Page:A memoir of the last year of the War of Independence, in the Confederate States of America.djvu/22

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18
BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS

stating that they were getting along very well indeed, and wanted no help.

During the morning, the fact was communicated to General Ewell, by our cavalry scouts, that a column of the enemy's infantry was moving between our left and the river, with the apparent purpose of turning our left flank; and information was also received that Burnside's corps had crossed the river, and was in rear of the enemy's right. I received directions to watch this column, and take steps to prevent its getting to our rear; and Johnston's brigade, of Rodes' division, which had just arrived from Hanover Junction, was sent to me for that purpose. This brigade, with some artillery, was put in position, some distance to my left, so as to command some bye-roads coming in from the river. In the meantime General Gordon had sent out a scouting party on foot, which discovered what was supposed to be the enemy's right flank resting in the woods, in front of my division; and, during my absence while posting Johnston's brigade, he reported the fact to General Ewell, and suggested the propriety of attacking this flank of the enemy with his brigade, which was not engaged. On my return, the subject was mentioned to me by General Ewell, and I stated to him the danger and risk of making the attack under the circumstances, as a column was threatening our left flank, and Burnside's corps was in rear of the enemy's flank on which the attack was suggested. General Ewell concurred with me in this opinion, and the impolicy of the attempt at that time was obvious, as we had no reserves, and, if it failed, and the enemy showed any enterprise, a serious disaster would befall, not only our corps, but General Lee's whole army. In the afternoon, when the column threatening our left had been withdrawn, and it had been ascertained that Burnside had gone to Grant's left, on account of the heavy fighting on that flank, at my suggestion. General Ewell ordered the movement which Gordon had proposed. I determined to make it with Gordon's brigade supported by Johnston's, and to follow it up, if successful, with the rest of my division. Gordon's