitable occasion abundant docubegan to pour in reënforcements whose presence mentary evidence to support the facts furnished. in the beginning of the action would have saved On Saturday, July fourth, both armies continthousands of lives. “Perceiving great exertions ued to face each other during the entire day; on the part of the enemy,” says Meade's report, without either manifesting a disposition to at“the Sixth corps (Sedgwick's) and part of the tack. “The enemy," says Meade,“ drew back First corps, (Newton's) Lockwood's Maryland his left flank, but maintained his position in front brigade, together with detachments from the Se- of our left," as if always conscious that our vulcond corps, were all brought up at different peri- nerable point was there, and they were loth to ods, and succeeded, together with the gallant re- retire from it. On the night of the fourth, Lee, sistance of the Fifth corps, in checking and finally finding his ammunition exhausted, and his subrepulsing the assault of the enemy, who retired sistence imperilled, decided to withdraw, and he in confusion and disorder about sunset, and ceased began his retreat toward Williamsport, with four any further efforts.” If this remarkable concen- thousand of our prisoners, and all his immense tration of troops was necessary, at last, to save trains. On the morning of the fifth, this event the left of our army, it is almost incredible that became known, and General Meade despatched the single corps of General Sickles was able to the Sixth corps in pursuit, together with some withstand the impetuous onset of Longstreet's squadrons of cavalry. " The fifth and sixth of legions for nearly an hour before any succor July were employed,” says Meade's report, "in reached it.
succoring the wounded and burying the dead." On Friday, July third, the enemy renewed The enemy made good use of all this precious their efforts to carry out the original design of time in pushing on toward Williamsport as rapidLee by overthrowing our left wing, and Long- I ly as possible; and it was fortunate for them that
detachments were not detailed for these solemn 'no saying what might have happened. General and affecting duties, and that our whole army Longstreet talked to me,” he narrates, "for a was not launched in prompt and eager pursuit. long time about the battle. The General said, They were burdened by heavy trains filled with the mistake Lee had made was in not concentratplunder, without ammunition, and woefully demo- ing the army more and making the attack with ralized. Had the half of our army, flushed with thirty thousand men instead of fifteen thousand. success, fallen on them in flank or rear, or any. It is impossible to avoid seeing,” adds the English where, or any how, General Lee might have got officer, " that the cause of this check to the conacross the Potomac, but his army never. “ The federates lies in their utter contempt for the enetrains, with the wounded and prisoners,” says my." He continues : “Wagons, horses, mules, Lee's report,
"were compelled to await at Wil- and cattle, captured in Pennsylvania—the solid liamsport (about the eighth of July) the subsid- advantages of this campaign-have been passing ing of the river and the construction of boats. . slowly along this road (Fairfield) all day, (July The enemy had not yet made his appearance." fourth.) So interminable was this train, that it The rebel army must have trembled with anxiety soon became evident that we should not be able lest the dreaded Yankees should heave in sight to start. As soon as it became dark, we all lay before they could escape over the swollen Po- around a big fire, and I heard reports coming in tomac, which Providence seemed to have destin- from the different generals that the enemy was ed as the place of their surrender. It was not retiring, and had been doing so all day long. till the twelfth of July, that our army, too long But this, of course, could make no difference to delayed, came up; but, unfortunately, the enemy General Lee's plans. Ammunition he must have, had nearly finished their preparations for flight. as he had failed to capture it from the enemy, “ An attack,” says Lee, was awaited during according to precedent. Our progress," he conthat and the succeeding day. This did not take tinues, " was naturally very slow, indeed, and place, though the two armies were in close prox- we took eight hours to go as many miles." imity." Why it did not take place, the country I will close these extracts with the following has never yet understood. General Meade, in graphic sketch of a “stampede” which occurred