War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 1022 MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter LXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

heights on both of those roads. Holding these heights with the heights near Captain Hamilton's, will, he hopes, compel the enemy to evacuate the whole ridge between these points. He makes these moves by columns, distant from each other, with the view of avoiding the possibility of a collision of our own forces, which might occur in a general movement during the fog. Two of General Hooker's divisions are in your rear, at the bridges, and will remain there as supports. Copies of instructions given to Generals Sumner and Hooker will be forwarded to you by an orderly very soon. You will keep your whole command in readiness to move at once as soon as the fog lifts. The watchword, which, if possible, should be given to every company, will be "Scott."

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Chief of Staff.

Thus it will be seen that after ordering me to keep my whole command in readiness for a rapid movement down the old Richmond road, I was directed to send out at once a division at least to seize the hill at Hamilton's. After referring to the order to General Sumner, he reiterates the direction to keep my whole command in readiness for the Richnt. For three hours before the order reached me I was satisfied that General Burnside had given up the idea (if he ever entertained it) of making an attack in force from the left, for delay in sending the orders made such an attack impossible with any reasonable chance of success. And in this connection it is not improper in me to state that a map, made by the rebel General Jackson's topographical engineer, has fallen into the hands of our officers since General Hooker has been in command, from which it is apparent that the enemy's position could not have been carried by any force less than that recommenced by me on the afternoon of the 12th. General Bunside knew the strength in numbers and position, as well as the desperate determination of the rebel army. Had he intended a movement in force, his orders both to myself and General Sumner would have been commensurate with such a purpose. Had he expected me to make such an attack upon an enemy whom I had met too often to be guilty of the folly of underrating, he would have given me the night in which to make a disposition of my troops for the conflict of the morrow, instead of leaving me to pass it in sleepless anxiety in my tent. General Burnside out to have known, and doubltess did know, that to make his "main attack," and thereby bring on a general engagement on my front, under an order of this description, sent after daylight in the morning, was to send his troops to a useless and unvailable slaughter; and therefore he could not have intended it. I acted upon the order at once, as nearly according to its literal directions as was in my power. The attack was ordered to be led by General Meade, one of the ablest officers in our service, supported by General Gibbon on his right, and General Doubleday in reserve. These three divisions formed one of the two corps (General Reynolds') under my command on the south side of the river. Shortly after Meade advanced, the enemy's cavalry appeared on the left, accompanied by artillery, adn Doubleday was ordem away. Soon after these troops were advanced, finding that the enemy was in force on all sides, I sent to General Stoneman to cross with one of his divisions, and before that had entirely crossed his second division was also rodered over. The crossing of these division (which should have been made during the previous night, had an attack in force been contemplated) occuied at least three hours. While this was going on, one of General Smith's divisions was also ordered to report to General Reynolds. Of these several movements General Burnside was kept informed by reports made by General Hardie to him at invervals during the day; and