OR XL P1 #4: Record of the Court of Inquiry on the Mine Explosion during The Battle of the Crater, July 30, 1864

   

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No. 4. Record of the Court of Inquiry on the Mine Explosion.1

RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF A COURT OF INQUIRY INSTITUTED BY VIRTUE OF THE FOLLOWING ORDER:

SPECIAL ORDERS,
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL’S OFFICE, Numbers 258.
Washington, D. C., August 3, 1864.

* * * * * *

43. By direction of the President, a Court of Inquiry will convene in front of Petersburg at 10 a.m. on the 5th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to examine into and report upon the facts and cir-

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RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF A COURT OF INQUIRY INSTITUTED BY VIRTUE OF THE FOLLOWING ORDER:

SPECIAL ORDERS,
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL’S OFFICE, Numbers 258.
Washington, D. C., August 3, 1864.

* * * * * *

43. By direction of the President, a Court of Inquiry will convene in front of Petersburg at 10 a.m. on the 5th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to examine into and report upon the facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s position on the 30th of July 1864. The Court will report their opinion whether any officer or officers are answerable for the want of success of said assault and, if so, the name or names of such officer or officers.

Detail for the Court: Major General W. S. Hancock, U. S. Volunteers; Brigadier General R. B. Ayres, U. S. Volunteers; Brigadier General N. A. Miles, U. S. Volunteers; Colonel E. Schriver, inspector-general, U. S. Army, judge-advocate.

By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

FIRST DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 6, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to the foregoing orders:

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The order instituting the Court was read and the Court and judge-advocate were sworn according to law.

The judge-advocate then presented and read the orders issued from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac on the 29th of July, 1864, containing the “instructions for the guidance of all concerned,” in the operations against the enemy’s position before Petersburg on the 30th of July, as follows:

ORDERS.] HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

July 29, 1864.

The following instructions are issued for the guidance of all concerned:

1. As soon as it is dark Major-General Burnside, commanding Ninth Corps, will withdraw his two brigades under General White, occupying the intrenchments between the plank and Norfolk roads, and bring them to his front. Care will be taken not to interfere with the troops of the Eighteenth Corps moving into their position in rear of the Ninth Corps. General Burnside will form his troops for assaulting the enemy’s works at daylight of the 30th, prepare his parapets and abatis for the passage of the columns, and have the pioneers equipped for work in opening passages for artillery, destroying enemy’s abatis, &c., and the intrenching tools distributed for effecting lodgment, &c.

2. Major-General Warren commanding Fifth Corps, will reduce the number of his troops holding the intrenchments of his front to the minimum and concentrate all his available force on his right, and hold them prepared to support the assault of Major-General Burnside. The preparations in respect to pioneers, intrenching tools, &c., enjoined upon the Ninth Corps will also be made by the Fifth Corps.

3. As soon as it is dark Major-General Ord, commanding Eighteenth Corps, will relieve his troops in the trenches by General Mott’s division, of the Second Corps, and form his corps in rear of the Ninth Corps and be prepared to support the assault of Major-General Burnside.

4. Every preparation will be made for moving forward the field artillery of each corps.

5. At dark Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Corps, will move from Deep Bottom to the rear of the intrenchments now held by the Eighteenth Corps, resume the command of Mott’s division, and be prepared at daylight to follow up the assaulting and supporting columns, or for such other operations as may be found necessary.

6. Major-General Sheridan, commanding Cavalry Corps, will proceed at dark from the vicinity of Deep Bottom to Lee’s Mill, and at daylight will move with his whole corps, including Wilson’s division, against the enemy’s troops defending Petersburg on their right by the roads leading to that town from the southward and westward.

7. Major Duane, acting chief engineer, will have the pontoon trains parked at convenient points in the rear prepared to move. He will see that supplies of sand-bags, gabions, fascines, &c., are in depot near the lines ready for use. He will detail engineer officers for each corps.

8. At 3.30 in the morning of the 30th Major-General Burnside will spring his mine and his assaulting columns will immediately move rapidly upon the breach, seize the crest in the rear, and effect a lodgment there. He will be followed by Major-General Ord, who will support him on the right, directing his movement to the crest indicated, and by Major-General Warren, who will support him on the left. Upon the explosion of the mine the artillery of all kinds in battery will open upon those points of the enemy’s works whose fire covers the ground over which our columns must move, care being taken to avoid impeding the progress of our troops. Special instructions respecting the direction of fire will be issued through the chief of artillery.

9. Corps commanders will report to the commanding general when their preparations are complete and will advise him of every step in the progress of the operation and of everything important that occurs.

10. Promptitude, rapidity of execution, and cordial co-operation are essential to success, and the commanding general is confident that this indication of his expectations will insure the hearty efforts of the commanders and troops.

11. Headquarters during the operation will be at the headquarters of the Ninth Corps.

By command of Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Whereupon the Court directed the judge-advocate to notify all the officers named therein of the institution and design of the Court, so as to enable them to be present during its sessions, which was done by addressing the following circular to each:

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 6, 1864.

SIR: The Court of Inquiry instituted by War Department Special Orders, Numbers 258, of August 3, 1864, for the investigation of the facts and circumstances which attended the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s lines before Petersburg on the 30th ultimo, will meet here on the 8th instant, and the days following, at 10 a.m., and I am directed to acquaint you thereof, so that you may be present at the Court’s sessions should you desire to do so. Please acknowledge the receipt of this communication to me at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac.

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

ED. SCHRIVER,

Inspector-General, Judge-Advocate.

(Addressed to Major-General Meade, Burnside, Warren, Sheridan, and Ord, Brigadier-Generals White, Hunt, and Mott, and Major Duane.)

The Court then adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. on the 8th instant.

SECOND DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 8-10 a. m.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the first day were read and approved.

The judge-advocate stated that he had engaged Mr. Finley Anderson, a photographer, to record the proceedings so long as he should do so to the Court’s satisfaction, and Mr. Anderson was sworn according to law.

It is here recorder, also, that all officers of rank whom, it is supposed, participated in the affair of the 30th ultimo have been informed that they could be present at the Court’s sessions and made any statements they may regard important to themselves, should they see fit.

Major General G. G. MEADE, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says:

I propose, in the statement that I shall make to the Court (I presume the Court wants me to take a statement of facts in connection with this case), to give a slight preliminary history of certain events and operations which culminated in the assault on July 30, and which, in my judgment are necessary to show to this Court that I had a full appreciation of the difficulties that were to be encountered, and that I had endeavored, so far as my capacity and judgment would enable me, not only to anticipate but to take measures to overcome those difficulties.

The mine constructed in front of General Burnside was commenced by that officer soon after the occupation of our present lines, upon the intercession of Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants, I think, of a Pennsylvania regiment, without any reference to or any sanction obtained from the general headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. When the subject was brought to my knowledge I authorized the continuance of the operations, sanctioned them, and trusted that the work would at some time result in forming an important part in our operations. But from the first I never considered that the location of General Burnside’s mine was a proper one, because, from what I could ascertain of the position of the enemy’s works and lines erected at that time, the position against which he operated was not a suitable one in which to assault the enemy’s lines, as it was commanded on both flanks and taken in reverse by their position on the Jerusalem plank road and their works opposite the Hare house.

I will now read to the Court the dispatches which passed between Lieutenant-General Grant, commanding the Aries of the United States, and myself, which will bear in themselves a sort of history of those preliminary operations-a correspondence which resulted, as I said before, in the final arrangements for the assault on July 30.

On the 24th of July I received a letter from the lieutenant-general commanding, which I will now read. I had been previously informed by the lieutenant-general commanding that he desired some operations to take place (offensive) against the enemy, and he had instructed the engineer officer at his headquarters, the engineer officer at General Butler’s headquarters, and the engineer officer at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac to make an examination of the enemy’s position, and give an opinion as to the probable result of an attack. Their opinion is contained in the following letter (document marked A, Appendix).

I desire to call the particular attention of the Court to that communication, because it contains the views of the lieutenant-general commanding with reference to the assault which should be made on Petersburg, and I wish them to compare this communication with the orders and arrangements that I gave and made, so that they may see that to the best of my ability I ordered everything which he indicated to be done. At the time that this communication was made to me, however, I was under the impression that the obstacles to be overcome were more formidable than the subsequent operations led me to believe, and also that subsequent to that time there had been no movement of the army to produce that great weakening of the enemy’s front which afterward occurred. Therefore my reply was to the effect that I was opposed to our making the assault.

The following is my reply sent on the 24th (documents B and B 2).

In reply to that I received a communication or report from General Grant, the result of which was a suspension of the proposed attack (document C).

Next day I made a closer examination, and in the mean time a signal station was erected in a pine tree in front of General Burnside, which gave us a more complete view than we had previously had of the enemy’s line. My observation modified my views, because I could not detect a second line, although I detected isolated batteries on the crest. I therefore wrote the following communication to General Grant, dated 12 m. July 26 (document D), to which I received the following reply (document E).

There you perceive that the lieutenant-general commanding ordered that whilst the Second Corps was across the James River I should immediately make an assault with the Ninth and Fifth, abandoning the line of the Fifth Corps. In answer to that I wrote him the following dispatch (document F).

That produced a suspension of the order to attack until the return of General Hancock.

The next dispatch I received from General Grant was the following (document G), which I answered at 1 p.m. July 28, as follows (document H).

I will here observe that Lieutenant-General Grant, in consequence of the services which the Second Corps had performed across the river, desired, and gave me directions verbally to that effect, to use the Eighteenth Corps in the assault, and to let the Second Corps take the place of the Eighteenth in the line.

The next dispatch I received was the following, dated City Point, July 29 (document I).

General Grant had come to my headquarters at 4 p.m., and at that time I showed him the order for the assault next day, which had just then been prepared, and which order met with his perfect approbation. He read the order and expressed his satisfaction with it. No other dispatches passed between the lieutenant-general and myself. Next morning between 3.30 and 4 o’clock (before 4 o’clock) he arrived on the ground at General Burnside’s headquarters, and all further communications between us were verbal until August 1 at 11.40 a.m., when I received the following dispatch (document J).

We had given our respective views concerning the assault and I particularly impressed my views with reference to the difficulties to be overcome. When it was ascertained that the movement of the Second Corps had drawn over to the north bank of the James five of the eighth divisions composing General Lee’s army, together with the information I had obtained that the enemy had no second line upon the ridge but only one or two isolated batteries, I came to the conclusion that the explosion of the mine and the subsequent assault on the crest, I had every reason to believe, would be successful and would be followed by results which would have consisted in the capture of the whole of the enemy’s artillery and a greater part of his infantry. The plan sketched out by Lieutenant-General Grant in his dispatch to me, which I endeavored to carry out, and for the execution of which I gave the necessary orders, was that the mine should be exploded as early as possible in the morning-before daylight; that in the mean time the Ninth Corps should be massed and formed in assaulting columns; that every preparation should be made by removing the abatis so that the troops could debouche, and particularly the assaulting columns; that as soon as the mine was exploded the assaulting columns should push forward; that a sufficient proportion should be left to guard the flank of the main column, because they had to look for an attack on the flanks; that the main body should hold the lines during the attempt to gain the crest of the hill, and if it was successful then I intended to throw up the whole of the Eighteenth Corps, to be followed by the Second Corps, and, if necessary, by the Fifth Corps also. I do not suppose it is necessary to read the order; I will read it, however, (document K).

Having read to the Court the correspondence which passed between the lieutenant-general and myself preliminary to the operations, and having read the order for the operations, I now propose to read and to accompany with some explanatory remarks the dispatches and correspondence which passed between myself and Major-General Burnside, who had the immediate active operations to perform; afterward between myself and Major-General Ord, between myself and Major-General Warren, and between myself and Major-General Hancock. These dispatches when compared with each other and in connection with the remarks which I shall make, will show the facts so far as they came to my knowledge; and I wish the Court to bear in mind, and I desire to call their attention particularly to the paucity of information which was furnished me by Major-General Burnside of the operations which were made, and to the difficulty that a major-general commanding an army like the one I am commanding labors under to give direct orders in the ignorance of matters transpiring in the front at the immediate scene of operations. Before those operations were concluded upon I called on Major-General Burnside to furnish me in writing what he proposed to do in case his mine was exploded, in response to which I received the following report (document L).

The request made in that communication by Major-General Burnside was complied with-that is to say, sand-bags were furnished him, but the amount of powder asked for, which was 12,000 pounds, was reduced to 8,000, upon the belief on my part, and on my engineers, that 8,000 pounds would be sufficient for the purpose. Another matter in that dispatch to which my attention was directed, and which was finally the subject of an order on my part, is the suggestion of Major-General Burnside to place the colored troops at the head of the assaulting column. That I disapproved, and I informed him of my disapproval, which was based upon the ground not that I had any reason to doubt, or any desire to doubt, the good qualities of the colored troops, but that I desired to impress upon Major-General Burnside (which I did do in conversation, of which I have plenty of witnesses to evidence, and in very way I could) that this operation was to be a coup de main; that his assaulting column was to be as a forlorn hope, such as are put into breaches, and that he should assault with his best troops; not that I had any intention to insinuate that the colored troops were inferior to his best troops, but that I understood that they had never been under fire; not that they should not be taken for such a critical operation as this, but that he should take such troops as from previous service could be depended upon as being perfectly reliable. Finding General Burnside very much disappointed-for he had made known to General Ferrero and his troops that they were to lead in the assault, and fearing that the effect might be injurious, and in order to show him that I was not governed by any motive other than such as I ought to be governed by- I told him I would submit the matter with his reasons and my objections to the lieutenant-general commanding the armies, and I would abide by the decision of the lieutenant-general as to whether it was expedient and right for the colored troops to lead the assault. Upon referring the question to the lieutenant-general commanding he fully concurred in my views, and I accordingly addressed to Major-General Burnside, or had addressed to him, the following communication (document M).

The following dispatches read near the end of the testimony are here inserted, as directed, in their proper place (documents M 1 and M 2).

The next dispatch to General Burnside was addressed by me at 9.45 p.m. July 29, the evening before the action. I had received a dispatch from General Ord stating that it would take him till very late to relieve the troops in the trenches. The following is my dispatch to General Burnside (document N).

My idea was that General Burnside should form his columns of assault, make all his preparations, take all his men out of the trenches, and move forward; and that then General Ord should occupy his trenches in case he should find it necessary to return. No further dispatches passed between General Burnside and myself. I think it proper to state, however, that on the day previous to the assault I was at General Burnside’s headquarters and had the good fortune to meet his three division commanders, and some conversation passed between us; and I would like the Court to inquire into what transpired on that occasion, because I would like to impress upon the Court, as I did impress upon General Burnside and his officers, that this operation which we had to perform was one purely of time; that if immediate advantage was not taken of the explosion of the mine, and the consequent confusion of the enemy, and the crest immediately gained, it would be impossible to remain there; for, that as soon as the enemy should recover from their confusion, they would bring their troops and batteries to bear upon us and we would be driven out; that there were two things to be done, namely-that we should go up promptly and take the crest, for, in my judgment, the mere occupation of the crater and the holding on to that was of no possible use to us, because the enemy’s line was not such a line as would be of advantage to us to hold except to go from it to the crest; and that the troops were to be withdrawn when the assault proved unsuccessful.

General HANCOCK, president. Do you not mean that you met four division commanders instead of three, as you said, at the headquarters of General Burnside?

General MEADE: No; I mean three. I saw Potter, Ledlie, and Willcox, and I mentioned in the presence of those gentlemen the tactical maneuvers to be made between that crater and the crest; that the only thing to be done was to rush for the crest and take it immediately after the explosion had taken place, and that they might rest assured that any attempt to take time to form their troops would result in a repulse. Those were all the dispatches that transpired between General Burnside and myself before the day of the assault. On the morning of the 30th, about 3.15 o’clock, when I was about preparing to go forward to General Burnside’s headquarters, I found that it was very dark, and suggestions being made by some of my officers that it was too dark to operate successfully and that a postponement of the explosion of the mine might be advantageous, I accordingly addressed a dispatch to General Burnside to the following effect (document O).

To that I received the following reply from General Burnside (document P.)

I then went over to General Burnside’s headquarters, he, during these operations, being farther to the front. The hour had arrived; I stood waiting. I heard no report from General Burnside and no explosion of the mine. In the mean time Lieutenant-General Grant arrived. Finding that there was no explosion, I sent two staff officers, first Captain Jay and then (I do not recollect the name of the other), but I sent two staff officers to ascertain from General Burnside what the difficulty was (if there was any difficulty), why his mine did not explode, if he knew, to which I received no answer. At 4.10 the following dispatch was sent to him (document Q), and to this I got no answer. At 4.20 another dispatch was sent to him as follows (document R).

I should have stated before this that in order to secure the speedy transmission of intelligence, I took the precaution to have a telegraph run from my headquarters in General Burnside’s to where General Burnside had established his headquarters for the day, in the fourteen-gun battery. The following is the next dispatch I sent to General Burnside, (document S). To this I received no reply. Finding that no replies were received, and the lieutenant-general commanding desiring that an immediate assault should be made without reference to the mine, at 4.35 the following dispatch was sent to General Burnside (document T.)

The same orders, you will find, were sent to General Warren, to General Mott, and to General Hunt, to open the artillery. About this time, however, about 4.40, the mine was exploded. In the mean time Captain Jay returned and informed me that the fuse had failed; that a defect was found, and the fuse had been overhauled about fifty feet or twenty-five feet (I forget the distance) from the entrance; that the defect had been ascertained, and had been remedied, and that finally the mine had been exploded. So far as my recollection goes the mine was exploded about 4.40 or 4.45. At 5.45 a.m., one hour after the explosion of the mine, the following dispatch was sent to General Burnside (document U).

The following dispatch was received from him apparently as an answer to mine, although through a difference in time it is dated before it (document V).

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).

Receiving information from some person, I don’t know who it was, that there was some difficulty about withdrawing at that time, that the safety of the column might be jeopardized by undertaking to withdraw it, the following dispatch was sent to General Burnside, and also to General Ord, who had troops there at that time-none of my dispatches to General Ord have been presented yet, because it would have confused matters. I will read them hereafter-(document 16).

About that time both Major-General Burnside and Major-General Ord came to the headquarters where General Grant and myself were temporarily located. General Burnside seemed to be very much displeased at the order of withdrawal, and expressed the opinion that if allowed to remain there by night-fall he could carry that crest. As, however, he did not give any reason to show how he could take it, and as he had been from 5.30 in the morning till nearly 10, and not only had not taken it, but had his men driven out of the works he had been occupying, and as Major-General Ord, whose troops were also there, upon being asked if the crest could be carried, answered very positively that it was entirely out of the question, it was determined by the lieutenant-general commanding and myself-or rather, as I referred the matter to him and he desired the orders changed-it was determined that no further attempt should be made to take the crest, but that the men should be made to take the crest, but that the men should be withdrawn whenever that could be done with security.

There is now a very important point to which I will call the attention of the Court, and which I want investigated very thoroughly, and that is the withdrawal from the crater. At the time the order was given to withdraw the troops, the report of Major-General Ord was that the crater of the mine was son overcrowded with men that it would be nothing but murder to send any more men forward there. I do not recollect as to whether the report of Major-General Burnside was so definite, but I believe the report of Colonel Loring was that there was at least one division of the troops in there. The impression left upon my mind was that at that time there were as many men in the crater as would enable them to defend themselves if attacked, and in case no defense was necessary, and there was no occasion on my part to order troops to be sent there, I presumed that Major-General Ord and Major-General Burnside, who was having charge of that operation, would see that the men would be properly withdrawn. This conclusion having been arrived at by the lieutenant-general and myself, and it not appearing necessary that we should remain any longer at Major-General Burnside’s headquarters, the lieutenant-general commanding withdrew to City Point, and I withdrew to my former headquarters where i was in telegraphic communication with Major-General Burnside, and where, under the common correspondence between a general officer commanding the army and his subordinates, not to say under a peculiar exigency, I expected to be informed of anything that should occur. I remained in total ignorance of any further of any further transactions until about 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening. About that hour a report or a rumor reached me that there were a number of our wounded men lying between the crater and our line, and I think an appeal was made to me by General Ord if something could not be done to remove those men. I was not aware that there was any difficulty in the way of removing them, and wondered why they had not been removed; presuming that our men were in the crater, and as no report had been made to me that they had been withdrawn, I directed a dispatch to be sent to Major-General Burnside, calling upon him for information. That dispatch read as follows (document 17).

You will remember that I left General Burnside’s headquarters about 10 o’clock, with the understanding that the troops were to be withdrawn when they could be withdrawn with security.

The following dispatches were subsequently read by the witness (documents 18, 18 1/4, 18 1/2, 18 3/4, 19, 19 1/4, 20.)

So far as any information from General Burnside is concerned, I had to go to bed that night without knowing whether his troops were in the crater or whether they were not. During the night dispatches were received referring to the relief of General Ord’s troops. Next morning, July 31, at 8.40 and 9 a.m., the dispatches 18 1/4 and 18 1/2 were sent and received by General Humphreys. No dispatch was received from General Burnside with reference to the withdrawal of these troops till 6.40 p.m. July 31 (marked 18 3/4), to which was sent the one marked 19. At 9 10 p.m. July 31 the dispatch was received from General Burnside (marked 19 1/4), and the reply (marked 20), was sent.

Now I beg leave to call the attention of the Court to the fact that this dispatch is dated 9.10 p.m. July 31, and although it does not give an official statement of the time of the withdrawal of the troops, I know, but only from other information, that the withdrawal was at about 2 p.m. July 30, and as I consider that my conduct is here the subject of investigation as much as that of any other officer or man engaged in this enterprise, I wish to repudiate distinctly any responsibility 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.

General Meade replied that he did not have the dispatch with him now, but would procure it for him. The order to General Wilson was written, he said, about the same time as the above dispatch to General Warren, about 6.30 a.m.

General Burnside wished to be informed whether or not the order to General Wilson was rescinded.

General Meade replied that the order to the cavalry was rescinded when the infantry was ordered to withdraw.

General Meade then resumed the reading of dispatches, presenting documents 31 and 32.

General BURNSIDE. I would like to know what that dispatch to the cavalry was and exactly what time it was rescinded.

General HANCOCK. If you will recollect the matter we will have it called for subsequently.

General MEADE. Just make a memorandum of it and I will have it sent. Indeed I am not positive, but I think my dispatches to General Sheridan of the cavalry are here. If they are they will be read. The next dispatch in order is the following, date 7.30 a.m., to General Warren (document 33).

General Ayres still remained on the right, and the orders still existed to do anything with him that could be done to advantage. At 7.50 a. m. we have the next dispatch from General Warren (document 34).

Nothing further was received while we awaited developments from General Crawford until 8 a.m., when the following dispatch was received from General Warren (document 35).

Notwithstanding it was considered that General Warren’s original order authorized him to take the batteries if it could be done, inasmuch as he was directed to move and attack with General Crawford, and as it was suggested that General Ayres might be required it was thought proper to send him the following order at 8.45 a.m. (document 36).

At 9.15 a.m. the following dispatch was received from General Warren (document 37).

At this time the conclusion had been arrived at by the lieutenant-general commanding and myself that the affair was over, and that nothing more was to be done; and soon afterward orders similar to those which were sent to others were sent to General Warren, that he should not make any attempt to take the two-gun battery. The following dispatches were sent to General Warren (documents 38, 38 1/2, 39, and 40).

Those are all the orders and communication that passed between General Warren and myself. He was authorized to attack if he could see a good chance to attack. When he reported no chance to attack and was asked what force he had available, he reported that he had no force available except he moved Ayres. He was directed not to move Ayres until information was received from Crawford, only if he could attack the two-gun battery in his front he was ordered to attack it, and then the operations were subsequently suspended.

Now I have read you the communications that passed between myself and General Grant, myself and General Burnside, myself and General Ord, and myself and General Warren. It now remains for me to read the communications that passed between myself and General Hancock and myself and General Mott.

The first was a communication sent at 4.40 a.m. to General Mott (document 41).

At 4.50 a.m. the following dispatch was sent to the telegraph operator at the headquarters of the Eighteenth Corps (document 42).

The following dispatch, dated July 30, 6 a.m., was sent to General Hancock after the mine was occupied (document 43).

The following dispatches were sent and received (documents 44, 45, 45 1/2, 45 3/4, 46, 47, 48, 49 50, 51, and 52).

These include the dispatches sent to the cavalry. I would explain that the separate orders to General Wilson were issued because General Sheridan, commanding the Cavalry Corps, was across the James River at Deep Bottom, with two divisions, and I had to issued separate orders to General Wilson so that he might be ready for the movement next day.

Here are some dispatches which are of no particular consequence, but I will leave them here. They are dispatches from the signal officers indicating the movements of the enemy.

General BURNSIDE. I would suggest that all the dispatches should be left.

General HANCOCK. General Meade is now giving his direct testimony, and only such dispatches are numbered as he wishes to incorporate. The others will be left here and can be called for at any time.

General MEADE. Well, I will read these dispatches and you can number them and put them down (documents 54, 55, 57, and 58).

It was on those reports of the signal officers that General Warren’s orders were predicated. The following is the report of the chief engineer (document 59).

I believe I have now every dispatch that I have received, and the Court are fully aware of all information that I received on the ground.

General Burnside said that before the Court adjourned he would like to ask what latitude was allowed in the investigation.

General Grant, and to the first inception of the mine.

General MEADE. I would state that in the general orders issued on the night previous to the assault, the cavalry was ordered to make this attack on the left. Two divisions of the Cavalry Corps were over at Deep Bottom. They could not cross the river until after the Second Corps had crossed, to that it was late in the day before they came up; indeed, the head of the column did not appear before the offensive operations were suspended. As General Wilson had been ordered to be in readiness, however, and in view of the unavoidable delay of Sheridan, orders were sent to General Wilson, not to wait for General Sheridan, but to push on himself to the Weldon railroad and make an assault upon the enemy. No report was received from General Sheridan. General Sheridan was sick. General Gregg reported in the evening that he had advanced his cavalry, and that they found the enemy in force at Reams’ Station, at Gurley’s house, and at various other points along the railroad. There was no attack made by the except at Lee’s Mill, where General Gregg, encountering cavalry, drove them away to water his horses. When it was known that our offensive operations were suspended, orders were sent to the cavalry that they should push on as far as possible and find out the enemy’s position, but the original orders about going into town were modified, inasmuch as the operations in our immediate front were suspended. I desire to say to the Court that it has not been my disposition or intention to throw censure upon anybody for the unfortunate failure; that, indeed, I have not been furnished with the necessary information to enable me do so. I have not yet received Major-General Burnside’s nor his subordinate commanders’ official reports. I have very little knowledge of what actually transpired except from the dispatches you have heard read here. I have been groping in the dark since the commencement of the attack. I did not wish to take any unpleasant measures; but I thought it my duty to suggest to the President of the United States that this matter should be investigated, and that the censure should be made to rest upon those who are entitled to it. What I have done has been to show that I tried to do all I could to insure success.

During the day General Burnside and some of his staff, Generals Potter and Ferrero, of the Ninth Corps, were present.

The Court adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. on the 9th.

THIRD DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 9, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The reading of the record of the second day was proceeded with, until suspended at page 30, document 25, by General Burnside’s verbal application to have all the documents bearing date after 2 p.m. on the 30th of July, and all evidence relating to events subsequent to that time, removed from the record, the reasons for which, by direction of the Court, were reduced to writing and presented as follows:
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
August 9, 1864.

THE COURT OF INQUIRY, MAJOR-GENERAL HANCOCK, PRESIDENT:

GENTLEMEN: I beg to submit to the Court that all testimony, whether by dispatches or otherwise, relating to occurrences subsequent to 2 p.m. on 30th July last, at which time our troops had withdrawn from the enemy’s line, and the assault was over, should be erased from the record, and no such evidence admitted in future. The terms of the order appointing the Court distinctly limit the action of the Court to reporting the “facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s position on the 30th of July, 1864,” and “their opinion whether any officer or officers are answerable for the want of success of said assault,” and whatever events happened subsequent to the withdrawal have no relation to the success or want of success of the assault and are not within the purview of the Court. Moreover, certain of these subsequent occurrences have been made the subject of charges against me by the major-general commanding the army, and on which charges I am to be tried by another court. They, therefore, should not be investigated by this Court.

I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

The following paper was then submitted by Major-General Meade:

I respectfully submit to the Court that the objection raised by Major-General Burnside is not tenable. As I have before said, I consider my conduct the subject of the Court’s investigation. To show that I was not and could not be held responsible for the manner of the withdrawal, and the circumstances attending it, it is necessary for me to show that I was not furnished with any information, and furthermore I claim the right to show in evidence that no effort on my part was omitted to obtain the necessary information. Independent of this personal consideration, and my rights as one whose conduct is under examination, I beg leave, also, to submit that the receiving of these official dispatches in this case cannot in any way affect the case of General Burnside, when on trial on the charges referred to by him. Those charges are disobedience of orders, and have no reference to his management of affairs on the 30th, because even should it be proved to the satisfaction of the Court (and I shall be glad to hear that it is) that General Burnside is in no way responsible for the lamentable failure on the 30th, it does not alter the facts of the case whether he obeyed or disobeyed my orders on that or any other occasion. This is a foreign matter, stands on its own merits, and has no connection with the proceedings of this Court beyond the fact that these documents will be produced in both cases. Again, I respectfully submit, General Burnside’s objections should have been made earlier in the proceedings, because among the charges preferred against him is one based on the very disrespectful dispatch sent by him to me at 8 a.m. July 30, and this dispatch should be thrown out on the same ground, which would at once prevent me from stating my case in the manner in which I claim I have the right to. I beg leave to call the attention of the Court to the hour of 2 o’clock being specified in General Burnside’s objections, and ask the Court to note that there is no evidence before them when the assault, if any, was made, or what occurred at 2 o’clock. I take it this Court must modify the rules which would govern courts of inquiry when the conduct of only one individual is called in question. This Court has to pass judgment on the conduct of numerous officers, and the relative rights of each should be considered. As I understand it, no one in particular is arraigned here, and therefore what occurs here can only be repeated elsewhere to the detriment of any of the parties concerned, and must be repeated. These are official documents, part of the archives of the Army of the Potomac, and their production in my vindication will give no weight to their production against. General Burnside, should he be tried on the charge of disobedience of orders. For these reasons I must respectfully insist on the Court receiving them.

General Burnside then submitted the following:

In reply to General Meade’s argument, I beg to say that there is no evidence on the record and none furnished by the documents in question that General Meade did in any way, by aide-de-camp or otherwise, use means to obtain any information in reference to the withdrawal or anything that occurred after he left my headquarters, about 11 o’clock, until after 6 o’clock in the evening, instead of, as he states, no effort being omitted on his part to obtain the necessary information; nor was such effort made to my knowledge. General Meade himself states in his argument that the charges have no reference to the management of affairs on the 30th, and as these charges contain in full the documents to which I object, they therefore should be excluded here.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

The Court was cleared. The Court was opened, and the following decision of the Court announced:

The proper time for objection to the reception of evidence is when it is offered, and before accepted. Due notice was given to all persons who were supposed to be interested in the investigation (of whom General Burnside was one) to be present if they so willed. The Court, however, decided that the evidence, documentary and verbal, in question, has a bearing on the conduct of individuals other than General Burnside. The Court is ordered to examine into the “facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault on the enemy’s position on the 30th of July,” and the authorities permit a court of inquiry to enter into incidental examination of particular points as may become necessary to a full understand of the matter at issue.

The Court therefore considers is a duty to examine into all the circumstances of the assault, the subsequent withdrawal of the troops, and everything connected therewith.

The judge-advocate continued the reading of the record of the second day, and on completion it was approved, several corrections having been made by the witness, whose meaning had not been fully understand.

The examination of Major-General MEADE was then resumed.

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. When did Mott’s division leave Deep Bottom and arrive at the Eighteenth Corps to relieve it?

Answer. Orders were given in person to Major-General Hancock, about 5 or 6 o’clock on the evening of the 28th, requiring him to withdraw Mott’s division, then in his line of battle in the presence of the enemy, after dark, and send it to report to General Ord, commanding the Eighteenth Corps. Orders were subsequently given to General Ord, when the division came up, about daylight on the 29th, to mass it in the woods near the railroad, out of sight of the enemy, and at dark on the evening of the 29th to put it in his trenches to relieve his corps.

Adjourned till 10 a.m. on 10th.

FOURT DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 10, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

There were also present Generals Ferrero, Potter, and Willcox, of the Ninth Corps; General Mott, of the Second and General Carr, of the Eighteenth.

The proceedings of the third day were read and approved.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL MEADE-CONTINUED.

Question by General BURNSIDE:

Question. Where were your headquarters during the action of the 30th?

Answer. From 4 o’clock until about 11 (I am not exactly confident as to the time of leaving it) my headquarters, as announced in the order of battle on the day previous, were established at the headquarters of the Ninth Corps. At 11 o’clock, or about that time, as near as I can remember, I returned to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, which are situated about three-quarters of a mile to the eastward of the headquarters of the Ninth Corps, and are in telegraphic communication with the same headquarters, where I remained during the rest of the day.

Question. How far was that from the scene of action?

Answer. If by the scene of actions is meant the crater of the mine and that portion of the enemy’s line in front of it, so far as I have knowledge of the ground, derived from maps, I should suppose that the headquarters of the Ninth Corps were possibly a mile to the eastward of the crater, and my headquarters are three-quarters of a mile, as I stated, beyond that still farther to the east.

Question. Could anything of the action be seen from there?

Answer. Nothing could be seen from any of the points that I occupied.

Question. Did you go farther to the front during the action? If so, where?

Answer. I did not leave the headquarters of the Ninth Corps during the active operations.

Question. Did you not know that there were several positions on our line where you could see the action for yourself, and yet be in as proper a place for you as in General Burnside’s permanent camp, and also have full personal communication with Generals Burnside and Ord, and be much nearer General Warren, and likewise have telegraphic communication with the rest of the army?

Answer. I undoubtedly was aware that there were points of the line where I could see more of the action than I could see at the position I occupied, but I was not aware that there was any point where I could see any thing particularly, or on which I could base any orders. I adopted the position I did in consequence of its being a central one, and in telegraphic communication with all parts of the line where officers were stationed with whom it was necessary to communicate, and having a large staff and many communications to receive, and many persons to communicate with,and being there in telegraphic communication I considered it more proper to remain where I announced to the army my headquarters would be and where all information could be sent to me, than to make any change of position as intimated in the question. Besides which, I desire to say to this Court that it has been a matter of policy with me to place myself in such position that my communications made and the replies made thereto should be made in such way as a record could be kept of them, and not be confined to verbal communication, which are often subject to misapprehension and to misconstruction. There undoubtedly was telegraphic communication from General Burnside’s headquarters in the field, the fourteen-gun battery as it was called, with the other headquarters in the army.

Question. Did you not have an aide-de-camp with General Burnside during most of the action?

Answer. During a portion of the time I did have Captain Sanders, aide-de-camp, at the headquarters of General Burnside. I sent him there in consequence of not receiving any communication from General Burnside, in the hope that he would be enabled to send me some information.

Question. Was not Captain Sanders sent there before the mine exploded?

Answer. No, sir; he was sent there some considerable time after the mine exploded-that is, upon the duty that I now refer to. I have previously stated to the Court that before the mine exploded I sent two officers to endeavor to explain the delay. One was Captain Jay, and one might have been Captain Sanders, but they returned before the explosion of the mine. After the explosion of the mine I sent Captain Sanders on the duty that I now refer to, which was to remain at General Burnside’s headquarters, and communicate to me anything which he could ascertain. I think it further proper to add to this answer to this question, that finding I did not get the information which I desired to have, or which I thought I could have, and fearing that my having an aide-de-camp, the object being to facilitate the transmission of information, might be used to deter responsible officers from communicating information to the commanding general, I withdrew Captain Sanders before the action closed, by an order.

