Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 32.djvu/242

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


230 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Third Division, Sixth corps: " My line was at no time driven from any position, but was withdrawn from one position to another under orders." There is no report from the other division of the corps, but the brigade reports show the same general facts as the other two.

These reports, it will be perceived, wholly disprove certain critic views of the condition of the Union forces, the extent of the dis- order and dismay that prevailed after the rout of Crook's corps, and with this disproof of the continuous advance theory, on which has been founded the impeachment of the brave and capable though unlucky and unpopular General Early, sustains a puncture. The exaggerated idea which the record dispels was not altogether unnat- ural the morning of the battle. The din and dust raised by the wild flight down the pike by Crook's command, swelled by the camp followers and transportation of the Nineteenth corps, the sight of the abandoned camps and much artillery, by all of the infantry, did look like the whole of Sheridan's army was in it.

General Early was misled into stating in his report that Kershaw and Gordon swept everything before them, routing the Eighth and Nineteenth corps. Part only of the Nineteenth was routed. Ex- trication from a very awkward position compelled the rapid rear- ward shifting of the Sixth and Nineteenth corps to get round Early's centre and in front of his right. This movement, performed under constant pressure of attack, enforcing a quick abandonment of suc- cessive lines of battle formed to beat off our advance, presented an appearance of rout, which it was not.

HOW APPEARANCES DECEIVED GENERAL GORDON.

The appearance was especially calculated to deceive General Gor- don. Having transferred his command from the right to the ex- treme left of our advance, the sequential retrogressions, while bringing on contact and collision with Kershaw and Ramseur, were quite away from Gordon. He thus failed to perceive the extent of his resistance to our advance, in front of the center and right. To make this clear, the report of Ramseur' s Division, by General Grimes, is here quoted from: "Grimes' Brigade, ordered forward, charged most gallantly, but being greatly overlapped on both flanks, was forced to fall back. Smith's Brigade of Wharton's Division charged the same wooded hill, but was likewise repulsed." Wof- ford, of Kershaw, was then sent to help make the "advance con- tinuous" on our right. But, after it came up, this report reads,