through the woods to his front," at the moment when he receives an order to break his line and move his troops by the flank. The attack on the right came at thirty minutes after 11 o'clock not later, if any reliance is to be placed as to time on the
battle-field upon the testimony of soldiers engaged. There seems to be on this point the concurrence of all witnesses.
Where are the troops who occupied the ground in the morning?
Negley was gone; Wood, who filled his place, had followed him; and Van Cleve was also marching.
The two brigades of Sheridan which were in line on the right are now taken out in obedience to this order, and are marching through the dense woods close in rear of the line of battle toward that same left which is swallowing the army. What is there to resist the coming attack? Two weak brigades of Davis, the remnant of the bloody fight of yesterday, 1,300 strong, and the brigade of Laiboldt, less in number than Davis' two. What is their position? Davis had the brigade in line which joined Wood, and behind breastworks, and the other he is just bringing into line as Wood's troops leave it, "two regiments being on it and the others closing to it." (General Davis' testimony.)
Laiboldt, who had been held as a reserve for Sheridan, is now ordered to support General Davis' right. Wilder's mounted infantry is in line, but the cavalry has not reported. So the reserve of the army is gone, and my own weak reserves, my only reliance for a second line have to be put on the first. An interval of two brigades separates Wilder from Laiboldt, and a division interval separates Davis from the nearest troops on his left.
Through these intervals the enemy's column's come against our little line; theirs is displayed, overreaching either flank three to one at least, says General Davis, and Colonel Wilder says the attack was made five lines deep. Could the result be for a moment in doubt, and for what it is General McCook responsible? What dispositions could he have made which he omitted? What skill in the officer, what courage of the troops could have availed? Troops marching by the flank in the presence of an enemy, covered by a line which is less than the intervals it exposes, must owe their safety to the forbearance of the foe. I do not state these matters in criticism of my military superior, but they are plain, incontrovertible facts, necessary for my vindication. Indeed, although the movement would have uncovered the Dry Valley road, I quite agree with the commanding general's conclusions as indicated in the preparatory order dated 10.10 a.m., "that the left must be held at all hazards, even if the right is drawn back to the present left." But it was too late, there was no opportunity to look for positions, for by the time the dispositions to send the troops were mad the enemy was advancing to the attack.
I have not another word as tot eh battle.
But the Court is required to investigate my conduct in leaving the field as well as in the battle.
I will not before a Court of soldiers answer the imputation, if it be implied, that any considerations of personal safety influenced my conduct. May I not without boasting say that I have faced death on too many fields, and in the presence of too many thousands of men, to require at this day any vindication of my composure or hardihood in action. It would be enough that the firing had terminated upon the right, and that all pursuit had ceased, to leave the question