Question. For what purpose was he sent? Was it not to report to you the state and progress of affairs, and did he not so report?

Answer. I have already answered the first part of that question. As to his reports, all the dispatches from him are on file in my evidence before the Court. As to whether he reported all that he should have reported, and all the information to be obtained, I presume the Court will ascertain from him and from other evidence.

Question. Was there any information not furnished you by General Burnside, or through other sources, which, if received, would have influenced your conduct of the action? If so, what?

Answer. I have already informed the Court that all the information that I received has been placed before them in the shape of official documents. It is impossible for me to say what my action would have been if I had received any other information. I acted upon the information I received.

Question. What time did Captain Sanders leave General Burnside to return to you?

Answer. I should say it was about 8.30; between that and 9, as near as I can recollect. I have a copy of the order to him which I can furnish, if desired.

Question. You state that General Burnside’s dispatch of 9 a.m. was the first information you had received that any collision had taken place or that there was any enemy in our front. Had you not, before the receipt of this dispatch, written to General Burnside in reference to General Griffin’s attack and repulse, also received a dispatch from Captain Sanders speaking of captured colors, also seen and examined rebel prisoners taken that morning?

Answer. In reply to that question I would say that I am willing to assume that there is an apparent discrepancy in my testimony which I am very glad to have an opportunity of explaining. I should suppose that any one cognizant of the circumstances that took place on that day, even of the most general nature, would know that I never meant to say that I did not know that there was no enemy anywhere. I was fully aware that when the crater was occupied a number of prisoners were taken. I was also aware that the enemy occupied their lines both on the right and on the left of the position occupied by General Burnside, and I did know that Captain Sanders had made a report of captured colors and that an attack had been made in front of Griffin; but my whole attention was absorbed in the endeavor to have a charge made to the crest, and my thoughts were all upon that; and when I said this was the first intimation I had of there being any enemy in the front I meant any enemy so situated as to prevent a direct assault upon the crest. Besides which I must throw myself upon the consideration of the Court and say that the vast number of dispatches, the frequency with which they were sent and received, was such that my memory may not serve me well, and the incidents may be, in a measure, not related in the exact order in which they occurred. I wish to call the attention of the Court to a very important fact, for the benefit of General Burnside, if it results to his benefit, as well as to mine, and that is the difficulty of having the time of these dispatches uniform. A dispatch is sen to me marked with the time of the officer who sends it, but the time by his watch may be ten or fifteen minutes different from mine. But I do honestly and conscientiously say that that was the first positive information, when I received that dispatch that the men of the Ninth and Eighteenth Corps were returning, that I had there was any such force or disposition of the enemy as to render it questionable that that assault could be made.

(General Burnside here remarked: “I want the record in such a shape as to enable the casual reader and the revising officer to see that there was before that time an effort on my part, or on the part of some person near me, to give information, and not an effort to cast any imputation on General Meade; and I do not desire to invalidate his testimony, but simply to elaborate. I am confident that there is no disposition on the part of General Meade to make erroneous statements.”)

Question. Have you a note written you by me about two weeks before the assault as to the practicability of an assault in my front, my answer thereto, your second letter, and my reply, and will you be kind enough to furnish copies?

Answer. I presume that those documents, like all other official documents, are on file. I will have a search made for them, and as soon as they are discovered will very cheerfully furnish General Burnside or the Court a copy of them.

(General Burnside explained that one of them was a semi-official letter, and General Meade, being reminded of the purport of, answered that he did not think he had it).

Question. What knowledge had you of the movements of the different divisions of the enemy of July 30?

Answer. I had very positive information from deserters, not only those who came within my own lines here, but those came into the lines of General Butler and those who came into the lines of General Hancock, that there were but three divisions of the enemy in our front, consisting of Mahone’s division, of Hill’s corps, and Johnson’s and Hoke’s divisions, of Longstreet’s corps, and that the other divisions of Lee’s army were on the north side of the James River confronting Generals Hancock and Sheridan on the 29th. I also received the same information from prisoners taken that morning. During the operations I received information from the signal officer on the plank road that the enemy were moving troops from their right to their center, which I anticipated, and upon receiving that information the orders were sent to General Warren to endeavor to turn the enemy’s right by pushing forward General Crawford and to General Wilson to push on without delay, without waiting for the arrival of General Sheridan coming from Deep Bottom.

Question. Did the order to suspend operations (given about 9 a.m. July 30) originate with Lieutenant-General Grant?

Answer. No, sir; the order, I think, originated with myself. Some time before the order was given I informed Lieutenant-General Grant that so far as I could see do; that the time had passed for the coup de main to succeed; and I suggested to him that we should immediately withdraw the troops, to which he acceded. About that time a dispatch was received from the signal officer of the Fifth Corps stating that he colored troops had captured a brigade of the enemy with four of their colors, to which, although I did not attach much importance, not knowing how a signal officer could see an operation of that kind, when it did not come to me from the officer in charge of the operation, we, nevertheless, suspended this order and held it in abeyance until the arrival of the dispatch of General Burnside, informing me that some of the men of the Eighteenth and Ninth Corps were retiring, and I think also that the lieutenant-general himself rode down to our trenches and made some personal examination and had seen General Ord and had some conversation with him upon his return. From what he heard from General Ord, and subsequently an officer coming in and saying that he colored troops instead of capturing a brigade and four colors had themselves retired in great confusion, which information, I think, was given me by Major Fisher, the chief signal officer, I again referred the subject to the lieutenant-general and again gave him, my opinion that as it was then about 9.25 it was unnecessary to make any other efforts and an unnecessary sacrifice of life, my idea being that they could be withdrawn without any difficulty then, or we should have difficulty later in the day in withdrawing them. To this he assented and the order was given to withdraw them. Afterward, when the information was received from General Burnside of the difficulty of retiring then, the order was modified.

Question. Were any instructions given for destroying the bridges in Petersburg in case the crest was gained?

Answer. There were not, for two reasons. And first, if we had succeeded, as I hoped we would, in overcoming the enemy, we should have driven them across the Appomattox and should have wanted those bridges to follow them; but the contingency of their destroying those bridges was held in view, and it was to meet that contingency that the chief engineer was ordered to have a pontoon train brought up so that we could throw our own bridges. My expectation was that if we had succeeded in the coup de main, that these three divisions of the enemy would have gone out of our way and we would be enabled to cross not only the Appomattox but also Swift Run, and open up communication with General Butler, at Bermuda Hundred, before General Lee could send any re-enforcements from the five divisions that he was known to have north of the James River.

Major General A. E. BURNSIDE, U. S. Volunteers, duly sworn, says:

Soon after this army arrived before Petersburg I received a note from General Potter, stating that if it was desirable the fort in front of his position could, in his opinion, be mined, and that he would, at my request, make a statement of the matter or would come to my headquarters with Colonel Pleasants, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, and lay the matter before me verbally. I sent him word that I would be glad to take the matter into consideration; and accordingly he and Colonel Pleasants came to my headquarters and laid before me a plan for running a mine to that position. In the course of the conversation Colonel Pleasant remarked to me that this thing had first suggested by the men of his regiment who, I think, were stationed in the advance line and pretty much all of whom were miners from Schuylkill County, Pa. The matter was fully discussed, and I authorized General Potter to commence the work, making the remark, if I remember right, that it could be occupied in that way, and I would lay the matter before General Meade at my earliest opportunity. We parted with that understanding, and the work was commenced.

Probably at the first interview that I had with General Meade I mentioned the matter him. He said to me that he had no instructions in reference to siege operations in his front; that that was a matter for the lieutenant-general to decide upon; that he could not authorize any work of that kind, but he would acquiesce in it, and I am inclined to think that I have upon record a letter to the same effect from General Meade. This work was started and progressed with the full knowledge of General Meade; in fact, I was in almost daily communication with him, and much conversation was had upon that subject.

When the gallery was first started there were many discouragements in the way of prophecies as to its failure which had to be overcome, and a great many suggestions as to the mode by which the work should proceed. I, however, left the matter entirely in the hands, of General Potter, Colonel Pleasants, and his regiment, feeling satisfied that these miners had experience in matters of that kind which would enable them to accomplish this work.

When it began to be demonstrated that we would probably reach a point under the enemy’s fort, conversations were had with reference to the feasibility of an assault after the explosion had taken place. Feeling that the old troops of the Ninth Corps had experienced very hard service during the campaign and had been in so many engagements, that they were very much wearied and their ranks thinned, I made up my mind if I was called on to make an assault with the Ninth Corps, to place the Fourth Division, under General Ferrero, in the advance, inasmuch as that division had not suffered so severely, in fact had not been in any general engagement during the campaign, but had frequently been very honorably engaged on the outposts of the army. General Ferrero himself and all his officers expressed to me their utmost confidence in his troops, and especially his confidence in their ability to make a charge, or in other words a dash. I accordingly instructed him to drill his troops with a view to leading the advance in case the Ninth Corps was called upon to make the attack.

Soon after this General Meade called upon me for a statement as to the practicability of making an assault in my front, which call seemed to have been general, or rather, seemed to have been made upon all the generals commanding corps then on the advance line. I answered him, giving to him as I conceived to be under the circumstances a proper opinion, stating that I thought the chances were fair that a successful could be made from my front if it could be supported in a specific way, and I could have the discretion of determining when the supporting columns should be put in. General Meade answered me to the effect that he commanded this army and that he could not give to any one the authority to determine as to the time that his troops should be put in action; that he would be glad to receive from me at all times such suggestions as I might make, but that he himself would take the responsibility of re-enforcing any force that he should see fit to order in action, or words to that effect. I at once wrote him a letter stating that I had no disposition whatever to claim the right to put other troops than my own in action; that I had simply made this suggestion because I had given troops to other corps commanders to support their columns, which they themselves had used during the campaign without any interference on my part, and I simply meant to ask what I had granted to others; that while I was certainly not anxious to put my own troops in action the troops of any other corps could be called upon to make the assault; that I was fully willing to accord to

General Meade more military skill than I possessed, and more ability to put troops in action, but that my troops had been given to corps commanders both on my right and on my left and placed in action by them; and, as I before said, I simply desired to have accorded to me what I had accorded to them.

It was decided, I believe, at that time, that no assault should be made; but I, notwithstanding, sent for General Ferrero and directed him to go down to our advance line and select positions for concentrating his division, to look at the positions on the line over which he had to pass, and to reconnoiter the ground over which his division would have to pass in an assault upon Cemetery Hill. I also directed him to send his brigade commanders down for the same purpose, and indicated to him exactly the position which I wanted him to take, and the parts of the line over which I desired him to pass. I requested that he would present to me a plan for the maneuvering of his troops in case assault of that kind were ordered.

In accordance with that, General Ferrero presented me a plan which is in substance laid down in my plan of attack, and continued in the proceedings already before you. (See document L). I approved of this plan, especially that part of it which contemplated the movement of troops to the right and left of the breach which we might make in the line in order to allow the other column to proceed to the front without any molestation from any of the enemy that might be left in the rifle-pits on the right and left of the breach. This must have been fifteen or twenty days, if not more, before the assault was made. I was afterward informed by General Ferrero that his troops had been drilled for a movement of that kind, and was informed by a large number of his officers that it was their understanding that they were to make an attack with them; that, if I stake not, they had passed over lines of intrenchments, performing the movement with a view to familiarizing their men with the movement, and they each and all expressed to me the greatest possible confidence in their ability to accomplish the work, which I considered a very material element in making the movement.

Nothing of importance occurred for a few days before the mine was sprung, except ordinary conversation with reference to the charge which was to be placed in the mine. I myself from a long experience in experiments with gunpowder, having been a manufacturer of arms several years before the war commenced and in constant practice with fire-arms, had a particular view with reference to the mode in which the mine should be charged, and the amount of charge to be placed in it. It was not in accordance with the methods laid down in scientific works upon the subject of military mining, but entirely in accordance with all experience in mining and blasting by civil engineers within the last two or three years since the method of heavy tamping had been abandoned. It is not worth while for me to enter here into an explanation of my theory, because I can present the report of the officer who built the mine, and that will explain the matter fully. It is sufficient to say that the mine was charged partially upon my theory and partially upon the theory of the old established plan of military mining. In the theory which I decided to be adopted large charge could be used without detriment, in my opinion, to persons in the immediate proximity of the mine, but persons who were not of my opinion felt that the effect of this mine at great distance, with the charge which I proposed to place in it, would be very great and it became, from some cause or other, known to my troops, both officers and men, that a difference of opinion of that kind had arisen, and to such an extent that I have had general officers come to me and ask me if I did not think the charge so large that there was danger of injuring our own men. This feeling among the men had a certain effect which I will leave for the Court to decide, and if they request it I will send them the names of witnesses who have mentioned to me that impression on the subject long before the mine was exploded, so that there can be no mistake as to the impression that prevailed at the time. I myself was satisfied, without knowing definitely, that the charge which I desired to place in the mine could be placed there with safety. I witnessed this anxiety among the troops with a good deal of concern, but that it did not prevail in the division which it was supposed would make the assault (it not being then upon our lines) was a source of gratification to me. This Court will see by looking at the documents which General Meade has presented that I was directed to keep the amount of powder placed in the chambers within the limits of rules prescribed by military works upon that subject. I, however, in several verbal communications with General Meade, insisted upon the other method; and it was finally decided that we should place in the mine, 8,000 pounds of powder instead of 12,000 pounds. The ground that I took was this; that the depth of the mine, or rather, the bottom of the chambers was fixed the greater the explosion the greater the crater radius, and less inclination would be given the sides of the crater, giving a greater space for the troops to pass over, and a less inclination for them to pass up and down in the line. It was, however, determined that 8,000 pounds of powder should be put in instead of 12,000 and the mine was accordingly exploded with that charge. The decision in reference to the charge to be placed in the mine was given in ample time to let me make arrangements for the amount of powder.

The general facts and movements connected with this army for the first three or four days previous to the fight are so well known to the Court that I will not delay them by any statement as to my correspondence and personal intercourse or anything of that nature up to Thursday before the fight.

On that day (Thursday, two days before the fight) I went to General Meade’s headquarters. He spoke to me in this way:

“I have received information that it is impossible for General Hancock to advance beyond his present position; he has succeeded in inflicting upon the enemy a severe punishment and captured some four pieces of cannon, but is not able to advance beyond that point (or, at any rate, it was decided that he should not advance beyond that point). A large force of the enemy from this position has been attracted to that side of the river by this movement of General Hancock, and General Grant desires that an attack should be made here.”

(I think he made that last remark, but I will not be positive; he either said that General Grant desired, or he himself desired, that an attack should be made.) He asked how long it would take the mine. There was some correspondence before and after that time (I do not know if it is in your proceedings or not) in reference to the time necessary to charge the mine); I think it very likely that General Meade has placed all the documents before you. Previous to this he had written to me to present my project for this movement, which is now before you.

During this conversation on Thursday he said to me, “I cannot approve of your placing the negro troops in the advance, as proposed in your project.” I asked him why. He said, “Because I do not think they should be called upon to do as important a work as that which you propose to do, certainly not called upon to lead,” or words to that effect. I, in a considerable conversation, urged upon General Meade the necessity for placing General Ferrero’s division in the advance. I stated to him that the three white divisions had been on the advance line, and under fire from the moment of the establishment of the line, on the 18th or 19th of June, until that time; that they were very much wearied, had contracted a habit of covering themselves by every method within their reach, and that I was satisfied they were not in condition to make anything like as much of a dash upon the enemy’s line as General Ferrero’s division, which had not been under any considerable fire from the time of its arrival at this place to that moment. I told him I considered my troops to be as good as they ever were, with the exception of this weariness and the habit, which had almost become a second nature, of protecting themselves from the fire of the enemy. In fact, upon this subject, I was very, very urgent.

I will here present to the Court some of the reasons for forming this opinion, which reasons were presented to General Meade. Take an intermediate date, say the 20th of July, and there were for duty 9.023 muskets in the three old divisions of the Ninth Corps, which occupied the line. From the 20th of June, which was after the fight at this place, to the day before the fight on the 30th day of July, these divisions lost as follows: Killed, 12 officers, 231 men; wounded, 44 officers, 851 men; missing, 12 men; making a total of 1,150, which is over 12 per cent, of the command, without a single assault on the part of the enemy or of our own troops. These casualties were caused from picket-firing and shell firing, and extended pretty evenly over the whole time. I think that the whole of General Willcox’s division was on the line for thirty days or more without relief. General Potter’s and General Ledlie’s divisions had some small reliefs, enabling those gentlemen to draw some of their men off at intervals, for two or three days at a time, at certain intervals during this period. A considerable portion of our line was so situated as to render it impossible to keep pickets to the front of them. It was, in fact, situated very much as a portion of the line occupied by the Second Corps at Cold Harbor. As I stated before, I stated these facts to General Meade, except that I will not say that I gave him these exact figures; but the full substance of what I have stated here was given to him, together with the statement of the loss of officers and men, and the way in which the losses occurred. And, in fact, statements were made regularly to General Meade, so that these facts were in his possession, but were not made with the same particularly to him as I have made them here.

The Ninth Corps also lost in the fight of the 17th and 18th of June 2,903 men, and in the action of the 30th of July 3,828. The following are the figures more in detail: June 17 and 18-Killed, 29 officers, 348 men; wounded, 106 officers, 1,851 men; missing, 15 officers, 554 men; 2,903. July 30-Killed, 52 officers, 376 men; wounded, 105 officers, 1,556 men; missing, 87 officers, 1,652 men; 3,828.

General Meade said to me that he was going to see General Grant, and would submit the question to him as to whether the colored troops would be allowed to take the advance or not. This, as I said, was on a Thursday-I think in the forenoon. He said to me that he would start at 1 o’clock, and would return that evening. I parted with him, and on the next morning, not having heard anything from General Meade, and knowing from information that I had received that he had returned from City Point during the evening, I imagined that no further action was to be taken in the matter, and that I was to be allowed to place the Fourth Division in the advance.

On Friday forenoon General Willcox and General Potter, two of my division commanders, came to my headquarters, and we talked over the matter of the fight which was to take place on Saturday morning. I said to one or both of them to this effect: that I had been very much worried and troubled the day before lest General Meade would overrule that part of my plan which contemplated the putting in of the colored troops, but that I hoped nothing further would be heard from it because General Meade had gone to City Point the day before, and the matter was to be referred to General Grant, and that inasmuch as I had not heard from General Meade I took it for granted that he had decided to allow the thing to remain as it was. This I must necessarily give in substance, because my conversations with my division commanders are not guarded. They can be called upon themselves to state what they know about the matter. Soon after that, say 11 o’clock, Generals Meade and Ord came to my headquarters. I am under the impression that I broached the subject myself as to the colored division taking the advance, but whether I did or not he informed me that General Grant coincided with him in opinion, and it was decided that I could not put that division in advance. I felt, and I suppose I expressed and showed, very great disappointment at this announcement, and finally in the conversation which occured, and to which there are two witness here present, I asked General Meade if that decision could not be changed. He said, “No, general, it cannot; it is final, and you must put in your white troops.” No doubt in the conversation I gave some of the reasons for not wishing to put the white troops in that I had given at his headquarters, but of that I am not certain. This was the day before the fight. I said to General Meade that that would necessarily change my plan. Now, this conversation either occured at that time or it occured at a later hour in the day, say 1 or 2 o’clock, when General Meade returned to my headquarters, because he went off with General Ord for an hour or two, say, and returned to my headquarters. It is not impossible that this conversation occured in the afternoon instead of in the forenoon of the 29th.

After some conversation with Generals Willcox and Potter as to which troops should take the advance, one of them remarked to me that I had better send for General Ledlie and we would talk the matter over as to which one of the divisions should take the advance. I sent for General Ledlie, and after some discussion the matter I decided that, taking everything into consideration, it would be but fair that these gentlemen should cast lots for the advance. General Willcox was probably better situated, as to position, for the advance, as his troops then were, than either of the other divisions-certainly, than General Ledlie-but his troops, as I stated before, had been constantly on the line, with the exception of an intermission of a day or two, which rendered it, if anything, desirable that General Ledlie’s troops should lead instead of his. General Potter’s troops had been, next to General Willcox’s, more constantly on the line, and I think he was, next to him, better situated for the advance; but, as I have indicated by previous remarks, General Ledlie’s division was less fatigued, and, in my opinion, it was more just to call upon them to make the charge, and they had fought as gallantly as troops could fight on the 17th, and I therefore did not hesitate to call upon them in consequence of any lack of faith in their courage. So I said, “I will be fair to cast lots.” And so they did cast lots, and General Ledlie drew the advance. He at once left my headquarters, in a very cheerful mood, to make his arrangements for the advance, as no time could be lost in making the necessary arrangements, as it was then certainly 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the assault was to be made next morning.

I directed him to take his brigade commanders and go to the front with Colonel Loring, my inspector-general, who was entirely conversant with the ground, and I indicated to Colonel Loring about the position I desired General Ledlie to take, and I also stated verbally to General Willcox and General Potter about the positions I desired them to take with their divisions, and the ground being familiar to all of us enabled us to talk very understandingly and easily upon the subject. General Potter expressed some doubt as to finding room enough on the right of the covered way to place his troops, of which I was in doubt myself, the general instructions being for General Potter to mass all his troops, if possible, on the right of his covered way, General Willcox to occupy his covered way and such portions of the railroad cut as was necessary, and room to be found between the two for General Ledlie, who had the assaulting column. At all events, there was, as far as I know, a distinct understanding between myself and my division commanders as to the positions to be occupied by the troops. Not that they did finally occupy exactly the positions which I indicated to them, because some of them were immaterially modified by correspondence, I think, between Generals Willcox, Potter, and myself. it is sufficient to say that General Ledlie’s troops were massed in about the same position as I had desired to mass 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, and that a gallant soldier named Sergeant Reese, of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, had volunteered to go into the gallery to ascertain whether the fuse was really burning still and burning slowly, or whether it had failed. He discovered that it had failed and retired it; and Major Van Buren further said that General Potter told him that the time was to explode at a certain minute. This was, I think, within eleven minutes of the time of the explosion. I am not sure that I did not receive a similar message from an aide-de-camp to General Potter. I think I did. Within one minute of the time designated by Major Van Buren (and it was a fact which was cognizant to every one) I was not with the advance column of troops that was to make the charge. I understand that there was considerable anxiety among the men after and before the explosion as to the effect that it might have upon them, and I have been informed by Colonel Loring, my inspector-general (who may be called before this Court), who was with the column, that it took probably five minutes to get the men in perfect condition to dash forward. After their ranks were re-established, they went forward, as far as I could see or know or hear, in the most gallant possible style until they arrived within the crater. Here, owing to the inequalities of the ground, and possibly other reasons which will be matters of investigation in this Court, there was a pause, the men to a considerable extent disorganized, and it was so reported to me. I will state here, though, that I have not been able to make up my mind that any set of troops of this army or any other army that had gone through the labor that these troops had gone through for the last thirty days could be made to do better than they did upon that occasion.

I saw with me there at my headquarters Captain Sanders. I think I remarked to him that I was glad he was to be with me on that day, as he had been with me during the fight on the 18th, and had been the means of communication between General Meade and myself, and I was very much pleased that he was present with me on that morning, and I think I so expressed myself. At all events my impression was, if he did not tell me so, that he was to remain with me during the morning. The dispatches I received from General Meade, which I hope the Court will examine carefully, bore the marks of very great anxiety, such as I was at the time feeling, to learn the information which I was about the same time endeavoring to learn, and at the same time unable to give him, and I so stated to his aide-de-camp. I, of course, was glad that no movement was made-by me (as General Meade must be) in accordance with the order to attack in case the mine had failed.

from that time until the time that the troops were withdrawn I endeavored to give at all important points (I do not mean in minutia), to General Meade by telegraph and to Captain Sanders by word, all the information of which I was possessed. I, of course, was in a position in which I could examine the movements of the troops. For half an hour at a time I would be away from my headquarters. I went with General Warren once the covered way to the front. The covered way was full of troops, and there was no way of going on horseback or of carrying any number of staff officers, and from the position we were to reconnoiter it would not have been advisable to carry any number of officers to that point. The dispatches that I sent to General Meade are, I think, on record, and I think of carefully examined without reference to the numerous dispatches I received from him, it will be ascertained that at every important epoch correct and definite information, was sent to him either by Captain Sanders or myself, up to the receipt of a dispatch which was misunderstood by me, and which appears upon your record, and bears the positive certainty of insubordination for which I must be responsible and must necessarily suffer. I will state the circumstances under which the dispatch was given me. It was handed to me by Captain Jay, who came up to me and said, “General Meade desires me to say that this is for you personally, ” or words to that effect, no doubt meaning that it was for my personal attention. I misunderstood the tenor of it, no doubt; read it and put in my answer, which is also on record before you.

The orders that I gave from time to time to my division commanders were principally verbal orders given through my aides-de-camp. I had with each division a responsible aide-de-camp, who was in constant communication with me, and if mistake not I did not receive from Generals Ferrero or Ledlie a single written dispatch, and but one or two each from Generals Potter and Willcox; but at the same time I received verbally frequent information of all that was going` on in order to enable me to direct the movement of my troops.

After giving orders for all the white troops to be shoved in, and sending additional orders forward, which were also reiterated by division commanders, for the troops to advance and move upon the crest in accordance with the understanding and plan of the night before, which were plain and distinct, I received from General Meade an order to put in my whole force and move for the crest at once. I had not done this because I was satisfied that there was very great difficulty attending the formation of the troops in the crater in consequence of the great number there. I have since learned that considerable progress had been made in the formation at that time. Indeed, the troops were progressing to the right and left-and to my knowledge had driven the enemy-General Potter to the right and General Willcox to the left.

A dispatch which was intended for me, from Colonel Loring, went to my old headquarters and was read by General Meade. I was cognizant of that fact, and I knew that General Meade was aware of the circumstances which surrounded the troops at that place, because General Meade sent an orderly with a message stating that he had read the dispatch himself. It was, therefore, not necessary from me to recommunicate the information I had received from Colonel Loring. After my three divisions had been put into the position they occupied in the works I hesitated to put in this colored division. I remembered having told General Meade that in case the colored division should falter in the advance I did not think it would affect our old white divisions, certainly as to holding their position; that if the white divisions were to falter in the advance it would be impossible to get the black division to pass them. I am not sure but I told him this the very day before the battle, in my sent. I received from General Meade an order to put in my whole force, which I did. I sent an order to General Ferrero to go to the top of the crest with his division. One of my aides was there at the time (Colonel Loring), and took the responsibility of saying that that should be stopped, because he was satisfied that I had not received his dispatch. He came to me and I said my orders were peremptory, to put in my whole command; and he himself told General Ferrero to put in his division at once and go to the top of the crest, if possible. The colored division was put in, and from what I can learn no officers or men behaved with greater gallantry than they did. After passing the while troops and attempting something like a formation they were driven back by the enemy and driven through the white troops, the white troops, or the principal portion of them, still maintaining their position fighting as gallantly as three divisions ever fought. I witnessed this repulse myself, and at the same time saw that the enemy had been repulsed by our own white troops, the black troops coming to the rear to a very considerable extent.

There is one point to which I wish to call the attention of the Court. I sent to General Meade a dispatch at 6.20, stating that if General Warren’s reserve force could be concentrated at that time I thought it would be well, or something to that effect, and I would designate to him when that force should be put in. To that dispatch you have the answer. Not far from that time General Warren came himself to my headquarters, if not exactly at that time. I then said to him, “General, let us look at this position,” having in view answering the question which General Meade desired me to answer. General Warren and I went down to the front, leaving my headquarters and going down a covered way until we got to a position on the left-hand side of General Potter’s covered way beyond. We got on a mound of earth and reconnoitered the enemy’s position until we were satisfied. I said to General Warren,” I think your plan would plan would be to strike across by the fort which enfiladed our lines,” or something to that effect. At any rate, whatever opinion I expressed to General Warren it is sufficient to say that he told me that he should go back and explain to General Meade the circumstances, and if possible to get him to come to the front and look for himself. That, of course, satisfied me with reference to that point of General Meade’s inquiry.

Although this narrative is very disconnected, I believe I have stated in it all the material points. I do not know of a single order of mine that was not carried out by my division commanders. I do not know of any lack of energy on their part in carrying out my views and the views of the commanding general, except, possibly, in the case of General Ledlie, who was quite sick on that day, and who I thought afterward ought to have gone to the crater the moment his men were in, but I understood that he was very sick and could hardly have walked that far under the oppressive heat. He was within 120 yards of his brigades, I should say.

Between 9.30 and 10 o’clock I received two dispatches from General Meade with reference to withdrawal. They are marked Nos. 12 and 15 in the record before you. I was very much concerned in reference to the matter, because although we had met with some reserves, I could not help feeling myself that we could hold the position which we occupied, if we could not gain more ground. In fact I was under the impression at the time that we were gaining ground in the direction of the enemy’s rifle-pits, to the right and left, I felt that if troops were put in on our left flank that then we would have been enabled to establish ourselves on the enemy’s line, which, of course, would have made our position secure. However that is simply a matter of opinion, upon which the commanding general had to decide. I also felt that if we could gain no more ground we could run out lines at an angle to the crater and establish a salient upon the enemy’s lines, which would be of material advantage to us in future operations, particularly in making him vacate that part of the line which is now opposite my front, and, in fact, as I had not given up all hopes of carrying the crest even, if a positive and decided effort were made by all the troops. But feeling disinclined to withdraw the troops, I got on my horse and rode over to General Meade’s headquarters, which were at any permanent headquarters. He and general Grant were there together. General Ord and I entered the tent, and General Meade questioned General Ord as to the practicability of his troops being withdrawn I made the remark that none of General Ord’s troops were in the enemy’s line, and he would have no trouble in withdrawing; that none but the troops of the Ninth Corps were in the line, and I thought that my opinion on that subject would probably be a proper one to be received; and I stated that I did not think that we had fought long enough that day; that I felt that the crest could still be carried if a decided effort were made to carry it. To that I received the reply that the order was final, or something to that effect. General Meade in his evidence states that I gave no reasons why I thought the crest could be carried, and it will not be amiss for me to say that no reasons were asked, and that he simply stated that the order was final. I was then satisfied that the best time to withdraw those troops would be after night-fall; that it would be best to retain possession of the place till after night fall. I thought from reports which I had received from my aides-de-camp and division commanders that we could then withdraw the troops. I had myself witnessed a very handsome repulse of the enemy by our troops just before leaving to go to General Meade’s headquarters.

At this point the Court took a recess.

After recess General BURNSIDE resumed his testimony, saying:

I will supply one or two omissions in this disjointed narrative now. Some time before I received the order from General Meade to put in my whole force I received a verbal message from General Willcox by one of his aides, Captain Brackett, that it was useless to send more troops up that line at that point, that all the troops were there that could be handled, or could be used, or words to that effect; and that an immediate attack should be made both upon our right and left. That is as far as I can remember of the message. I am under the impression I immediately transmitted this message to General Meade either by a staff officer of my or own by one of his. I also said that in several conversation with General Meade I stated to him that I was satisfied that the explosion of the mine our front and the advance of our troops would enable a strong skirmish line to carry everything on the left. I am of the impression that I expressed that opinion to General Meade the day before the fight in the presence of General Potter and General Willcox. I know that I expressed it to him half a dozen times. After it had been decided by General Meade finally that the troops were to be withdrawn I was necessarily very much exercised as to the best method withdrawal. I had directed General White, who was acting on that day as chief of staff, to remain on the line until he heard from me, and that I would send him the result of my interview with General Meade. I wish to read here the dispatch I sent him and the accompanying note written by General White:

“HEADQUARTERS NINTH CORPS,

“July 30, 1864.

“Brigadier-General WHITE,

“Chief of Staff:

“I have no discretion in the matter. The order is peremptory to withdraw. It may be best to intrench where we are for the present, but we must withdraw as soon as practicable and prudent.

“A. E. BURNSIDE,

“Major-General.”

[Indorsement.]

” Division commanders will instruct in accordance with the within dispatch, the officers on the line to consult and determine the time of evacuation.

“By order of Major-General Burnside:

“J. WHITE,

“Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.”

I sent for my division commanders after sending that dispatch. Feeling confident that the reports I had received that our people would be able to hold the position which they then occupied until night, certainly, and feeling that if they were not, one time for evacuation was about as good as another, I thought it best to have a perfect understanding as to the method of withdrawal. They came to my headquarters and it was decided that we should dig a trench or trenches from our main line to the crater, and thereby enable them to withdraw without serious loss. It will be remembered that this distance is but a little over 100 yards, and taking into consideration the radius of the crater it is probably less than that distance. General Willcox had already given instructions, as he informed me and as I know, to dig a trench connecting our advance line with the crater, and I am not sure that the other divisions commanders had not commenced like operations. I remember the fact being stated at the conversation at my headquarters that the work was going on, and that was decided upon as the best method of withdrawal. The dispatch which I sent to General White, and, which I have just handed to the Court, was received by him in time to be read by two of the division commanders before they left the front for my headquarters, and was forward by them to the general officers in the crater. One of those general officers was taken prisoner and the other two are available as witness before this Court. Their names are Generals Hartrant and Griffin. As to the effect of this dispatch I will leave it for the persons present to give evidence of, particularly as an important dispatch from myself to General Meade, here, contains my opinions of it.

Adjourned till August 11.

FIFTH DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 11.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceeding of the fourth day were read (General Burnside’s testimony first) and approved after various corrections by General Burnside.

Generals Ferrero, Willcox, and Potter were present also.

GENERAL BURNSIDE’S TESTIMONY-CONTINUED.

In concluding my testimony I simply desire to call the attention of the Court to the fact that important evidence before them would indicate that I had not given proper information of what was going on in my front during the action on the 30th, and to say to them that up to the time that the mine was exploded there was nothing possible for me to report, because I could not answer questions which General Meade propounded to me by one or two different dispatches, except by saying that I did not know the reason for the delay, and as soon as I learned it I would inform him of it, which I think I did by verbal communications, either by Captain Sanders or Captain Jay. As soon as I ascertained the cause of the delay I request Major Van Buren, who informed me of it, to state to Captain Jay fully the causes, and he will be able to state to you whether he did do or not.

The explosion of the mine, as I before said, was a fact evident to every one along the line, and each and every command then had its orders to do a certain work, which were so explicit as to enable them to move at once to that work-first, orders to corps commanders under General Meade, next orders from corps commanders to their division commanders, and so on.

I reported to General Meade by dispatch when we made a breach in the enemy’s works, as will be seen by your record. I also reported to him soon after in answer to probably frequent anxious dispatches that we were endeavoring to advance, that it was hard work, but that we hoped to succeed, which was the full extent of the knowledge then in my possession, and all that I could learn from personal observation of the contest in the neighborhood of the breach. Soon after he received the report of my inspector-general stating the condition of the troops in the crater and in the rifle-pits to the right and left of it. This report was intended for me, but was opened by General Meade and sent to me by him. The obligation resting upon me to send him a copy was, therefore, removed, inasmuch as I knew that he had already seen its contents from his own statement. I reported to him a short time after that or just before that I thought it was the proper time to concentrate General Warren’s troops, and that I would indicate to him the time when I thought they ought to go in, for there was hardly room at that time for them to go in on our front. I received an answer from him stating the object of his dispatch, and that he desired to know if it was practicable for General Warren’s force to be put in upon our left. At about that time, certainly before I could determine the fact, I came into contact with General Warren personally at my headquarters, and he and I made the personal reconnaissance that has been before alluded to. I parted with General Warren with the distinct understanding that he was to report to General Meade the condition of affairs in his front, and, as I before said, with the statement that he would endeavor to get General Meade to come to the front himself, which I considered to be sufficient answer to General Meade’s dispatch, particularly as General Warren went directly from me to the telegraph office. It is possible that in this I made a mistake. At another juncture I reported to him that I thought that was the time for General Warren to be put in promptly. Soon after that time, and before it would have been possible for to have sent any other intelligent report, I received orders to withdraw the troops to our own intrenchments. During the engagement General Meade also received from Captain Sanders, his aide-de-camp, who was at my headquarters, certainly three written dispatches and one verbal dispatch, which he acknowledges, independent of the verbal dispatch which I speak of giving to him before the explosion of the mine. I desire to say that Captain Sanders was near me constantly, knows that I never failed to give an aide-de-camp, situated as he is, every possible information, heard all my conversation with my aides-de-camp, and I think had free access to every dispatch and report that reached me from the front or from my division commanders. I learned personally, in presence of General Humphreys, chief of staff of the Army of the Potomac, that that was the understanding of Captain Sanders.

