War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0096 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

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Question. Ought the assault on that day to have been successful?

Answer. I think so; I was confident that it would have been successful.


Brigadier General H. J. HUNT, U. S. Volunteers, chief of artillery, Army of the Potomac, being duly sworn,says in answer to question by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Please to state in what capacity you were serving during the assault on the enemy's lines on the 30th of July and days preceding it.

Answer. I am chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, and had charge of the siege operations on this side of the Appomattox.

Question. Relate briefly what arrangements were made for opposing the enemy's artillery fire on that occasion, and if they were successfully carried out.

Answer. Batteries that had been constructed several weeks preceding the assault had armaments placed in them, from the plank road to the Hare house. There were eighteen siege guns in the line, eighteen large mortars, and twenty-eight Coehorns along in the lines in front, and some eighty field pieces. The object was to silence the fire of the enemy's batteries in the redoubt which formed their salient on the plank road, and especially all of their guns which bore upon the ground in front of the mine. The fire was opened immediately upon the explosion of the mine, and was very successful in keeping down the enemy's fire.

Question. Was the enemy's artillery fire formidable, and particularly directed to the point of our assault, after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. The fire did not become very formidable. It was almost entirely silenced soon after it opened, with the exception of one gun in a battery next to the mine, and a battery on the crest beyond the mine, and a few guns that were used by the enemy on our right of the mine, and a few guns that were used by the enemy on our right of the mine toward the railroad. The gun that was in the work next the mine was so placed that it was protected from all direct fire, and a sufficient number of mortars could not be brought to bear upon it to stop it. No large mortars had been placed to control that battery, as, according to the plan of assault, that work might reasonably be supposed to fall into our hands within ten or fifteen minutes after the explosion. All the guns in that battery were silenced, however, excepting that one. The battery on the crest of the hill, directly in front of the mine, was almost shut up after firing two or three rounds, as we had some heavy guns bearing on it, and a number of field guns. I was not where I could see the fire from our right of the mine. I had Colonel Monroe in charge there, and he reported that the fire was pretty well kept down. On the left they occasionally fired a shot.

Question. Under the circumstances, then, ought not the assault have succeeded?

Answer. I think so. That is, so far as it depended upon us. I do not know what the enemy had behind the crest. The object was to take the crest.

Question. Have you formed any opinion as to the causes of the failure of the assault on that occasion?

Answer. I do know what other causes might have existed, but I attributed the failure to the want of promptitude in pushing forward assaulting columns immediately on the explosion of the mine. I believed from the first that if that were not done promptly the attack would probably fail.

Question. Was the enemy's fire directed upon the point of attack very formidable at any time so as to prevent reasonably resolute troops from pushing forward?

Answer. I think not. Certainly not within the period within which their advance should have taken place.