his report, gives no explanation. The press of on Monday, July sixth, about seven P.M., and the day stated that General Meade again held demonstrates most unequivocally the utter decouncils of war at this supreme moment, and moralization of the confederate army: that several of his generals opposed falling on “About seven P.M.," the writer states, the crippled enemy. All we know is that Lee, rode through Hagerstown, in the streets of which having completed his preparations, slipped quiet- were several dead horses and a few dead men. ly over the river on the morning of the four- After proceeding about a mile beyond the town, teenth. “ The crossing was not completed until we halted, and General Longstreet sent four cavone P.m.," says Lee, “when the bridge was re- alrymen up a lane, with directions to report moved. The enemy offered no serious interrup- every thing they saw. We then dismounted and tion, and the movement was attended with no lay down. About ten minutes later (being nearloss of materiel except a few disabled wagons ly dark) we heard a sudden rush---a panic-and and two pieces of artillery, which the horses then a regular stampede commenced, in the were unable to drag through the deep mud.” It midst of which I descried our four cavalry heseems that General Meade and the recalcitrant roes crossing a field as fast as they could gällop. members of the council of war finally made up All was now complete confusion-officers mounttheir minds to attack. “But on advancing on ing their horses and pursuing those which had the morning of the fourteenth,” reports General got loose, and soldiers climbing over fences for Meade, it was ascertained he (the enemy) had protection against the supposed advancing Yanretired the night previous by the bridge at Fall- kees. In the midst of the din I heard an artiling Waters and the ford at Williamsport.” lery officer shouting to his cannoneers to stand
In striking confirmation of the sketch now by him and plant the guns in a proper position given of this important battle, it may be interest- for enfading the lane. I also distinguished ing to quote a few brief extracts from the diary Longstreet walking about, hustled by the excitof a British officer, who was a guest of General ed crowd, and remarking, in angry tones, which Lee during the campaign in Pennsylvania, and could scarcely be heard, and to which no attenwhich was published in Blackrood's Magazine, tion was paid, “Now, you don't know what it is in September last. The writer was an eye-wit- -you don't know what it is !! While the row ness of the battle of Gettysburgh, and the hearty and confusion were at their height, the object of praise he lavishes upon the confederate troops all this alarm, at length, emerged from the dark and their generals, shows that all his sympathies lane in the shape of a dornestic four-wheeled carwere with the South, and he takes no pains to riage, with a harmless load of females. The conceal his prejudices against the North. Speak- stampede had, however, spread, increased in the ing of the moment when the columns of Long- rear, and caused much harm and delay.” street had been finally repulsed by our left, on It is to be hoped that the above narrative will Friday afternoon, July third, he says: It is be regarded as dispassionate, as it is meant to be difficult to exaggerate the critical state of affairs, impartial. Some slight errors may have crept as they appeared about this time. If the enemy in; but this may possibly stimulate others to or his general had shown any enterprise, there is come forward with a rectification. Had General
Meade been more copious in his report, and less the battle on most unfortunate ground. It hard. reserved as to his own important acts, the neces- ly seems possible that one who has ever seen sity for this communication would not have ex- the ground can gainsay this. isted.
HISTORICUS. When General Sickles moved forward his
corps, on the afternoon of the second of July,
from its appropriate place in the general line, he The article of “ Historicus," on the battle of excited the astonishment of the thousands of Gettysburgh, closes by saying: “Some slight er- lookers on. It was a magnificent sight, but exrors may have crept in, but this may possibly cited the gravest apprehension, and the writer stimulate others to come forward with a rectifi- well recollects the remarks made at the time by cation.” It is hoped, therefore, that the follow- some prominent officers. The right of his line ing short “rectification" may find a place in your was entirely disconnected from the Second corps, columns.