There were some papers which I desired to have removed from the record of this Court in consequence of certain conditions which surrounded them, and which this Court has made a very proper decision upon; but as they form a portion of the record it becomes necessary for me also to state some of the circumstances which surround one of these papers, which was a dispatch sent by me to General Meade containing an objectionable remark, which will be recognized on the record by all the members of the Court. In conversation with two mutual friends of General Meade and myself, I became satisfied that I had misunderstood the note which he had sent from the front on that morning.

I obtained permission to go to City Point to see General Grant, and I stated to him the circumstances of the case, among other things upon which we conversed. I left him with the understanding that I should return and withdraw the letter which I had written to General Meade. General Wilson, of the cavalry, was present at this interview. I returned to my headquarters and found upon my table charges preferred against me, and a request that I should be relieved from command in this army, against neither of which have I any complaint to make, but simply make this explanation to remove any responsibility from the shoulder of General Meade which might possibly attach to the letter which he wrote to me, and which I imagined at the time indicated a belief on his part that I was not disposed to tell him the truth on the day of the action.

When I went to my headquarters at my permanent camp and learned from General Meade himself that the order to withdraw was final, I at the same time learned that offensive operations had ceased on both the flanks of the line which we had occupied and to which we were ordered to withdraw. I have stated to the Court as well as I know how the means taken by me to effect that withdrawal securely, with one exception, I think is that I started General Ferrero off at once with definite instructions to put all the force that he could get to work to dig a trench or trenches from our old line to the crater, in order that our men might come out, and that he started off on the moment. What followed that will no doubt be inquired into by the Court.

Soon after I learned that offensive operations were to cease on our flanks it became evident that all the operations of this corps were to be independent. General Meade left my headquarters; made no request of me for information; I received no dispatch from him until the evening of the day after which the troops were driven out of the crater, and, to a certain extent, were re-established in our own lines. The negligence on my part to report after that time I will not attempt to justify myself for by any reasons before this Court, inasmuch as it will probably become the subject of charges pertaining to things that took place long after the troops had come inside of our own lines.

I should not dwell so fully upon my rule of conduct in matters of this kind but for the fact that matters of a like nature have been elaborated upon in evidence which now lies before this Court. I can readily conceive General Meade’s anxiety which would induce him to write frequent dispatches, but in my rule of conduct with my officers I have rather cultivated the idea that frequent dispatches, unless they are well authenticated, are not desirable, particularly dispatches with reference to the condition of the troops and calls for re-enforcements.

I endeavored during my movements on that day to obey every order that was given to me. I put every single man of the Ninth Corps in action. I was not called upon to fight a field fight; there was no opportunity to maneuver troops; there was no discretion about looking out for flanks beyond that which fell upon commanders managing their troops in action; there was simply an obligation on my part to rush these troops through the crater and gain the top of the crest without reference to formation; and I put three divisions in as promptly as I knew how, and when I received the order to put my whole force in, I threw the Fourth Division in with the most positive and distinct orders to my division commanders, given in the evidence before this Court. I had no possible chance to push batteries forward to protect the flanks, or of moving troops forward to protect them; I simply had to gain the crest. I obeyed every order to the best of my ability and did everything that I could do to place my troops in that position.

I have not elaborated as much as to the features of the ground in my front at the mine as I might have done, and I will not delay the Court with it now. I will endeavor to make that as distinct as possible in my official report, which will probably he prepared by to-morrow morning, and will probably be laid before this Court, together with the reports of the division and brigade commanders of my command.

I desire now to insert certain papers here which relate to the evidence that I have given before you. The battle order of General Meade is already before you. The document I now hand you is the circular containing the battle order to my corps (document 60).

I sent a copy of this to General Ord, General Warren, and to the headquarters of the army; and I should have sent a copy to General Hancock had he been here at that time.

I present now the order for the siege, dated July 9, directing operations on this line, and desire to state as the reason for presenting it, that the works on my front had been conducted with the understanding that there would be an attempt made to capture the position of the enemy by military operations conducted under the chief engineer of this army and the chief of artillery, together with the corps commanders (document 61).

I now desire to present a copy of a correspondence between General Meade and myself early in July. The first is an answer of mine to a circular sent to corps commanders with a view to ascertaining what were the chances of the success of an assault in their fronts, and is as follows (document 62).

I beg to say here that this is specifically an answer in reference to an assault in my front, which was the only opinion I was required to give. The second document is General Meade’s answer to my letter and is as follows (document 63).

My reason for stating that my answer to General Meade was semi-official, and that the whole correspondence was of that nature, was the fact that it is marked at the top “Confidential.” The dispatches sent by General Meade to me were marked like-wise, but in this copy that is omitted. The envelopes, at least, were marked “Confidential” (document 64).

Questions by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in a position to see all the operations of the assault before Petersburg, or how much of them?

Answer. I was in a position at different times to see every particle of the assault before Petersburg-at one time in one position, at another time in another. Not that I desire to convey the impression that I was all the time looking to the front, but that at proper intervals of time I could see all that was desirable to see.

Question. What was the distance from the fourteen-gun battery to the crater?

Answer. I should say 600 or 650 yards. I wish to state that whilst at my headquarters, in order to get a look at what was going on on certain portions of the front, we placed ourselves upon the magazine of the fort, or upon the high ground just in rear of the fort, or upon the high ground just to the right and left of the fort. I was, however, frequently, to a considerable extent, in advance of the fort, as was the case when General Warren and myself made our reconnaissance; and I also visited a commanding position on the opposite side of General Potter’s covered way during the engagement, from which other parts of the line could be seen. The fort I refer to is the fourteen-gun battery, which is established immediately in rear of the old brick wall and chimneys, and is essentially on our main line, say fifty yards to the rear. The advance line is about 115 yards from the crater, the main line is about 400 yards from that, and then the battery is a short distance, say fifty yards, in rear of the main line. But the position from which the most of the movements could be seen was in advance of the main line, between the two lines.

Question. What preparations were made for the passage of the attacking columns from the breast-works as directed by General Meade’s order?

Answer. All the preparations were directed to be made that were possible, such as removing abatis and so forth, as directed by General Meade’s order; but it was not expected by any one that any considerable success could attend any work of that kind without serious loss to the command and discovery on the part of the enemy. The abatis in front, which was the only serious obstruction, was very much cut up by the enemy’s fire, and did not present as serious an obstacle to the movement of troops as it would be supposed by a person hearing that the abatis still remained in front of the line. I have never ascertained from any one that the troops were at all obstructed in passing over, and I am, therefore, free to say I made no special inquiry upon that subject. If I remember right, it is the first time it has occurred to me since the reading of General Meade’s order, but I do remember that not much was expended to be done, in view of our close proximity to the enemy. This refers to the front over which the troops had to pass. I will state definitely that there was no expectation on my part that that portion of the order could be carried out without discovery and without very great harm to the troops that would have to prepare this work, and in my order I place no clause of that nature, but it was distinctly understood that the troops were to be provided with pioneer tools and other means of clearing away such obstructions as might be in the way, understood between myself and the division commanders.

Question. Did you intend that the obstructions should not be removed until the pioneers advanced with the columns, or did you intend that they were to be removed by the division commanders the night before, and what division commanders were charged with the

execution of that order?

Answer. I did not intend any of my division commanders to do any work in the way of removing obstructions on that night, because I did not expect that they could do it, and besides, I was ordered to be believe on the line by General Ord’s troops, and to concentrate my troops for the assault; but I will state again that there was an understanding between the division commanders and myself, that anything that could be done in that direction would be done. I did not expect them to do anything; there was no order to that effect from me unless it was contained in my verbal orders to the division commanders. My remarks now apply to work on the advance line, where I did not suppose that any work could be done without discovery by the enemy, in consequence of its close proximity to the enemy’s line to the front of the main line. There were covered ways cut both to General Willcox’s and to General Potter’s front.

Question. What time elapsed from the springing of the mine to the forward movement of the assaulting columns, and how long was it before the crater was reached by the storming party?

Answer. At the risk of involving the same difference in time as in similar matters I will state that it was about five minutes until the advance column moved forward, and say ten minutes before the leading column reached the crater. This delay occurred in consequence of the hesitation which has been already alluded to in my evidence, but not personally known to me. And it is not impossible that I may be mistaken as to the time. There was only one column started to move to the crater, because the divisions were ordered to go in succession, the first division, General Ledlie commanding, leading in consequence of the probability that a breach would not be made sufficiently broad in the enemy’s line to admit more than one column, my intention up to the day of the attack being to make the assault by my plan, which you have before you.

Question. To what did you attribute the halting of the troops in the crater, instead of proceeding to the crest immediately as by the order?

Answer. To the breaking up of the column in consequence of the inequality of the ground and to the continual habit of the men for the last thirty or forty days of protecting themselves by almost every obstruction they came in contact with.

Question. In what order and tactical formation were your divisions ordered to go in?

Answer. I ordered the division commanders to use their discretion in carrying their divisions in, giving them my general views on the subject, my general directions being to carry them in if possible in column by regiments, but the regiment being so equal, some being not more than 100 strong and some 600 or 700, it was thought best for them to go in in such formation as to be able to deploy rapidly in two lines as soon as they gained the crest-General Ledlie taking the center, General Potter taking the line perpendicular to the main line of works, and General Willcox the line parallel to the Jerusalem plank road.

Question. Were these movements of the divisions successive or simultaneous?

Answer. They were successive.

Question. What was the interval between them?

Answer. General Ledlie was to move first; General Willcox was to follow General Ledlie as soon as possible after General Ledlie had cleared the breach; then General Potter was to follow General Willcox. As soon as I ascertained that General Ledlie had made a halt I sent orders at once to General Willcox and to General Potter to proceed without reference to General Ledlie in the order in which they had been directed to move. I ordered them to go in at once without reference to going through the breach, and proceed at once as before directed, without reference to General Ledlie; thinking that if they could find room to get through to the right and left and could move forward, it would enable General Ledlie also to move forward with his troops. And finally General Ferrero was moved upon the last order from General Meade to put in my whole force. I think that the troops were moved forward, as rapidly as they could be moved forward under the circumstances and I know that they did not pass by the flanks of General Ledlie to go to the crest, but it was in consequence of obstacles produced by the firing of the enemy and the rough ground in the crater of the enemy’s works. But they did go to the right and left, driving away a considerable portion of the enemy from those lines and made several distinct attempts to charge to the front. My own opinion is that the principal obstacle was the presence of the enemy to our right and left, which enabled them, the moment our troops attempted to advance to the top of the crest, to give them a fire in the rear.

Question. For what distance on each side of the crater were the enemy’s works abandoned immediacy after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. I should say 150 yards or more on each side.

Question. To your own personal knowledge, did any of your troops get beyond the crater, and how far toward the crest?

Answer. As far as I could see there were lines formed beyond the crater and attempts made to charge, but the lines were repulsed, but to say how far I would not be willing to express an opinion.

Question. Can you tell how far it was from the crater to the crest?

Answer. From the crater to the crest I should say was 500 yards.

Question. How long did your troops remain in the crater before the order was given to retire?

Answer. The order was given to retire, I think, about 9.30. When the order was given to retire I went to General Meade’s headquarters, consulted with him, ascertained that it was final, and decided that our best method of retiring was to hold the crater until dark and then retire by trenches.

(The question was repeated and the witness requested to give a more specific answer.)

Question. How long did your troops remain in the crater before the order was given to retire?

Answer. They remained there until about 2 o’clock. I think the order reached them about 11.40. They remained there about four hours before the order was given to me to retire.

Question. Did Generals Willcox’s and Potter’s divisions attack the crest, or did they proceed perpendicularly along the enemy’s intrenchments to the right and to the left?

Answer. The principal part of their movements was in that direction, with all possible directions to move to the front as fast as possible.

Question. Had you authority to put in the supports of other corps, or had any one else who was present and could see what was going on?

Answer. Although I can designate no order upon which I had a right to put in supports, yet I am satisfied that any support which I called upon General Ord for would have been given to me; and it is almost impossible that there was such an order. At all events, he expressed every willingness to give me all the support possible, no matter what the movements of his troops were, and consulted freely with me, and asked me at what points I thought he ought to put his corps in. I told him I thought it could move off to our right and make a very considerable diversion in our favor, or something to that effect; and he told me he had issued an order to that effect. He spoke of the ground being broken in that direction, and wanted to know if I thought he could go over my lines of works. I told him I thought he could; that it is the same ground that Generals Willcox and Potter fought over on the 18th, and that a portion of his column could move forward in that direction, the balance moving down the covered way.

Question. Were you the senior officer present, and did you regard yourself responsible for putting in at the proper time the troops designated as support in orders?

Answer. I was the senior officer present, in front of my own corps, but I never dreamed of having any authority whatever to order in the troops of any other corps. I might have had authority to call upon other troops, but I had no authority to order any in that I know of.

Question. You don’t consider yourself responsible for anything further than your own corps?

Answer. No, sir; except as to make such suggestions as I thought were proper. I did not think that I had any general command that day. In fact, I had no authority to order in any other troops than my own corps, General Meade having specially reserved that right to himself in the correspondence before you.

The Court then adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. on the 12th instant.

SIXTH DAY.

COURT-ROOM, HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,

August 12, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the fifth day were read and approved.

The testimony of Major-General BURNSIDE was resumed.

GENERAL BURNSIDE’S TESTIMONY-CONTINUED.

Questions by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. What brigade commanders were in and about the crater near the enemy’s line?

Answer. All the brigade commanders of the corps, I think.

Question. What division commanders?

Answer. I do not know positively that any division commander was in the crater, unless, possibly, General Potter. Their headquarters were upon the advance line, something over 100 yards from the crater.

Question. Please describe the covered ways through which the troops passed from the rear up to your line; how long they were and their direction with reference to your line of works?

Answer. Both the covered ways were, in general direction, perpendicular to the advance line, particularly just before approaching it. There were advantages taken of the depression of the ground in rear that made certain portions of them at angles to the line, some obtuse and some acute. The covered ways were built so as to enable columns to move under comparatively good shelter entirely up to our advance line or in other words, to the low ground just in rear of our advance line, and were capable of allowing regiments to pass by twos if not by fours. The commencement of all the covered ways was in the depressed ground in rear of the main line, or, in other words, in the fourteen-gun battery, and I should think that they would average, including the zigzags, 1,000 yards.

Question. In what formation did the colored troops move to the assault?

Answer. The colored troops moved from their position in rear of our advance line by flank up to the position we hard carried in the enemy’s line, and from there endeavored to move in line to the front.

Question. Could General Ord’s troops get into action at any other point than at the crater?

Answer. I received positive information from General Potter that his troops were not in the way, and that General Ord could have moved to the right; and I distinctly understood from General Ord that he had given orders for his troops to move to the right of the ground that we occupied. As to how many obstacles they would have met in that movement I am not here prepared to say. I am satisfied of one thing, that General Ord gave the necessary orders for an advance in that direction. As to the effort that were made I am not personally cognizant. General Potter, who held the right of our line, is a more intelligent witness upon that point than I am.

Question. Did any officer report to you that his troops could not be got forward?

Answer. No, sir; I received a report from Colonel-Loring, which General Meade opened, stating to me that there was either great difficulty in getting the troops to move from that crater, or something to that effect. That paper is lost as far as I can find. I have ordered it to be looked for. But Colonel Loring was not a commander of troops; he was an aide-de-camp of mine. but no commander of troops reported to me that his troops could not be brought forward.

Question. Please to state what were the obstacles-abatis or other obstacles-in front of the enemy’s line in the neighborhood of the crater; were they a serious opposition to the passage of troops?

Answer. On the right and left of the crater beyond the parts that had been affected by the explosion there were both abatis and chevaux-de-frise, principally the latter, constructed by placing rails in the parapet, sharpening the points, and I suppose tying them back or putting in sticks to hold them in their positions, but of that I cannot say, because I was not close enough to determine that fact. Considerable abatis was in one portion of the line lying upon these rails, which the enemy had not been able to place, in consequence of the constant fire from our troops in the front line. I do not think the obstacle was remarkably formidable, but it was a sufficient obstacle to stop the progress of troops. There would have been a necessity for their removal by pioneers before troops could passed over.

Question. How much of the enemy’s breast-works were blown up by the springing of the mine; how much of the abatis destroyed?

Answer. The report of Colonel Pleasants will be before you, and he will give you that exactly. I should place it at from 145 feet, say 150 feet. There was not as much of their line disturbed as I expected. I supposed that for a considerable distance on the right and left of the line the earth would have been so much disturbed as to cause chevaux-de-frise to fall from the parapet.

Question. Was the ground around the crater commanded by the ground held by the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir; to a very great extent.

Question. What was your opinion at the time of the force of the enemy resisting your advance on the 30th of July?

Answer. From data received by me, and especially from a dispatch received very soon before the order to withdraw came, I judged there was about a division and a half-certainly not to exceed two divisions. This force consisted of troops that were in the line when the mine was exploded and troops that were moved from the enemy’s right. No troops were reported to me as having moved from the enemy’s left. There was a signal station in front of my line, from which I think any important movement of troops from the enemy’s left could have been discovered. They certainly could not have approached our line from the enemy’s left without being observed. I received a dispatch from my signal officer, Captain Paine, stating that the enemy’s right was very much weekend. This was not communicated to me direct, inasmuch as I had left my headquarters to visit General Potter’s, and it did not reach me in time to communicate the substance of it to General Meade before the orders to withdraw came.

Question. What was the nature of the enemy’s fire concentrated on the crater immediately after the explosion of the mine; how much artillery fire? Please explain that, if you know.

Answer. The artillery fire was very light indeed, and had the advance troops been in condition to assault and made the kind of an assault that they could have made, or that they had made in the beginning of the campaign, there is no doubt in my mind but they could have gained the crest. For a long time, comparatively speaking, the fire both of musketry and artillery was very light. What I mean by a long time is fifteen minutes say.

Question. Why did not your troops remain, as you wished, to hold the crater, and for what purpose did you propose to hold it?

Answer. I received a positive order to withdraw to our intrenchments. I left my chief of staff with a view to getting that order rescinded; finding that it was final, I telegraphed to him to that effect, and he communicated to the general officers in the crater that the order was final. In fact, he sent a copy of my telegram to them. My reason for desiring to hold the crater was that it we could have connected it with diagonal lines reaching from a point, say 150 yards, to the right to General Potter’s extreme left, and another line extending to it from our old line 150 yards from General Willcox’s extreme right, we would have a salient which would have been quite as easy to hold, if not more easy than the one we now hold, and would have given us, I think, command of a considerable portion of the enemy’s line both on our right and left, forcing him, I think, even if we had made no further attempt to carry the crest, to move his whole line back to that position.

Question. You have said somewhere in the testimony that 3,828 was the Ninth Corps’ loss. At what phase of the action did the loss chiefly occur?

Answer. I have already given a detailed account of the killed, wounded, and prisoners. A large proportion of the prisoners were lost after the order to withdraw had been received, and, I think, a considerable portion of the killed and wounded. I will not venture to say now that so great a proportion occurred after that time as was indicated in the dispatch sent by me to General Meade, and which is now before the Court, but that was not far wrong, in my opinion.

Question. Why were the men withdrawn at the time they were?

Answer. The dispatch stating that there was a final order to withdraw had reached the crater, and it was known to both officers and men that such a dispatch was in existence. At the last assault of the enemy General Hartranft gave the order to his command to withdraw, and sent word down the line that he had given this order; and such portion of the command as could get out of the crater and the enemy’s lines returned to our own lines. General Hartranft was not, in fact, authorized to make such a movement, but I have not the lightest doubt in my own mind but he thought he was carrying out the spirit of the order. It was one of those misunderstanding which are so likely to happen at so critical a time. He had before reported that they would be able to hold their position, which report was made previous to any knowledge on his part of the fact that we were ordered peremptorily to withdraw.

Question. Did any troops, to your knowledge, misbehave, fail to go forward when ordered, or disobey orders in any way or at any time during the action? If so, name them.

Answer. A considerable portion of the troops failed to go forward after repeated orders from their officers, and extreme efforts to cause them to advance; but I do not believe that, under the circumstances, any of the troops can be counted guilty of misbehavior. It is a fact that the black troops broke and ran to the rear in considerable of a panic, which indicates misbehavior; but they went in late, found in the enemy’s works quite a mass of our own troops unable to advance, and during their formation, and in fact during their advance between the two lines, they were subjected to probably the hottest fire that any troops had been subjected to during the day; and I do not know that it is reasonable to suppose that after the loss of so great a portion if their officers they could have been expected to maintain their position. They certainly moved forward as gallantly under the first fire and until their ranks were broken as any troops I ever saw in action.

Question. Who conducted the retirement of the troops from the crater?

Answer. That question is entirely answered by the answer to the question previously put, I will reiterate it. General Hartranft, unexpectedly to me and to the division commanders, made a move with his brigade in consequence of the receipt of the dispatch to which I have referred, and the word was passed along the line to retire, upon which all the troops came back to our lines that could get back.

Question. Where were the division commanders while the troops were in the crater?

Answer. The division commanders were at their headquarters on our old advance line, say 115 yards from the crater, moving at intervals from one point to another at that line until it was decided that the order to withdraw was final, when I sent for the division commanders to come to my headquarters to arrange for the withdrawal; soon after which I sent General Ferrero to make arrangements for digging trenches. In fact, preparations had already ben made for that purpose before the division commanders came to my headquarters. Before this work could be done the troops were driven from the crater in the manner in which I have designated.

By the COURT:

Question. How did all your troops cross from the advance line of works to the assault, by the flank or in line?

Answer. Generals Ledlie and Willcox crossed in line, Generals Potter and Ferrero by flank.

Question. Could the troops of the different divisions have been formed the night previous to the assault in lines parallel to the advance line and near it?

Answer. They were formed in that position as nearly as possible, all of the advanced division being formed exactly in that way.

Question. Was the mine placed under charge of the engineer department of the Army of the Potomac?

Answer. No, sir; it was not. In fact, two of the young engineers who reported for duty at my headquarters stated expressly that they were instructed that they had nothing to do with the mine.

Question. Were there working parties detailed to follow the assaulting troops, carrying tools, gibbons, and so forth, to crown the crest when gained?

Answer. Yes, sir; there was an engineer regiment detailed to follow each division of white troops, with all the necessary tools, and all necessary preparations were made for pioneers in the division of colored troops. There were no instructions to carry gibbons, but all these engineer regiments were fully equipped with necessary tools for intrenching if we had been successful in crowning the crest.

Question. Why did not the division commanders go to the front, particularly when the troops ceased to advance?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Was General Hartranft in command in the crater?

Answer. He was not in command in the crater.

Question. Had you been permitted to put your corps into action according to your own views-that is, the colored division in advance-do you think the result would have been different?

Answer. For reasons already given and given before the fight, and from observation on that day, I am forced to believe that the Fourth Division (the colored division) would have made a more impetuous and successful assault than the leading division.

The receipt of orders requiring the presence elsewhere of two members of the Court caused its adjournment until it should be reconvened by the President or some other proper authority.

SEVENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
Jones’ House, August 29, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to the orders from the President at 10 a.m. Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the sixth day were read and approved.

The judge-advocate submitted a letter which he received from Major-General Burnside respecting his testimony, as follows:

COLEMAN’S EUTAW HOUSE,

Baltimore, August 15, 1864.

Colonel SCHRIVER,

Inspector-General, Army of the Potomac, Judge-Advocate, &c.:

COLONEL: You will remember that in answering the last question put to me, as to the reason none of my division commanders went into the crater, I made some explanation after saying “I don’t know; ” but it was finally decided to let the answer be “I don’t know.” Lest it may be understood to be a censure upon those officers, I beg to add to the answer the following: “I think General Potter was in the crater, and I am satisfied that the others left they were in the best position to command, except General Ledlie,who, I understand, was sick. The Court can determine.”

Please lay this before the Court, and believe me,

Yours, very truly,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

These officers, with the exception of General Ledlie, have served with me long gallantly, and I do not desire to do aught to injure their well-earned reputation.

TESTIMONY OF Major J. C. DUANE.

Major J. C. DUANE, Engineer Corps, sworn, says:

Questions by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you present at the assault of the 30th of July, and in what capacity did you serve?

Answer. I was on the Fifth Corps front, assisting in directing the artillery fire.

Question. Can you produce maps showing the lines then occupied by the armies?

Answer. Yes, sir; I here produce two maps showing the general positions of the armies and the position of the Ninth Corps in detail.

(These maps are marked Nos. 65 and 66 Appendix.)

Question. What in your opinion were some of the causes of failure on that occasion?

Answer. One cause was that the troops, instead of moving up by division front, (column of division), moved up by the flank. Another was that they stopped in the crater instead of pushing immediately forward. The points between which they could have taken on the ridge are the points on the map between Clark’s house and Cemetery Hill. Those being taken, Petersburg was in our possession. I have no doubt the enemy had guns in that position, but I do not know that he had any works. If there were any works there they were screened by the trees. No guns were opened immediately after the assault. The distance from the crater to the crest is about 500 yards.

Question. Could the troops have gone forward by division front?

Answer. I think they could if proper working parties had been sent to remove the abatis.

Question. Were there any working parties with them?

Answer. I do not know. I was directed not to interfere with General Burnside in his operations. I had no control over the operations in that part of the line.

Question. Were there engineer officers to lead or direct the assaulting columns?

Answer. Lieutenant Benyaurd, of the Engineers, was on duty on that front, and was available in case the general commanding that corps wished to make use of an engineer. Captain Farquhar was also on duty with the Eighteenth Corps, and was present, but not under my orders.

Question. What arrangements were made for facilitating the debouche of the troops from our lines and passage over the enemy’s parapets?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Were the obstructions at the enemy’s line formidable-of what did they consist?

Answer. They consisted of a strong rifle-pit with a good abatis in front. Such obstructions are formidable in case there are troops behind the parapets to defend them. In this instance there did not appear to be sufficient force behind the parapet to prevent those works being carried.

Question. How was our artillery fire as to effectiveness on that occasion?

Answer. It completely silenced the batteries of the enemy that were in position and had been in position previous to this day on the Fifth Corps front. I had nothing to do with the right, which was on the Eighteenth Corps line.

Question. In your opinion was the point of attack a judicious one?

Answer. I did not consider it so, although there was a chance of success. The point of attack was on a re-entrant on the line, which exposed an attacking column to a fire on both flanks and front.

Question. Did you at any time make that known to the authorities?

Answer. I did, two or three days previous to the attack.

Question. In written or verbal communications?

Answer. I had frequently made it known verbally-two days previous to the attack, in writing-to the general commanding the Army of the Potomac.

Question. Can you produce that report?

Answer. I can; and I will hand it to the judge-advocate.

(It is marked 67.)

Question. It is a very unusual way of attacking field fortifications. I do not think that there was any reasonable chance of success by such an attack.

Question. Had the engineer department anything to do with it?

Answer. It had not.

Question. Please to state what advantage would have resulted from holding the crater, simply.

Answer. No advantage.

By the COURT:

Question. Did you see this explosion and assault?

Answer. I saw the explosion. I did not see the assault distinctly; I was too far to the left.

Question. You could not see how far to the right or left the enemy’s parapet was abandoned, from any fire that came from it?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. What artillery of the enemy did you see open and play upon that assaulting column within the first fifteen minutes after the explosion?

Answer. I did not see any. They opened on our batteries, but I did not see them open on the column. I did not see them open on the column, and do not think they did. They opened with 30-pounders on us.

Question. Although you did not think the mine, as a means of assault, promised much success, do you believe, from the circumstances that transpired, it would have been a success had the troops gone to the top of the crest?

Answer. I believe it would.

Question. Do you believe that there was any difficulty in the way of the troops going to the crest during the first fifteen minutes?

Answer. I do not think there was the slightest difficulty.

Question. Do you think that immediately after the explosion, had there been proper working parties at work, the parapet of the enemy could have been cleared of sufficient of the obstructions and abatis within the first fifteen minutes to have allowed a brigade front to have passed over?

Answer. Yes; I think there could.

Question. There was no other difficulty in crawling over the parapet except the fire?

Answer. No, sir; and the abatis was a loose abatis of limbs pitched over the parapet. In some places it was a rail abatis-rails inclined forward.

Question. What should the storming party have done when they reached the crest had they reached it; what should have been their first operation-to have proceeded to Petersburg or intrenched themselves?

Answer. I think they should have intrenched on the crest. I do not think they could have staid in Petersburg, as it was commanded.

Question. Had you ever been called upon for any gibbons or any material for making a parapet upon the enemy’s intrenchments?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Were any gibbons prepared in this army except by the engineer department for those works?

Answer. None.

Question. Nor any other material of that kind, fascines and so-forth, to assist in making a parapet?

Answer. No.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL AYRES.

Brigadier General R. B. AYRES, U. S. Volunteers, sworn.

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. General, were you present at the assault on the 30th of July, and had you facilities for seeing the progress of affairs on that day?

Answer. My division was a part of the command of the Fifth Corps, massed upon the right of the Fifth Corps, and upon the left of the Ninth Corps in the railroad cut, for purposes indicated in the order of assault. I was directed by General Warren to make my headquarters with his at the five-gun battery in the corner of the woods in front of the Avery house. I was in that position when the mine was sprung and the assaulting columns went forward. The general directions of those columns, as they marched forward, were visible from this position. As the troops filed out we could see them distinctly. After quite a large force filed out there, they seemed to have formed a line of battle at one time along in or near the enemy’s rifle-pits adjacent to the mine. A body of troops also filed behind that line to the left as we looked at them apparently to march around the line and advance to the crest, which was the object to be gained-Cemetery Hill. After a time I saw those troops go back again toward the right, coming in still behind that line of battle standing. Directly after this I was requested by General Warren to ride to the fifteen-gun battery to see what chance offered me to put my division in on the left of the troops still standing as I described. I went there, made an examination, turned to General Warren and stated to him that as the troops were massed in our old line in rear of the mine in great crowds it wounds be very difficult to march my division through there unless they made a way for me, but if a way was made I could march my division by the flank, face it to the left, sweep down to the left, carry a certain battery there was firing across, and clean out the rifle-pits they occupied. General Warren rode with me a second time there, immediately after this; first my division was ordered to be closed up as soon as possible to be in readiness; then we rode together to the fifteen-gun battery. As we crossed the field between this five-gun battery and the fifteen-gun battery I saw the negro troops coming back to the rear like a sandslide. By the time we got to the corner of the fifteen-gun battery numbers of them were sweeping through that, sweeping around from different quarters, some one side and some another, some into the covered ways, and some into the field between. A close observation assured me that that line of battle which I first described was replaced by the enemy in the rifle-pits on the right of the mine; I saw their battle-flags, and their bullets fell around us. Some one then proposed that General Warren should immediately put in the Fifth Corps at that moment; General Warren and myself concluded that the time was passed; they had lost what they had excepting those men who were left in the crater; and immediately after that we rode to our position at the five-gun battery, and I received notice that the movement was suspended, and a few moments after orders to send my division to its camp.

Question. Please to relate some of the chief causes of failure on that occasion?

Answer. Firstly, those troops that went to make their attack seemed to be going out simply by the right flank from two covered ways; therefore the heads of regiments arrived at the crater in that condition, when there should have been a line of battle arriving there. These men rushed into the crater, and a considerable amount of time was lost in endeavoring to get troops in some formation to advance properly in line of battle. Arrangements should have been made that when that mine was sprung the troops which were to make the assault to carry the crest, which looked down upon the city, should advance in line of battle, so that they would have been in hand and subject to the command of their officers. That, in my judgment, was the principal cause of the failure. The commencement of the assault, in my judgment, was the cause of its entire failure. If those dispositions had been made, and those troops had advanced in line of battle instead of in columns of regiments, I believe they would have taken that crest. There was a great deal of work which should have been done along our old line nearest to the crater, and to the south of the line of the gallery, so that troops could have readily marched forwarded least in two regiments abreast. That being done, and those troops advanced as I described, I believe they would have taken that crest readily, and I believe, that then the supports would have been thrown in promptly, that crest would have been held, and success would have crowned the operation. After it was clear that the thing had failed I think that prompt orders should have been given to withdraw, in one rapid movement, all the troops left in the crater, to bring them out in one body rapidly, back to their lines.

TESTIMONY OF MAJOR-GENERAL WARREN.

Major General G. K. WARREN, U. S. Volunteers, sworn, says:

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. General, were you present at the assault on the 30th of July, the day the mine was sprung, near this place, and, if so, in what capacity?

Answer. I was there in command of the Fifth Corps.

Question. Will you please to state what in your opinion were some of the chief causes of that failure?

Answer. To mention them all at once, I never saw sufficient good reasons why it should succeed. I never had confidence in its success. The position was taken in reserve by batteries, and we must, as a matter of course, have expected a heavy fire of artillery when we gained the crest, though we did not get near enough to develop what that would be. I never should have planned it, I think.

Question. As it was planned, had you an opportunity of seeing whether the plan was carried out in the best manner, the plan having been adopted?

Answer. I can mention some faults. There was great defect, I think, in the preparation for the movement of the assaulting column; I judge so from the way the column moved, as I did not visit the exact point. And, second, I think the first force, instead of moving straight on to the hill, should have cleared the intrenchments right and left of the crater, so as not to have exposed the advancing column to a flank fire. I tried to make a similar assault there on the 18th of June, and that very same battery that operated on the left flank of Burnside’s force that day was in operation on the previous occasion, and stopped all my efforts.

Question. Could you mention that battery particularly by showing it on the map, or designating it is some way?

Answer. It is the first-battery on the south side of the mine.

Question. Was our artillery fire effective on that occasion?

Answer. As much so as it could be. I heard Colonel Abbot complain that a group of trees in front of one of his large batteries was left standing, and it was his desire to have it cleared away.

Question. Did he say whose business it was to clear it away? Did he find fault with any one? In whose front was it?

Answer. In General Burnside’s front. I remember he said General Burnside had told him that he was afraid clearing it away might disclose his intention but I do not think that he said whose fault it was that it was not done, or whether it was a fault, except in interfering with his batteries.

By the COURT:

Question. A side from any general principle with reference to the matter upon which you predicated the chances of success, do you think that after the mine exploded there really was a chance of success?

Answer. There are so many if’s in it. If we could have carried that first line of rifle-pits, and then maintained ourselves after we got to the crest, we would have had success; but I do not believe any troops will stand on an open plain, with artillery covered by redoubts playing upon them, and I think that is what the enemy had then, or ought to have had, if they did not. If they have been there all this time without that preparation they are much more unprepared than I think they are.

Question. Did they open much artillery fire for the first fifteen minutes or half hour after the explosion?

Answer. I should say not a great deal-not where I was; only a very little. There was no particular danger in my vicinity for a group of horsemen standing right out in plain sight, as we did all the time. Their batteries were mainly placed for enfilading any line attacking, and probably reserved their fire until that line approached.

