that they ever got any considerable distance, not exceeding 200 yards, beyond the crater toward the crest, whence they were driven back immediately. This was also the fate of the few colored troops who got over the enemy's line for a moment.
At 9 a.m. General Burnside reported many of the Ninth and Eighteenth Corps were retiring before the enemy and then was the time to put in the Fifth Corps. It having just been reported, however, by two staff officers (not General Burnside's) that the attack on the right of the mine had been repulsed, and that none of the Union troops were beyond the line of the crater-the commanding general thought differently, and the lieutenant-general concurring-General Burnside was directed at 9.50 a.m. to withdraw to his own entrenchments immediately or at a later period, but not to hold the enemy's line any longer than was required to withdraw safely his men. This order brought General Burnside to General Meade's headquarters, where he remonstrated against it, saying by night-fall he could carry the crest. No other officer who was present, and who has testified before the Court, concurred in this opinion. The troops in the crater were then ordered to retire, but before it could be effected they were driven out with great loss at 2 p.m. These troops, however, were making preparations to retire, and but for that would probably not have been driven out at that time.
The Fifth Corps did not participate at all in the assault, and General Ord's command only partially, because the condition of affairs at no time admitted of their co-operation as was contemplated by the order of assault.
The causes of failure are:
1. The injudicious formation of the troops in going forward, the movement being mainly by flank instead of extended front. General Meade's order indicated that columns of assault should be employed to take Cemetery Hill, and that proper passages should be prepared for those columns. It is the opinion of the Court that there were no proper columns of assault. The troops should have been formed in the open ground in front of the point of attack parallel to the line of the enemy's works. The evidence shows that one or more columns might have passed over at and to the left of the crater without any previous preparation of the ground.
2. The halting of the troops in the crater instead of going forward to the crest when there was no fire of any consequence from the enemy.
3. No proper employment of engineer officers and working parties, and of materials and tools for their use, in the Ninth Corps.
4. That some parts of the assaulting column were not properly led.
5. The want of a competent common head at the scene of the assault to direct affairs as occurrences should demand.
Had not failure ensued from the above causes, and the crest been gained, the success might have been jeopardized by the failure to have prepared in season proper and adequate debouches through the Ninth Corps lines for troops, and especially for field artillery, as ordered by Major-General Meade.
The reason why the attack ought to have been successful are:
1. The evident surprise of the enemy at the time of the explosion of the mine and for some time after.
2. The comparatively small force in the enemy's works.
3. The ineffective fire of the enemy's artillery and musketry, there being scarcely any for about thirty minutes after the explosion,and our artillery being just the reverse as to time and power.