War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0078 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

Search Civil War Official Records

ently to march around the line and advance to the crest, which was the object to be gained-Cemetery Hill. After a time I saw those troops go back again toward the right, coming in still behind that line of battle standing. Directly after this I was requested by General Warren to ride to the fifteen-gun battery to see what chance offered me to put my division in on the left of the troops still standing as I described. I went there, made an examination, turned to General Warren and stated to him that as the troops were massed in our old line in rear of the mine in great crowds it wounds be very difficult to march my division through there unless they made a way for me, but if a way was made I could march my division by the flank, face it to the left, sweep down to the left, carry a certain battery there was firing across, and clean out the rifle-pits they occupied. General Warren rode with me a second time there, immediately after this; first my division was ordered to be closed up as soon as possible to be in readiness; then we rode together to the fifteen-gun battery. As we crossed the field between this five-gun battery and the fifteen-gun battery I saw the negro troops coming back to the rear like a sandslide. By the time we got to the corner of the fifteen-gun battery numbers of them were sweeping through that, sweeping around from different quarters, some one side and some another, some into the covered ways, and some into the field between. A close observation assured me that that line of battle which I first described was replaced by the enemy in the rifle-pits on the right of the mine; I saw their battle-flags, and their bullets fell around us. Some one then proposed that General Warren should immediately put in the Fifth Corps at that moment; General Warren and myself concluded that the time was passed; they had lost what they had excepting those men who were left in the crater; and immediately after that we rode to our position at the five-gun battery, and I received notice that the movement was suspended, and a few moments after orders to send my division to its camp.

Question. Please to relate some of the chief causes of failure on that occasion?

Answer. Firstly, those troops that went to make their attack seemed to be going out simply by the right flank from two covered ways; therefore the heads of regiments arrived at the crater in that condition, when there should have been a line of battle arriving there. These men rushed into the crater, and a considerable amount of time was lost in endeavoring to get troops in some formation to advance properly in line of battle. Arrangements should have been made that when that mine was sprung the troops which were to make the assault to carry the crest, which looked down upon the city, should advance in line of battle, so that they would have been in hand and subject to the command of their officers. That, in my judgment, was the principal cause of the failure. The commencement of the assault, in my judgment, was the cause of its entire failure. If those dispositions had been made, and those troops had advanced in line of battle instead of in columns of regiments, I believe they would have taken that crest. There was a great deal of work which should have been done along our old line nearest to the crater, and to the south of the line of the gallery, so that troops could have readily marched forwarded least in two regiments abreast. That being done, and those troops advanced as I described, I believe they would have taken that crest readily, and I believe, that then the supports would have been thrown in promptly, that crest would have been held, and success would have crowned the operation. After it was clear that the thing had failed I think that prompt orders should have been given to withdraw, in one rapid movement, all the troops left in the crater, to bring them out in one body rapidly, back to their lines.

TESTIMONY OF MAJOR-GENERAL WARREN.

Major General G. K. WARREN, U. S. Volunteers, sworn, says:

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. General, were you present at the assault on the 30th of July, the day the mine was sprung, near this place, and, if so, in what capacity?

Answer. I was there in command of the Fifth Corps.

Question. Will you please to state what in your opinion were some of the chief causes of that failure?

Answer. To mention them all at once, I never saw sufficient good reasons why it should succeed. I never had confidence in its success. The position was taken in reserve by batteries, and we must, as a matter of course, have expected a heavy fire of artillery when we gained the crest, though we did not get near enough to develop what that would be. I never should have planned it, I think.