Question. A side from that operation of the Ninth Corps, if the Fifth Corps, supported by another, could have been thrown round on the enemy’s right, occupying those two railroads and turning his right, what was the chance of success in that direction?

Answer. It would be impossible for me to say. I do not know what the nature of their defenses were in that direction. I believe from what I have heard that the very brigade which repulsed General Burnside was located there in the morning, and my corps at that time had no force in reserve except General Ayres’ division, and a brigade of General Crawford’s, and a brigade of General Cutler’s.

Question. Was there any force of the enemy there strong enough to resist the number of troops we had disposable, had they been put in properly after the first assault had failed?

Answer. I can answer that question and cover a little more: When we attacked in the first operation on Petersburg, we had more force than on this occasion and the enemy had about the same, I think, and I don’t believe that the blowing up of the mine made up for the difference in the increased strength of the earth-works as they were on the 18th of June and the 30th of July; and if the operation of the 18th of June decided anything I think it decided that the operation of the 30th of July would have met with the same result.

Question. Did you feel the want of any person on the field who could see for himself and give commands on the spot; had that any effect upon the result; or do you think that any person ought to have been present who should have had command of the storming party, and all the troops ready to take part in the operation?

Answer. I think some one should have been present to have directed my command as well as General Burnside’s and General Ord’s, some one person; but whether that would have affected the result or not I am not prepared to say.

Question. Did you experience any uncertainties and doubts for the want of such a person’s presence there?

Answer. Yes.

Question. Were there moments when such a person’s presence was necessary in order to decide at once what should be done?

Answer. I think it was necessary that some one should have been there. If you have my official report it will show you that I was in doubt whether to move to the left or move to the right to help General Burnside, and that I had to await the transmission of dispatches and corresponding answers. My report shows how much, but I do not know that that would have affected the main result at all. My report is a complete answer to your question. Sometimes in these badly planned or badly inaugurated assaults the longer and better they are pressed the worse we are off, great losses being sustained after the time and chance of success are gone.

The Court adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. on 30th of July [August].

EIGHTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
Jones’ House, August 30, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the seventh day were read and approved.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL WARREN-CONTINUED.

By General MEADE:

Question. What did you mean by saying “some one should have been present to have directed my command together with the commands of Generals Ord and Burnside”? Were you not aware that the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac was in the field and in telegraphic communication with yourself and the other officers alluded to?

Answer. I saw from my position, which was, I suppose, about 400 yards from General Burnside’s, as well as could be seen in the morning in the smoke, that the assault was not going on very rapidly and that no effort had been made to do what I thought was the first essential-to take that battery on the left of the mine. I then went to General Burnside’s, which was as close to the scene of operations as a man could be and see well. There I found Generals Burnside and Ord engaged in conversation. I suggested to General Burnside that that battery should be taken at once; he asked me to go down the line and take a look at it from another point, and I did so. Upon returning I said I was confirmed in my first opinion, and he asked me if my troops could not take it. At that time all the approaches leading down to where the mine was were filled with his troops still slowly moving down and there was no chance for me to get at the battery, except to go over the open field. I, however, determined to put in General Ayres’ division at once and try to take it, and went back for that purpose, when I got a dispatch from General Meade (the exact language of which I do not remember), to the effect that I would await information from some operations which had been directed or that were going on on the left, and then it was that I wrote one of the dispatches, in which I said that I thought some one should be there to direct whether I should attempt to take that battery, or go with my division round to the left, as General Crawford reported that he was unable to do anything with what force he had there on the plank road. I will qualify what I said about the loss of time. I lost considerable time talking to General Burnside; I lost some time in going to see the battery with him; I lost some time in writing dispatches and awaiting answers; and in an operation of that kind every moment was of vital importance, for, before I got the order to go in and take the battery the enemy had driven nearly all of General Burnside’s line out of the intrenchments he had taken. If General Burnside’s had given me any orders, as I was there for the purpose of supporting him, I would gave obeyed them; but he seemed to act as if what we did was to be done after consultation, and therefore I thought that some one should have been right there to have directed at once, without a moment’s loss of time, what should be done and what should not. Those dispatches show the extent of the loss of time. But, as I said in my testimony yesterday, I do not know that it affected the result at all. But in reply to the direct question, if I thought there should have been some one there to give promptly positive orders what to do, I gave my first answer.

Question. How much time was occupied in these consultations, reconnaissances, and other matters referred to by you, and would not the commanding general, had he been at the point referred to by you, have been compelled to consume the same time?

Answer. I do not remember how much time was lost, and cannot tell exactly unless I can have my official report or a copy of it, or some records of that kind, to refer to. But it was a point of observation at which I should have consulted with nobody. Everything was plainly to be seen. Different persons might look at it differently, but it was a position where any one man could see the whole. In my opinion, the most important time was lost before I went to that point.

Question. Why did you consume the time which you acknowledge to have been lost, and why did you not at once telegraph the commanding general about what you saw and what you thought could or should be done?

Answer. The time that I speak of was consumed by General Burnside. In my instructions I was directed to support him; and I informed him where my headquarters were, as stated, not far from his. I waited there for his directions. I thought that my being with him, under orders to support him, the time lost was lost by him and not by me. I did keep the commanding general as promptly informed of everything as I possibly could. Even if I had chosen to have acted independently, according to my own discretion, subject to the approval of the commanding general, all the approaches to the point were occupied by General Burnside’s troops. I could not have moved mine without getting them mixed up with hi.

By the COURT:

Question. Did you not mean in your previous answers that it was your belief that if the commanding general had been on that field there would have been a pressure brought to bear to push those troops of the Ninth Corps that occupied those trenches forward faster than they went?

Answer. I think that the controlling power should have been there and nowhere else, so that there should have been no reference to anywhere else.

Question. When you replied to the last question pu to you yesterday did you consider that the commander of the Army of the Potomac should have been present in person, or that some one should have been invested with the command of all the troops engaged in the assault as supports, reserves, &c., if said commander was not there?

Answer. I meant that some one person having general command should have been there to have seen and directed all at once.

TESTIMONY OF Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, U. S. Army, being sworn and examined by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE, says:

Question. Will you please to state what in your judgment caused the failure of the attack on the enemy’s lines on the 30th of July?

Answer. It seemed to me that it was perfectly practicable for the men, if they had been properly led, to have gone straight through the breach which was caused by the explosion on the mine, and to have gone to the top of Cemetery Hill. It looked to me, from what I would see and hear, that it was perfectly practicable to have taken the men through; but whether it was because the men themselves would not go, or whether it was because they were not led, I was not far enough to the front to be qualified to say.

Question. What orders which you issued were not executed, if any?

Answer. I could send you copies of all the dispatches that I wrote. The orders for the assault were issued by General Meade in obedience to general instructions from me. I saw the detailed order of General Meade before the mine was exploded, and I thought that the execution of that order was practicable. That order I presume you have before you. My order was to General Meade, and then General Meade made his order from what I directed him to do, and sent me a copy of it, and I thought it was all that could be required. I recollect that, failing on the north bank of the river to surprise the enemy as we expected or hoped to do, but instead of that drew a large part of his force to the north side, I telegraphed to General Meade that we would now take advantage of the absence of that force of the enemy to explode the mine and make an assault on Petersburg.

By the COURT:

Question. From your information how many of the enemy were in Petersburg at the time of this assault?

Answer. My information was that three divisions were left in Petersburg, with one brigade absent from those division – Johnston’s. From the best evidence none of the enemy’s troops crossed the James River until 2 o’clock of the 30th of July, on their way back. Then they had fully sixteen miles to travel to get back, with, however, the advantage of a railroad near them to carry many of the men. The distance I guess at when I say sixteen miles.

TESTIMONY OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL COMSTOCK, AIDE-DE-CAMP.

Lieutenant Colonel C. B. COMSTOCK, aide-de-camp, being duly sworn and examined by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE, says:

Question. Were you at or near the scene of the assault on the 30th of July? By whose orders, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was at General Burnside’s headquarters as aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Grant, and afterward at General Warren’s headquarters by General Grant’s orders.

Question. Did you see General Burnside in person, and had you conversation with him?

Answer. I had some conversation with him.

Question. Relate the conversation in brief.

Answer. I went from General Burnside’s headquarters to the position he had in the front to ascertain how things stood. I suppose the time was about and hour after the explosion of the mine. He told me that his troops were forming then for an assault to carry the crest of the hill. That was the only important point in the conversation.

Question. Did he give you any information to communicate to General Grant?

Answer. I do not recollect that he did.

Question. Had you an opportunity of forming an opinion as to the cause or causes of the failure on that day?

Answer. I had not, from anything that I saw myself.

By the COURT:

Question. Were you so situated that you could see this assault?

Answer. I could not until I went to General Warren’s headquarters, which was about 7 o’clock. I could not see the details.

Question. Had you made such an examination prior to the assault that would enable you to give a professional opinion as to the chances of success in attempting to take Cemetery Hill by assault, considering the explosion of the mine as the basis of the assault?

Answer. I had.

Question. I wish you would state to the Court what the chances of success were, using this mine as a means of inaugurating the assault.

Answer. I thought it entirely impracticable when the mine was made if the enemy’s line should be held in full force. This opinion was formed a week or ten days prior to the assault. Afterward, with the knowledge I had of the movement of the enemy’s troops from the south to the north side of the river, I thought an assault was entirely practicable.

Question. What do you suppose would have been the best plan for the assaulting troops to have followed after having reached Cemetery Hill – made a lodgment on and fortified that place, or proceeded immediately into the town of Petersburg?

Answer. I suppose the first step should have been to have made a lodgment on Cemetery Hill, and then to have pushed up troops to hold it at all hazards. The dispositions of the troops would depend upon the nature of the ground.

Question. From your knowledge of the nature of the intrenchments – our own and the enemy’s – do you think that immediately after the explosion of the mine, if proper working parties had been arranged, there would have been any difficulty in removing sufficient obstructions to have enabled our troops to have moved against those intrenchments in line of battle?

Answer. I do not think there would have been any difficulty.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL E. O. C. ORD.

Major General E. O. C. Ord, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn and examined by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE, says:

Question. Please state what was your command at the assault on the 30th of July.

Answer. My command was composed of two divisions to aid in the assault, one of which belonged to the Tenth Corps and was under General Turner, and the other to the Eighteenth Corps, under General Ames. The divisions numbered: General Ames’ about 3,500 and General Turner’s 4,000 available muskets, or probably a little less.

Question. What were your troops ordered to do?

Answer. My troops were ordered to a position in the rear of General Burnside’s corps, with a view to supporting it. The positions were selected by General Burnside.

Question. Did your troop experience any interference from the Ninth Corps moving into position on that occasion?

Answer. After General Burnside’s troops had made the assault and pushed forward, probably abut an hour or a little more after the explosion of the mine, he said to me, “Now you can move your troops forward,” I sent orders immediately to the leading division to move forward rapidly according to the programme, following the division that was in front of it, which was the rear division of General Burnside’s corps. In the course of twenty minutes after the order was sent out by a staff officer, General Turner reported to me that he found the way blocked; that the approach to the place of debouche was occupied by the divisions in front, and that he had found himself in front of General Potter’s troops. This was the report made by him to me. General Potter’s troops, according to the programme, were to precede hi.

Question. Were any arrangements made for the passage of troops through the abatis and over the parapets to go to the front on that day?

Answer. When I went to the front I found the troops debouching by a single opening. The parapet had been thrown down and the abatis had been removed, and the troops were moved out by that opening.

Question. Please state the dimensions of that opening. Would it admit of the passage of troops in column, or line, or how?

Answer. I cannot give the exact dimensions, because my attention was occupied principally in watching what was going on in front of this place, but my impression is that the opening was large enough for a column of a company front to go out, over pretty rough ground. I do not know whether there was more than one opening; I only saw that one.

Question. That was the one your troops passed through?

Answer. No; my troops did not all pass through that way. I directed a portion of my troops to go over the parapet.

Question. Did you direct them to go over the parapet because in your judgment the opening was inadequate?

Answer. I gave those directions because the ground in front of this place of exit was occupied by the other troops and there was no room after they got our for them to be of service without moving for a considerable distance by the flank to the right and left.

Question. How were the troops that debouched to the assault formed to advance?

Answer. When I went to the front I saw white troops moving out by the flank into the crater and the trenches near. I say by the flank, but I will explain that they passed along by twos and threes and sometimes fours along this space, which was pretty well swept by the fire of the enemy – the space between our trenches and the crater formed by the explosion of the mine. These white troops were followed afterward by some colored troops, who also moved out, as it were, by flank, though the appearance of moving by flank may have been caused by the columns being somewhat disordered and hesitating in the move, so that a few moving forward first and others following them would diminish the width of a column and give the troops the appearance of moving by flank.

Question. In your opinion was this movement by flank judicious or was it unavoidable?

Answer. I would not suppose it was a judicious move under the circumstances if it could have been avoided. I rather if intended to be a movement with a front of one or more companies then the kind of formation I saw was caused by the hesitation of the troops in the rear and the natural disposition of those men who are more of less timid, in following those in front, to string themselves out in almost single file.

Question. What, in your opinion, were some of the causes of failure of that occasion?

Answer. I think the first cause was that the troops were not well disciplined. They probably had not had time to become soldiers. The next cause may have been that they passed out of the trenches by one place of exit and through the covered way to a considerable extent, which necessarily impeded the progress of troops going out, especially as troops began coming in by the same covered way.

Question. Were the obstacles met by our troops, in your opinion, formidable?

Answer. I did not go to the front until difficulties were reported in the way of carrying out the order received from General Meade to move my division out to the right, independent of the troops in my front, and endeavor to reach the crest of the hill. It was reported by the division commanders that the nature of the ground was such that they could not get out that way. I went down to inspect the ground myself, and I derived the impression that there were difficulties in the way of getting out from the position occupied by my men at that time except in one place. They were in the long covered way, the way leading to the angle from which the troops debouched. The ground was swampy, covered with more or less undergrowth and trees, and appeared to run obliquely in front of the enemy’s trenches. If the troops should get into that swamp and undergrowth it would have been difficult to have kept them in order, and the enemy would have had them at a greater disadvantage, raking them if they occupied the trenches. The covered way was a pretty deep one, and I supposed from the fact of its being there leading to the place of exit it was swept by a very heavy fire from the enemy’s batteries. It was reported that the stream running through the marsh was bridged in one place by a narrow bridge, where we crossed it, and that it was a difficult place for troops to pass over. When I got there I saw that it was very muddy, that delays would be occasioned, and that it was a difficult place to attempt to take the enemy’s intrenchments, and we would have got on the ground just under the enemy’s works and probably be exposed to a very severe fire.

Question. Did any troops, to your knowledge, misbehave or disobey orders?

Answer. None that I know of, except after when an assault was made by some colored troops, followed by a brigade of the Tenth Corps, which assault was made about 8 o’clock while I was in the front line of our trenches and within less than 100 yards of the crater, and what I would call the movement of assault. The men were repulsed by a very heavy concentrated fire, which ewnveloped that point of exit, the enemy having massed forces on the right and front and some fire coming from the left.

Question. In your opinion had the first troops that went forward not hesitated or halted in the crater could they not have got to the desirable point – that is, Cemetery Hill?

Answer. I knew nothing about their halting of the facilities that they had for getting forward, except through what I heard from others, I not having been present at that time.

Question. How was our artillery firing, as far as you observed – effective or otherwise?

Answer. The artillery fired very rapidly and for a long time, and judging from the reports in the enemy’s newspapers which I have seen since we must have done considerable damage by our artillery upon their columns moving across t the place of attack.

Question. Were the obstructions north and south of the crater removed sufficiently to admit the passage of troops in line of battle, say brigade front?

Answer. I did not see that any obstructions made by the enemy’s trenches had been removed when I was there, except what had been removed by the explosion of the mine at the crater. Their ditch still remained, and I counted the regimental flags of our troops in my front occupying the trench. I do not know whether there was a strong abatis before the attack; so that I refer only to the ditch and the parapet.

By the COURT:

Question. Do you thin the assault would have been successful there had the best dispositions been made that you are conversant with?

Answer. From what I learned afterward of the behavior of the troops after the explosion, when the enemy was most alarmed, I think that the assault, if it had been made with no more vigor, would have failed no matter what the disposition. If the troops had behaved properly elsewhere I think the probability of success would have been increased by having more opening, a simultaneous assault, and increased material; but if the troops would have behaved as improperly as they are reported to have done in front – not going forward when ordered – I think the assault would have failed no matter what the disposition.

Question. In your opinion was there any necessity for an officer of rank being present who should have had a more general command than the commander of the troops making the assault and the commander of the supports and reserves; should there have been an officer present to have combined the whole command, nearer than the commander of the army, who was only in telegraphic communication with the different commanders of troops on the field; should there have been one single person there invested with authority to direct the whole operation, and would the result have been different if such had been the case?

Answer. The only commands refereed to as present there, the assaulting corps and the reserves, were under General Burnside and myself; and upon reporting to General Burnside I accompanied him to the trenches and told him I would obey any instructions he gave me; so that the whole of the operations were under his orders, until the orders came from higher authority to make the change referred to, and to discontinue the assault. General Burnside being the senior officer I considered that he had a right to give me orders. He directed me to place mu troops in the rear until after his troops should have made the assault, and until he had learned when they would be necessary and where, which I did. General Burnside was to give me word when to move my troops and where to move them. I told him I considered myself bound to obey any instructions that he might give me, and that any instructions that he would give would be obeyed with alacrity. So that, so far as concerns the movements directed by him, I do not think the presence of any other officer in those two corps would have made any change in moving forward.

Question. Could your troops when they were called into action have advanced to the front over the enemy’s parapet and have gotten through in line of battle in any front greater than that of two regiments, at the time you were sent in, on each side of the crater?

Answer. I think in probable that my troops might have gotten in on the left of the crater at that time if they had advanced through the opening by fronts of regiments, or even companies – gotten into the enemy’s trenches; but my answer must be understood to convey only a knowledge of what I saw. I do not know what force the enemy had on the left. I only knew that the resistance on the right was very great, and they appeared to have a severe fire upon the troops on the right of where we advanced to the crater. My troops were directed to support General Burnside on the right.

Question. Were you present when the mine exploded; do you consider that the troops might have advanced to the top of Cemetery Hill on that ridge had they been properly led forward or the troops behaved properly?

Answer. I do not consider I was present when the mine exploded.

Question. Where was your general position onthe field during the operations of the morning?

Answer. When the mine exploded, and probably for and hour and a half or two hour afterward, I was with General Burnside in the trenches in rear of one of the batteries abut one-third of half a mile from the point of assault; after that for half an hour I was up to the front as far as I could get without going into the crater or outside our line of intrenchments as far as the head of my advanced division was. I then returned, and General Burnside and myself occupied the same place in the rear of this battery for probably an hour, except that I rode to the rear where General Meade was and passed around a little trying to rally some troops who were going from the front. This took me till between 9 and 10 o’clock, when General Burnside and myself both rode to the rear to learn something about an order that was issued in regard to our future movements.

Question. Could anything be seen from this point with sufficient distinctness to have enabled the commanding general to give orders other than he did from the point occupied by him?

Answer. Immediately after the explosion the fire from both our batteries and the enemy’s came very heavily, and the could of smoke prevented us from seeing anything that was going on there. We were ignorant of the condition of things excet from the information staff officers brought us or from the nature of the firing we heard, up to the time that I reformed myself by going to the front.

Question. Did you hear any staff officer report to General Burnside that the troops could not be got to advance from the crater? If so, how many officers so reported, and do you know their names?

Answer. The first two of three reports that were brought to General Burnside were brought by officers whose names I do not know, and not until some considerable time had expired after the explosion; and although I did not hear the reports distinctly enough to repeat they were not satisfactory, and indicated that the troops could not be moved readily forward.

Question. Did you not report to the commanding general that the troops were overcrowded in the crater and the enemy’s adjacent works, and that in your judgment there was no probability of the crest of Cemetery Hill being carried – this, somewhere between 9 and 10 a. m., at the headquarters of the commanding general in the field?

Except. I did. I would say, in addition to my answer, that General Burnside and myself were present at the time, and the question was whether we could carry it at that time; and my answer intended to convey whether we (General Burnside and myself) with of forces could have done so had they let us; and after the troops were disorganized and driven back those who made the attack later and those who made the attack earlier were packed in the trenches adjacent, that under the circumstances we could not carry it with all our troops at that point of attack.

Question. Did General Burnside, about 10 a. m., when at his commanding general’s headquarters on the field, say that he could maintain his lodgment in the crater, and that he could take Cemetery Hill before night, if so permitted?

Answer. General Burnside disagreed with me when I said I did not think we could take it. I supposed he meant that he could take it with the force he had, consisting of his own corps and my reserves, though he said something about it was time then for the Fifth Corps to move up. The remark was made by General Burnside with a view of persisting in the attack which he had commenced, and it had been my opinion, ever since I was near enough to see what was going on in the crater, that the sooner we withdrew our troops, when we got into such a bad position, the better, and any persistence in the attack at that point I looked upon as very improper.

Question. Was it not understood at this time that offensive operations should cease, but that the crater should be held till the troops could be securely withdrawn, and that this would probably be till night?

Answer. I think such was General Burnside’s understanding, and I know he received such orders. My troops were all inside the intrenchments except those who had run into the enemy’s trenches to avoid the tremendous fire which they met when they went out.

By General WARREN:

Question. Do you remember seeing General Warren at the battery at General Burnside’s station?

Answer. I do.

Question. Was not the whole field at that time sufficiently clear from smoke to be visible, and had been so for some time previous at that point?

Answer. I do not know whether it was after my return from the vicinity of the crater or before that I saw General Warren. My impression is that each time I looked from the parapet before I left the trenches – which was two or three times – that I rose to look to the front, the smoke obscured the view so that I, at least, could form no definite idea of what was going on at the front. After the firing from the batteries on our side had ceased, which was probably an hour from the time of the assault, the atmosphere was clearer, but even then I could make out really little of what was going on in front, from the distance, the peculiar position of the point of attack, and from the fact, too, that I do not see very well because I am nearsighted.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL POTTER.

Brigadier General R. B. POTTER, U. S. Volunteers, being sworn and examined by the JUDGE-ADVOCATE, says:

Question. Were you in a position to see the operations of the assault before Petersburg on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was; commanding the Second Division, Ninth Army Corps.

Question. Do you regard it as a failure of otherwise?

Answer. I regard it as a failure.

Question. To what cause or causes do you attribute this?

Answer. Firstly, to the failure of the troops who had the advance on that day to carry out the orders to advance through the enemy’s line and seize the hill. Secondly, that when it was evident that this part of the plan had failed no attempt was made at a diversion at any other part of the line to enable the troops which were thrown into confusion at this point to be reformed. I would further state that I do not think the preliminary arrangements were very perfect.

Question. What preparations were made, or what orders were given for the same, to pass troops through the abatis and over the parapet in front of the Ninth Corps? Did you receive any orders yourself?

Answer. I received no orders whatever in relation to that matter except what are contained in the general order from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. I was furnished a copy of that order, but no other order.

Question. But what preparations were made, or what orders were given for the same, to pass troops through the abatis and over the parapet in front of the Ninth Corps?

Answer. The general order of General Burnside – I suppose it might be called the order of attack – was the only order given in writing. Verbal instructions were given to gave the pioneers of the different regiments, and a sort of pioneer regiment that we call the Engineer Regiment, in each division, prepared with their tools, and so forth, to prepare the breast-works for the passage of field batteries in case we were successful in moving forward. My regiment was immediately in the neighborhood of the breast-work ready to carry out these instructions, and my pioneers were also prepared. I had orders not to disturb anything immediately in the vicinity of the mine so as not to attack the attention of the enemy to that point. I was told to withdraw everything from that part of the line for a space of 200 or 300 yards, except a thin line of skirmishers, and not to attract the enemy’s attention there if I could help it.

Question. How were the Ninth Corps troops formed for the assault – your own division, for instance?

Answer. My own division was to have been formed left in front to move forward by the flank, so that when my troops had passed the line of the enemy’s intended to cover the right of the advance. One brigade of my division was massed between the railroad and the advance line of works on the right-hand side of mu covered way and south of the mine. I had orders not to allow any troops on the left of the covered way. The other brigade was partially in the trenches and about to be relieved by some of the troops of the Eighteenth Corps. Two or three regiments which I was ordered not to put in the assault were not in the trenches.

Question. What time elapsed from the springing of the mine till the forward movement of the assaulting columns?

Answer. I do not know, sir. I did not see the movement of the First Division. The first of my regiments commenced to move, I should think, about eight or ten minutes after the mine exploded. My division was to move third in order, but I took the liberty of altering the programme a little. After I received the order of Major-General Burnside – I received the order about 9 o’clock at night – after thinking the matter over it occurred to me that it would be a long time before my division would have an opportunity to get forward, ad the divisions of Generals Ledlie and Willcox were to precede me. I therefore commanded General Griffin, who had the lead in my division, to deploy a line of skirmishers to the right of this crater, and in case the assault seemed to be successful, and General Ledlie moved forward, he should advance his skirmishers to the right, and if he did not find so much serious opposition as to detain him there he should push his troops forward to the right, and move forward nearly parallel with General Ledlie. I gave him these orders about 12 o’clock at night, and I do not think that I communicated to General Burnside that I had made this change. Therefore my troops commenced moving as soon as General Griffin found that General Ledlie’s column had started. This leading division commenced moving and passed into the right of the crater and turned down to the right.

Question. Did the troops halt in the crater.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Why?

Answer. No reason at all that I know of.

Question. What was the nature of the obstructions in the enemy’s line, formidable or otherwise?

Answer. To the right of the crater there was an ordinary line of rifle-pits with a sort of chevaux-de-frise in front of it made by pointed stakes being driven into the ground. Immediately in rear of this and to the right of it there were two covered ways. One seemed to be a covered way, and one perhaps a place dug to carry something out of the fort. There were transverse lines of rifle-pits, and some coverings thrown up by the men to protect themselves – one running in these angles between the advance line and this covered way, which runs up toward Petersburg, and another running on the bank of the ravine which runs up through the enemy’s line to the right of the mine, about the line I was ordered to take.

Question. What was the degree of artillery firing on that point, the point of assault?

Answer. Immediately after the assault very light; afterward the fire was very severe indeed, as severe as I ever saw.

Question. What time elapsed, as near as you can tell, from the time of the assault till the time this severe fire commenced?

Answer. I should think fully half an hour.

Question. Was the ground around the crater commanded by the ground held by the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir; that is, immediately in rear of the enemy’s line which we had pierced the ground commanded it, and the ground to the right on the other side of the ravine commanded it. In speaking of the right I mean our right. The ground to the left I did not notice so well because I had no business there.

Question. For what distance on each side of the crater were the enemy’s works abandoned after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. To the right of the crater the front line was abandoned for a space of 250 or 300 yards, I should think – that is, the enemy’s troops rushed out of this line back to theses covered ways and so forth. From the hasty glance I gave to the left there did not seem to be anybody within 300 yards. Perhaps it would be better to say that the line was only partially abandoned; they did not all go – some went and some did not.

Question. Could the troops have proceeded to the crest immediately after reaching the crater?

Answer. I do not know any reason why they could not.

Question. Did any troops that you know of advance from the crater to the crest?

Answer. Some of my troops advanced from the right of the crater toward the crest. I suppose they went upward of 200 yards, and they were driven back.

Question. Why, do you suppose, were they driven back?

Answer. At that time they were driven back by the fire. They were too weak to advance farther.

Question. By the fire of artillery or of infantry?

Answer. Both.

Question. At what hour was that?

Answer. That must have been about half or three-quarters of an hour after the mine exploded.

Question. Do you think that if your men had been adequately supported they could have gone forward to the crest, notwithstanding the obstacles that presented themselves – firing and so forth – at that hour?

Answer. I think that if I had my whole division together at that time, if the ground had been such that I could have had my whole division together and made that charge, I could have gone to the crest.

Question. When these troops fell back, where did they go?

Answer. They fell back partially into this covered way leading from the fort to the right, and a few were driven into the crater of the mine.

Question. How long was it after they got in before they were ordered to retire; how long were you in that place, or wherever they were?

Answer. Until the general order came to withdraw the troops.

Question. How long would you estimate that time to be?

Answer. It must have been five or six hours. It seems to me we did not get that order till about 11 o’clock. General Burnside sent for me, I should think, about 10 o’clock in the morning and stated that he had received an order to withdraw, and asked me if I thought we could hold the position. I told him I thought we could hold the position, but unless something was going to be done there was no use in it. He said it was an important point, or something of that sort; and I asked him if I could make arrangements to withdraw, and he told me, “No,” that he was going to see General Meade, and that I should wait until he should have consulted with him. Half or three-quarters of an hour afterward I received a copy of a telegram to General White, who was acting as his chief of staff, with an indorsement on the back of the dispatch to the effect that is should be submitted to the officers in the crater, or something to that effect, for their opinion as to how they should withdraw. Subsequently I started to go into the crater to consult with them, and I received an order from and aide-de-camp of General Burnside to report in person at his headquarters.

Question. Was the time a fit one to withdraw, in your opinion?

Answer. The troops were not withdrawn at all; they were driven out by the enemy.

Question. When did the chief loss of men occur?

Answer. The chief loss in my division occurred between 6.30 and 10 o’clock in the morning. The heaviest loss was at the time that some of the troops of the Fourth Division (the colored division) met with a check and were repulse.

Question. Was it in the act of retiring from the crater?

Answer. More than half the prisoners I lost were lost in the crater. I should explain that I had very few men in the crater, that seeing how it was overcrowded, and that one or two regiments that attempted to pass through were lost among the other troops gave way, and the operation of General Ferrero’s troops was unsuccessful, and they gave way, I had some stragglers forced into the crater. I suppose I had not more than 200 men in there. My troops were holding the line to the right of that mostly.

Question. By whom was this removal of the troops conducted?

Answer. It was not conducted at all, sir. The circumstances were there: After we had received this order General Burnside directed me to report at his headquarters. I went to his headquarters, met there the other division commanders, and we consulted upon the best plan which should be adopted to withdraw the troops. I had previously sent out orders to connect my right with the crater by an entrenchment if possible. While we were returning from this consultation ad assault was made upon the crater, and the enemy recovered possession of it. Then all the troops were forced back to our line, except two regiments that I had sent beyond the ravine to silence a battery, and these I withdrew about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Question. Do you know whether any troops misbehaved or disobeyed orders in any way or at any time during the action?

Answer. I do not know that I can answer that exactly. I know by the reports of my staff officers and so forth. But I saw troops lying there when they had been ordered to go forward immediately after the mine exploded, probably within ten minutes. Colonel Pleasants, who had charge of the explosion, and whose regiment, having built the mine, being relieved from duty on that day, except as a sort of provost guard with orders from the Ninth Army Corps, had volunteered as an aide on my staff, and as soon as the mine was exploded he rushed forward into the crater, and the troops were moving up, and he reported to me that the troops could not be made to move forward – that was, the troops of the First Division. He showed me his hand, which was blistered in driving them up. It was Marshall’s brigade, of Ledlie’s division.

By the COURT:

Question. What tools were the engineer regiments supplied with?

Answer. Axes, spades, and picks. The engineer regiment I think was supplied particularly with axes to cut down the abatis.

Question. Did they move forward?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did they destroy the abatis?

Answer. The chevaux-de-frise on the enemy’s lines for 200 or 300 yards was broken down.

Question. Was there any difficulty in passing a brigade or regimental front over our intrenchments and on either side of that crater to the front?

Answer. It might have been done on the left, but not on the right.

Question. What was the difficulty on the right?

Answer. The difficulty on the right was that where you would have to form your troops you would have to pass through a wooded ravine and swamp. A heavy regiment, which charged through in regimental front, I think got very badly broken up. They would have succeeded better farther to the right.

Question. Where did you stay during the attack?

Answer. Most of the time I staid on the hill on this side of the railroad – a point where you can see the ground.

Question. Did all of your troops go into action?

Answer. My troops all went into action except my engineer regiment, which had just moved up to the front.

Question. Did they all get as for as the crater?

Answer. All except one regiment for beyond the crater.

Question. Did you ever go to the crater?

Answer. I never went to the crater myself; I was within about eighty yards of it, just off to the right of it.

Question. At the time your skirmish line was ordered up the hill did any individual members of your division get to the top of the crest?

Answer. I do not think there did. It was reported to me that some did, but having investigated the matter since I am satisfied that they did not.

The Court adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock in 31st of July [August].

NINTH DAY.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, August 31, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the eighth day were read and approved.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL FERRERO.

Brigadier General EDWARD FERRERO, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE, says:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was commanding the Fourth Division of the Ninth Army Corps (colored troops).

Question. What was their formation for the attack?

Answer. There was no formation further than moving down in rear of the Third Division, as directed in the orders, by the flank, in the covered way.

Question. Was this the most judicious?

Answer. It was the only formation that could be adopted under the circumstances.

Question. Please to state the circumstances.

Answer. There being no position to mass the troops.

Question. Why was there no position?

Answer. On account of there being three other divisions in advance of mine, which would occupy all the available ground where my troops could have been formed.

Question. What orders had your to prepare the parapet for the debouche of troops?

Answer. I had no orders whatever.

Question. State some of the causes, briefly.

Answer. The failure of the First Division to go forward immediately after the explosion.

Question. Do you attribute their halting and not going forward to misbehavior on their part?

Answer. Not being present there that I could not say. In my opinion there is no reason that I know of why they should not have gone forward.

Question. State the reasons why you arrived at that conclusion.

Answer. I would state that there could have been no obstructions whatever at that time, from the fact that the crater was crowded with troops, in and about it, when my division went through and passed over the obstacles, not only the obstacles occasioned by the explosion, but also the mass of troops in the crater. They went through and passed beyond those troops at a time when there was heavy firing, whereas, those troops that had gone forward on the lead could have gone forward with a very slight loss, in my opinion. I would state that in my opinion the order of the battle for the movements of troops on that day was extremely faulty. If I understand it right, the object to be attained was to gain the crest on Cemetery Hill, and to take advantage of the momentary paralyzation of the troops in and about the crater, caused By the explosion of the mine. It was necessary that the troops that made the assault should move with the utmost rapidity to gain that crest. I contend that the point of the assault was not properly selected to carry our that object; that the obstructions which the explosion of the mine would naturally create would disorganize the troops and prevent them moving forward with the rapidity that was desired. Furthermore, I would state that the manner in which the troops went in would not lead them to attain the object that was desired. The two divisions that followed the leading division were to have protected the flanks of the same. Now, how could they protect the flank when the leading division (the head of that column) would hardly have reached the crest before the Second Division would have reached the crater, subjecting the First Division to flank fires and to be taken in reverse? And, even had the Third Division, which had the second Division, which was the third in column, could have reached its proper point to protect the right flank of the First Division. I mean t convey the idea that either other movements should have been made on the flank of the leading division, or that division should have been made on the flank of the leading division, or that division should have deployed to the right and left, engaging the enemy on the flank, so as to give the assaulting column an opportunity to advance rapidly to the crest of the hill.

By the COURT:

Question. How long was it after the explosion of the mine before the assaulting column moved forward?

Answer. I was not with the leading division; therefore I cannot give you the ex act time, but it was very shortly after.

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. State to the Court how the Fourth Division (colored troops), your own command, conducted themselves on the occasion.

Answer. I would state that the troops went in in the most gallant manner; that they went in without hesitation, moved right straight forward, passed through the crater that was filled with troops, and all but one regiment of my division passed beyond the crater. The leading brigade engaged the enemy ant a short distance in rear of the crater, where they captured some 200-odd prisoners and a stand of colors, and recaptured a stand of colors belonging to a while regiment of our corps. Here after they had taken those prisoners, the troops became somewhat disorganized, and it was some little time before they could get them organized again to make a second attempt to charge the crest of the hill. About half an hour after that they made the attempt and were repulsed by a very severe and galling fire, and, I must say, they retreated in great disorder and confusion back to our first line of troops, where they were rallied, and there they remained during the rest of the day and behaved very well. I would add that my troops are raw, new troops, and never had been drilled two weeks from the day they entered the service till that day.

