Today in History:

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

Page 62 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

General Ferrero's. The arrangement which General Meade objected to, of sending troops down to the right and left to clear the way, was dispensed with, it having been understood before that that was a part of the plan, or of the arrangements. The plan was made to accord with General Meade's views. In other words, in consequence of his objection, I did not give any instructions for troops to pass down to the right and left, but to make at once for the crest.

The commanding general had been urgent in his views that in order to carry the crest-that is, Cemetery Hill-that a dash must be made at it without reference to formation; that there would be no time for maneuvering; that if we attempted to handle the troops as proposed in my plan he was satisfied it would be a failure. If I mistake not, the amount of these views was expressed before General Potter and General Willcox. Generals Meade and Ord called at my headquarters and had a conversation there in reference to my plans. General Ord went with General Meade to our signal station, and General Ord took a look at the position of the enemy. After returning to my headquarters, General Ord said he would send staff officers to me to report, in order that they also might reconnoiter the ground and pick out positions for troops. Instead of staff officers coming, I think that in almost every instance the general officers of General Ord's corps came themselves. I gave them facilities for reconnoitering the position of the enemy, and also gave them instructions as to where their troops were to mass in rear of our lines. I received General Meade's order, which is on your record. I sent him a copy of my order, which I have not here at present, but which I will procure and present, but which I procure and present at the end of my evidence. There were some details into which I did not enter in this order in consequence of the verbal understanding which existed between myself and my division commanders, that fact, I believe, being noted in the order.

During that night our troops were concentrated in accordance with those orders ready for the attack, and General Ord's troops were also concentrated as nearly as possible in accordance with my understanding with his officers. During the night some changes were necessarily made in the positions of General Ord's troops; changes which are always consequent upon the movement of as a large a body od men as a corps in the night, but every, effort, in my opinion, was made by his officers, and also by my own, to carry out to the letter the instructions given by General Meade and by myself. Inasmuch as you will have an opportunity of examining both of these orders at your leisure it will not be necessary for me to enter into the details as to the movements that were directed. The action was to commence with the explosion of the mine, which was ordered to take place at 3.30 o'clock. It may not be amiss to state here that the mine had been ready, charged, since the 23d. General Potter was ordered to see that Colonel Pleasants exploded the mine at the time indicated by General Meade.

My order for the movement of the 30th stated that I would make my headquarters at the fourteen-gun battery, which is not far from the center of the line occupied by the Ninth Corps. Just before leaving my permanent headquarters, say at 2 o'clock in the morning, there came from General Meade a dispatch stating that if I desired to delay the time for the explosion of the mine in consequence of the darkness I could do so. I telegraphed him back that the mine would be exposed at the hour designated. I went to the place designated as my headquarters at the proper time, and, like every one else, awaited with great anxiety the explosion of the mine. I need not say to this Court that my anxiety on the occasion was extreme, particularly as I did not know the reason of the delay. I waited for several minutes, and thinking that there was some miscalculation as to the time it would take the fuse to burn up to the charge, when I sent an aide-de-camp to find out what was the reason of the delay. Soon after that I sent a second aide-de-camp. Soon after that time Major Van Buren arrived at my headquarters and told me the cause of the delay. In the mean time Captain Sanders, I think, or some other one of General Meade's staff, came to my headquarters to know the reason. I said to him that I had sent to ascertain the reason; that I could not tell him then. Another dispatch, either written or verbal, came to know the reason; and I sent word again that I did not know the reason, but as soon as I could ascertain it I would give the general the reason. I then got another dispatch from General Meade that if the mine had failed I must make a charge independent of the explosion of the mine. Having almost made up my own mind that the mine had failed, of that something had occured which we could not discover during that morning, and feeling the absolute necessity, as General Meade expressed in his dispatch, of doing something very quickly, I was on the eve of sending an order for the command to be ready to move forward as directed by General Meade, but I said again, "I will delay to ascertain what is the reason of the non-explosion of the mine." I had nothing that I could report up to the time that Major Van Buren came to my headquarters. I gave to those aides freely the statement that I did not know the reason of the non-explosion of the mine, but that as soon as I learned it I would inform the commanding general. As I before stated, Major Van Buren came to my headquarters and told me that the fuse had gone out,

Page 62 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.