leaving an interval of from one half, to one quarThe first statement of “Historicus” to which ter of a mile. General Gibbon, commanding the I give my attention is the indirect assertion that Second corps, at this moment threw forward into the arrival of the Third division of the Third this interval two regiments of infantry and a batcorps, about four o'clock in the afternoon, on the tery, which were nearly destroyed when the field, put an end to the conflict on the first shock fell on Sickles's corps. A like interval was of July, and relieved the First and Eleventh left between the right of the Fifth corps and the corps from imminent peril. The facts are, that left of the Third. In this position, with no conthere was no fighting, save light skirmishing, nection on his right or left, General Sickles beafter three o'clock in the afternoon, and that came engaged. Had the Second and Fifth corps General Sickles's command did not make its ap- been moved up to conform to this line, the batpearance till nearly six o'clock. One division of tle would have been delivered in front of the the Twelfth corps, under General Geary, which strong features of the ground, and could hardly “ Historicus” says was four miles in the rear of have helped being disastrous. the battle-field, had already been placed by Gen- Through the intervals above described the eral Hancock in or near the position taken up by enemy penetrated with determination, pressing the Third corps on its arrival. I may remark on until they were checked nearly on the origihere that “Historicus” studiously avoids men- nal line--on the one flank by the Fifth corps and tioning General Hancock's name in his account on the other by the Second. In the attempt to of the operations of July first-a very strange extricate General Sickles from his unfortunate mistake for an "eye-witness.” When General position, these two corps lost nearly three thouSickles arrived at Gettysburgh, General Howard sand men. was not the commanding officer, and had not “Historicus" asserts that General Sickles callbeen for some time. He was first superseded by ed on the heroic troops of the Second corps for General Hancock, by virtue of the written order support, etc. The truth is this: One division of of General Meade, and afterward by the arrival the Second corps, under Brigadier-General Caldof General Slocum, his superior in rank. The well, was sent to report to Major-General Sykes, account is very much like the play of Hamlet of the Fifth corps, and was posted by one of his with the part of the Prince of Denmark omitted. staff-officers. This division became heavily en
The next statement which I notice is, that a gaged with the force of the enemy that had turned conference of “leading generals” took place, Sickles' flank, and was overpowered. The blow when some insisted on falling back on Taney- then fell on General Ayres's division, of the Fifth town, etc. It would be interesting to know, who corps, which lost over fifty per cent of its numnthe “ leading generals” referred to, were. It is bers, holding its position most obstinately. said, indeed, that General Howard, who enjoys General Zook, so highly complimented by in the estimation of the public-I will not say "Historicus," commanded a brigade of Caldwell's how justly—the honors of the day, had decided division. to retreat from Gettyburgh. But it is certainly When night fell, our lines were where they true, that the leading general, Major-General were first established, and where the next day's Hancock, entertained no such proposition, after attack was received; but the gallant dead of the he assumed command, and long before the arriv- Third corps were so far to the front that large al of General Sickles, had selected the lines of numbers of them remained within the enemy's battle, on which the troops were established as lines until after Lee retreated. they came up. The left of that line was Round- I have no disposition to pursue further the extop Hill, and its general direction was that of the amination of "Historicus's" article. I have enridge connecting Roundtop, Cemetery, and Culp's deavored to show that, instead of saving the Hills, and was held by the Second and Third army, General Sickles nearly ruined it by a sad corps.
error-an unaccountable one. He inust have “ Historicus now endeavors to create the im- known that to hold the lines he assumed the pression that the ridge or elevated ground con- grave responsibility of moving on to, necessitated necting the left of the Second corps was far to an entire change of the position of the troops his front.
on his right and left, and this at the moment I assert that General Sickles moved from the when the enemy had already massed his columns ridge described by “ Historicus," and precipitated for the attack. Pray where would the most zeal
ous defender of General Sickles have placed the
Doc. 63. Second corps in such a contingency? Not on
TREATMENT OF SOUTHERNERS. the ground that it held on the third against Longstreet. That was no place for it, nor is there a
GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN'S LETTER. just defence for the movements of General Sick
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, les. ANOTHER EYE-WITNESS.