Question. If your division had been the leading one in the assault would they have succeeded in taking Cemetery Hill?

Answer. I have not the slightest doubt from the manner in which they went in, under very heavy, fire, that had they gone in in the first instance, when the fire was comparatively light, but that they would have carried the crest of Cemetery Hill beyond a doubt.

By the COURT:

Question. Did you go forward with your division?

Answer. I went to our first line of works and there remained to see my command go through. I would state that I deemed it more necessary that I should see that they all went in than that I should go in myself, as there was no hesitation in their going forward whatever. I was at no time at a farther distance than eighty or ninety yards from my division.

Question. Where were you after they had all passed the crater, and were, as you say, at one time half an hour in reorganizing?

Answer. I was immediately in front of the crater on our front line of works. I would also state that one regiment was checked between the crater and our front line unable to get through, and I was at that time making every effort to get that regiment through with the intention of passing through myself as soon as they got past, but it was impossible for me to do so from the crowded state of the troops that were there.

Question. Were the obstructions in front of the first line of works of a character to admit the passage of a horseman or a piece of artillery after the whole corps had passed?

Answer. They would not admit of the passage of either because the parapet of the rifle-pits had never been dug away. I was compelled to remove abatis on our own front, under fire, to get my command through by the flank.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL WILLCOX.

Brigadier General O. B. WILLCOX, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in a position to see the operations of the assault before Petersburg on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I commanded the Third Division of the Ninth Army Corps. At the time of the explosion of the mine I was at Roemer’s battery, just in rear of my Second Brigade, and in good position to observe the assault.

Question. Do you regard the attack as a failure?

Answer. I do.

Question. State some of the causes of it.

Answer. The first and most obvious cause was the failure of the First Division to go forward when there was no firing, for the fire of the enemy was suspended for fifteen to twenty minutes. In the next place I think that the troops that went in support of the leading division should have gone in almost simultaneously with it, and should have gone t the right and left avoiding the crater, but going near it, and then bearing down the enemy’s works to the right and left so as to gave prevented the enemy bringing flank and reserve fires to bear on the advancing columns. The order of attack stated that my division should wait until the First Division had cleared the enemy’s works. For that reason of courser the three divisions could not have gone in simultaneously. It was the published order that prevented it in part. The attention of the enemy was not attracted to any other point than the crater. I consider that the third reason. Almost as soon as the enemy’s first astonishment was over they concentrated an almost circular fire around the crater. Their field batteries came out in position on different points on the Jerusalem plank road and on Cemetery Hill. They kept up a flank and reverse fire; and a battery in the grove of trees on our right was so situated, the line of the rebel works taking a direction a little re-entering, that almost as soon as they opened fire at all they began to fire nearly in rear of the crater. I would say that at the meeting in General Burnside’s tent, where Generals Ord and Meade were present, I supposed it was intended that the two divisions, following the leading division, should move to the right and left, and that the duty of the Ninth Corps was to clear the ground to enable the Eighteenth Corps to move forward. If that plan had been carried out I think it would have been successful, but I do not think that the temporary occupation of Cemetery Hill by a small force would have insured the success of that attack. I think that ultimately they would have been driven out unless we had a large force (two corps at least) to fight a battle at those works. Now, to go back to the interview which General Burnside had with his division commanders where General Meade himself, that unless it should be a complete surprise it would be a failure; and the written order which was published to the commanders did not substantially, give the order of attack as it was understood at this interview – I mean General Burnside’s order of attack. At the time the matter was talked over I certainly understood that I was to move down and clear the enemy’s works on the left, and then move up toward the Jerusalem plank road. The order stated that I would bear to the left and take a position on the Jerusalem plank road.

Question. What preparations were made and what orders were given to pass troops over the parapet and through the enemy’s works?

Answer. None but the written orders before the Court. The abatis, what was left of it when my division passed over, was no obstacle whatever.

TESTIMONY OF MAJOR-GENERAL HUMPHREYS.

Major General A. A. HUMPHREYS, U. S. Volunteers, chief of staff, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you with General Meade during the assault on the 30th of July?

Answer. I was.

Question What was the substance or language of a dispatch which he received from Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, assistant inspector-general of the Ninth Corps, but addressed to General Burnside, about 5.45 a. m. of that day?

Answer. The substance of the dispatch was, that some of the troops there, I think Ledlie’s division, were in the crater and would not go forward, and asking that some other division of some other troops should be sent to go forward to the crest. The main point with me, however, was that his troops were in the crater and were not going forward as they ought to have done.

Question. Relate what passed at the interview between General Burnside and Generals Grant and Meade after the former had been directed to withdraw the troops from the crater and prior to the withdrawal of the troops.

Answer. I recollect the directions to General Burnside, which were that if he could not withdraw his troops with security during the day they should be withdrawn at night; that he best time for the withdrawal of the troops he himself should be the best judge of. My impression is that General Burnside did not wish to withdraw them. He certainly so expressed himself to me after General Meade left, for I did not leave the headquarters of General Burnside the same time as General Meade, but remained there a short time. I do not know whether he so expressed himself to General Meade and General Grant of not. I thought I understood the conditions that existed there, and there was no question in my mind as to the necessity of withdrawing them.

Question. Did you understand it to be his wish to maintain his position in the crater?

Answer. I did not pay much attention to what he said to General Meade and General Grant, but he so expressed himself to me afterward; but inasmuch as he stated no facts which put a different aspect on the condition of things I did not consider that he gave very good reasons for his wish. He certainly differed from General Ord.

Question. Did you hear General Ord give any opinion as to the probable success of carrying the crest if persisted in for a captain time, and, if so, what was it?

Answer. I heard him then or before express the opinion that the time was past; he was averse to it. I did not pay so much attention to what was said at that time, for the reason that the facts were all known and the conclusions come to in regard to them.

Question. Were you at the fourteen-gun battery near which General Burnside had his temporary headquarters on that day?

Answer. Yes; I rode out there. I think it was between 10 and 11 o’clock when I rode out there. I had been there before, and am somewhat familiar with the ground.

Question. Could anything ge seen from there with sufficient distinctness to have enabled the commanding general to give orders other than he did from the point occupied by him?

Answer. I think not. I do not think it made any difference whether he was there or whether he was at the point he occupied. In the gratification of a personal wish to see, simply, he might have seen something more, but it would not have made any difference in the conclusions arrived at. He would have understood matters as thoroughly where he was as if he had seen them.

Question. Ought the assault on that day to have been successful?

Answer. I think so; I was confident that it would have been successful.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL HUNT.

Brigadier General H. J. HUNT, U. S. Volunteers, chief of artillery, Army of the Potomac, being duly sworn,says in answer to question by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Please to state in what capacity you were serving during the assault on the enemy’s lines on the 30th of July and days preceding it.

Answer. I am chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, and had charge of the siege operations on this side of the Appomattox.

Question. Relate briefly what arrangements were made for opposing the enemy’s artillery fire on that occasion, and if they were successfully carried out.

Answer. Batteries that had been constructed several weeks preceding the assault had armaments placed in them, from the plank road to the Hare house. There were eighteen siege guns in the line, eighteen large mortars, and twenty-eight Coehorns along in the lines in front, and some eighty field pieces. The object was to silence the fire of the enemy’s batteries in the redoubt which formed their salient on the plank road, and especially all of their guns which bore upon the ground in front of the mine. The fire was opened immediately upon the explosion of the mine, and was very successful in keeping down the enemy’s fire.

Question. Was the enemy’s artillery fire formidable, and particularly directed to the point of our assault, after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. The fire did not become very formidable. It was almost entirely silenced soon after it opened, with the exception of one gun in a battery next to the mine, and a battery on the crest beyond the mine, and a few guns that were used by the enemy on our right of the mine, and a few guns that were used by the enemy on our right of the mine toward the railroad. The gun that was in the work next the mine was so placed that it was protected from all direct fire, and a sufficient number of mortars could not be brought to bear upon it to stop it. No large mortars had been placed to control that battery, as, according to the plan of assault, that work might reasonably be supposed to fall into our hands within ten or fifteen minutes after the explosion. All the guns in that battery were silenced, however, excepting that one. The battery on the crest of the hill, directly in front of the mine, was almost shut up after firing two or three rounds, as we had some heavy guns bearing on it, and a number of field guns. I was not where I could see the fire from our right of the mine. I had Colonel Monroe in charge there, and he reported that the fire was pretty well kept down. On the left they occasionally fired a shot.

Question. Under the circumstances, then, ought not the assault have succeeded?

Answer. I think so. That is, so far as it depended upon us. I do not know what the enemy had behind the crest. The object was to take the crest.

Question. Have you formed any opinion as to the causes of the failure of the assault on that occasion?

Answer. I do know what other causes might have existed, but I attributed the failure to the want of promptitude in pushing forward assaulting columns immediately on the explosion of the mine. I believed from the first that if that were not done promptly the attack would probably fail.

Question. Was the enemy’s fire directed upon the point of attack very formidable at any time so as to prevent reasonably resolute troops from pushing forward?

Answer. I think not. Certainly not within the period within which their advance should have taken place.

TESTIMONY OF LIEUTENANT BENYAURD.

Lieutenant W. H. H. BENYAURD, U. S. Engineers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you present at the assault on the rebel lines on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was with General Burnside on that morning. I was sent by Major Duane to report to him for duty as an engineer.

Question. Were you in a situation, then, to see the progress of events on that day?

Answer Not all the time. A portion of the time I was with General Burnside at his headquarters; and then, afterward, I was at different points along the front. I was not in such a position that I could see everything that was going on.

Question. Were there working parties for the assaulting columns, and engineer officers to lead them?

Answer. Not that I know of.

Question. No arrangements had been made with you by General Burnside for anything of that sort?

Answer. No, sir; not previous to the assault.

Question. Do you know if any arrangements were made for the debouche of our troops from our lines and their passage over the enemy’s?

Answer. No, sir. General Burnside did not give me any instructions in regard to taking away the abatis on the rifle-pits on the front line.

Question. Were the obstructions on the enemy’s line formidable, and of what did they consist?

Answer. They had a pretty strong abatis in front of their rifle-pits.

Question. Could they have been removed by working parties that usually accompany assaulting columns?

Answer. I did not go near enough to the crater along that line to judge of that, although it appeared to be merely the usual abatis placed in front of works and placed in the usual position.

Question. Did you see the explosion of the mine?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was its effect to clear for any distance, and, if so, how much, the enemy’s parapets?

Answer. Only a portion of the parapet was blown down. A portion of it remained standing. I suppose the crater that was formed might have been forty or fifty yards long and perhaps twenty wide.

Question. Was the breach sufficient and practicable for the passage of troops in line?

Answer. I did not go in to look at the crater, and consequently I could no say whether they could go in without further work being done or not. I could not tell how deep it was.

Question. As an engineer, would you criticism that point of attack?

Answer. I had been there working on that front before, and I had frequently expressed the opinion that the enemy could bring a flank fire all along there – that is, their line formed a kind of re-entering there.

Question. Did you ever change to hear why that point was selected, or do you know?

Answer. I did hear that that mine was made because that hollow in front was a good position to run a mine from.

Question. State briefly some of the causes, in your opinion, of the failure of the assault.

Answer. I think one cause was the way in which the troops were taken in by the flank, passed down these covered ways, one on the right and the other on the left, on which General Ferrero’s troops went down. I understand that only a portion of our parapet was taken away, and the troops had to go through by the flank instead of advancing in line. The portion of the ground south of the covered way was the way along which the troops could have advanced in line. The railroad cut being only six feet high in one place, the troops could have easily advanced through that. The troops were not in their proper positions at the time of the assault – that is, a portion of the troops were away back beyond the edge of those woods when they should have been in the hollow.

By the COURT:

Question. Had you been placed in charge of a proper working party, suitably equipped, could you not, immediately after the explosion of the mine, have leveled the enemy’s parapets so as to have allowed troops in line of battle to have passed through?

Answer. I think I could. When the enemy afterward had a flank fire between the enemy’s line and ours, I offered to General Burnside to run a covered way from our line to the enemy’s line, on the right and left of the crater.

(Lines marked on map 66 A and A1.)

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Would any advantage have ensued from simply holding the crater without advancing farther?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think so.

By the COURT:

Question. Were there any preparations made in the way of collecting gabions, and so forth, so that if the troops had been successful we could have crowned the crest?

Answer. No, sir; not that I know of.

Question. Were tools collected or used – picks, shovels, axes, &c.?

Answer. I did not see any.

The Court adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock on 1st of September.

TENTH DAY.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, September 1, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the ninth day were read and approved.

GENERAL WILLCOX – RECALLED.

By JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. In your testimony yesterday you stated that at the time of the explosion of the mine you were at Roemer’s battery. Where were you the rest of the time?

Answer. Immediately after the explosion I started for the head of my column, which was on left and it rear of the First Division. I arrived at the front line of works nearest the crater before the whole of the First Division had crossed. The head of my column had already commenced moving for the crater, and was then occupying the left portion of the enemy’s works.

By the COURT:

Question. You stated that General Burnside’s order directed that your division should bear to the left, and take up a position on the Jerusalem plank road. What was the cause of the failure to execute this maneuver?

Answer. The First Division was to move on Cemetery Hill. I would state that Cemetery Hill bore rather to the right of my front, so that it was necessary that Cemetery Hill should be occupied before any ground beyond it could be occupied. In pursuance of my original expectation, I had given orders that the leading regiment should turn down to the left in the line of works, and the Twenty-seventh Michigan started down that line. As soon as General Burnside perceived that the First Division was not moving forward, he sent me orders to move forward my division direct upon Cemetery Hill. My idea was to carry out the spirit of what was understood the day before, and my plan was to throw the whole division on the left into line, so that the right would rest on the Jerusalem plank road; and that would have completely protected the flank of the First Division. This movement was begun, but the commanding officer of the Twenty-seventh Michigan was shot, and the way the First Division moved forward by division created more or less confusion; and by the time I received the order to advance on Cemetery Hill, of before that, in fact, the enemy had concentrated such a fire that we could not advance any farther.

TESTIMONY OF Brigadier General S. G. GRIFFIN.

Brigadier General S. G. GRIFFIN, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was at the assault. My command was the Second Brigade, Second Division (General Potter’s), Ninth Army Corps.

Question. Did you regard that assault as a failure?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think I should, because we did not hold the ground.

Question. State some of the causes that you attribute this to.

Answer. In the first place I should say that the troops in the front did not advance exactly as they should, nor as far as they should. Probably the best ground was not selected. Then the cause of our not holding the ground was the piling in of so many troops in certain parts of the ground where there was no room for them, and a panic having seized those troops caused the disaster. The enemy concentrated all their fire upon that point as soon as we attacked, which was another great reason, no doubt. We received their fire at that point from all directions, and very soon after we first arrived there it was a very sharp fire.

Question. Why were all the troops directed to that point?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Do you think that arrangement was faulty?

Answer. The execution of the plan seemed to be faulty.

Question. Were any arrangements made for passing the troops through the abatis of our line and over the parapet in front of the enemy’s?

Answer. For my part, in my brigade I had a pioneer corps, and skirmishers to clear the way for them.

Question. Did you command go beyond the crater?

Answer. It did.

Question. About how far?

Answer. I should judge 200 yards; it might be more or it might be less; it could not have been much less, however; that is as near as I can judge.

Question. Why did you retire?

Answer. My troops were driven back from that point. They afterward retired from the crater under orders. They were driven back from the advanced position at the time the panic seized the negroes, which more or less affected all our troops, and the negroes rushing through them as they did carried them back. The rebels made a very desperate attack at the same time.

Question. If the enemy’s parapets had been leveled on each side of the crater or made practicable for the passage of troops what would have been the probable result?

Answer. I am not sure that I can tell what the result would have been. Probably the troops might have advanced more readily and with more force, but it was not a thing easy to do.

Question. Do you know anything that prevented the troops, having attained the crater, from going forward immediately to the crest of Cemetery Hill?

Answer. Nothing more than the sharp fire from the enemy.

Question. What kind of fire?

Answer. All kinds. I would state here that there is another reason why my troops could not go forward. The ground where they were was broken up with covered ways and numerous rifle-pits of the rebels. We had just driven the rebels out, and my troops occupied their places; therefore in that position, disconnected, as many of them were, it was difficult and almost impossible to form them to make a direct charge; but if a column had moved farther to the left I did not see any reason why they should not have gone in.

Question. Suppose you had had working parties to level the works, those working parties being supplied with fascines and other necessary preparations to render a passage practicable, could you not have gone forward then?

Answer. I do not think there was time for that work – it would have taken hours. I think the time to go forward was at the first, because very soon after we went there the enemy concentrated their troops and poured into us at that point a terrible fire from every quarter.

Question. The great mistake, then, was the halting of the troops in the crater?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Whose troops were they?

Answer. General Ledlie’s division.

Question. Could the troops have gone over the enemy’s parapets on the left of the crater, in line of battle, immediately after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. I think they could; but I could not say positively because my attention was directed more particularly to the right of the crater.

Question. Could they have done it on the right?

Answer. No, sir; on account of those numerous cross lines and pits and covered ways which were full of the enemy even after we arrived there; and others kept pouring in in addition to those that were already there.

Question. When the troops retired from the crater was it compulsory from the enemy’s operations or by orders from your commander?

Answer. Partly both. We retired because we had orders. At the same time a column of troops came up to attack the crater and we retired instead of stopping to fight. This force of the enemy came out of a ravine, and we did not see them till they appeared on the rising ground immediately in front of us.

Question. Where was your position during the contest?

Answer. I went up with my brigade,and while we were there I was most of the time in the crater, or near it, with my troops all the time.

Question. What was the forces that came out to attack you-the force that was exposed in the open?

Answer. Five hundred or 600 men were all that we could see. I did not see either the right or left of the line. I was the center of the line as it appeared to me. It was a good of battle. Probably if we had not been under orders to evacuate we should have fought them and tried to hold our position; but according to the orders we withdrew.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL HARTRANFT.

Brigadier General J. F. HARTRANFT, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Questions. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was there. My command was the First Brigade of the Third Division (General Willcox’s) of the Ninth Corps.

Question. Did you regard the attack as a failure?

Answer. I did.

Question. What, in your opinion, were some of the cause of that failure?

Answer. The massing of the troops in the crater where they could not be used with any effect. I think that the troops, instead of being sent to the crater, should have been sent to the right and left, so as to have moved in line of battle, then they could have advanced in some kind of shape; but after they came into the crater in the confusion they were in, other troops being brought up only increased the confusion, and by the time the enfilading fire of the enemy’s artillery and infantry had become very annoying, which also made it very difficult to rally and from the troops.

Question. Do you know any reasons why the troops did not go to the right and left of the crater? Were there any physical obstacles to prevent them?

Answer. No; I think troops could have been sent there. The Second Brigade of my division was sent to the left of the crater; they took a portion of the pits. If a vigorous attack had been made on the right and left of the crater I think the enemy’s pits could have been taken without any difficulty and the line occupied.

Question. What was the formation of your command in moving forward?

Answer. I formed my command, which was immediately in rear of the First Division (which was the assaulting division), in one or two regiments front – I put two small regiments together – an my instructions were, after I passed through the crater with my advance, to form to the left of the First Division, protecting its left flank while they were advancing, and form my line as the regiments would come up, so as to from a line of battle on the left of the First Division.

Question. If the troops that first went into the crater had not delayed there, could they not, considering the consternation that the explosion of the mine made in the enemy’s camp, have got forward to the crest of Cemetery Hill?

Answer. I think they could have moved up to that crest immediately, if they had made no halt at all, under the consternation of the enemy. I think they would have had to re-enforce them speedily in order to hold that hill.

Question. The re-enforcements were there, were they not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And there was nothing to prevent that result?

Answer. No, sir. I have thought sometimes that it would have been difficult to have sent troops the crater in sufficient force to sustain the First Division in advance on that hill; that the troops would have had, after all, to have been sent to the right and left of the crater, because, very soon after I was in the crater myself, the enemy were seen on the hill about the position we were to take and was moving troops to the right. A dozen rebels were seen in the corn-field. My brigade moved right on after the First Division, and after my fourth regiment had gone forward I went forward myself to the crater. The fifth regiment was then ordered forward and was going up.

Question. Did you remain till the troops retired?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did they retire in confusion?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Driven out?

Answer. They were driven out at the same time that I had passed the word to retire. It was a simultaneous thing. When they saw the assaulting column within probably 100 feet of the works, I passed the word as well as it cold be passed, for everybody to retire, and I left myself at that time. General Griffin and myself were together at that time. The order to retire we had indorsed to the effect that we thought we could not withdraw the troops that were there on account of the enfilading fire over the ground between our rifle-pits and the crater without losing a great portion of them, that ground being enfilading with artillery and infantry fire. They had at that time brought their infantry down along their pits on both sides of the crater, so that their sharpshooters had good range, and were in good position. Accordingly we requested that our lines should open with artillery and infantry, bearing on the right and left of the crater, under which fire we would be able to withdraw a greater portion of the troops, and, if fact, every one that could get away. While we were waiting for the approval of that indorsement and the opening of the fire this assaulting column of the enemy came up, and we concluded – General Griffin and myself – that there was no use in holding it any longer, and so we retired.

By the COURT:

Question. What was the fault owing to – owing to the orders that were given, or to the execution of those orders? Was it that the plan was bad, or that the troops or their commanders behaved badly?

Answer. Not being familiar with all the orders and arrangements I could not say. So far as my own command was concerned we did all that we could do.

Question. Could you have been ordered to have done it in a better way?

Answer. I think if they had gone forward in line of battle it would have been successful. I consulted with General Bartlett, and General Griffin, and Colonel Humphrey, and we were all of the opinion that no more troops should be sent to the crater. After that the colored division passed right through the crater while we were in it.

Question. How did those colored troops behave?

Answer. They passed to the front just as well as any troops; but they were certainly not in very good condition to resist an attack, because in passing through the crater they got confused; their regimental and company organization was completely gone.

Question. What general officers were in or about the crater on the enemy’s line during all this time?

Answer. General Griffin, General Bartlett, and myself, of the Ninth Corps; and the general commanding the division of the Tenth Corps that was there (General Turner). I did not see any others, although there might have been others there.

TESTIMONY OF SURGEON CHUBB.

Surg. O. P. CHUBB, Twentieth Michigan Volunteers, Ninth Corps, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July?

Answer. I was.

Question. State what you did there.

Answer. I accompanied the Second Brigade of the Third Division of the Ninth Corps across the ravine and up to within ten rods of our breast-works, at the point where the troops passed through immediately after the explosion of the mine. I took position in a bomb-proof which had been used as some regimental headquarters, and remained there for the purpose of dressing wounds. This bomb-proof is located at a point about ten rods in rear of our line. Shortly after I took up that position General Ledlie, of the First Division, and Ferrero, of the Fourth, came up to the front of the bomb-proof, and shortly afterward came in and took seats. This was in the morning about half an hour after the explosion of the mine. That was some time before the colored troops came up. The Third Division (General Willcox’s) was then lying in a little did of the ground – lying flat upon the ground to avoid shelling at that point, and General Ledlie’s troops of the First Division had crossed over our breast-works and gone over to the front immediately after the explosion. I saw them go up. I was where I could see the explosion and the movements of the troops as they passed over the space between our works and the fort. Our division, and our brigade of that division, remained in that position for some time. General Ledlie came there and sat down in front of the place where I was; remained there some little time, and afterward went inside and sat down. I could not tell how long, but not a great length of time after he came, General Ferrero came in. His troops were then lying in the covered way and on the flat. They had not yet come up to go into action. While things were in that position our Third Division made a move, charged over the works, some of them went to the fort and some, I believe, came back. Then General Ferrero had brought his division up to that point, and seemed to be waiting for some orders or movement. General Ledlie received orders in my hearing to move his troops forward from where they were then lying. The order came something like this, as near as I can recollect: “The general wishes you to move your troops forward to the crest of the hill and hold it.” To the best of my recollection that was the meaning of the order, at least, and I think very near the words. I do not know who the order came from. It was brought by an officer, and I supposed that “the general” meant General Burnside. General Ledlie dispatched an aide or some other officer to order that done. Then shortly afterward came an order to General Ferrero to move his division through and charge down to the city. He replied that he would do so “as soon as those troops were out of the way.” He did not designate what troops, so that I understood “those troops” meant the troops that were already there, but this order came two or three times, and the last time it came the order was peremptory “to move his troops forward at once.” His answer to the order always was that he would do so as soon as “those troops” were out of the way, and whenever General Ferrero made that answer General Ledlie sent an aide to order the troops out of the way and see that it was done, so that it became my impression that it was his troops that were in the way. These two general officers were in the bomb-proof with me. General Ledlie’s troops were in the crater and General Ferrero’s were in the rear. After General Ferrero received this last, peremptory order, he went out, General Ledlie went out with him, and the colored troops commenced moving past the order of the bomb-proof – as it was in the track that troops took – and moved up; and I stepped out and saw them go over our works just in front of where General Ledlie’s division passed over. Then they passed out of sight of where I was standing, but in a very short time I heard they were coming back, and, sure enough, they poured down all along in that vicinity with a good many white troops mixed with them. About that time General Ferrero returned. I am not positive if General Ledlie returned or not, and in answer to somebody who asked him how the battle was going, General Ferrero said we had lost everything, or something to that effect; that we were repulsed. He said it was nonsense to send it was nonsense to send a single body of troops (colored or white) forward at one single place, in front of lines held by us, to throw them in the face of a re-enforced enemy, or an enemy who had opportunity to bring other forces to bear. General Ferrero said he thought his division was needlessly slaughtered.

By the COURT:

Question. Did you see General Ledlie when his division advanced?

Answer. No, sir; I did not. Our division was lying in the covered was at the point in our first line of works about opposite the fourteen-gun battery, as it is called, and I had passed up the line of the hill to the crest where I looked over the breastwork and saw those troops move forward, but I could not see everything distinctly because there was considerable distance across the ravine or hollow to his division.

Question. Was there any conversation between those generals and yourself while they were in the bomb-proof bearing on this subject?

Answer. I asked General Ledlie, soon after he came in, if his division had been property supported. The reason of my asking it was that I thought I heard some remark of his that led me to think it had not been, and besides I myself was entirely in the dark in regard to the delay, and so I asked him if his division had been properly supported as it was intended, and he said it had.

Question. Did you hear him give any reason for the division halting?

Answer. No, sir. From the efforts he made to have them ordered forward somewhere I judged that it was contrary to his expectations that they did halt. He frequently sent up aides to have them moved forward somewhere,and from the order that came to him I supposed it was to the crest of the hill. The aide who brought the order said, “The general wishes you to move forward to the crest of the hill.”

Question. Do you know any reason why he was not with his troops himself?

Answer. No, sir. But during almost the last moments or his safety there sent an aide to ascertain how things were going on, and remarked that he could not go himself as he had been hurt in the side by a spent ball. I cannot state positively when this occurred; it seemed to be after I first saw him, but I recollect him having mentioned that fact quite late in the forenoon, nearly noon, for the first time. I have a strong impression that he came back there after General Ferrero’s troops moved forward, but I could not say to so positively.

TESTIMONY OF Colonel H. G. THOMAS.

Colonel H. G. THOMAS, Nineteenth U. S. Colored Troops, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was at the assault on the 30th of July, and commanded the Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Ninth Corps (colored troops).

Question. What was the formation of your troops in going to the assault?

Answer. The formation was by file left in front,which brought us faced by the rear rank when we made the charge.

Question. The head of your troops struck the enemy’s line, where?

Answer. I forced my brigade around the right of the crater, contrary to orders, because the crater was so full that no man could get through – that is, I left two staff officers to force them through. I went straight to the front and field to the right, and went into these rifle-pits in the enemy’s line as far as the head of the First Brigade of our division, which I was ordered to support.

Question. Did you get beyond the line of the crater with your troops?

Answer. I did, sir.

Question. How far?

Answer. I should say about between 300 and 400 yards to the right of the crater, and in front of it. I was ordered to support the First Brigade when it made its charge.

Question. Did you get beyond the enemy’s line?

Answer. I did, sir. I led a charge which was not successful. The moment I reached the head of the First Brigade I started out the Thirty-first Colored Regiment, which was in front, but it lost its three ranking officers in getting in position, and did not go out well.

Question. What, in your opinion, were some of the cause of the failure of the general assault on that day?

Answer. So far as I can judge from my own stand-point, my utter inability to make a decent with my own brigade was the fact the pits into which we were sent were entirely occupied by dead and dying rebel troops and our own, from the First Division of our corps – General Ledlie’s. There was not room for us to move up. We were delayed, I should think, an hour and a half, in the covered way through which we moved, from the fact, so far as I can learn, that the First Division did not make the charge. We were to occupy the pits after they made the charge.

Question. Do you know why the First Division did not go forward?

Answer. I do not, sir.

Question. Did you see any of the appliances for overcoming obstacles that usually accompany troops – working parties with tools?

Answer. I saw no such preparations to remove obstacles in the enemy’s line. I had no such assistance.

Question. Do you think the mode of marching up your command was a judicious one – the form I mean?

Answer. No, sir; it was injudicious, for two reasons. First, we moved up by the flank. That I consider injudicious. And secondly, we were ordered up left in front which made us face by the rear rank, which was not a satisfactory way of maneuvering.

Question. Was it a verbal or a written order, and by whom was it issued?

Answer. It was a verbal order issued by General Ferrero about 11 o’clock on the night before. The order to me that night was to go up by division, follow the First Brigade, and to move left in front. But early in the morning I learned from a staff officer whom I sent out to tell me when the First Brigade moved, that it was filing along the covered way. My instructions were to follow the First Brigade. I was detained at least an hour and a half in the covered way be the troops in front, and by the order of the assistance inspector-general of the corps. He, finding the pits into which we were to go full of troops, suspended the other order until he could see General Burnside.

Question. How did your particular command retire from the front?

Answer. In confusion.

Question. Driven?

Answer. Driven back by a charge of the enemy.

Question. And not by any orders?

Answer. No, sir; they received no order. They were ordered to stop by myself and all my staff officers who were in the pits. When I got into this position on the right of the crater the fire was very severe; there was also a very severe enfilading fire from the right. I attempted one charge without success the moment I reached there. I could not get more than fifty men out. I sent word to General Burnside by Major Van Buren, of his staff – as he was the only staff officer I was in the pits except my own – that unless a movement was made to the right to stop the enfilading fire not a man could live to reach the crest; but that I should try another charge in ten minutes,and hoped I would be supported. In about eight minutes I received a written order from General Ferrero in pretty near these words, “Colonels Sigfried and Thomas, commanding First and Second Brigades: If you have not already done so, you will immediately proceed to take the crest in your front.” It was signed in the ordinary official manner, “By order of General Ferrero: George A. Hicks, captain and assistant adjutant-general.” I cannot produce that order because I destroyed it when I was captured in Petersburg. Colonel Sigfried had, I think, already received it as he was in the crater. I sent word to Colonel Sigfried’s brigade, on my right, where I supposed the colonel to be, that I was about to charge, that we should go over with a yell, and that I hoped to be supported. I went over with two regiments and part of a third, but I was driven back. The moment they came back the white troops in the pits all left and they after them. I was not supported at all in my charge.

Question. Where was the division commander all this time?

Answer. I do not know. When I went up with my brigade he was in the bombproof on the left, with the commanding officer of the First Division. Generals Willcox, Ledlie, and Ferrero were in the

bomb-proof on the left.

Question. Was the bomb-proof a good place to see what was going on?

Answer. No, sir; there were place near there where something could be seen, but the earth about the crater prevented almost anything being seen immediately to the left of it. The dirt was throw up very high. There were, I think, however, places near there where a view could be got.

Question. From what you know of affairs that day is it your opinion that the assault ought to have been successful if the troops engaged in it had performed their duty?

Answer. Going up so late as I did was not a good judge, but I think, from what I could see at the late hour at which I got in, that if the division that went in first had gone ahead there is no question of our taking the crest on that ridge (Cemetery Hill), hardly with the loss of a man. We waited in the covered way over an hour with almost no musketry on our right. We were detained there; we could not get up.

By the COURT:

Question. Did you ever go over that ground afterward?

Answer. I did, sir.

Question. Under what circumstances?

Answer. I went over it two days afterward, the 1st of August, when the flag of truce was out.

Question. Did you see anything in the nature of the enemy’s defenses that would change the opinion you formed on the day of the assault?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Did you see any obstacles in the nature of the ground?

Answer. No,sir.

Question. Did you have an opportunity of seeing what the enemy had on the top of Cemetery Hill?

Answer. No,sir; I did not have an opportunity of seeing just what they might have had there.

Question. Did you see any works there?

Answer. No, sir; I did not think there were any.

Question. How did the colored troops behave?

Answer. They went up as well as I every saw troops go up – well closed, perfectly enthusiastic. They came back very badly. They came back on a run, every man for himself. It is but justice to the line officers to say that more than two-thirds of them were shot, and to the colored troops that the white troops were running back just ahead of them.

TESTIMONY OF Colonel CHARLES S. RUSSELL.

Colonel CHARLES S. RUSSELL, Twenty-eighth U. S. Colored Troops, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And what as your command?

Answer. I was a lieutenant-colonel, commanding six companies of the Twenty-eighth U. S. Colored Troops, Thomas’ brigade, of Ferrero’s division.

Question. Did your command participate in the assault?

Answer. Yes, sir; we left the covered way to make the assault before 8 o’clock, and 10 minutes after 8 part of my regiment, with two others, went over the outside of the enemy’s line into what seemed to be a covered way beyond, to go to Cemetery Hill; mine was to have been third in order, but it became second.

Question. How far in advance did you get toward Cemetery Hill?

Answer. Not exceeding fifty yards; we were driven back.

Question. By what?

Answer. I should judge by about from 200 to 400 men (infantry) which rose up from a little ravine and charged us. Being all mixed up, and in confusion, and new troops, we had to come back.

Question. Do you think you could have maintained yourself in that position if you had been supported by troops that were known to have been in the crater at that time?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think we could, considering our condition. There were no two companies together. The officers were shot down and the troops were very much dispirited. They were all in there just as thick as they could possibly stick. The orders were to advance and take the crest of that hill at once, and I went right over with all the men I could gather, supposing that all the rest would follow. Not more than 150 or 200 men out of the three regiments went outside.

Question. Did you troops sustain a good deal of loss in that affair?

Answer. Yes, sir; I lost nearly half; and 7 officers out of 11.

By the COURT:

Question. Do you thin that if you had advanced on the right of left of the crater, where the ground was more practicable, you would have done better?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think that if we had gone up there an hour before we could have carried the crest, for there was but little musketry fire at that time.

Question. Where were you during that interval?

Answer. In the covered way in rear of a battery of 4 1/2-inch guns.

Question. Was the division commander around there?

Answer. The division commander was at the head of the division. I saw him when we went into the crater. I passed him and spoke to him. He was then on the left of the first line of rifle-pits by our people – I mean the most advanced line of rifle-pits.

Question. What did Colonel Sigfried’s brigade do?

Answer. That brigade, instead of going into the crater, as near as I can tell, seemed to file to the right. At least that was my impression.

Question. Did they go over the enemy’s breast-works?

Answer. I do not know, sir; my impression is that they did not.

Question. I mean the breast-works of which the crater was a continuation.

Answer. No, sir; I do not think they did.

By the JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Did you form any opinion as to the cause of that failure?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was it?

