War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0164 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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Soon after occupying our present lines Major-General Burnside, commanding Ninth Corps, at the suggestion of Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants, Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, commenced the running of a gallery from his line to a battery occupied by the enemy with a view of placing a mine under this battery. When my attention was called to this work I sanctioned its prosecution, though at the time, from the reports of the engineers, and my own examination, I was satisfied the location of the mine was such that its explosion would not be likely to be followed by any important result, as the battery to be destroyed was in a re-entering part of the enemy's line exposed to an enfilading and reverse fire from points both on the right and left. The mine being completed, and the movement of the Second Corps to the north side of the James having drawn off the greater portion of the Confederate army, the lieutenant-general commanding directed the explosion of the mine, and the assaulting the enemy's works. For this purpose the Eighteenth Corps was placed under my command in addition to the Army of the Potomac. On the 29th ultimo a general order of battle was issued, a copy of which is herewith annexed, marked A, *which will serve to show the plan of the proposed attack.

On the 30th, owing to a defect in the fuse, the explosion of the mine was delayed from 3.30 to 4.45 a.m., an unfortunate delay, because it was designed to assault the crest of the ridge occupied by the enemy just before daylight, when the movement would, in a measure, be obscured. As soon as the mine was sprung the First Division, Ninth Corps, Brigadier-General Ledlie commanding, moved forward and occupied the crater without opposition. No advance, however, was made from the crater to the ridge, some 400 yards beyond, Brigadier-General Ledlie giving as a reason for not pushing forward that the enemy could occupy the crater in his rear, he seeming to forget that the rest of his corps and all the Eighteenth Corps were waiting to occupy the crater and follow him. Brigadier-Generals Potter and Willcox, commanding the Second and Third Divisions, Ninth Corps, advanced simultaneously with Ledlie and endeavored to occupy parts of the enemy's line on Ledlie's right and left, so as to cover those flanks, respectively, but on reaching the enemy's line Ledlie's men were found occupying the vacated parts, both to the right and left of the crater, in consequence of which the men of the several divisions got mixed up, and a scene of disorder and confusion commenced, which seems to have continued to the end of the operations. In the mean time the enemy, rallying from the confusion incident to the explosion, began forming his infantry in a ravine to the right and planting artillery, both on the right and left of the crater. Seeing this, Potter was enabled to get his men out of the crater and enemy's line, and had formed them for an attack on the right, when he received an order to attack the crest of the ridge. Notwithstanding he had to change front in the presence of the enemy, he succeeded not only in doing so, but, as he reports, advancing to within a few yards of the crest, which he would have taken if he had been supported. This was after 7 a.m., more than two hours after Ledlie had occupied the crater, and yet he had made no advance. He, however, states he was forming to advance when the Fourth Division (colored troops), General Ferrero commanding, came rushing into the crater and threw his men into confusion. The Fourth Division, passed beyond the crater and made an assault, when they encountered a heavy fire of artillery and infantry which threw them into inextricable con-


*Here omitted. It appears as Appendix K, p. 134.