Today in History:

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


resting upon me for the manner of the withdrawal, beyond the orders I gave to the effect that the troops were to be withdrawn when they could be withdrawn with security, and, if they had been able to repulse an attack of the enemy, it seems to me rather extraordinary that when another was threatened, after the success, that they should be withdrawn because they were threatened with another attack; but that is the point to which I wish to call the attention of the Court, and which I wish to have thoroughly investigated.

I believe those constitute the sum and substance of all the orders that passed between myself and Major-General Burnside; but I respectfully submit to this Court that so far as it was in my power, as the commanding general of this army, to give orders, I anticipated the difficulties that occurred, and endeavored to avoid them as much as I could do so, and that I cannot be held responsible for the failure which afterward resulted. Having finished my correspondence with and orders to General Burnside, I now propose to read the correspondence with and orders to General Ord, who was the officer commanding the force next to be employed after those of General Burnside, and whose movements it is important to know.

Major-General Ord was directed to relieve his corps by General Mott's division, of the Second Corps, on the evening of the 29th. He was then to move and mass his troops in rear of the Ninth Corps, and it was intended that he should support the Ninth Corps whenever the Ninth Corps had effected a lodgment on the crest; that he was promptly to move up to them and support them on the crest. I had several interviews with General Ord on the 28th and 29th. I went with him and showed him the position, showed him exactly the ground, gave him all the information I had, and also caused him to send staff officers to select positions for the troops, so that when it became dark they might know the roads. On the morning of July 30, when it became evident to my mind that General Burnside's troops were not going to advance farther than the crater, and when I had reason to suppose it was owing to some difficulty on the part of the troops themselves (so far as any official report came to me), rather than obstacles presented by the enemy, I sent a dispatch to General Ord, changing his previous orders, and directing him instead of supporting General Burnside to make an assault independent of General Burnside. That dispatch and subsequent dispatches are as follows (documents 21,22 23, 23 1/4, 23 1/2, 24).

There were some other dispatch to General Ord os a similar character, but I do not see them here, to endeavor to get him forward independent of the Ninth Corps, to make an isolated attack-an attack of his own independent of the Ninth Corps. Owing to the obstacles presented, the fact that there was no proper debouche for our troops to that portion of the enemy's line, and the fact that the crater was overcrowded with men, General Ord, considering those obstacles insurmountable, confined his operations to sending forward, I think, only one brigade. But General Ord and his division commanders have made reports which will be placed before you. I forgot to bring them with me to-day. At about 9.45 a.m. the same orders were sent to General Ord as to General Burnside with reference to the withdrawal of the troops. That finishes all that passed between General ord and myself. The other supporting column was under Major-General Warren on the left. In the original order General Warren was directed to mass his available troops on the right of the line, and to make all his preparations to support General Burnside in the assault wherever he should be ordered. At 4.40 a.m. the following dispatch was sent to him (document 25). At 5.50, one hour afterward, and immediately after my receiving the information that General Burnside's corps occupied the crater, the following dispatch was sent to him (document 26).

I wish to call the attention of the Court to the fact that as early as 5.50 I authorized General Warren if he saw any opportunity of doing anything with his corps (not only in support of General Burnside, but as an independent operation of his own), that he should take advantage of it and push forward his troops. His reply, dated 6 a.m. is as follows (document 27).

At 6.15 a.m. another dispatch was received from him as follows (document 28).

Then at 6.20 another dispatch (Numbers 29) came from General Warren, in which he states that what we thought was a heavy line of the enemy behind the line occupied by Burnside's troops, as the sunlight comes out and the smoke clears away, proves to be our own troops in the enemy's position. You will perceive that at 5.40 I authorized General Warren and directed him to make an attack without waiting for the support of General Burnside-that is, if circumstances would justify his making an attack; and that his replies here indicate that no such attack was practicable. Coming to that conclusion and receiving information from the signal officers that the enemy had left their extreme right, which I presumed they would do, to mass on the center to receive our attack, the following dispatch was sent to General Warren at 6.30 o'clock (document Numbers 30).

General Burnside asked for the reading of the dispatch to General Wilson, commanding a cavalry division.