War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0108 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

Search Civil War Official Records


Brigadier General A. AMES, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says, in answer to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you present at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was present where I could see the last part of it. I had a division of the Eighteenth Army Corps.

Question. Did your troops experience any interference from the Ninth Corps in moving into position in rear on that occasion?

Answer. Not directly. My division was a support. I understood from the commanding officer of the corps that my troops were held in reserve for any emergency that might arise or a battle that might be fought after we had taken possession of the heights, and at no time were my troops farther advanced than the woods in rear of our own works. At one time I was ordered to take my division in to support General Turner's. The idea was that he was to advance, and I was to carry my division in on his right, being careful not to get in advance of him, so as to have his left flank interfered with. Upon receiving the order I understood that I was expected to move to the front through the covered way, but I found that there was still a brigade of General Turner's division in reserve, and as I passed through the covered way I saw that it was blocked up by one of General Turner's brigades. As it was intended that I should go to the front with my troops, I first went to see what kind of ground I was to pass over, and found that the covered way was blocked up by troops, as well as in some places by wounded coming to the rear, and in others by men carrying ammunition to the front. When I got to our most advanced position beyond the creek, or bottom, I found that General Turner had a brigade massed there, and that there were evidently more troops in front than could be well handled. I had a conversation with General Turner, and the state of affairs was such that we thought it desirable that General Ord, from whom we received our orders, should know that it was impossible for us to move to the front at once, going down through the covered way, as he intended that we should. I immediately wrote a note to General Ord, requesting him to come down to the front and see the state of affairs for himself; otherwise his orders would probably not be obeyed. I went to the rear and found him, and came down to the front with him, and he then decided that our troops, at least that my division, should not remove forward.

Question. Were the arrangements that were made for the passage of troops through the abatis near the parapet to go to the front adequate?

Answer. I think not. I did not examine it in particular, but I was down there when part of General Turner's command to the front, and, having nothing else to do, I drove some of his men over the parapet, and I found that they experienced great difficulty in getting through the abatis. The place that I refer to was at our right of the mine.

Question. State some of the cause for the failure of the assault on that occasion, in your opinion.

Answer. I then formed the opinion (and I have not seen any cause to change it) that at time I was there a clear head, where it could see what was going on and see the difficulties at the front, might have corrected a great many of the faults that then existed. I think the trouble was no one person at the front who was responsible, in consequence of which there was no unity of action. It took a long time for commanders in the front to communicate with those in the vicinity of the fourteen-gun battery in the rear, on the top of the high hill. My idea is that everybody appeared to be acting for himself with not particular determination to go any farther than he was compelled to. So far as I could see when I arrived there, that appeared to be the state of the case.

Question. Will you, as far as your observation goes, remark upon the formation of the troops as they went forward, and also as to their preparation with all things needful for pushing over the enemy's line of works and establishing them on the farther side.

Answer. I remained in the rear with my troops until I was ordered to advance, and at this time part of the Tenth Corps had already advanced to our most advanced work,