|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.
front on the Springfield road. He was not on the field or along the line during the day, and had no intelligence of the attack on McCooke until 4-o'clock in the evening. About 2 o'clock a heavy and furious cannonading was heard at his headquarters, and coming out of his tent he said, "There was a great waste of powder over there," and directed General Gilbers, who was with him at the time, to send an order the front "to stop that useless waste of powder." It is clear to us that General Buell did not believe a battle was in progress, and that he supposed the firing heard was from some reconnaissance. On this point it is our opinion that he should either have been on the field in person ready for emergencies and advantages, or have taken and required to be taken every precaution for the instant transmission of intelligence to his headquarters. As he had an organized signal corps with his army, this failure was all the more culpable. And in this connection we are of opinion that General McCook's failure to send up instant notice of the attack upon him in force was equally culpable.
We find that during the great part of the attack on McCook Gilbert's corps was unengaged, while Thomas' wing had not so much as a demonstration made against it. We have reason to believe also that all Bragg's army at Perryville at the time was flung upon McCook, and that his lines of retreat by way of Harrodsburg and Danville were so exposed that after 4 o'clock they could have been to a great degree, if not entirely, cut off if Crittenden's corps had been vigorously pushed forward for the purpose. In our judgment the opportunity slipped through General Buell's absence from the field or on account of his ignorance of the condition of the battle. We are very sure that if he could have ordered supports to McCook at an earlier hour than he did order them the attack would have been repulsed with less loss to himself and great to the enemy.
5.-PERMITTING THE REBELS TO ESCAPE WITHOUT LOSS FROM KENTUCKY.
It cannot be said that the rebels escaped without loss from Kentucky. Besides their killed and wounded at Perryville they were compelled to destroy a large quantity of stores which had been collected at Camp Dick Robinson.
The morning after the battle it was very early discovered that Bragg had retreated from his position near Perryville and that his army had for the most part gone in the direction of Harrodsburg. Leaving all sick and wounded and some material at harrodsburg, and being joined by Kirby Smith, he hastened across Dicks' River to Camp Dick Robinson. There he destroyed and abandoned the stores mentioned and resumed his retreat. In these movements the march of his columns was hurried; that part of it from Perryville to the river was confused and disordered. Our opinions is that if General Buell had taken up a vigorous pursuit as soon in the morning of the 9th as the retreat was discovered the check received by the rebels at Perryville would have been turned into rout, with all its consequences. But the manner in which they were followed to Harrodsburg can hardly be called a pursuit. General Buell should have endeavored, by energetic movement of his whole army, to crush them somewhere between Perryville and Dick's River.
From Camp Dick Robinson Bragg had but two roads left him by which he could hope to escape from Kentucky. Divining his forces at Crab Orchard, one portion of them could go out by way of Cumberland
|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.