War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0128 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

Search Civil War Official Records

4. The fact that some of our troops were able to get 200 yards beyond the crater toward the crest, but could not remain there or proceed farther for want of supports or because they were not properly formed or led.

OPINION.

The Court having given a brief narrative of the assault, and the facts and circumstances attending it, it remains to report that the following named officers engaged therein appear from the evidence to be "answerable for the want of success" which should have resulted:

I. Major General A. E. Burnside, U. S. Volunteers, he having failed to obey the orders of the commanding general.

1. In not giving such formation to his assaulting column as to insure a reasonable prospect of success.

2. In not preparing his parapets and abatis for the passage of the columns of assault.

3. In not employed engineer officers, who reported to him, to lead the assaulting columns with working parties, and not causing to be provided proper materials necessary for crowning the crest when the assaulting columns should arrive there.

4. In neglecting to execute Major-General Meade's orders respecting the prompt advance of General Ledlie's troops from the crater to the crest; or, in default of accomplishing that, not causing those troops to fall back and give place to other troops more willing and equal to the task, instead of delaying until the opportunity passed away, thus affording time for the enemy to recover from his surprise, concentrate his fire, and bring his troops to operate against the Union troops assembled uselessly in the crater.

Notwithstanding the failure to comply with orders and to apply proper military principles ascribed to General Burnside, the Court is satisfied he believed that the measures taken by him would insure success.

II. Brigadier General J. H. Ledlie, U. S. Volunteers, he having failed to push forward his division promptly according to orders and thereby blocking up the avenue which was designed for the passage of troops ordered to follow and support his in the assault. It is in evidence that no commander reported to General Burnside that his troops could not be got forward, which the Court regards as a neglect of duty on the part of General Ledlie, inasmuch as a timely report of the misbehavior might have enabled General Burnside, commanding the assault, to have made other arrangements for prosecuting it before it became too late. Instead of being with his division during the difficulty in the crater, and by his personal efforts endeavoring to lead his troops forward, he was most of the time in a bomb-proof ten rods in rear of the main line of the Ninth Corps works, where it was impossible for him to see anything of the movement of troops that was going on.

III. Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, U. S. Volunteers.

1. For not having all his troops formed ready for the attack at the prescribed time.

2. Not being forward with them to the attack.

3. Being in a bomb-proof habitually, where he could not see the operation of his troops, showing by his own order issued while there that he did not know the position of two brigades of his division or whether they had taken Cemetery Hill or not.