Answer. Delay. It was Lieutenant-General Grant who moved us up, about 5 o’clock, for we had not started from our bivouac in those woods at 5 o’clock. General Grant rode up and asked what brigade that was, and what it was doing there. That was some time after the explosion of the mine and the cannonading had commenced. General Grant told us to move on. The order was not given to me directly; it was given to Colonel Thomas. Then we moved into the covered way and remained there till 8 o’clock.

The Court adjourned to meet at 11 o’clock on the 2nd of September.

ELEVENTH DAY.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the tenth day were read and approved.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL AMES.

Brigadier General A. AMES, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says, in answer to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you present at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was present where I could see the last part of it. I had a division of the Eighteenth Army Corps.

Question. Did your troops experience any interference from the Ninth Corps in moving into position in rear on that occasion?

Answer. Not directly. My division was a support. I understood from the commanding officer of the corps that my troops were held in reserve for any emergency that might arise or a battle that might be fought after we had taken possession of the heights, and at no time were my troops farther advanced than the woods in rear of our own works. At one time I was ordered to take my division in to support General Turner’s. The idea was that he was to advance, and I was to carry my division in on his right, being careful not to get in advance of him, so as to have his left flank interfered with. Upon receiving the order I understood that I was expected to move to the front through the covered way, but I found that there was still a brigade of General Turner’s division in reserve, and as I passed through the covered way I saw that it was blocked up by one of General Turner’s brigades. As it was intended that I should go to the front with my troops, I first went to see what kind of ground I was to pass over, and found that the covered way was blocked up by troops, as well as in some places by wounded coming to the rear, and in others by men carrying ammunition to the front. When I got to our most advanced position beyond the creek, or bottom, I found that General Turner had a brigade massed there, and that there were evidently more troops in front than could be well handled. I had a conversation with General Turner, and the state of affairs was such that we thought it desirable that General Ord, from whom we received our orders, should know that it was impossible for us to move to the front at once, going down through the covered way, as he intended that we should. I immediately wrote a note to General Ord, requesting him to come down to the front and see the state of affairs for himself; otherwise his orders would probably not be obeyed. I went to the rear and found him, and came down to the front with him, and he then decided that our troops, at least that my division, should not remove forward.

Question. Were the arrangements that were made for the passage of troops through the abatis near the parapet to go to the front adequate?

Answer. I think not. I did not examine it in particular, but I was down there when part of General Turner’s command to the front, and, having nothing else to do, I drove some of his men over the parapet, and I found that they experienced great difficulty in getting through the abatis. The place that I refer to was at our right of the mine.

Question. State some of the cause for the failure of the assault on that occasion, in your opinion.

Answer. I then formed the opinion (and I have not seen any cause to change it) that at time I was there a clear head, where it could see what was going on and see the difficulties at the front, might have corrected a great many of the faults that then existed. I think the trouble was no one person at the front who was responsible, in consequence of which there was no unity of action. It took a long time for commanders in the front to communicate with those in the vicinity of the fourteen-gun battery in the rear, on the top of the high hill. My idea is that everybody appeared to be acting for himself with not particular determination to go any farther than he was compelled to. So far as I could see when I arrived there, that appeared to be the state of the case.

Question. Will you, as far as your observation goes, remark upon the formation of the troops as they went forward, and also as to their preparation with all things needful for pushing over the enemy’s line of works and establishing them on the farther side.

Answer. I remained in the rear with my troops until I was ordered to advance, and at this time part of the Tenth Corps had already advanced to our most advanced work, and the rest, as I stated, were in the covered way; and I did not see any of the Ninth Corps – the white troops of it – make any movements whatever. They had all moved forward and occupied the crater before I had gone to the front, so that I am ignorant of their information. I know that the colored troops were down the covered way before the division of the Tenth Corps. It was my opinion, the case being as it was, that the division of the Tenth Corps should not have passed down the covered way; that they might have passed down the hill to the bottom, the passed over our works, and then up over the open ground toward the enemy’s. I think all the troops should have gone that way. The massing of our troops at our most extreme advanced position, and then, crowded as they were, forming them for an advance created more or less confusion. It would be likely to do so among the best of troops, and certainly it did in the Ninth Corps. I was going to remark that it was my opinion that instead of waiting to have moved down the covered way, it would have been proper for me to have avoided that covered was and moved over the open ground. There was very little fire upon that ground, and the enemy could have probably brought but little there at best; and I think the division could have been moved down the hill and up over the open ground without serious loss – no more than might be expected; and then the troops would have been already in position to have acted with some considerable vigor, and with a reasonable hope of adequate results.

Question. Do you know of, or did you see, anything like fascines, gabious, or such things as are generally used and considered necessary, indeed, for an affair of that kind on the ground?

Answer. No,sir. When I saw the difficult of passing our troops from our most advanced work to the crater, and saw that there was a little depression where the ground rose on each of it (not much to be sure, but almost enough to cover the troops), I recommended to my superior, General Ord, and also his staff, that men with shovels should go out and throw up, certainly on the left of the crater, on a little rising ground, a rifle-pit or breast-work to cover our men so that they could pass from our line of works to the crater without danger; but I learned that there were no tools there for any such work, but it was concluded that these tools should be obtained, and afterward Captain Farquhar, of the Engineers, told me that he had sent for these tools, and that they would go to work and make this covered way, but before anything could be accomplished the troops were running back.

Question. Do you think the plan for the assault was one that with ordinary diligence and skill the assault ought to have been successful?

Answer. I don’t see how ordinary troops, with good commanders and one head to direct, could have possibly failed under the circumstances. It was necessary that some one person should be present to direct the various movements and make them one operation. If there had been perhaps the result would have been different.

Question. Do you think it would have been any benefit to our arms to have held the crater simply?

Answer. That I think would depend upon our ultimate object. I think it would have been no use to have held the crater if we had remained inactive, or on the defensive, as we have done since. If it was our intention to work up to the crest by mining it would have been so many hundred yards to our advantage.

Question. Would it not have been difficult to hold the place in consequence of the fire that could have been brought to bear upon it; is not that the re-entrant point in the line?

Answer. Yes, sir. The enemy’s fire, at least as I saw it, was at least a semi-circle – that is, a continuation of the line of fire from one side in the direction of the crater would strike the enemy’s works on the other, making the line of fire a semicircle.

Question. You regard the order to withdraw the troops at the time it was given a judicious one, do you?

Answer. I think so, under the circumstances. I understood that the troops in the crater did not move forward; and that being the case, the sooner they went back the better.

TESTIMONY OF Colonel H. L. ABBOT.

Colonel H. L. ABBOT, First Connecticut Artillery, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Did you participate in the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command, and what were your particular duties at that time?

Answer. I did participate in the assault. I was in command of all the heavy guns and mortars, eighty-one in all. I remained most of the time on the left, in charge of the mortar batteries especially. We expected fire from the enemy’s salient, and I had sixteen mortars to keep it down, and I remained chiefly there and by Van Reed’s battery.

Question. Do you regard the artillery fire on that occasion as very effective, and was it what it ought to have been, and what it was meant to be?

Answer. I do, sir; I think it accomplished all we hoped to do.

Question. Were there at any point obstacles to the fire of the artillery which ought to have been removed?

Answer. Yes, sir; in front of what we call the fourteen-gun battery.

Question. Please to state what they were.

Answer. This battery is nearly in front of the mine, and some trees were growing a little to its left, which masked the fire of the guns the next rebel battery to our left of the mine. These trees it was our wish to have removed. They had not been when the battery was first established, because we did not with to show the enemy what we were doing. As soon as the six 4 1/2-inch guns were in position, I was anxious to have then cleared away.

Question. What measures did you take to effect that?

Answer. I had on several occasions conversations with General Burnside on the subject, in which I referred to the necessity of their being cleared away before we could use the battery to advantage. On the night of the 27th working parties were ordered by him to cut the trees, but they were driven off after accomplishing very little. On the night of the 28th I represented the matter to General Hunt, chief of artillery, at the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. I went with in to the telegraph office, when he telegraphed General Burnside, I should think about 7 o’clock in the evening, urging him to have the trees removed. One of my captains (Captain Pratt), who commanded the battery, was so desirous of having his field of fire clear that he took some of his own company and cut partially that night. No working parties coming on the night of the 29th the matter was again raised – by whom I do not know – but General Burnside declined to have any trees cut on that night, lest it might give the rebels an idea of the attack. But a party was formed which did being to cut as soon as the mine exploded. It partially but not entirely cleared away the trees, and the guns were enabled to do some service, but they could not see one flanking gun, which did us a good deal of harm. I could not see myself from where I was exactly what that guns was doing. I received orders from General Hunt, I should think about 7.30 o’clock, but I cannot be sure at to the exact time, to try to turn some of my mortars upon it, as it was making trouble. I did so, and made some good shots in that direction, but I do not think the fire of the gun was stopped. The battery was too far off. The trees that were removed were removed partly by my men and partly by the negroes.

Question. Where you in a situation to tell the Court whether the artillery fire of the enemy was at all effective and how soon after the explosion of the mine?

Answer. It would be very difficult to state positively, on account of the smoke and the noise of our own guns. I do not think that they fired any guns for nearly an hour. I could not detect any, although I was watching carefully and Van Reed’s battery, so as to make any alternation in our fire that might be necessary. I am sure they did not fire from the place we expected it most – in front of the Fifth Corps. I do not think they fired during the day from here to do any damage. They fired a few shots, however. They fired from a 30-pounder at our battery, which, of course, did not amount to anything. This gun was on the plank road. Over on the right I could not form any exact idea of what they were doing, but I could see that there was certainly no heavy firing. There were only a few straggling shots in that direction. Where we most feared the fire we did not get any at all. The firing that they did, according to the reports I have received, was from a light battery on the crest, and it was once moved from its position by our mortar batteries on our right near the left of the Eighteenth Corps. We expected fire from the two flanks, and we had a heavy fire of mortars to stop both fires.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL MOTT.

Brigadier General G. MOTT, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Will you state to the Court what time and under what circumstances you relieved the Eighteenth Corps previous to the assault on Petersburg?

Answer. I left across the James River on the night of the 28th of July. I crossed the river at 9 o’clock, and one of General Ord’s aides met me and put me in position before daylight next morning. As soon as it was dark on the night of the 29th I relieved the Eighteenth Corps and one division of the Tenth in the entrenchments, and completed the operation about 11 o’clock.

Question. What did General Ord say to you as to the practicability of making an assault in your front in connection with the operation of the mine?

Answer. He wished me to say to General Hancock (and he said that he had also telegraphed to General Meade) that it was not practicable to make an assault there, on account of a good abatis being in front of the enemy’s works, and on account of their being well wired, so that it was impossible for the men to get through.

Question. During the assault of General Burnside through the crater and subsequent to that time did you make any examination to see whether the enemy had left your front or not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was the result?

Answer. I sent a staff officer to each brigade commander to instruct them to make a demonstration to see if the enemy had left. General De Trobriand, commanding the First Brigade, attempted to advance his pickets which he had out. In doing so he had 1 officer and 15 men killed. Colonel Madil, commanding the Second Brigade, said he had a position from which he could see if any one left his front, and not a man left since daylight. Colonel McAllister, commanding the Third Brigade, made a demonstration by sounding the bugle for a charge, and snapped some caps, and he immediately received a volley from the enemy’s works. He had no pickets out in the daytime.

Question. What time was this?

Answer. I think it was about 7 o’clock; about the time I got a dispatch when General Burnside reported that the enemy had left his front.

The Court then adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock on the 3rd of September.

TWELFTH DAY.

SEPTEMBER 3, 1864.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

After taking testimony of all the witnesses present on this day the proceedings of the eleventh day were read and approved.

MAJOR DUANE-RECALLED.

Question. Were there pontoon trains, sand-bags,&c., in readiness at convenient points near the place of assault on the 30th of July, as ordered by Major-General Meade?

Answer. There were.

Question. Were engineer officers detailed for each corps?

Answer. There were.

Question. You stated in your former testimony that you were near the Fifth Corps at the time of the assault. Were there arrangements made for passing the field artillery through the works in front of that corps?

Answer. I think not. I did not understand that it was part of the plan that the troops of the Fifth Corps should advance through that part of their front. They were to have advanced on the Ninth Corps front. I understood it was intended that they should pass through the enemy’s lines opposite the left of the Ninth Corps. I had no conversation with General Meade on that subject. I merely inferred it from what I had heard.

Question. Were the pioneers equipped for destroying the enemy’s abatis, and were entrenching tools in readiness for use when required for the Fifth Corps in their progress against the rebel lines?

Answer. I do not know. The pioneers were not under my orders.

Question. Why did not the engineer department take charge of the engineering operations and be responsible for their execution?

Answer. General Burnside took charge of the operations, and I was directed by General Meade not to interfere with them. I had once or twice attempted to send officer to direct the operations and General Burnside would not allow them to do so.

TESTIMONY OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BARNES.

Lieutenant Colonel JOSEPH H. BARNES, Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in the crater at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. No, sir; I was not in the crater.

Question. Were you near it?

Answer. I was near it – on the outside.

Question. In what formation did your command go forward?

Answer. It will be necessary to state that I did not go forward with my command proper. On the night previous I was in command of the division picket, and on the picket being relieved, in accordance with orders I had received, I followed my command, but did not reach my command proper until after they had moved forward to the assault. I went forward to the crater at the head of the troops of the Fourth Division (colored troops).

Question. What was the condition of things in or about the crater when you arrived there?

Answer. When I arrived at the crater the negro troops were pouring through the opening down into the crater. I hesitated about going in there with them (there was so much confusion at the bottom of the crater), and I remained outside with a captain who had been brigade officer of the day, who was with me. We remained outside the crater until all the negro troops had passed in; then, my orders being to join my command, and seeing a color in the

earth-works about 100 yards, to the right of the crater, I moved to the right, supposing it might be my color, keeping all the time about 100 yards from the ditch. Arriving at that point, I found it was not my regimental color, but meeting the commanding officer of the Thirteenth Indiana Regiment, of the Tenth Corps, I stopped to converse with him. There were in front of me at this time, lying outside the earth-works, negro troops in two lines – that is to say, four deep. They were lying on their faces in line of battle immediately on the outside of the ditch. Directly in front of them was another line of negro troops, in the ditch,mingled with the white troops of the First Division. I did not go into the crater because I was desirous, if possible, of learning where my regiment was before getting in. In justice to myself, I might say that it was a much more exposed position outside the ditch than it was inside, but, as I said before, I desired to find my regiment first. But being unable to do so, I had determined to go in and look for it in the ditch. Just as I was about to step forward, about half a dozen offices of the negro troops rose up and attempted to get their commands out of the work, for the purpose of advancing I should judge, although I knew nothing of what the movements were to be, and therefore only judged so from their actions. About 200 men (white and black) rose right in my front, their officers attempting, as I understood, to advance them, but they immediately fell back, and thereupon the two lines of negro troops that had been lying in front of me near the ditch rose to their feet and went back to the rear, marching over the Thirteenth Indiana Regiment, which remained in its position. This was about 100 yards on the right of the crater.

Question. The white troops in the crater belonged to what division?

Answer. They belonged to the First Division (General Ledlie’s).

Question. State to the Court, if you know, or give your opinion as to why they hesitated or stopped in the crater and did not go forward.

Answer. Of my own knowledge I do not know.

Question. Did any of the troops of the First Division get beyond the crater toward the enemy?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. In you opinion how did this hesitation or rest in the crater affect the result of the action?

Answer. In my opinion it affected it in this manner: The hesitation and the length of time consumed in reorganizing our rearranging the men for moving forward enabled the enemy immediately in front to be prepared not only for our advance, which they were, but to advance against us, which they did.

Question. Do you know whether the division and brigade commanders were present when the troops halted in the crater?

Answer. No, sir; I do not know of my own knowledge.

By the COURT:

Question. How many troops were there in those two lines which lay just along the enemy’s rifle-pit?

Answer. The number from the crater to a short distance to my right was, I should judge, 600 or 700 possibly more. I could not say how many more there might be because of the nature of the ground, there being a descent in the ground beyond which I could not see.

Question. Did they at any time charge up the slope toward Cemetery Hill?

Answer. They did not my knowledge.

Question. When they rose up and went to the rear, in what ordered did they go?

Answer. In disorder.

Question. Were those troops again brought forward that day?

Answer. Not to my knowledge. Some of them were rallied in rear of the next line in the rear.

TESTIMONY OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBINSON.

Lieutenant Colonel GILBERT P. ROBINSON, Third Maryland Battalion, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in the crater at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command on that occasion?

Answer. I was in the crater at the assault and I formed part of the third line making the assault. The brigade was in three lines. I belonged to the Second Brigade of the First Division.

Question. In what formation did your command go forward?

Answer. In column by battalions.

Question. Did any of your troops get beyond the crater?

Answer. Yes, sir; some of them did. My brigade went to the right of the crater to the breast-work in front of the battery, which was in accordance with the orders from Colonel Marshall the night before.

Question. Did the mass of the troops of the First Division halt in the crater and about it, or did they go forward the crest?

Answer. I did not see any of them go forward toward the crest. A majority of them went through the crater perpendicular to our front. I kept to the right.

Question. You know the fact that those troops halted there?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you know why they halted?

Answer. I could not positively say, why, without it was in consequence of the ground being so small, and so many of them getting together in the crater. There was great confusion in the crater.

Question. Was there not plenty of ground in front – why did they not go?

Answer. Yes, sir; I cannot answer about what transpired on the left. I went to the right and kept up a fire, and advanced as far as I could until I got to an angle in the works which was held by the rebels. I used the Spencer rifle upon them. The battalion numbered only fifty-six men.

Question. Was there confusion at that point of attack, or were the troops in any order?

Answer. I could not see any order at all. There was nothing but confusion in the crater. What was in the covered way beyond the crater toward Petersburg I could not say.

Question. Did you have an opportunity of observing whether efforts were made by division and brigade officers to relieve the troops from this disorder?

Answer. Yes, sir; every effort that could be made was made by Colonel Marshall and myself, for he had given orders that I should be obeyed, as I was next in command. I saw no division commander in the crater at the time.

Question. What was the cause of this confusion that you say existed in the crater?

Answer. I cannot assign any reason for the confusion if it was not as I said the ground being so much torn up and the place being so small, and when they got in there the fire was pretty strong.

Question. What was the nature of the enemy’s fire at that time, heavy or otherwise?

Answer. When we got there the fire was not so strong as it was half an hour afterward.

Question. What kind of fire was it, artillery or musketry?

Answer. Both. I would call it a moderate fire. I do not think the heavy fire commenced until after 8 o’clock. I think we had fire there from their mortar batteries.

TESTIMONY OF MAJOR RANDALL.

Major GEORGE M. RANDALL, Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you in or about the crater on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was in the crater, and was acting aide to General Ledlie.

Question. In what formation did your division go forward?

Answer. It went forward as I should judge by the flank. They did not go forward in solid column as we expected they would do.

Question. Do you know any reason why they did not?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Were you near the head of the column, or were you among the first that got into the crater?

Answer. I was about the second line. I was ordered by General Ledlie to go forward with the advancing column.

Question. Had you an opportunity of observing why the troops halted in the crater?

Answer. Yes, sir. I saw the Fourteenth New York and the Second Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery pass through the crater and occupy traverses in rear of the fort. And the they remained.

Question. Were efforts made to urge them forward according to the plan?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And at a time, too, when they were not in disorder?

Answer. They were very much in disorder when they arrived at the crater. That was just the difficulty. If the regiments had been in their proper placed when they arrived at the crater we would have taken the crest of the hill, but they were scattered, and it was impossible to get any of the regiments together. Colonel Robinson and myself attempted to get them forward, but could not do so.

Question. While this was going on was there a fire of any account from the enemy?

Answer. No, sir; there was not much when we first advanced in there.

Question. Please to state in your opinion what it arose from.

Answer. I cannot tell exactly. I suppose it was because when the mine exploded they were so much excited, for when the mine exploded they hardly knew what they were doing. It appeared to be the opinion of all who were there that immediately after the explosion one good regiment in solid column could have gone forward without any difficulty. But we were in there only a short time when the enemy opened on our right and left.

Question. Was the division commander present during this confusion?

Answer. Not in the crater.

Question. It is your opinion that this hesitation affected the result of the action?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you know whether there were any pioneers with tools or engineer troops with fascines or gabions ready to come forward to crown the crest in the event of your getting up on Cemetery Hill?

Answer. I think I saw the Twenty-fifth [Thirty-fifth] Massachusetts (First Division), with shovels and spades; I cannot positively say but I think I saw them there somewhere.

By the COURT:

Question. To all appearance were the rebels awake and vigilant before and up to the line of the springing of the mine, or were they apparently asleep and unprepared?

Answer. They appeared to be awake. When I was on the first line – the line that General Willcox’s division occupied – shots were continually fired by the enemy from the fort before the mine exploded; they came from the right or left, at least from the immediate vicinity of the fort.

Question. Are you certain they came from the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir; I am positive of it.

Question. Where was the division commander during the assault?

Answer. He was in rear of the first line – the line occupied by General Willcox’s troops. I carried orders to him and found him always in rear of the first line, sitting down behind the parapet.

Question. Do you know any reason why General Ledlie was not with his division in front?

Answer. No, sir.

TESTIMONY OF COLONEL MONROE.

Colonel J. A. MONROE, First Rhode Island Artillery, behind duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and in what capacity did you serve?

Answer. I was there as chief of artillery of the Ninth Army Corps.

Question. What preparations were made, such as making openings, for passing field artillery through our line of works when it should become necessary in the front?

Answer. No such preparations were made to my knowledge.

Question. What preparations were made for unmasking our artillery, such as cutting down the trees and obstructions there were in front?

Answer. No preparations had been made immediately before the explosion. Some had been weeks before. The trees in front of what is known as the “heavy work” were left standing until the morning of the 30th, directly after the explosion of the mine, when a few of the trees were cut down.

Question. Do you understand that some of the batteries were masked by those trees?

Answer. Were you aware that the Fifth Corps artillery was to find its way to the front through openings that were to be made in the Ninth Corps front?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. What have you to say about the fire of the enemy’s artillery, as to its commencement and its formidableness on that day?

Answer. It was not severe at all at first. Half or three-quarters of an hour after – it might have possibly been an hour – they had a battery firing which enfiladed our line on the right. That fire came apparently from one or two guns on Cemetery Hill.

By the COURT:

Question. What troops occupied that line?

Answer. I think it was the First Division of the Ninth Corps, which had endeavored to move up toward the crest of Cemetery Hill, by the way of the Chimneys, where there is another battery. The fire of the enemy’s battery on Cemetery Hill was not formidable, because the heavy battery of ours kept it almost completely silenced.

Question. Had those trees been removed, could our batteries have played on the enemy’s guns on our right of the crater, which were firing across the plain over which our troops were to charge?

Answer. Yes, sir. They could also have fired upon a battery in the edge of the woods, almost in front of the crater, that was enfilading our line.

Question. What is the reason the trees were not cut down?

Answer. I called General Burnside’s attention to it three weeks before. I went to the general the night before the explosion of the mine, and tried to get a large party to cut those trees down, and he said no trees should be cut down until the mine should have exploded. I asked him for a detail, and he gave me eighty men, which were to be set at work immediately after the explosion of the mine. I put them to work, two men to a large three and one, and they commenced cutting, but only a few trees cut down, the party was so small.

TESTIMONY OF CAPTAIN GREGG.

Captain THEODORE GREGG, Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Ninth Corps, being duly sworn, says to question by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. I was at the assault on the 30th of July. My command was the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps.

Question. State briefly what you observed about the operations on that day.

Answer. My regiment was in the entrenchments opposite the rebel for that was blown up. About 3.30 o’clock on the morning of the assault I received orders from Captain Raymond, aide to Colonel Bliss, commanding the brigade, to leave part of the regiment deployed as skirmishers and go back with the remainder to the edge of the woodlands and form on the right of the Fourth Rhode Island, and remain there until further orders. When the explosion took place I was ordered by Captain Peckham, who was also an aide to Colonel Bliss, to follow the Fourth Rhode Island. We marched by the flank, left in front, through the covered way. On arriving at our front line of works opposite the crater the orders was given to

double-quick across the open plain. On arriving in front of the rebel works we found several regiments lying down on the ground, and a great many men killed and wounded. I then received orders to charge across the crater; I gave the command “face by the right flank,” in order to march in line of battle; and on arriving at the edge of the crater I faced again by the left flank, and marched in single file around and in rear of the crater. The crater was filled with the troops of the First and Second Divisions of the Ninth Army Corps. General Bartlett, commanding the First Brigade, First Division, General Griffin, commanding the Second Brigade, Second Division, and General Hartranft, were in the crater. They appeared to be endeavoring to rally the troops for the purpose of charging forward to some buildings about 400 yards in rear of the crater toward Petersburg, and I believe on Cemetery Hill. I was ordered by General Bartlett to charge across the plain and secure those buildings so that we could use them to operate as sharpshooters against the enemy’s artillery. At the same time Captain Peckham ordered me to form in line of battle and then charge down in rear of the enemy’s line of rifle-pits on the right – that is to face by the rear rank and charge the enemy in the rifle-pits on the right. As soon as they should see the colors of the Forty-fifth other regiments of the First Brigade of the Second Division were to charge forward. As soon as I had the regiment formed in line I received an order from General Griffin and other officers to charge to the left of the crater in order to create a diversion in favor of other regiments of the Second Brigade. The crater was filled with troops.

Question. What troops were they?

Answer. I knew them to be troops of the First and Second Divisions by seeing General S. G. Griffin and other officers, as well as men whom I had known before. They were very much mixed up and could not be got forward by their officers. Some officers attempted to rally them and some did not.

Question. Was there any firing at this time?

Answer. There was. The enemy’s fire could not reach the men in the crater, but there was heavy firing at this time in front of the crater from field-pieces about those buildings. The enemy also had an enfilading fire of artillery from the fort, situated on our left, and from another battery on our left and at a deep cut in the railroad. I received so many orders from so many different commanders at that time that I did not know which to obey.

Question. Where was your division commander?

Answer. I do not know where he was. I did not see the division commander there at any time during the action. I understood that he was on the ground. He might have been there and in the confusion I not have seen him. Neither did I see our brigade commander. General Potter was our division commander and Colonel Bliss our brigade commander.

TESTIMONY OF SURGEON SMITH.

Surg. H. E. SMITH, Twenty-seventh Michigan Volunteers, Ninth Corps, behind duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was in charge of the surgeons on the field of the Third Division, to see that the wounded were attended to and taken to the rear.

Question. Had you an opportunity on that occasion of observing any of the military movements?

Answer. Nothing more than seeing troops advance over our

breast-works. I was there when the colored troops were ordered to advance, and heard General Burnside’s aide give repeated orders to General Ferrero to take this troops up and charge toward Petersburg. I think he gave the order three times. The third order General Burnside sent to General Ferrero was an imperative order to advance. To the previous orders General Ferrero would make the answer that the other troops were in his way and he could not possibly advance while they were there, and if they would be taken out of the way he would go ahead.

Question. General Ferrero was present?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Any other generals?

Answer. General Ledlie was present. Those were the only generals I saw.

Question. Did General Ledlie make any reply that you heard when this order was given to General Ferrero?

Answer. I did not hear him make any reply or any statement on the subject of that order from General Burnside.

Question. What troops did you understand General Ferrero to allude to as being in the way?

Answer. I did not understand. I supposed they were those troops that had made the charge. The general was in front of a bomb-proof, which had been used as a regimental headquarters, and was situated about ten or twelve yards, as near as I could judge, in rear of the work. This bomb-proof was fronting to the rear.

Question. Did General Ferrero leave that place and accompany his troops to the front when they left?

Answer. He did. General Ledlie, I think, left the bomb-proof for a very short time. That was about the time of the stampede of the darkens. Then, I think, both General Ledlie and General Ferrero returned about that time. I am not positive, however, for I was busy seeing that the wounded were being attended to. General Ledlie asked me for stimulants, and said he had malaria and was struck by a spent ball. He inquired for General Bartlett, as he wanted to turn the command over to him and go to the rear. It was one of General Bartlett’s aides, I believe, who replied that he was in the crater.

Question. You say that during the stampede Generals Ferrero and Ledlie returned to the bomb-proof. How long did they remain there?

Answer. General Ferrero remained a very short time. He was exhausted. I think he came in for the purpose of getting some stimulants, too, and I think he went out immediately after I gave him the stimulants. General Ledlie remained some time longer, probably half an hour, I should judge.

Question. You mention stimulants. What were they – hartshorn, materia medica, or what?

Answer. It was rum, I think. I had rum and whisky there, and I think I gave the rum.

Question. How often did you administer stimulants to those two officers during that day?

Answer. I think that once was the only time. I was not in the

bomb-proof all the time while they were there. It was perfectly safe in there, but it might not have been outside. I had to got out to look after the wounded.

Question. Were there any brigade or regimental commanders in the bomb-proof – any commanding officers besides those whom you have named?

Answer. Yes,sir.

Question. Name them

Answer. There were a colonel commanding a brigade of colored troops – Colonel Sigfried, I believe. He came there after the stampede quieted down a little; after the troops stopped going to the rear. Also Lieutenant-Colonel Cutcheon, of the Twentieth Michigan. He came in from the crater about the middle of the day of see General Willcox to learn in anything could be done to relieve the troops in the crater, as they were suffering very much for water, and also from the artillery fire of the enemy.

Question. What was the reply?

Answer. General Willcox was not there, sir.

Question. Hoe long did the colonel stay there?

Answer. Half an hour, at least. He was very much exhausted in running over. He said he had come through a very heavy fire, and it was almost certain death to come from the crater to that place.

TESTIMONY OF GENERAL CARR.

Brigadier General J. B. CARR, U. S. Volunteers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and what was your command?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was at the assault. My command was the First Division of Hinks’ division of colored troops. I had one brigade of that division.

Question. Had you opportunities of observing the progress of events on that day? Were you in a situation to see things?

Answer. Nothing but my own command. I took position in the trenches with my command. I relieved the troops of General Burnside’s command, the Ninth Army Corps, on the evening before, with the exception that I had one brigade, which I did not put in the front line. I kept that in reserve to fill the vacancy left in our line at the point where the assaulting column was to debouche from our intrenchments.

Question. Could you see the formation of the assaulting column?

Answer. Yes, sir; I saw it before it made the assault.

Question. What was the formation?

Answer. I should judge it was in column of battalions.

Question. Was that the First Division?

Answer. I think it was, sir. It was very dark, not yet daylight in the morning. I left General Burnside’s headquarters at 20 minutes after 3 o’clock, and as I passed going down I could see the column on my left, in column of battalions I should judge. The position I had did not afford me a good opportunity for observing anything but my own immediate command, as I was in the trenches during the engagement and remained there until 12 o’clock that day. At about 8.30 o’clock General Turner, of the Tenth Corps, was ordered to form his division in rear of the intrenchments, and in doing so he found that it would crowd too much on the troops in his front, and that there was no room to get his division in there. He immediately sent for General Ord to come down – I think it was General Ames who called upon General Ord to come down – and see the position of the troops for himself, and he went down to see the position of the troops in the trenches. As General Turner was forming his command an attempt was made by the troops on my right to charge the

rifle-pits. I saw a vacancy, a gap, that I thought about four regiments would fill and assist that line of battle that was going over our breast-works to take those rifle-pits. I immediately took command of part of Turner’s division and ordered them over the line to join the line of troops then advancing, and told them to charge the rifle-pits in their front, which they did. That was about 200 yards on the right of the crater. After putting those troops in I stepped back from the intrenchments some ten or fifteen yards toward the covered way, and I had scarcely got back to the lower end of the covered way then the stampede began, and I suppose 2,000 troops came back, and I was lifted from my feet by the rushing and carried along with it ten or fifteen yards in the covered way. What staff I had with me assisted me int stopping the crowd in the covered way and in putting some of them in position in the second line. Some were in the first line. I left General Potter in the covered way.

Question. Was there any good reason that you know of for this retirement of the troops?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Did you notice any arrangements that were made for the passage of troops over the parapet and through the abatis of our lines?

Answer. No, sir. There as no abatis in the front where, I was, at least, I did not notice any abatis. There was abatis to the right of it.

Question. If you had moved your troops to the front how would you have got through our lines; what mode would you have taken to get them through; what formation would you have adopted?

Answer. I should have formed a column of divisions.

Question. Were there intervals made in our line for the passage of such a column?

Answer. I could not say, sir. All I know is what was in my immediate front. I saw that there were no obstructions to prevent troops passing over our intrenchments to the enemy’s work. The rifle-pit I speak of was an advanced work of the enemy where they had a thin of skirmishers. The main line was behind it.

Question. Did the enemy fire from the main line upon your party that took the pits?

Answer. Yes, sir; briskly with musketry. I do not know the exact hour; but I think that was about 8.30 a.m.

Question. How did those troops of the Tenth Corps that you took forward pass over the parapet of our line?

Answer. They went over by a flank movement.

Question. How long did those troops of the Tenth Corps hold the pits that they took?

Answer. Just as long as I was walking about thirty paces. I had just got into the mouth of the covered way when they came back. I saw officers waving their swords on the pits, but they did not stay a great while.

The Court then adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock on the 5th of September.

THIRTEENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
Jones House, September 5, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, president, Brigadier-General Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

TESTIMONY OF CAPTAIN FARQUHAR.

Captain F. U. FARQUHAR, U. S. Engineers, being duly sworn, says to questions by JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was present and was chief engineer on the staff of General Ord, commanding the Eighteenth Corps.

Question. Were you in a situation to observe the operations on that day?

Answer. I was, a portion of the time, after the smoke cleared away.

Question. Did you witness the explosion of the mine?

Answer. Yes, sir; I saw the explosion of the mine.

Question. Relate what you saw done unusual on such occasions-occasions of assault; state some of the omissions, if any, and the principal causes which conduced to the failure of the assault.

Answer. At or near 15 minutes before 5 a.m. the explosion of the mine took place. Immediately on the explosion the artillery opened, and I should judge three or five minutes afterward we heard the cheer of the assaulting party. Nothing could be seen from the time of the opening of the artillery for twenty-five minutes or half an hour when the smoke commenced to clear away. At the time of the explosion the Turner’s division, of the Tenth Corps, which was under General Ord’s command, was lying at or near the mouth of or entrance to the covered way on the right of the fourteen-gun battery. Ames’ division, of the Eighteenth Corps, was in rear of that strip of woods which is in rear of the fourteen-gun battery. both the covered ways on the right and left of this fourteen-gun battery were filled with troops of the Ninth Corps, the negro division being in the left covered way. There seemed to be an unaccountable delay in the advance of the supports to the first assaulting column. I cannot tell the exact time. I did not see the second one go up, but I heard the cheer some time after, how long I cannot recollect. Somewhere between 6.30 and 7 o’clock I went to the front line to which the assaulting columns had started. The ground immediately in front of our salient, from which our forces started, was favorable for charging over, as the troops were partially protected pretty near all the way up, from the left flanking fire, by a very small ridge; the men could have passed over easily, and there were very few dead or wounded lying on that space between our line and the crater. The men seemed to be lying in the crater and on our side of the crater, but no movements seemed to be taking place. I saw General Turner at that time going to the crater. There seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm or spirit in both officers and men. The negro division filed over our parapet and went into the crater by the flank, exposing their whole line, as they passed over from our line to the enemy’s, to the fire from both sides of the crater. At between 9 and 10 o’clock the cross-fire of the enemy in front of the salient had become so severe that hardly a man could pass from our salient to the crater without being hit. At this front line that I went to there seemed to be no person of any authority to meet any emergency that might arise, and in that, in my opinion, lies one of the chief causes of the disaster. The chief caused of failure are, in the first place, that the mine was in the wrong place, because it was in a re-entrant, and, in the second, that there was no officer present to make a new dispositions or movements to meet any emergency that might arise. It seemed to me, so far as I could see, that the troops were not ready to move. They were in the covered way, and so situated that you could not follow the assaulting columns up with the necessary supports. As it was, the assaulting column if it had gone forward would be a mile ahead before the supports could get up. I was present when General Turner sent back a note to General Ord saying that he could not get his troops forward on account of General Burnside’s troops being in the way. General Ord then sat down and wrote a letter to General Meade-I believe it was to General Meade-telling him that he would advance Turner’s division as soon as General Burnside’s troops were out of the way. He showed it to General Burnside, who asked him not to send it, for he would have his troops out of the way immediately; but whether he ever sent it or not I do not know. General Ord then went to the front himself, at the time that General Turner said he could not get his troops forward, and found the same state of things existing-that the covered way was filled up with General Burnside’s troops going to the front, and that the wounded were being brought to the rear in the same covered way that the troops going forward to fight were going forward in. There was no reason why the troops should move through the covered way at all. From the position of the assaulting columns and the troops fighting, the enemy could not notice troops passing down the slope of the hill without going through the covered way. The colored troops seemed to be well led, and followed their officers with as much enthusiasm as any other troops that day. They seemed to go about 200 or 250 yards to the right of the crater going toward the enemy’s entrenchments. Then there came a halt, and by that time General Turner had got one of his brigades to the front, and he ordered an assault with his brigade. Instead of passing along the edge of the crater as the other troops had done, which gave them a temptation to lie down, he charged to the right of the crater. It was just then that the negroes came back and his men were carried back with them. I went to the front immediately after this affair, where I saw General Turner, and he seemed to be very much distressed about it.

