War of the Rebellion: Serial 072 Page 0199 Chapter L. REPORTS, ETC.-ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND.

Search Civil War Official Records

position, it being doubted whether or not this was a portion of the enemy's main line. I opened upon it a concentrated artillery fire from as many guns as I could bring to bear, and immediately afterward advanced a strong skirmish line, which drove the enemy within his works, and developed a heavy artillery and musketry fire. By this operation I advanced our lines, particularly on the extreme right, to very close proximity to the rebel works. These proved to be his main lines, covered by troublesome abatis and other entanglements.

June 24, 25, and 26, the corps remained in the same position.

June 27, in General Thomas' special field orders, of June 26, I was required to assault the enemy's works at some point near the left of General Stanely's division. General Palmer, with his column on my right, was directed to carry the enemy's works in his front. The whole movement was to take place at 8 a. m. After a careful examination of the ground, I found only two points where the troops could have a reasonable cover in Stanely's front, and decided to make two columns of attack. Brigadier-General Harker led one column and General Wagner another, while General Kimball moved in support in echelon with Wagner's brigade. These columns had each a regimental division front, and were separated by about 100 yards interval. The whole of Stanely's and Wood's as were free to move were massed in support. The artillery of the corps was so placed as to bring a heavy fire on the points of attack. General Palmer's arrangements were made simultaneous with mine. The artillery opened from all points an continued firing for about fifteen minutes. At a preconcerted signal the columns pushed rapidly forward, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, and were not checked until they reached the entanglements in front of the enemy's works. At this place the artillery and infantry fire became so galling that the advance was stopped. General harker is reported to have made a second advance,when he received the wound which caused his death. Some of his men succeeded in reaching the enemy's works, but failed to secure a lodgment. As soon as it became evident that the enemys' intrenchments could not be carried by assault the command was directed to resume its former position. Our losses were very heavy, particularly in valuable officers. I call special attention to the report of Brigadier-General Newton of this attack, and to his opinion as to the causes of its being unsuccessful. My experience is that a line of works thoroughly constructed, with the front well covered with abatis and other entanglements, well manned with infantry, whether with our own or that of the enemy, cannot be carried by direct assault. The exceptions are where some one of the above conditions is wanting or where the defenders are taken by surprise. The strength of such a line is, of course increased by well-arranged batteries. Notwithstanding the probabilities against success, it is sometimes necessary to assault strong works, as has occurred in several instances during the present campaign.

From June 28 to July 2, inclusive, preparations were made and partially executed for resting the left of the entire army opposite the southern extremity of Little Kenesaw, so as to extend the right and turn the enemy's left flank. The enemy, doubtless perceiving these movements, evacuated his position in our front on the night of the 2d.