Today in History:

48 Series I Volume XL-I Serial 80 - Richmond, Petersburg Part I

Page 48 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

About this time, 5.45 or 5.50-I see by reference to the dispatch that it is 5.45-an orderly came up to me delivered me a dispatch which, upon opening, I found to be a dispatch from Colonel Loring, inspector-general of the Ninth Corps, written at the crater and addressed to General Burnside, which dispatch the orderly, not knowing where to find General Burnside, had brought to his old headquarters, where it found me. That dispatch, so far as I recollect the purport of it, was to the effect that General Ledlie's troops occupied the crater, but in his (Colonel Loring's) opinion he feared the men could not be inducted to advance beyond. that dispatch was telegraphed to General Burnside, and sent to him by an officer, so that I have no copy of it. That was the substance of it, however. It was shown to General Grant and General Humphreys, both of whom can give their recollection of it in confirmation of mine. It is an important matter to be taken into consideration here, that as early as 5.45 a.m. a dispatch was placed in my hand, stating that General Ledlie's troops could not be induced to advance. In addition to that the following dispatch was sent to him (document W).

Fearing that there might be some difficulty on the part of General Burnside's troops, I thought it possible that by another corps going in on his right encouragement might be given to his men and a prompt assault might be made. The next dispatch I received was from an aide-de-camp, whom I had sent to General Burnside's headquarters, to advise me of what was going on. It is dated 5.50, and is from Captain Sunders (document X.)

The next dispatch that I will read is one addressed to General Burnside at 6 a.m. (document Y.)

Dispatches were at this time also sent to Generals Ord and Warren. You can keep these dates in your mind. The next dispatch was received from Captain Sanders at 6.10 a.m. as follows (document Z.)

The following dispatches are next in order (documents 1,2 and 3.)

At 7 a.m. Lieutenant-General Grant put into my hand a dispatch from Colonel Comstock, and officer whom he had sent to see the progress of operations (document 4.)

I read all these dispatches in order that you may see how I was situated on the occasion and what I knew of what was going on. At 7.20, twenty minutes afterward, I got the following dispatch from General Burnside. (document 5).

Upon the receipt of this dispatch from General Burnside, informing me that it was hard work to take the crest (at the same time he not having reported to me that anybody had attempted to take it, or that any part of his force had made any effort to take it), with the dispatches from my officers, the dispatch from Colonel Loring, and the dispatch from Colonel Comstock, to the effect that the troops were lying there, I came to the conclusion that possibly there might be some difficulty in getting the men to move forward, either from the enemy's fire or some imaginary obstacle the troops had to encounter; that, as it was now 7 o'clock, and that the place had been occupied at 5.30 I began to suppose that there was some reason for the delay which had not been officially reported. I considered it natural that General Burnside would be indisposed to make it known so long as he had hopes of overcoming the difficulty. To me, in my position as major-general commanding the army, it was a matter of the utmost importance, because it was my intention, during the assault and before it, that if we could not carry the crest promptly by a coup de main, to withdraw the troops as quickly and safely as possible. Impressed with this view, and in order to get at the exact condition of affairs, and to justify General Burnside if there was any reason of that kind, I addressed him the following dispatch (document 6.)

It is proper to say that immediately after sending that dispatch, and before receiving General Burnside's answer, I received a report, verbally, from Captain Sanders that an attempt had been made to make at attack on the right, I think by General Griffin, and that he had been repulsed. I immediately sent another dispatch to General Burnside at 8 a.m., as follows (document 7.)

To the first of these two dispatches, subsequent of sending the second, I received this reply (document 8.)

The next dispatch that I received was one from Colonel Comstock, about the same time, 8 a.m. (document 9).

The next dispatch I received was one dated 8.45 a.m. from Captain Sanders (document 10).

At 9 a.m. I received the following dispatch from General Burnside (document 11).

That was the first information I had received that there was any collision with the enemy, or that there was any enemy present.

At 9.30 a.m. the following dispatch was sent to General Burnside (document 12).

Then I received the following dispatch from Captain Sanders (document 13).

The next dispatch was this from Colonel Comstock (document 14).

The next dispatch to General Burnside, at 9.45, was the peremptory order to withdraw (document 15).

Page 48 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.