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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 36, Part 1 (Wilderness-Cold Harbor)

at about 2 p. m. So soon as Hancock arrived he was directed to attack with Getty, which was done at first successfully, the enemy, however, offering stubborn resistance. Mott's division, Second Corps, gave way, when Brigadier General Alexander Hays, in going to repair the break in the line, was shot dead while gallantly leading his command in the thickest of the fight. The enemy's columns being seen moving over to the Orange plank road, Wadsworth's division and Baxter's brigade of the Fifth Corps were sent in that direction to take position and attack in conjunction with Hancock. They did not arrive, however, in time before dark to do more than drive in the enemy's skirmishers and confront him. Toward evening the Sixth Corps made its way through the dense thicket and formed connection with the Fifth, but nothing decisive was accomplished by either corps.

Orders were given on the night of the 5th for each corps to attack promptly at 5 a. m. the next day. I was advised by the lieutenant-general commanding that the Ninth Corps, Major-General Burnside, was ordered up and would attack at the same hour, going in between the Orange plank road and the turnpike. On the 6th, the attacks were made as ordered, but without any particular success on the part of either the Fifth or Sixth Corps. On the plank road the attack of Wadsworth's and Getty's divisions and Hancock's corps was quite successful, and the enemy was driven up the road in confusion and disorder for more than a mile, when, Longstreet's corps coming up, the tide of battle was turned, and our victorious line was forced back to its former position on the Brick road, the gallant Wadsworth falling mortally wounded while exerting himself to rally the retiring columns. The brave Getty was also severely wounded early in the action, though refusing for some time to leave the field.

Soon after Hancock fell back; about 2 p. m., Burnside attacked toward the Orange plank road to the right and in advance of Hancock's position, but the enemy being able to meet the assault with his whole force, Burnside was unable to produce any impression, and after evening withdrew and took a position between the Second and Fifth Corps. Just before dark the enemy moved a considerable force around the right of the Sixth Corps, held by Ricketts' division, and, in conjunction with a demonstration in front, succeeded in forcing this division back in some confusion, making prisoners of General Seymour and Shaler and a number of men. This substantially terminated the battle of the Wilderness, for the next day, May 7, Hancock advancing found the enemy had withdrawn from his immediate front, and on pushing forward found him in a strong entrenched line near Parker's Store, connecting with his entrenched line on the turnpike.

On the 5th, Wilson's division of cavalry moved from Parker's Store toward the Catharpin road, and when the infantry was concentrated to meet the advancing enemy Wilson became isolated and was attacked by the enemy's cavalry. He, however, succeeded in cutting his way through and rejoining Sheridan.

On the 6th, Sheridan held the left flank and rear of the army, repulsing all of Stuart's attempts to penetrate around our flanks, and on the 7th, concentrating his command at Todd's Tavern, Sheridan attacked and drove for some distance the enemy's cavalry, inflicting on him severe losses.

The lieutenant-general commanding, on the 7th, directing a further

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 36, Part 1 (Wilderness-Cold Harbor)
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