Question. State if there were any means taken for crowning the crest if gained-working parties with fascines, gabions, intrenching tools, &c.

Answer. I can speak only with reference to myself. I had my sappers and miners equipped with tools ready to move with the Eighteenth Corps when it should move.

Question. With the ordinary performance of their duties by officers and men on such occasions, ought not the assault to have been successful?

Answer. It was successful, for the line was carried. It only wanted some person present to tell them what to do afterward. I think that had there been any person of authority at the place, even at our own front line, at the salient, to have given directions at the proper time we had ninety-nine chances in one hundred of being successful in the object expected to be gained. From my own experience I know that it would take you at least three minutes to get to the front through the covered way, because it was so crowded, and three minutes to get back again to where the general was, and then count your time for observation besides; and at that time, when the opposing forces were so close to each other, ten minutes would make a great deal of difference. I think that, with the exception of a lack of enthusiasm, the troops behaved as well as troops ever behaved. What they wanted was handling. Just in front of the crater, in rear of the enemy’s line, there was a sort of a redoubt or earthwork upon the hill, from which not a shot was fired. There was not a soul between the crater and that position, and I believe that position was the objective point of

the assault. And I think, had the troops been pushed forward properly, the columns following as one column should have followed another, there would have been no difficulty in the place being carried.

Question. Then there were no physical obstacles in the way of our success?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Is it your opinion that if we had had not had the mine we would have been more successful?

Answer. No, sir. The mine of itself was a success. The consternation of the enemy in consequence of the explosion of the mine more than compensated for the flanking fire which they opened upon us. But it was three-quarters of an hour before they opened fire.

Question. Were adequate preparations made for the passage of our troops over parapets and through the abatis?

Answer. There seemed to be room enough at our salient to pass over-certainly in regimental front.

Question. Could artillery have passed through?

Answer. No, sir. I saw no place where artillery could have passed through at any point within 200 or 250 feet of the salient. I do not know how practicable it was farther to the right or left. Leading up from the hollow to the front the covered ways were very narrow, not at all adequate to the necessities of the occasion for conveying troops to the front. And there was room enough in that hollow to have massed all the troops under cover of darkness. had that been done, as it was not light whet the mine should have exploded, they would have all been in the enemy’s lines before they could have been much hurt.

Question. Who gave your orders for preparing the fascines, gabions, and intrenching tools and working parties in the Eighteenth Corps?

Answer. I got them from General Ord. All I had were shovels, spades, picks, and sand-bags.

Question. Did you see General Burnside on that occasion?

Answer. Yes, sir; I saw him quite frequently.

Question. Any of his division or brigade commanders?

Answer. I only noticed one division commander.

Question. Name him.

Answer. General Potter. If the others were there I did not happen to see them.

There being no more witnesses in attendance the Court adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock on 6th of September.

FOURTEENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
Jones’ House, September 6, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, president, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the twelfth and thirteenth days were read and approved.

There being no more witnesses a present the Court was cleared.

The record of evidence was referred to, and discussions took place, after which the court adjourned to meet at 10 a.m. on the 7th of September.

the following-named officers, on account of sickness, or absence, did not appear as witnesses before the Court: Brigadier-Generals Ledlie, Turner, and Burnham; Colonel Sigfried, and Lieutenant-Colonels Loring and Pleasants.

FIFTEENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
September 7, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, president, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

Discussion was resumed, and the Court then adjourned till 10 o’clock on the 8th of September.

SIXTEENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
September 8, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, president, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

Lieutenant A. A. SHEDD, Forty-third U. S. Colored Troops, being duly sworn, says to JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. As aide-de-camp to Colonel Sigfried, commanding First Brigade, Fourth Division, Ninth Corps.

Question. Were you in the crater at any time?

Answer. I was.

Question. Were any of your troops there?

Answer. They were; they went in under Colonel Sigfried; they were not all in.

Question. If they halted there, why did they so?

Answer. There were so many troops in before they came; that is one reason.

Question. What efforts were made to push them forward beyond the crater?

Answer. The colonel (Bates) of the Thirtieth Regiment Colored Troops led his through; that is the only one I saw go through the crater.

Question. Was Colonel Sigfried present with his troops in the front all the time?

Answer. He was. He came out when the troops did, about 10 to 11 o’clock.

Captain E. T. RAYMOND, Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers, duly sworn, says to JUDGE-ADVOCATE:

Question. Were you at the assault on the 30th of July, and in what capacity?

Answer. I was, as brigade inspector, First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Corps.

Question. What was your general position on the field on that occasion?

Answer. In the crater a portion of the time; part near the right of the our brigade in our works.

Question. Under whose immediate orders were you serving?

Answer. Colonel Z. R. Bliss, Seventh Rhode Island Volunteers, commanding the brigade.

Question. Was he with his troops all he time?

Answer. He was. at 7 o’clock we moved down the covered way from in rear of our batteries in front of our reserve camp. Three regiments went into the crater, the remainder of the brigade stopped in the works. About 8 o’clock I was sent into the crater by Colonel Bliss to ascertain why the tree regiments in front did not charge, he remaining in the works with four regiments of the brigade. I went, and found the three regiments were formed in the covered way beyond the crater toward Cemetery Hill.

Question. Where did the covered way strike the enemy’s pits to the left of the crater?

Answer. Facing their front, it led a little to our right of the crater, tending off a little to the right of Cemetery Hill.

Question. What efforts were made to bring up the regiments which were left in the works, by their commanders?

Answer. The three regiments which went forward were first to charge before the rear regiments were to move forward.

Question. With what part of the brigade was Colonel Bliss?

Answer. With the portion that was left behind; he remained with the last regiment, and did not go forward at all to my knowledge.

The Court, after discussion with closed doors, adjourned to meet at 10 o’clock on the 9th of September.

SEVENTEENTH DAY.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
September 9, 1864.

The Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, Major-General Hancock, president, Brigadier-Generals Ayres and Miles, and Colonel Schriver, judge-advocate.

The proceedings of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth days were read and approved.

The Court, with closed doors, then resumed the discussion of the testimony, and decided on the following finding and opinion:

FINDING.

After mature deliberation on the testimony adduced the Court find the following “facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault on the 30th of July:”

The mine, quite an important feature in the attack, was commenced by Major-General Burnside soon after the occupation of his present lines without any directions obtained from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. Although its location (and in this the engineers of the army concur) was not considered by Major-General Meade a proper one, it being commanded from both flanks and reverse, the continuance of the work was sanctioned.

It was not the intention of the lieutenant-general commanding or of the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac, it is believed, to use the mine in the operations against Petersburg until it became known that the enemy had withdrawn a large port of his forces to the north side of the James River, when it was thought advantage might be taken of it in an assault. All the Union troops sent north of the James had been recalled in time to participate in the assault, so that the whole of the forces operating in front of Petersburg were disposable.

the mine was ordered to be exploded at 3.30 a.m., but owing to a defective fuse it did not take place till 4.45.

The detailed order or plan of operations issued by Major-General Meade is in accordance with General Grant’s instructions, and was seen and approved by the latter previous to its publication. (It is marked K in the Appendix).

It is the concurrent testimony that had the order been carried out success would have attended the attack. Also it is in evidence that General Meade met General Burnside and three of his division commanders the day before the assault and impressed upon them that the operation was one of time; that unless prompt advantage were taken of the explosion of the mine to gain the crest it would be impossible to get it or the troops to remain outside of their lines.

That order directed that General Burnside should “form his troops (the Ninth Corps) for assaulting,” and that General Ord, commanding the Eighteenth Corps, and General Warren, commanding the Fifth Corps, should support the assault on the right and left respectively.

Major-General Burnside’s order (Numbers 60, Appendix) directed Brigadier-General Ledlie’s division, immediately on the explosion of the mine to be moved forward and crown the crest known as Cemetery Hill. Brigadier-General Willcox was to move his division forward as soon as possible after General Ledlie’s, bearing off to the left, and Brigadier-General Potter was to follow and go to the right. Brigadier-General Ferrero was to move his (colored) division next, and pass over the same ground that General Ledlie’s did.

Five minutes after the explosion of the mine General Ledlie’s division went forward and it was followed by those of Generals Willcox and Potter, though it is in evidence that the latter did not move in the prescribed order, and that they were not formed in a manner to do the duty assigned them.

General Ledlie’s division, instead of complying with the order, halted in the crater made by the explosion of the mine and remained there about an hour, when Major-General Meade received the first intimation of the fact through a dispatch from Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, assistant inspector-general of the Ninth Corps, intended for General Burnside, in which he expressed the fear that the men could not be induced to advance.

This crater was on the enemy’s line of works, and was 50 to 60 yards long, 20 yards wide, and 20 to 25 feet deep. It was about 500 yards from the cemetery crest.

General Burnside was then (at 5.40 a.m.) ordered to push forward to the crest all his own troops, and to call on General Ord to move forward his troops at once. It is in evidence that when the order was communicated to General Ferrero, commanding the colored division, he said he could not put in his troops until the troops already in front should be moved out of the way. They did go forward, however, after some delay, but only to be driven back and in their flight to rush impetuously against other troops, destroying their formation and producing disorder.

At 6.10 a.m., inquiry being made of General Burnside if it would be an advantage for Warren’s supporting force to go in at once on the left, the answer was “there is scarcely room for it in our immediate front.” The importance of the utmost promptness and the securing of the crest at once at all hazards were urged upon him 6.50 a.m.

At 7.20 a. m. General Burnside reported to General Meade that he was doing all in his power to push forward the troops, and, if possible, carry the crest and also that the main body of General Potter’s division was beyond the crater. It does not appear in evidence, however,

that they ever got any considerable distance, not exceeding 200 yards, beyond the crater toward the crest, whence they were driven back immediately. This was also the fate of the few colored troops who got over the enemy’s line for a moment.

At 9 a.m. General Burnside reported many of the Ninth and Eighteenth Corps were retiring before the enemy and then was the time to put in the Fifth Corps. It having just been reported, however, by two staff officers (not General Burnside’s) that the attack on the right of the mine had been repulsed, and that none of the Union troops were beyond the line of the crater-the commanding general thought differently, and the lieutenant-general concurring-General Burnside was directed at 9.50 a.m. to withdraw to his own entrenchments immediately or at a later period, but not to hold the enemy’s line any longer than was required to withdraw safely his men. This order brought General Burnside to General Meade’s headquarters, where he remonstrated against it, saying by night-fall he could carry the crest. No other officer who was present, and who has testified before the Court, concurred in this opinion. The troops in the crater were then ordered to retire, but before it could be effected they were driven out with great loss at 2 p.m. These troops, however, were making preparations to retire, and but for that would probably not have been driven out at that time.

The Fifth Corps did not participate at all in the assault, and General Ord’s command only partially, because the condition of affairs at no time admitted of their co-operation as was contemplated by the order of assault.

The causes of failure are:

1. The injudicious formation of the troops in going forward, the movement being mainly by flank instead of extended front. General Meade’s order indicated that columns of assault should be employed to take Cemetery Hill, and that proper passages should be prepared for those columns. It is the opinion of the Court that there were no proper columns of assault. The troops should have been formed in the open ground in front of the point of attack parallel to the line of the enemy’s works. The evidence shows that one or more columns might have passed over at and to the left of the crater without any previous preparation of the ground.

2. The halting of the troops in the crater instead of going forward to the crest when there was no fire of any consequence from the enemy.

3. No proper employment of engineer officers and working parties, and of materials and tools for their use, in the Ninth Corps.

4. That some parts of the assaulting column were not properly led.

5. The want of a competent common head at the scene of the assault to direct affairs as occurrences should demand.

Had not failure ensued from the above causes, and the crest been gained, the success might have been jeopardized by the failure to have prepared in season proper and adequate debouches through the Ninth Corps lines for troops, and especially for field artillery, as ordered by Major-General Meade.

The reason why the attack ought to have been successful are:

1. The evident surprise of the enemy at the time of the explosion of the mine and for some time after.

2. The comparatively small force in the enemy’s works.

3. The ineffective fire of the enemy’s artillery and musketry, there being scarcely any for about thirty minutes after the explosion,and our artillery being just the reverse as to time and power.

4. The fact that some of our troops were able to get 200 yards beyond the crater toward the crest, but could not remain there or proceed farther for want of supports or because they were not properly formed or led.

OPINION.

The Court having given a brief narrative of the assault, and the facts and circumstances attending it, it remains to report that the following named officers engaged therein appear from the evidence to be “answerable for the want of success” which should have resulted:

I. Major General A. E. Burnside, U. S. Volunteers, he having failed to obey the orders of the commanding general.

1. In not giving such formation to his assaulting column as to insure a reasonable prospect of success.

2. In not preparing his parapets and abatis for the passage of the columns of assault.

3. In not employed engineer officers, who reported to him, to lead the assaulting columns with working parties, and not causing to be provided proper materials necessary for crowning the crest when the assaulting columns should arrive there.

4. In neglecting to execute Major-General Meade’s orders respecting the prompt advance of General Ledlie’s troops from the crater to the crest; or, in default of accomplishing that, not causing those troops to fall back and give place to other troops more willing and equal to the task, instead of delaying until the opportunity passed away, thus affording time for the enemy to recover from his surprise, concentrate his fire, and bring his troops to operate against the Union troops assembled uselessly in the crater.

Notwithstanding the failure to comply with orders and to apply proper military principles ascribed to General Burnside, the Court is satisfied he believed that the measures taken by him would insure success.

II. Brigadier General J. H. Ledlie, U. S. Volunteers, he having failed to push forward his division promptly according to orders and thereby blocking up the avenue which was designed for the passage of troops ordered to follow and support his in the assault. It is in evidence that no commander reported to General Burnside that his troops could not be got forward, which the Court regards as a neglect of duty on the part of General Ledlie, inasmuch as a timely report of the misbehavior might have enabled General Burnside, commanding the assault, to have made other arrangements for prosecuting it before it became too late. Instead of being with his division during the difficulty in the crater, and by his personal efforts endeavoring to lead his troops forward, he was most of the time in a bomb-proof ten rods in rear of the main line of the Ninth Corps works, where it was impossible for him to see anything of the movement of troops that was going on.

III. Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, U. S. Volunteers.

1. For not having all his troops formed ready for the attack at the prescribed time.

2. Not being forward with them to the attack.

3. Being in a bomb-proof habitually, where he could not see the operation of his troops, showing by his own order issued while there that he did not know the position of two brigades of his division or whether they had taken Cemetery Hill or not.

IV. Colonel Z. R. Bliss, Seventh Rhode Island Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, Second division, Ninth Corps. In this, that he remained behind with the only regiment of his brigade which did not go forward according to the orders and occupied a position where he could not properly command a brigade which formed a portion of an assaulting column, and where he could not see what was going on.

V. Brigadier General O. B. Willcox, U. S. Volunteers.

The Court is not satisfied that General Willcox’s division made efforts commensurate with the occasion to carry out General Burnside’s order to advance to Cemetery Hill, and they think that more energy might have been exercised by Brigadier-General Willcox to cause his troops to go forward to that point.

Without intending to convey the impression that there was any disinclination on the part of the commanders of the supports to heartily co-operate in the attack on the 30th of July, the Court express their opinion that explicit orders should have been given assigning one officer to the command of all the troops intended to engaged in the assault when the commanding general was not present in person to witness the operations.

WINF’D S. HANCOCK,

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, President of Court.

ED. SCHRIVER,

Inspector-General U. S. Army, Judge-Advocate.

The court then adjourned sine die.

WINF’S S. HANCOCK,

Major-General U. S. Volunteers, President of Court.

ED. SCHRIVER,

Inspector-General U. S. Army, Judge-Advocate.

APPENDIX.

A.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, Va., July 24, 1864.

Major General G. G. MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: The engineer officers who made a survey of the front from Bermuda Hundred report against the probability of success from an attack there. The chances, they think, will be better on Burnside’s front. It this is attempted it will be necessary to concentrate all the force possible at the point in the enemy’s lines we expect to penetrate. All officers should be fully impressed of the absolute necessity of pushing entirely beyond the enemy’s present line if they should succeed in penetrating it, and of getting back to their present line promptly should they not succeed in breaking through. To the right and left of the point of assault all the artillery possible should be brought to play upon the enemy in front during the assault. Thin lines would be sufficient for the support of the artillery, and all the reserves could be brought on the flank of their commands nearest to the point of assault, ready to follow in if successful. The field artillery and infantry held in the lines during the first assault should be in readiness to move at a moment’s notice, either to their front or to follow the main assault, as they should receive orders. One thing, however, should be impressed on corps commanders: If they see the enemy giving way in their front, or moving from it to re-enforce a heavily assaulted position of their line, they should take advantage of such knowledge and act promptly without waiting for orders from their army commander. General Ord can co-operate with his corps in this movement, and about 5,000 troops from Bermuda Hundred can be sent to re-enforce you, or can be used to threaten an assault between the Appomattox and James Rivers, as may be deemed best. This should be done by Tuesday morning if done at all. If not attempted we will then start at the date indicated to destroy the railroad as far as Hicksford, at least, and to Weldon, if possible. Please give me your views on this matter, and I will order at once.

In this I have said nothing of the part to be taken by the cavalry in case the enemy’s lines are assaulted. The best disposition to be made of them, probably, would be to place them on the extreme left, with instructions to skirmish with the enemy and drive him back, if possible, following up any success gained in that way according to the judgment of the commander or orders he may receive. Whether we send an expedition on this railroad or assault at Petersburg, Burnside’s mine will be blown up. As it is impossible to hide preparations from our own officers and men, and consequently from the enemy, it will be well to have it understood, as far as possible, that just the reverse of what we intend is in contemplation.*

I am, general, very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

B.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 24, 1864.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

GENERAL: I have received your letter per Lieutenant-Colonel Comstock. In reply thereto, I have to state that I yesterday made in person a close and careful reconnaissance of the enemy’s position in my front. Although I could not detect any positive indications of a second line, yet from certain appearances at various points, I became satisfied that a second line does exist on the crest of the ridge just in rear of the position of Burnside’s mine. I have no doubt of the successful explosion of the mine, and of our ability to crown the crater, effect a lodgment and compel the evacuation of the enemy’s present occupied line; but, from their redoubt on the Jerusalem plan road, and from their position in front of the Hare house, their artillery fire would render our lodgment untenable and compel our advance or withdrawal. The advance, of course, should be made, but its success would depend on the question whether the enemy have a line on the crest of the ridge. If they have, with the artillery fire they can bring to bear on the approaches to this second hill, I do not deem it practicable to carry the line by assault, and, from my examination, together with the evident necessity of their having such a line, I am forced to believe we shall find one there. I can not therefore advise the attempt being made, but should it be deemed expedient to take the risks, and there is undoubtedly room for doubt, I would like a little more time than is given in your note, in order to place in position the maximum amount of artillery to bear upon the lines not assaulted.

In reference to the assaulting force, it will be composed of the Ninth and Second Corps. The fifth Corps will have to remain in their present position and be prepared to meet any attempt of the enemy to turn

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*For version of this letter, as recorded in Grant’s letter-book, see Part III.

—————

our left flank, which is not altogether unlikely, particularly if we should fail in our assault and be compelled to withdraw.

I am fully impressed with the importance of taking some immediate action, and am satisfied that, excepting regular approaches the springing of Burnside’s mine and subsequent assault is the most practicable, and I am not prepared to say the attempt would be hopeless. I am, however, of the opinion, so far as I can judge that the chances of its success are not such as to make it expedient to attempt it.*

Very respectfully, yours,

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-I inclose you a report of Major Duane, which confirms my view. If Wright is soon to return, and we can extend our lines to the Weldon railroad, we could then advance against the salient on the Jerusalem plan road, and make an attempt to carry them at the same time we assaulted in Burnside’s front. This was my idea some time ago, and we have been preparing the necessary siege works for this purpose. Under your instructions, however, none of the heavy guns and materials have been brought to the front, and it would take, perhaps, two days to get them up.

G. G. M.

B 2
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
OFFICE CHIEF ENGINEER,

July 24, 1864.

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: In reply to your communication of this date I have the honor to state that the line of the enemy’s works in front of General Burnside’s is not situated on the crest of the ridge separating us from Petersburg; that the enemy have undoubtedly occupied this ridge as a second line. Should General Burnside succeed in exploding his mine he would probably be able to take the enemy’s first line, which is about 100 yards in advance of his approach. Beyond this I do not think he could advance until the works in front of the Fifth Corps are carried, as the Ninth Corps columns would be taken in flank by a heavy artillery fire from works in front of the center of the Fifth Corps and in front by fire from the works on the crest near the Cemetery Hill. I do not believe that the works in front of the Fifth Corps can be carried until our lines can be extended to the left so as to envelop the enemy’s line.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major Engineers, U. S. Army.

C.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, July 24, 1864.

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: Your note, brought by Colonel Comstock, is received. It will be necessary to act without expecting Wright. He is now in

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*For version of this letter, as received by General Grant, see Part III.

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Washington, but it is not fully assured yet that Early has left the Valley, and if Wright was to start back no doubt the Maryland raid would be repeated. I am not willing to attempt a movement so hazardous as the one against intrenched lines against the judgment of yourself and your engineer officers, and arrived at after a more careful survey of the ground than I have given it. I will let you know, however, in the morning what determination I come to.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

D.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 26, 1864- 12 m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

More critical examinations from a new signal station would lead to the conclusion that the enemy have detached works on the ridge in front of Burnside, but they have no connected line. This fact increases the chances of a successful assault, and taken in connection with the fact that General Burnside does not now think the enemy have discovered his mine, on the contrary believes they are laying the platforms for a battery right over it, I have suspended the order to load and discharge it to-morrow, as it may yet be useful in connection with further operations. I am afraid the appearance of McLaw’s division, together with Wilcox’s, previously reported, will prevent any chance of a surprise on the part of our people to-morrow. Yesterday’s Richmond Examiner also says your strategic movements are known and preparations made to meet them, referring, I presume, to Foster’s operations. There was considerable shelling, by the enemy yesterday afternoon all along our lines, brought on, I think, by Burnside’s discovering a camp he head not before seen and ordering is shelled. No serious casualties were produced on our side, but the Fifth Corps working parties were very much annoyed and interrupted. with this exception all was quiet.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

E.

CITY POINT, July 26, 1864- 3 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

The information you have just sent, and all information received on the subject, indicates a probability that the enemy are looking for a formidable attack either from General Burnside or north of the James River, and that they will detach from Petersburg heavily to prevent its success. This will make your remaining two corps with the Eighteenth relatively stronger against the enemy at Petersburg than we have been since the first day. It will be well, therefore, to prepare for an assault in General Burnside’s front, only to be made if further development justifies it. If made, it would be necessary to abandon most of the front now held by the Fifth Corps.*

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

—————

*For version of this dispatch, as recorder in Grant’s letter-book, see Part III.

—————

F.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 26, 1864-5.30 p.m.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT:

Telegram, 3 p.m., received. The only preparation that can be made is the loading of Burnside’s mine. I cannot advise an assault with the Second Corps absent, for some force must be left to hold our lines and protect our batteries. The withdrawal of the Fifth Corps would prevent any attempt on our part to silence the fire of the enemy’s guns in front of the Fifth Corps, and unless these guns are silenced no advance can be made across the open ground in front of the Ninth Corps. It is not the numbers of the enemy which oppose our taking Petersburg; it is their artillery and their works which can be held by reduced numbers against direct assault. I have just sent you a dispatch indicating an attack on my left flank by the enemy. This is my weak point, and a formidable attack turning my flank, would require all my force to meet successfully.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

G.

CITY POINT, July 28, 1864-12.20 p.m.

Major-General MEADE:

Your dispatch of 12 m. received. Unless something turns up north of the James between this and night that I do not expect, you may withdraw Hancock, to be followed by Sheridan, and make arrangements for assault as soon as it can be made. We can determine by the movements of the enemy before the time comes whether it will be advisable to go on with the assault. I will put in the Eighteenth Corps or not, as you deem best.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

H.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 28, 1864- 1 p.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

Your dispatch of 12.20 received. On reflection, I think daylight of the 30th is the earliest time it would be advisable to make the assault. Besides the time required to get up heavy guns and mortars we require the night to make certain preliminary arrangements, such as massing troops, removing abatis from the debouche of the assaulting column, &c. I shall make the assault with the Ninth Corps, supported by the Second. The reserves of the Eighteenth should be held, in readiness to take part and if developments justify it all of Ord’s and Warren’s commands can be put in.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

I.
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
City Point, Va., July 29, 1864.

Major General GEORGE G. MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: I have directed General Butler to order General Ord to report to you for the attack on Petersburg. The details for the assault I leave for you to make out. I directed General Sheridan, whilst we were at Deep Bottom last evening,to move his command immediately to the left of Warren from Deep Bottom. It will be well to direct the cavalry to endeavor to get round the enemy’s right flank. Whilst they will not probably succeed in turning the enemy they will detain a large force to prevent it. I will go out this evening to see you; will be at your headquarters about 4 p.m.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

P. S.-If you want to be any place on the line at the hour indicated inform me by telegraph, and I will meet you wherever you may be.

U. S. G.

J.

CITY POINT, August 1, 1864-9.30 a.m.

(Received 11.40 a.m.)

Major-General MEADE:

Have you any estimate of our losses in the miserable failure of Saturday? I think there will have to be an investigation of the matter. So fair an opportunity will probably never occur again for carrying fortifications. Preparations were good, orders ample, and everything, so far as I could see, subsequent to the explosion of the mine, shows that almost without loss the crest beyond the mine could have been carried. This would have given us Petersburg with all its artillery and a large part of the garrison beyond doubt. An intercepted dispatch states that the enemy recaptured their line with General Bartlett and staff, 75 commissioned officers, and 900 rank and file, and recaptured 500 of their men.

U. S. GRANT,

Lieutenant-General.

K.

ORDERS.] HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

July 29, 1864.

The following instructions are issued for the guidance of all concerned:

1. As soon as it is dark Major-General Burnside, commanding Ninth Corps, will withdraw his two brigades under General White, occupying the entrenchments between the plank and Norfolk roads, and bring them to his front. Care will be taken not to interfere with the troops of the Eighteenth Corps moving into their position in rear of the Ninth Corps. General Burnside will form his troops for assaulting the enemy’s works at daylight of the 30th, prepare his parapets and abatis for the passage of the columns, and have the pioneers equipped for work in opening passages for artillery, destroying enemy’s abatis, and the intrenching tools distributed for effecting lodgments, &c.

2. Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth Corps, will reduce the number of his troops holding the entrenchments of his front to the minimum, and concentrated all his available forces on his right and hold them prepared to support the assault of Major-General Burnside. The preparations in respect to pioneers, intrenching tools, &c., enjoined upon the Ninth Corps will also be made by the Fifth Corps.

3. As soon as it is dark Major-General Ord, commanding Eighteenth Corps, will relieve his troops in the trenches by General Mott’s division, of the Second Corps, and form his corps in rear of the Ninth Corps, and be prepared to support the assault of Major-General Burnside.

4. Every preparation will be made for moving forward the field artillery of each corps.

5. At dark Major-General Hancock, commanding Second Corps, will move from Deep Bottom to the rear of the entrenchments now held by the Eighteenth Corps, resume the command of Mott’s division, and be prepared at daylight to follow up the assaulting and supporting columns, or for such other operations as may be found necessary.

6. Major-General Sheridan, commanding Cavalry Corps, will proceed at dark from the vicinity of Deep Bottom to Lee’s Mill, and at daylight will move with his whole corps, including Wilson’s division, against the enemy’s troops defending Petersburg on their right, by the roads leading to that town from the southward and westward.

7. Major Duane, acting chief engineer will have the pontoon trains parked at convenient points in the rear prepared to move. He will see that supplies of sand-bags, gabions, fascines, &c., are in depot near the lines ready for use. He will detail engineer officers for each corps.

8. At 3.30 in the morning of the 30th Major-General Burnside will spring his mine, and his assaulting columns will immediately move rapidly upon the breach, seize the crest in the rear, and effect a lodgment there. He will be followed by Major-General Ord, who will support him on the right, directing his movement to the crest indicated, and by Major-General Warren, who will support him on the left. Upon the explosion of the mine the artillery of all kinds in battery will open upon those points of the enemy’s works whose fire covers the ground over which our columns must move, care being take to avoid impeding the progress of our troops. Special instructions respecting the direction of fire will be issued through the chief of artillery.

9. Corps commanders will report to the commanding general when their preparations are complete, and will advise him of every step in the progress of the operation, and of everything important that occurs.

10. Promptitude, rapidity of execution, and cordial co-operation, are essential to success, and the commanding general is confident that this indication of his expectations will insure the hearty efforts of the commanders and troops.

11. Headquarters during the operation will be at the headquarters of the Ninth Corps.

By command of Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

L.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
July 26, 1864.

Major-General HUMPHREYS, Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your notes of this morning by Captains Jay and Bache, also of a telegram from the commanding general relating to the same subject.

It is altogether probable that the enemy are cognizant of the fact that we are mining, because it has been mentioned in their newspapers and they have been heard to work on what are supposed to be shafts in close proximity to our galleries, but the rain of night before last no doubt filled their shafts and much retarded their work. We have heard no sounds of work in them either yesterday or to-day, and nothing is heard by us in the mine but the usual sounds of work on the surface above. This morning we had some apprehension that the left lateral gallery was in danger of caving in from the weight of the batteries above it and the shock of their firing, but all possible precautions have been taken to strengthen it and we hope to preserve in intact. The placing of the charges in the mine will not involve the necessity of making a noise. It is therefore probable that we will escape discovery if the mine is to be used within two or three days. It is nevertheless highly important, in my opinion, that the mine should be exploded at the earliest possible moment consistent with the general interests of the campaign. I state to you the facts as nearly as I can, and in the absence of any knowledge as to the meditated movements of the army I must leave you to judge the proper time to make use of the mine. But it may not be improper for me to say that the advantages reaped from the work would be but small if it were exploded without any co-operative movement. My plan would be to explode the mine just before daylight in the morning or about 5 o’clock in the afternoon mass the two brigades of the colored division in rear of my line in column of divisions, double column closed in mass, the head of each brigade resting on the front, and as soon as the explosion has taken place move them forward with instructions for the division to take half distance, and as soon as the leading regiments of the two brigades pass through the gap in the enemy’s line, the leading regiment of the right brigade to come into line perpendicular to the enemy’s line by the right companies, on the right into line wheel, the left companies on the right into line, and proceed at once down the line of the enemy’s works ass rapidly as possible, the leading regiment of the left brigade to execute the reverse movement to the left, moving up the enemy’s line. The remainders of the two columns to move directly toward the crest in front as rapidly as possible, diverging in such a way as to enable them to deploy into columns of regiments, the right column making as nearly as may be for Cemetery Hill. These columns to be followed by the other divisions of this corps as soon as they can be thrown in. This would involve the necessity of relieving these divisions by other troops before the movement, and of holding columns of other troops in readiness to take out place on the crest in case we gain it and sweep down it. It would be advisable, in my opinion, if we succeed in gaining the crest, to throw the colored division right into the town. There is a necessity for the co-operation, at least in the way of artillery, of the troops on my right and left. Of the extent of this you will necessarily be the judge. I think our chances of success in a plan of this kind are more than even.

The main gallery of the mine is 522 feet in length, the side galleries about 40 feet each. My suggestion is that eight magazines be placed in the lateral galleries, two at each end, say a few feet apart, in branches at right angles to the side galleries, and two more in each of the side galleries similarly placed, situated by pairs equidistant from each other and the ends of the galleries, thus:

map

Tamping beginning at the termination of the main gallery for, say, 100 feet, leaving all the air space in the side galleries. Run out some five or six fuses and two wires to render the ignition of the charges certain. I propose to put in each of the eight magazines from 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of powder, the magazines to be connected by a through of powder instead of a fuse. I beg to inclose a copy of a statement from General Potter on the subject.

I would suggest that the powder train be parked in a wood near our ammunition train, about a mile in rear of this place. Lieutenant-Colonel Pierce, chief quartermaster, will furnish Captain Strang with a guide to the place.

I beg also to request that General Benham be instructed to send us at once 8,000 sand-bags to be used for tamping and other purpose.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General, Commanding.

M.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 29, 1864-10.15 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

I am instructed to say that the major-general commanding submitted to the lieutenant-general commanding the armies your proposition to form the leading columns of assault of the black troops, and that he, as well as the major-general commanding, does not approve the proposition, but directs that those columns be formed of the white troops.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

M 1
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 26, 1864-12 m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

I wish you would submit in writing your protect for the explosion of your mine, with the amount of powder required, that these preliminary questions may be definitely settled. You had better also took for some secure place in the woods where the powder required can be brought in wagons and kept under guard, thus saving the time it will take to unload it from the vessels and haul it to your camp. Whenever you report as above and designate a point I will order the powder brought up.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

M 2.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 26, 1864.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs me to inquire whether anything has transpired connected with your mine that leads you to believe that it is in danger from countermining. If it is your conviction that it is so endangered then the commanding general authorizes you to make every preparation for springing it, but directs that you do not explode it earlier than to-morrow afternoon, Wednesday, the 27th, say at 4 o’clock, if not otherwise ordered. The commanding general further directs me to say that the charge of the mine should be determined by the usual rules governing such subjects. It is not intended by the commanding general to follow up the explosion of the mine by an assault or other operation. If, therefore, the mine can be preserved for use at some early future day when circumstances will admit of its being used in connection with other operations, the commanding general desires that you take no steps for exploding it as herein prescribed.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

N.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 29, 1864-9.45 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

A dispatch from General Ord refers to the late hour at which his troops will relieve yours in the trenches. The commanding general has informed General Ord that it is not necessary for you to wait for your troops to be relieved in the trenches by General Ord’s, before forming them for the assault. They should be formed for the assault at the hour you deem best without any reference to General Ord’s troops, who will enter the vacated trenches as soon as they can.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

O.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-3.20 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

As it is still so dark, the commanding general says you can postpone firing the mine if you think proper.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

P.

NINTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864-3.20 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

The mine will be fired at the time designated. My headquarters will be at the fourteen-gun battery.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

Q.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-4.15 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

Is there any difficulty in exploding the mine? It is three-quarters of an hour later than that fixed upon for exploding it.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

R.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864.

