Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
THE COUNCIL OF WAR ON THE SECOND DAY.
excellent position of Stevens's 12-pounders at the head of the ravine, which enabled him to sweep it, the arrival of Carroll's brigade sent unasked by Hancock,-a happy inspiration, as this line had been weakened to send supports both to Greene and Sickles,-and the failure of Rodes to cooperate with Early, caused the attack to miscarry. the cannoneers of the two batteries, so summarily ousted, rallied and recovered their guns by a vigorous attack-with pistols by those who had them, by others with handspikes, rammers, stones, and even fence-rails-the "Dutchmen" showing that they were in no way inferior to their "Yankee" comrades, who had been tauting them ever since Chancellorsville. After an hour's desperate fighting the enemy was driven our with heavy loss, Avery being among the killed. At the close of this second day a consultation of corps commanders was hld at Meade's headquarters. I was not present, although summoned, but was informed that the vote was unanimous tohold our lines and to await an attack for at least one day before taking the offensive, and Meade so decided. [Continuation on p. 369.]
THE COUNCIL OF WAR ON THE SECOND DAY.**BY JOHN GIBBON, MAJOR-GENERAL, U. S. V. SOON after all firing had ceased a staff-officer from army headquarters met General Hancock and myself and summoned us both to General Meade's headquarters, where a council was to be held. We at once proceeded there, and soon after our arrival all the corps commanders were assmebled in the little front room of the Liester House-Newton, who had been assigned to the command of the First Corps over Doubleday, his senior; Hancock, Second; Birney, Third; Sykes, Fifth; Sedgwick, who had arrived during the day with the Sixth, after a long march from Manchester; Howard, Eleventh; and Slocum, Twelfth, besides General Meade, General Butterfield, chif of staff; Warren, chief of engineers; A. W. Williams, Twelfth Corps, and myself, Second. It will be seen that two corps were doubly represented, the Second by Hancock and myself, and the Twelfth by Slocum and Williams. These twelve were all assembled in a little room not more than ten or twelve feet square, with a bed in one corner, a small table on one side, and a chair or two. Of course all could not sit down; some did, some lounged on the bed, and some stood up, while Warren, tired out and suffering from a wound in the neck, where a piece of shell had struck him, lay down in the corner of the room and went sound asleep, and I don't think heard any of the proceedings.
The discussion was at first very informal and in the shape of conversation, during which each one made comments on the fight and told what he knew of the condition of affairs. In the course of this discussion Newton expressed the opinion that "this was no place to fight a battle in." General Newton was an officer of engineers (since chief-engineer of the army), and was rated by me, and I suppose most others, very highly as a soldier. The assertion, therefore, coming from such a source, rather stratled me, and I eagerly asked what his objections to the position were. The objections he stated, as I recollect them, related to some minor details of the line, of which I knew nothing except so far as my own front was concerned, and with those I was satisfied; but the prevailing impression seemed to be that the place fr the battl had been in a measure selected for us. Here we are; now what is the best thing to do? It soon became evident that everybody was in favor of remaining where we were and giving battle there. General Meade himself said very little, except now and then to make some comment, but I cannot recall that he expressed any decided opinion upon any point, preferring apparently to listen to the conversation. After the discussion had lasted some time, Butter-field suggested that it would, perhaps, be well to formulate the question to be asked, and General Meade assenting he took a piece of paper, on which he had been making some memorandan, and wrote down a question; when he had done he read if off and formally proposed it to the council.
I had never been a member of a council of war before (nor have I been since) and did not feel very confident I was properly a member of this one; but I had engaged in the discussion, and found myself (Warren being asleep) the junior member in it. By the custom of war the junior member votes first, as on court-martial; and when Butterfield read off his question, the substance of which was, "Should the army remain in its present position or take up some other?" he assresed himself first to me for an answer. To say "Stay and fight" was toignore the objections made by General Newton, and I therefore answered somewhat in this way: "Remain here, andmake such correction in our position as may be deemed necessary, but take no step which evenlooks life retreat." The question was put to