|Chapter XLI. GENERAL REPORTS.
Brigadier-General Prince, commanding the leading division, reposts that, after advancing a short distance (about a mile), he came to a fork in the road, where he halted to obtain information; that he ascertained that the right-hand fork was the most direct route to Robertson's Tavern, but that it led into the Raccoon Ford road occupied by the enemy; that the left-hand road led to Robertson's Tavern, and also in the direction of Warren's firing, which he plainly heard.
For these reasons General Prince was satisfied he should take the left-hand road, and so reported to General French, and awaited orders. After a delay of two hours, he was finally ordered to take the other road, which he did, his skirmishers soon encountering the enemy. He then reports he was ordered to cease operations as he was on the wrong road, and, after another delay, he was again ordered forward, with the information that he was on the right road.
Soon after advancing the second time, Carr's division being deployed on his left, the enemy opened a warm fire, and General Prince reports his line fell back a short distance, till they uncovered a battery he had posted in the only open ground that was in the rear. The line rallied, and reformed behind the battery, the fire from which checked the advancing enemy, when the line advanced to its former position and halted, the action ceasing, as it was then dark.
General Carr, on the left of General Prince, had one of his brigades driven back, and his other brigades relieved by Birney's division after exhausting their ammunition. Birney's division, formed in rear of Carr's, soon relieved the latter, repulsing all the attacks of the enemy, and finally, toward dark, advancing its line of skirmishers over the battle-field.
I have been thus minute in the details of the movements of the Third Corps, because, in my opinion, the unnecessary delay in the progress of this corps, and the failure to attack the enemy as soon as he was encountered, deploying to the left, and allowing the Sixth Corps to pass and continue the line to Warren, was the cause that a junction of the center and right columns was not made early on the morning of the 27th, and was one of the primary causes of the failure of the whole movement.
In consequence of this delay. Warren remained on the defensive all day, and toward evening, being pressed by the enemy, and I being anxious to hold Robertson's Tavern, the center and key-point of my position, sent orders for the First Corps to move over from the plank road to the support of Warren, the corps arriving at Robertson's Tavern about dark on the 27th. The Fifth Corps moved early in the morning, after a slight delay, to permit Gregg's division of cavalry to precede it on the plank road.
Gregg advanced as far as [New] Hope Church, where he had a severe engagement with the enemy's cavalry, in which he was successful in driving them until they were strongly re-enforced by infantry, when Gregg fell back and was relieved by Major-General Sykes, commanding the Fifth Corps, who by this time had been advised of the failure of the Third Corps to connect with the Second, and who was accordingly instructed not to advance beyond the crossing of the road from Robertson's Tavern, near which is [New] Hope Church.
From reports of the force in front of Major-General French and warren, there was reason to believe the enemy were concentrating on the turnpike and Raccoon Ford roads, and orders were sent to the Sixth and Fifth Corps to move over toward Robertson's Tavern, which order was executed by daylight the next morning, the 28th ultimo.
|Chapter XLI. GENERAL REPORTS.