OPERATOR AT GENERAL BURNSIDE’S FIELD HEADQUARTERS:

Is General Burnside at his headquarters? The commanding general is anxious to learn what is the cause of delay.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

S.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-4.35 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

If the mine cannot be exploded something else must be done, and at once. The commanding general is awaiting to hear from you before determining.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

T.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-4.35 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The commanding general directs that if your mine has failed that you make an assault at once, opening your batteries.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

U.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-5.40 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

What news from your assaulting column? Please report frequently.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

V.

BATTERY MORTON, July 30, 1864-5.40 a.m.

General MEADE:

We have the enemy’s first line and occupy the breach. I shall endeavor to push forward to the crest as rapidly as possible.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

P. S.-There is a large fire in Petersburg.

W. W. SANDERS,

Captain, &c.

W.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-5.40 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The commanding general learn that you troops are halting at the works where the mine exploded. He directs that all your troops be pushed forward to the crest at once. Call on General Ord to move forward his troops at once.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

X.
HEADQUARTERS,
Fourteen-Gun Battery, July 30, 1864-5.50 a.m.

General MEADE:

The Eighteenth Corps have just been ordered to push forward to the crest. The loss does not appear to be heavy. Some prisoners coming in.

W. W. SANDERS,

Captain and Commissary of Musters.

Y.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-6 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

Prisoners taken say there is no line in their rear, and that their men were falling back when ours advanced; that none of their troops have returned from the James. Our chance is now; push your men forward at all hazards (white and black), and don’t lose time in making formations, but rush for the crest.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

Z.
HEADQUARTERS,
Fourteen-Gun Battery, July 30, 1864-6.10 a.m.

General MEADE:

General Burnside says that he has given orders to all his division commanders to push everything in at once.

W. W. SANDERS,

Captain and Commissary of Musters.

1.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-6.05 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The commanding general wishes to know what is going on on your left, and whether it would be an advantage for Warren’s supporting force to go in at once.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

2.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH CORPS,
July 30, 1864-6.20 a.m. (Received 6.20 a.m.).

Major-General MEADE:

If General Warren’s supporting force can be concentrated just now, ready to go in at the proper time, it would be well. I will designate to you when it ought to move. There is scarcely room for it now, in our immediate front.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

3.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-6.50 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

Warren’s force has been concentrated and ready to move since 3.30 a.m.* My object in inquiring was to ascertain if you could judge of

—————

*Reads 3.20 a.m. in Meade’s letter-book.

—————

the practicability of his advancing without waiting for your column. What is the delay in your column moving? Every minute is most precious, as the enemy undoubtedly are concentrating to meet you on the crest, and if you give them time enough you cannot expect to succeed. There is no object to be gained in occupying the enemy’s line; it cannot be held under their artillery fire without much labor in turning it. The great point is to secure the crest at once, and at all hazards.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

4.

FIFTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864-7 a.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

Several regiments of Burnside’s men are lying in front of the crater, apparently, of the mine. In their rear is to be seen a line of battle of a brigade or more, under cover, and, I think, between the enemy’s line and ours. The volley firing half hour ago was from the enemy’s works in Warren’s front.

C. B. COMSTOCK,

Lieutenant-Colonel.

5.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH CORPS,
July 30, 1864. (Received about 7.20 a.m.).

General MEADE:

I am going all in my power to push the troops forward, and, if possible, we will carry the crest. It is hard work, but we hope to accomplish it. I am fully alive to the importance of it.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

6.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-7.30 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

What do you mean by hard work to take the crest? I understand not a man has advanced beyond the enemy’s line which you occupied immediately after exploding the mine. Do you mean to say your officers and men will not obey your orders to advance? If not, what is the obstacle? I wish to know the truth and desire an immediate answer.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

7.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-8 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE:

Since writing by Captain Jay, Captain Sanders has come in and reported condition of affairs. He says Griffin has advanced and been checked. This modifies my dispatch; still I should like to know the exact morale of your corps. Ord reports he cannot move until you get out of the way. Can’t you let him pass out on your right, and let him try what he can do?

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

8.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH CORPS,
Battery Morton, July 30, 1864- about 7.35 a.m.

General MEADE:

Your dispatch by Captain Jay received. The main body of General Potter’s division is beyond the crater. I do not mean to say that my officers and men will not obey my orders to advance. I mean to say that it is very hard to advance to the crest. I have never in any report it not insubordinate I would say that the latter remark of your note was unofficerlike and ungentlemanly.

Respectfully, yours,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

9.

FIFTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864-8 a.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

About a brigade more of our men have moved up to the crater, and then filed off to the right, along the enemy’s line. They are still moving to the right.

C. B. COMSTOCK,

Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

10.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-8.45 a.m.

General MEADE:

One gun has just been taken out of the mine and is now being put in position. Have not heard anything from the attack made from the left of mine. One set of colors just sent in captured by the negroes.

W. W. SANDERS,

Captain and Commissary of Musters.

11.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH CORPS,
July 30, 1864-9 a.m.

General MEADE:

Many of the Ninth and Eighteenth Corps are retiring before the enemy. I think now is the time to put in the Fifth Corps promptly.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

12.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-9.30 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The major-general commanding has heard that the result of your attack has been a repulse, and directs that, if in your judgment nothing further can be effected, you withdraw to your own line, taking every precaution to get the men back safely.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

General Ord will do the same.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

13.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-9 a.m.

General MEADE:

The attack mad on right of mine has been repulsed. A great many men are coming to the rear.

W. W. SANDERS,

Captain and Commissary of Musters.

14.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-9. 35 a.m.

Lieutenant-General GRANT:

I cannot see that we have advanced beyond the enemy’s line in the vicinity of the mine. From here it looks as if the enemy were holding a line between that point and the crest.

C. B. COMSTOCK,

Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

15.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-9.45 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The major-general [commanding] directs that you withdraw to your own intrenchments.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

16.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864- 10 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE and ORD:

You can exercise your discretion in withdrawing your troops now or at a later period, say to night. It is not intended to hold the enemy’s line which you now occupy any longer than is required to withdraw safely your men.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

17.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-7.40 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The major-general commanding desires to know whether you still hold the crater, and, if so, whether you will be able to withdraw your troops from it safely to-night, and also to bring off the wounded. The commanding general wishes to know how many wounded are probably lying there. It will be recollected that on a former occasion General Beauregard declined to enter into any arrangements for the succor of the wounded and the burial of the dead lying under both fires, hence the necessity of immediate and active efforts for their removal in the present case.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

18.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-10.35 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The major-general commanding desires to know whether you have any wounded left on the field, and directs me to say that he is awaiting you reply to the dispatch of 7.40 p.m.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

18 1/4,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 31, 1864-8.40 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

The major-general commanding directs me to call your attention to the fact that you have made no report to him upon the condition of affairs in your front since he left your headquarters yesterday, and that you have made no reply to the two special communications upon the subject sent you last night at 7.40 and at 10.40. I am also directed to inquire as to the cause of the omissions.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

18 1/2.

NINTH CORPS,

July 31, 1864-9 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,

Your dispatch was received just as I was making out a report of our casualties. I have used every means to get something like accurate reports, but it has been difficult. The rumors are very numerous and exaggerated. I will send report by messenger. The order to retreat caused great confusion, and we have lost largely in prisoners. General Ord’s men on our line were not relieved.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

18 3/4.

NINTH CORPS,

July 31, 1864-6.40 p.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

The loss in this corps, in the engagement of yesterday, amounts to about 4,500, the great proportion of which was made after the brigade commanders in the crater were made aware of the order to withdraw.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

19.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 31, 1864-7.20 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Corps:

Your dispatch relative to the loss in your corps yesterday is received. The commanding general requests that you will explain the meaning of the latter part of the dispatch, and again reminds you that he has received no report whatever from you of what occurred after 11 a.m. yesterday.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

19 1/4.

NINTH CORPS,

July 31, 1864. (Received 9.10 p.m.)

Major-General HUMPHREYS,

Chief of Staff:

Your dispatch of 7.20 p.m. received. Just before the order for withdrawal was sent in to the brigade commanders in the crater the enemy made an attack upon our forces there and were repulsed with very severe loss to the assaulting column. The order for withdrawal, leaving the time and manner of the execution thereof to the brigade commanders on the spot, was then sent in, and while they were making arrangements to carry out the order the enemy advanced another column of attack. The officers knowing they were not to be supported by other troops, and that a withdrawal was determined, ordered the men to retire at once to our old line. It was in this withdrawal and consequent upon it that our chief loss was made. In view of the want of confidence in their situation, and the certainty of no support consequent upon the receipt of such an order, of whose moral effects the general commanding cannot be ignorant, I am at a loss to know why the latter part of my dispatch requires explanation.

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General.

20.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 31, 1864-9.30 p.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE, Commanding Ninth Corps:

Your dispatch explanatory of that in relation to the loss in your corps yesterday is received. The major-general commanding directs me to say that the order for withdrawal did not authorize or justify its being done in the manner in which, judging from your brief report, it appears to have been executed, and that the matter should be inquired into by a court. The major-general commanding notices that the time and manner of withdrawal were left to the brigade commanders on the spot. He desires to know why there was not a division commander present where several brigades were engaged, and by whom the withdrawal could have been conducted.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

21.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 29, 1864-9.45 p.m.

Major-General ORD, Commanding Eighteenth Corps:

Your dispatch of 9.25 p.m. is received. The commanding general does not consider it necessary for General Burnside to wait for your troops to relieve his in the trenches. General Burnside can form his troops for the assault without reference to yours, and your troops can file into the trenches at any time after they are vacated. General Burnside is telegraphed to that effect.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-general and Chief of Staff.

22.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-4.50 a.m.

Major-General ORD, Commanding Eighteenth Corps:

General Burnside is ordered if his mine has failed to open all his batteries and assault at once. You will consider the orders the same as if the mine had exploded, and the assault made in consequence.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

Just before this was finished the mine exploded and the batteries opened. It was not sent.

23.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-6 a.m.

Major-General ORD, Commanding Eighteenth Corps:

The major-general commanding directs that you at once move forward your corps rapidly to the crest of the hill independently of General Burnside’ troops and make a lodgment there, reporting the result as soon as attained.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

23 1/4.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-8 a.m.

General MEADE:

General Turner, in my front, reports that the only place I can get out of the line is opposite the crater. It is already full of men who cannot develop. I shall put in my column as soon as I can. It is impossible, by reason of the topography, to charge in the manner you indicate. I must go in by head of column and develop to the right. This is reply to orders from General Meade to push for crest of hill regardless of General Burnside’s troops. General Ames makes similar reports.

E. O. C. ORD,

Major-General.

23 1/2.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-945. a.m.

Major-General ORD,

Commanding Eighteenth Corps:

The major-general commanding directs that you withdraw your corps to the rear of the Ninth Corps in some secure place.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

24.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-10 a.m.

Major-General BURNSIDE, and ORD:

You can exercise your discretion in withdrawing your troops now or at a later period, say to-night. It is not intended to hold the enemy’s line which you now occupy any longer than is required to withdraw safely your men.

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General.

25.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-4.40 a.m.

Major-General WARREN,

Commanding Fifth Corps:

General Burnside is directed if his mine has failed to open all his batteries and assault. Upon hearing his batteries open you will open all in your front.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

26.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-5.50 a.m.

Major-General WARREN,

Commanding Fifth Corps:

General Burnside is occupying the crater with some of his troops. He reports that no enemy is seen in their line. How is it in your front?

Are the enemy in force there or weak? If there is apparently an opportunity to carry their works take advantage of it and push forward your troops.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

27.

FIFTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864-6 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

Your dispatch just received. It is difficult to say how strong the enemy may be in my front. He has batteries along the whole of it. I will watch for the first opportunity. I can see the whole line well where I am. The enemy has been running from his first line in front of General Burnside’s right for some minutes, but [there] seems to be a very heavy line of troops just behind it in high breast-works. There is a battery in front of General Burnside’s left, which fires toward the river the same as it did on the 18th of June, and which our artillery fire has but very little effect on.

G. K. WARREN,

Major-General.

28.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-6. 15 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

I have just received a report from my line on the center and left. The enemy opened with musketry when our firing commenced, but our own fire kept down, and also that of all their artillery, except in the second line on the main ridge, from which they fire a little. Major Fitzhugh, of the artillery, is badly wounded by a musket-ball in the thigh. None of the enemy have left my front that we can see.

G. K. WARREN,

Major-General.

29.

FIFTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864-6.20 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

What we thought was the heavy line of the enemy behind the line occupied by General Burnside’s troops proves, as the sunlight comes out and the smoke clears away, to be our own troops in the enemy’s position.

G. K. WARREN,

Major-General.

30.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-6.30 a.m.

Major-General WARREN,

Commanding Fifth Corps:

The signal officer reports that none of the enemy’s troops are visible in their works near the lead-works. The commanding general wishes if it is practicable that you make an attack in that direction. Prisoners say there are but three divisions in the works, and but one line of intrenchments, thinly filled with their troops.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

A dispatch just going to Wilson to make a lodgment on the Weldon railroad and move up along it to the enemy’s right flank.

31.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-6.40 a.m.

General HUMPHREYS:

I have all my troops on my right except General Crawford’s. I have sent him your dispatch, with directions to do whatever he can on the left with Baxter’s brigade and half of Lyle’s. Do you mean for me to move Ayres in that direction? The enemy have a 30-pounder battery on the main ridge in my front behind their first line. We cannot make out what this second line is.

Respectfully,

G. K. WARREN,

Major-General.

32.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-7 a.m.

Major-General WARREN,

Commanding Fifth Corps:

What about attacking the enemy’s right flank near the lead-works with that part of your force nearest to it?

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

33.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 30, 1864-7.30 a.m.

Major-General WARREN,

Commanding Fifth Corps:

Your dispatch respecting attacking the enemy’s extreme right received. The commanding general will await General Crawford’s reconnaissance before determining whether you should send Ayres also in that division.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

34.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS,
July 30, 1864-7.50 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

I have just returned from the scene of General Burnside’s operations. In my opinion the battery of one or two guns to the left of General Burnside should be taken before attempting to seize the crest. It seems to me it can be done, as we shall take the infantry fire quite obliquely. This done the advance upon the main hill will not be difficult. I think it would pay you to go to General Burnside’s position. You can see in a moment, and it is as easy to communicate with me as by telegraph. It will be some time before we can hear from Crawford.

Respectfully.

G. K. WARREN.

Major-General.

35.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-8 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

I sent your dispatch to General Crawford with directions to do what he could. He says “the lead-works are over a mile from the angle of my picket-line. I do not think an attack upon the enemy’s works at or near that point at all practicable with the force I can spare. I can make a demonstration if it is desired. The cavalry are moving and I will have my left uncovered.” He sent word he will await further orders. He [is] so far off that I do not think it well to wait anything more he can do, and I renew my suggestion that you take a look at things from General Burnside’s headquarters, and direct me either to go in with Burnside or go around to my left with Ayres’ division and I do the other thing.

G. K. WARREN.

Major-General.

36.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-8.45 a.m.

Major-General WARREN.

Commanding Fifth Corps:

Your dispatch is received. The major-general commanding directs that you go in with Burnside, taking the two-gun battery. The movement on the left need not be carried further than reconnaissance to see in what force the enemy is holding his right. The cavalry are ordered to move up on your left, and to keep up connection.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

37.

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-9.15 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

Just before receiving your dispatch to assault the battery on the left of the crater occupied by General Burnside, the enemy drove his troops out of the place and I think now hold it. I can find no one who knows for certainly or seems willing to admit, but I think I saw a rebel battle-flag in it just now, and shots coming from it this way. I am, therefore, if this [be] true, no more able to take the battery now than I was this time yesterday. All our advantages are lost. I await further instructions, and am trying to get at the condition of affairs for certainty.

G. K. WARREN.

Major-General.

38.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-9.25 a.m.

Major-General WARREN:

The attack ordered on the two-gun battery is suspended.

GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General.

38 1/2.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-9.45 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS.

Chief of Staff:

GENERAL; I find that the flag I saw was the enemy’s, and that they have reoccupied all the line we drove them from except a little around the crater, which a small force of ours still holds.

Respectfully,
G. K. WARREN.

Major-General.

39.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-9.45 a.m.

General WARREN.

Ninth Corps Headquarters:

A dispatch has been sent to your headquarters rescinding order to attack. All offensive operations are suspended. You can resume your original position with your command.

GEO. G. MEADE.

40.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-5 p.m.

Major-Generals WARREN and BURNSIDE:

Signal officers report the enemy returning rapidly from the north side of the James. Every preparation should be made to strengthen the line of works where any obstacles have to-day been removed. The lines should be held strongly with infantry and artillery posted wherever practicable. Available reserves held in hand ready for movement in case it becomes necessary. I anticipate offensive movement on the part of the enemy, and expect it will be by a movable column turning our left and threatening our rear.

GEO. G. MEADE.

Major-General, Commanding.

Major-General Hancock will, to-night, resume his former position, and General Ord his, also.

41.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-4.40 a.m.

Brigadier-General MOTT,
Commanding Division, in intrenchments of Eighteenth Corps,

old headquarters of Eighteenth Corps:

General Burnside is ordered if his mine has failed to open all the batteries on his front and assault at once. Upon hearing his batteries open have all the batteries of the Eighteenth Corps opened.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

42.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-4.50 a.m.

OPERATOR AT HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH CORPS:

Send following message by orderly to General Hancock:

Major-General HANCOCK,
Commanding Second Corps:

The commanding general wishes you to be about the headquarters of the Eighteenth Corps, as that he can communicate with you at any time.

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

43.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-6 a.m.

Major-General HANCOCK,
Commanding Second Corps:

The major-general commanding directs me to say that General Burnside reports the enemy’s line in his front abandoned, and the prisoners taken say that there is no second line. The commanding general may call on you to move forward at any moment, and wishes you to have your troops well up to the front, prepared to move. Do the enemy’s lines in front of Mott’s division appear to be thinly occupied, and is there any chance to push forward there?

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

44.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-6 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

It is not possible to say about the line in front of General Mott, as both parties keep down, firing whenever a head is shown. General Ord left word for me with General Mott that there was no place to assault here, as the line was not only protected by abatis but by wire. This was the decision of himself and his division commanders, and he requested General Mott so to inform me. I know nothing more about it. I will be prepared for your orders.

W. S. HANCOCK.

45.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS.

July 30, 1864-6.20 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:

I have sent out to have General Mott’s line examined as far as practicable to see how strong the enemy appear to hold their line in General Mott’s front.

W. S. HANCOCK,

Major-General.

45 1/2.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS,
July 30, 1864-6.30 a.m.

General HUMPHREYS:

I have directed General Mott to advance a skirmish line to see whether the enemy hold a strong line in his front.

W. S. HANCOCK.

Major-General.

45 3/4.

HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-6.50 a.m.

General GEORGE G. MEADE:

The brigade next to General Burnside’s attempted an advance of a skirmish line just now, and lost the officer in command of the line and several men in getting over the parapet. The enemy’s mortars are at work, but they cannot fire much artillery other than this. The other brigades have not yet been heard from. Your dispatch is just received. I will continue to watch the enemy in my front.

W. S. HANCOCK.

Major-General.

46.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-7 a.m.

Major-General HANCOCK:

The report from prisoners would indicate weakness in the enemy’s line, and that a considerable portion of it has been vacated. If Burnside and Ord gain the crest, the enemy cannot hold in your front, for they will be open to attack from front and rear. It was to take advantage of this contingency that I wanted you to have your troops in hand. The orders to Mott are all right. If the enemy are in force and prepared you will have to await developments, but if you have reason to believe their condition is such that an effort to dislodge them would be successful I would like to have it made. Burnside now occupies their line, but has not pushed up to the crest, though he reports he is about doing so.

GEO. G. MEADE.

47.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS.

July 30, 1864-7 a.m.

General HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:

Report from the Second Brigade, of General Mott’s division shows that the enemy are there in some strength, having two batteries which they fire seldom, owing to the close proximity of our riflemen. The commanding officer of the brigade says he can see every man who leaves his front to their right, and none have left since daylight. He is using mortars effectively. I will report any change of troops.

W. S. HANCOCK,

Major-General.

48.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS.

July 30, 1864-9 a.m.

Major-General HUMPHREYS:

General Mott’s remaining brigade deceived* the enemy in their front by putting their hats on rammers above the parapet, which elicited quite a spirited volley.

W. S. HANCOCK,
Major-General.

49.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-9.25 a.m.

Major-General HANCOCK:

Offensive operations have been suspended. You will for the present hold in force the lines held by the Eighteenth Corps. Make your dispositions accordingly.

GEO. G. MEADE.

Major-General, Commanding.

50.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 29, 1864-10 p.m.

Major-General SHERIDAN.

Commanding Cavalry Corps:

The commanding general directs that you keep up connection with our left in the operations of to-morrow.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

51.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 29, 1864-10 a.m.

Brigadier-General WILSON,
Commanding Third Division Cavalry:

The major-general commanding directs that you concentrate your division on the left, somewhere near the plank road, and hold its avail-

—————

*In the original this word is developed. See Part III.

—————

able force ready for prompt movement. The guard left with trains should be merely sufficient to protect them against any small irregular parties of the enemy. The dismounted men should form this guard. Please report your location as soon as established.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

P. S.-The patrols and pickets on the north side of the Blackwater should be reduced to the minimum consistent with watching the main avenues of approach.

52.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 29, 1864-2.30 p.m.

Brigadier-General WILSON,
Commanding Cavalry Division, Jordan’s Point;

The commanding general considers that not more than one regiment should remain north of the Blackwater, and that be so posted as to be brought in rapidly to-morrow morning.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

53.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 29, 1864-3.15 p.m.

Brigadier-General WILSON.

Commanding Third Division, Cavalry Corps:

GENERAL: Major-General Sheridan is ordered to move at dark to Lee’s Mill, and at daylight against the enemy’s troops, defending Petersburg on their right by the roads leading to that town from the southward and westward. Your division will accompany him, and the commanding general directs that you be prepared to call in your patrols and pickets early to-morrow morning and move with the Cavalry Corps. You will send a staff officer to meet General Sheridan and receive his instructions.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

54.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 29, 1864-3 p.m.

Brigadier-General WHITE,
Commanding Temporarily Division Ninth Corps:

The major-general commanding directs that as soon as it is dark you withdraw your command from the intrenchments you are now holding and move to the position of the Ninth Corps, and report to your corps commander. You will call in your pickets upon moving. You will at once report to Major-General Burnside, and receive his instructions as to the route you will take.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff.

55.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 30, 1864-4.45 a.m.

Colonel WAINWRIGHT,
Chief of Artillery, Fifth Corps, Hdqrs. Fifth Corps:

General Burnside is directed if his mine has failed to open all the batteries on his front and assault at once. Upon hearing his batteries open those of the Fifth Corps will open also.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

Major-General and Chief of Staff

56.

PLANK ROAD SIGNAL STATION,

July 30, 1864-5 a.m.

Major B. F. FISHER:

There are no tents or the sign of any force on the right of the enemy’s line near lead-works. The two batteries directly in front of station which opened heavily this morning have cease firing. A large building is burning in the city. I have seen no movement of the enemy’s troops.

J. B. DUFF,

Lieutenant and Signal Officer.

57.

PLANK ROAD SIGNAL STATION,

July 30, 1864-6.20 a.m.

Major FISHER:

The enemy’s infantry has been passing to our right for twenty minutes; first noticed them at a point due west of the station marching in rear of their line. They came out in plain view at a point northwest from station. The column was at least a strong brigade. All the camps, one-quarter mile of lead-works, have been broken up. The largest visible from station has just been broken up, and the troops moved to our right.

J. B. DUFF,

Signal Officer.

58.

FIFTH ARMY CORPS,

July 30, 1864.

Major FISHER:

The enemy are wholly concealed along the line in view of this station. Not one has been seen; only three guns and those in redoubt at Gregory house reply to us.

I. S. LYON,

Lieutenant, &c.

(Copy sent to General Warren.)

59.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

OFFICE OF CHIEF ENGINEER,
August 5, 1864.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:

SIR: In compliance with directions received from you to-day, I have the honor to make the following report of the duty performed by the engineer officers during the assault of July 30:

In compliance with directions from the chief of staff, I detailed an officer of engineers for duty with each corps that was ordered to take part in the attack on the 30th of July. Major Michler, who was charged with selecting the position of the column on the right, after having reconnoitered the position, reported to General Ord and was informed that his subordinate generals had already examined the position, were thoroughly acquainted with the ground, and required no further assistance. They had already determined to take the same position indicated by Major Michler. Two engineer officers belonging to the Eighteenth Corps accompanied the movement. Lieutenant Benyaurd (Engineers), who has been on duty on the Ninth Corps front, reported to General Burnside and remained with him during the whole affair. After having consulted with the commanding general of the Fifth Corps as to the direction his column would take, I proceeded to the batteries in front of that corps and assisted Colonel Abbot in directing their fire so as to silence that of the enemy against the assaulting columns. I then repaired to the right of this line. By this time, however, the attack had been abandoned, and my services were no longer required.

Very respectfully,

J. C. DUANE,

Major Engineers.

60.

CIRCULAR.] HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS.

July 29, 1864.

I. The mine will be exploded to-morrow morning at 3.30 by Colonel Pleasants. General Potter will issue the necessary orders to the colonel for the explosion.

II. General Ledlie will immediately upon the explosion of the mine move his division forward as directed by verbal orders this day, and if possible crown the crest at the point known as Cemetery hill, occupying, if possible, the cemetery.

III. General Ledlie has passed through the first line of the enemy’s works, bearing off to the left so as to effectually protect the left flank of General Ledlie’s column and make a lodgment, if possible on the Jerusalem plank road to the left of General Ledlie’s division.

IV. General Potter will move his division forward to the right of General Ledlie’s division as soon as it is apparent that he will not interfere with the movements of General Willcox’s division, and will as near as possible protect the right flank of General Ledlie from any attack on that quarter and establish a line on the crest of a ravine which seems to run from the Cemetery Hill nearly at right angles to the enemy’s main line directly in our front.

V. General Ferrero will move his division immediately after General Willcox’s until he reaches our present advance line,where he will remain until the ground in his front is entirely cleared by the other three divisions, when he will move forward over the same ground that General Ledlie moved over; will pass through our line and, if possible, move down and occupy the village to the right.

VI. The formations and movements of all these divisions, together with their places of rendezvous, will be as near as possible in accordance with the understanding during the personal interviews with the division commanders. The headquarters of the corps during the movement will be at the fourteen-gun battery in rear of the Taylor house. If further instructions are desired by division commanders they will please ask for them at once.

By order of Major-General Burnside:

W. H. HARRIS,

Captain Ordnance, U. S. Army.

61.

ORDERS.] HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 9, 1864.

1. The operations of this army against the intrenched position of the enemy defending Petersburg will be by regular approaches on the fronts opposed to General Burnside’s and General Warren’s corps.

2. The siege-works will be constructed under the direction of the acting chief engineer of the army, Major J. C. Duane, Corps of Engineers, upon plans prepared by him and approved by the commanding general. Those plans that relate to the employment of the artillery will be prepared jointly by the acting chief engineer and the chief of artillery of the army, Brigadier General H. J. Hunt, U. S. Volunteers. Duplicates of the plan of siege will be furnished the commanders of the Ninth and Fifth Corps.

3. The engineer officers and troops of the army will receive their orders from the chief engineer, who will regulate the hours at which they will go on duty.

4. The siege artillery will be served under the direction of the chief of artillery of the army, who will prescribe the hours at which artillery officers and troops go on duty.

5. A general of the trenches will be detailed daily for each of the two fronts designated, where the siege operations are carried on by the commanders of the Ninth and Fifth Corps, respectively.

Guards of the trenches will in like manner be detailed daily from those corps. The strength of the guard will be determined by the commander of the corps furnishing it.

The general of the trenches is responsible for the security of the siege operations,and the police and discipline of the trenches, and will dispose the guard so as to protect the working parties and repel sorties. For armed purposes, as well as for police and discipline, he commands all in the trenches. He will report for instructions at the headquarters of his corps on the day previous to going on duty, and will confer with the officers of engineers and artillery in charge of the trenches and batteries, and visit the localities of the siege-works, so as to make himself familiar with the ground and determine upon the best disposition of the guard. He will go on duty at 8 a.m.,and upon being relieved, will turn over to his successor, all orders and instructions and information that he is possessed of pertaining to the duties specified. The commander of the guard of the trenches will report to him for instructions at 8 a. m. The guard of the trenches will go on duty at dark. Previous to the commencement of his tour of service the commander of the guard will report hourly to the general of the trenches what is transpiring in front and immediately anything of importance. The general of the trenches will make similar reports to the corps commander, who will transmit anything important to the commander of the army. Upon being relieved the general of the trenches will make a written report to his corps commander of the operations carried on during his tour, which will be forwarded to the commanding general of the army.

6. For the work of the trenches details from the two corps named will be made upon the requisitions of the chiefs of engineers and artillery. These requisitions will specify the character and locality of the work to be performed. An officer of high rank will be detailed daily to take charge of the working parties of each corps. He will be responsible for the faithful and energetic performance of duty by the working parties, and will see that they conform to the directions of the engineer and artillery officers in charge of the works. In the event of an attack he will command the working parties under the orders of the general of the trenches, and as soon after the commencement of his tour of duty as practicable he will report to that officer the manner in which the working parties are distributed. He will report for instructions at the headquarters of his corps on the day before he goes on duty, and will confer with the engineer and artillery officers in charge of the trenches,and receive information from them as to the manner of performing the work, and visit the localities before dark, so as to make himself familiar with the same. He will go on duty at 8 a.m. Upon being relieved he will turn over to his successor all orders, instructions, and information pertaining to the duty that he may be possessed of. Working parties will go on duty just before daylight. They will be equipped for action. Upon being relieved he will make a written report to his corps commander of the work executed by the working parties under his charge, which will be forwarded to the major-general commanding the army.

7. Materials for the siege will be prepared by working parties detailed from the corps not in the trenches upon requisitions of the acting chief engineer and chief of artillery.

8. The corps will relieve each other in the duties of the trenches should it be found necessary.

9. The acting chief engineer and chief of artillery will report every twelve hours to the commanding general the progress made in the operations. The morning report will include a statement of the work proposed to be executed in the next twenty-four hours following the tour of working duty them going on. These reports will be accompanied by drawings exhibiting the same. Duplicates of these reports will be furnished to the commanders of the corps on whose fronts the operations are conducted.

By command of Major-General Meade:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

62.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS.

July 3, 1864.

Major-General MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:

I have delayed answering your dispatch until I could get the opinion of my division commanders and have another reconnaissance of the lines made by one of my staff. If my opinion is required as to whether now is the best time to make an assault (it being understood that if not made the siege is to continue) I should unhesitatingly say wait until the mine is finished. If the question is between making the assault now and a change of plan looking to operations in other quarters I should unhesitatingly say assault now. If the assault be delayed until the completion of the mine I think we should have a more than even chance of success. If the assault be made now I think we have a fair chance of success, provided my corps can make the attack and it is left to me to say when and how the other two corps shall come in to my support.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Major-General, Commanding Ninth Army Corps.

63.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 3, 1864.

Major-General BURNSIDE, Commanding Ninth Corps:

GENERAL: Your not by Major Lyding has been received. As you are of the opinion there is a reasonable degree of probability of success from an assault in your front I shall so report to the lieutenant-general commanding and await his instructions. The recent operations in your front, as you are aware, though sanctioned by me, did not originate in any orders from these headquarters. Should, however, it be determined to employe the army under my command in offensive operations on your front I shall exercise the prerogative of my position to control and direct the same, receiving gladly at all times such suggestions as you may think proper to make. I consider these remarks necessary in consequence of certain conditions which you have thought proper to attach to your opinion, acceding to which in advance would not in my judgment be consistent with my position as commanding general of this army. I have accordingly directed Major Duane, chief engineer, and Brigadier-General Hunt, chief of artillery, to make an examination of your lines, and to confer with you as to the operations to be carried on-the running of the mine now in progress and the posting of artillery. It is desirable as many guns as possible bearing on the point to be assaulted should be placed in position. I agree with you in opinion the assault should be deferred till the mine is completed, provided that can be done in a reasonably short period-say a week. Roads should be opened to the rear to facilitate the movements of the other corps sent to take part in the action and all the preliminary arrangements possible should be made. Upon the reports of my engineer and artillery officers the necessary orders will be given.

Respectfully, yours,
GEO. G. MEADE.

Major-General, Commanding.

64.*

CONFIDENTIAL.] HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,

July 4,. 1864

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of last evening. I am very sorry that I should have been so unfortunate in expressing myself in my letter. It was written in haste, just after receiving the necessary data upon which to strengthen an opinion already pretty well formed. I assure you in all candor that I never dreamed of implying any lack of confidence in your ability to do all that is necessary in any grand movement which may be undertaken by your army. Were you to personally direct an attack from my front I would feel the utmost confidence, and were I called upon to support an attack from the front of the Second or Sixth Corps, directed by yourself or by either of the commanders of those corps, I would do it with confidence and cheerfulness. It is hardly necessary for me to say that I have had the utmost faith in your ability to handle troops ever since my acquaintance with you in the Army of the Potomac, and certainly accord to you a much higher position in the art of war than I possess, and I at the same time entertain the greatest respect for the skill of the two gentlemen commanding the Second and Sixth Corps; so that my duty to the country, to you, and to myself, forbids that I should for a moment assume to embarrass you or them by an assumption of position or authority. I simply desired to ask the privilege of calling upon them for support, at such times and at such points as I thought advisable. I would gladly accord to either of them the same support, and would be glad to have either of them lead the attack; but it would have been obviously improper for me to have suggested that any other corps than my own should make the attack in my front. What I asked in reference to calling upon the other corps for support is only what I have been called upon to do and have cheerfully done myself in regard to other corps commanders. If a copy of my letter has been forwarded to the General-in-Chief, which I take for granted has been done, that he may be possessed of my full opinion, it may make the same impression upon him as upon yourself, and I beg that you will correct it; in fact I beg that such impression may be as far as possible removed wherever it has made a lodgment. My desire is to support you, and in doing that I am serving the country. With ordinary good fortune we can pretty safely promise to finish the mine in a week-I hope in less time.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE.

Major-General, Commanding Ninth Army Corps.

67.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.

July 24, 1864.

Major J. C. DUANE,
Acting Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac:

MAJOR: Please give me, with as little delay as practicable,your views on the expediency of an assault on the enemy’s works after a suc-

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*Nos. 65 and 66 are maps to appear in the Atlas.

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cessful springing of General Burnside’s mine, and particularly your views as to the subsequent operations after carrying the enemy’s first line and following up a lodgment on the crater of the mine.

Respectfully, yours,

GEO. G. MEADE,

Major-General, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
OFFICE OF CHIEF ENGINEER,

July 24, 1864.

Major-General MEADE,

Commanding Army of the Potomac:

GENERAL: In reply to your communication of this date, I have the honor to state that the line of the enemy’s works in front of General Burnside is not situated on the crest of the ridge separating us from Petersburg; that the enemy have undoubtedly occupied this ridge as a second line. Should General Burnside succeed in exploding his mine he would probably be able to take the enemy’s first line, which is about 100 yards in advance of his approach. Beyond this I do not think he could advance until the works in front of the Fifth Corps are carried, as the Ninth Corps columns would be taken in flank by a heavy artillery fire from works in front of the center of the Fifth Corps, and in front by fire from the works on the crest near the Cemetery Hill. I do not believe that the works in front of the Fifth Corps can be carried until our lines can be extended to the left, so as to envelop the enemy’s line.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE

Major of Engineers

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pages 42-163

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