VICKSBURGII, January 31.
the Tennessee, Huntsville :
DEAR Sawyer: In my former letter I have Doc. 62.
answered all your questions save one, and that
relates to the treatment of inhabitants, known or GENERAL DANA'S PROCLAMATION.
suspected to be hostile, or
This is in HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Texas,
truth the most difficult business of oar army, as Pass Cavallo, Jan. 30, 1864. it advances and occupies the Southern country. GENERAL ORDERS, No. 14.
It is almost impossible to lay down rules, and I It is known to the world that, on the eighth invariably leave this whole subject to the local day of December, ultimo, the President of the commanders, but ain willing to give them the United States published a proclamation which benefit of my acquired knowledge and experience. touched the heart and inspired the tongue of In Europe, whence we derive our principles of every lover of liberty on the civilized earth. Its war, as developed by their histories, wars are beburden is pardon and liberty.—“Thy sins be for- tween kings or rulers, through hired armies, and given thee." “Let the oppressed go free." not between peoples. These remain, as it were,
Such parental care of a people has not been neutral, and sell their produce to whatever army exhibited to the world since the patriarchal days is in possession. of old-not since the Saviour of nien cried to the Napoleon, when at war with Prussia, Austria, multitude: “Come unto me all ye that labor and and Russia, bought forage and provisions of the are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' inhabitants, and consequently had an interest to
In order that the deluded and oppressed peo- protect farms and factories which ministered to ple of this State may be enlightened and informed his wants. In like manner, the allied armies on the subject, and may rejoice at the dawning in France could buy of the French inhabitants of day from behind the black night which has whatever they needed, the produce of the soil or surrounded them in darkness which might be manufactures of the country. Therefore, the felt and enabled the evil spirits to work upon rule was and is, that wars are confined to the them, it is directed that a sufficient number armies, and should not visit the homes of families of copies of the President's Proclamation be or private interests. printed, at these headquarters, to supply what- But, in other examples, a different rule obever demand there may be for the same, coming tained the sanction of historical authority. I from each and every company in the command; will only instance that, when, in the reign of and all officers and men are desired to use every William and Mary, the English army occupied opportunity which properly presents itself, to Ireland, then in a state of revolt, the inhabitants distribute them in the interior of the State. were actually driven into foreign lands, and were
It is further ordered that all persons, now or actually dispossessed of their property, and a hereafter within the lines, who have ever claimed new population introduced. To this day, a large to be citizens of the United States, or of the so- part of the north of Ireland is held by the decalled confederate States, or who have aided or scendants of the Scotch emigrants, sent there by comforted the rebels in their hostility against William's order and an act of Parliament. the United States, and who have not, since the The war which prevails in our land is essencommencement of the rebellion, taken an oath tially a war of races. The Southern people enterrenewing their allegiance to the United States, ed into a clear compact of government, but still may have the opportunity of enjoying the full maintained a species of separate interests, hisbenefits of the said proclamation, by voluntarily tory, and prejudices. These latter became strongtaking the oath therein contained.
er and stronger, till they have led to a war which The provost-marshal is required to take a cen- has developed fruits of the bitterest kind. sus of the population now within the lines, in We of the North are, beyond all question, right order that such persons as may not wish to en- in our lawful cause, but we are not bound to igjoy the benefits of the proclamation, may be nore the fact, that the people of the South have known, and be assigned a convenient place of prejudices which form part of their nature, and residence where they will not have opportunity which they cannot throw off without an effort to do injury to the cause for which we fight. of reason or the slower process of natural change. He will proceed, in the most thorough manner Now, the question arises, Should we treat as abpossible, and will give public notice of his orders solute enemies all in the South who differ from and regulations to consummate the end in view, us in opinion or prejudice, kill or banish them; and will report, on the tenth day of February, or, should we give them time to think, and graproximo, the list of those persons who refuse the dually change their conduct so as to conform to benefits of the proclamation.
the new order of things, which is slowly and By order of 'Major-General N. J. T. Dana. gradually creeping into their country?