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that "explicit orders should have been given, assigning one officer to the command of all the troops intended to engage in the assault, when the commanding general was not present in person to witness the operations."
To support this finding and opinion, the court examined Generals Grant, Meade, Burnside, Warren, Humphreys, Ord, Hunt, Potter, Willcox, Ferrero, Griffin, Hartranft, Mott, Ames, Ayres, and a number of other inferior officers. But no officers on General Burnside's staff were brought before the court to testify in the case.* It is singular to observe how inconclusively the opinion of the court follows from the testimony adduced.
General Meade, testifying in his own behalf, was strangely inconsistent with himself in the evidence which he offered. He submitted to the court his orders on the day of battle, some of which have already been quoted, and by which it distinctly appears that he directed every moment that was made. The substance of his testimony in other respects was, that he disapproved of the location of the mine and General Burnside's plan of attack; that he had one or more staff officers at General Burnside's headquarters in the front; that he learned, before eight o'clock in the morning, that General Griffin had made an attack on the right of the crater and had been repulsed; that the first positive information which he received that there was any enemy in front or present" was not before nine o'clock in the morning; that he had ordered the troops withdrawn whenever that could be done with security; that, subsequently to the battle, he remained in "total ignorance of any further transactions until about six or seven o'clock in the evening;" that he did not go forward to the front to witness the action at any time; and that, in fine, he had "been groping in the dark since the commencement of the attack." Comment upon such testimony is wholly needless.
*It was stated at the time that the staff officers expected to testify were ill. But they were ready to go before the court previous to its final adjournment.
The testimony of General Burnside and that of his division. and brigade commanders, is positive in relation to the fidelity that was manifested by the commander of the Ninth Corps, in his endeavors to execute the commands of General Meade. The formation of his assaulting column must have been determined by the officers having the immediate direction of the attack, and must have been influenced by the condition of the ground. That the troops marched by the flank, instead of an extended front, must have been due to other causes than the failure of General Burnside to obey the orders of General Meade. General Burnside's battle order to his division officers, through whom alone it could be executed, was as clear as General Meade's order to him. Surely, General Burnside was not responsible for the failure of any subordinate officer to obey his orders, any more than General Meade would have been, in case of neglect on the part of any of his corps commanders. A comparison of the two battle orders shows that General Burnside did all that was possible to carry out the wishes of his chief. Indeed, the formation was not altogether by the flank. General Hartranft testified that he "formed his command, which was immediately in rear of the first division, in one or two regiments front." He "put two small regiments together." General Hartranft was a capital officer, and it was General Burnside's misfortune that as good an officer was not in command of the first division.
The second point which the court made, in regard to the preparation for the passage of the assaulting columns, was not well taken. The testimony shows that there was no particular necessity for the leveling of the parapets. The abatis was so much cut up by the enemy's fire as to offer but little obstruction to the advance. General Willcox declared that "what was left of it when his division passed over was no obstacle whatever." The evidence is positive upon that point, and the delay of the troops in passing out of the lines was very brief. Captain Farquhar, the chief engineer of the eighteenth corps, testified that "there seemed to be room enough at " his "sali
ent to pass over, certainly in regimental front," but the passage was not practicable for artillery. Moreover, a greater number of troops passed out of the lines than could be handled upon the ground which they occupied. It is also to be considered that the attack was to be of the nature of a surprise; that the enemy was immediately in the front, distant but a few hundred feet, and that nothing was to be done before the assault which would give him any intimation of our intentions.
The third point which the Court made against General Burnside in "not causing to be provided the necessary materials for crowning the crest," is entirely discrepant with the testimony. General Burnside testified, that an engineer regiment was detailed for each division of his corps, fully equipped with the necessary tools for intrenching. General Potter testified, that his regiment of engineers was immediately in the neighborhood of the breastwork, prepared with proper tools to level the works for the passage of field batteries, in case the forward movement was successful; that axes, spades and picks were provided, and the chevaux de frise on the enemy's lines for two or three hundred yards was broken down. General Griffin testified, that he had in his brigade a pioneer corps with the proper tools. Major Randall testified, that he thought he saw the 25th Massachusetts near the crater, equipped with shovels and spades. The testimony which it is presumed the Court relied upon for its opinion, was indecisive in its character. The witnesses were Major Duane and Lieutenant Beuyaurd. To the question, whether any working parties accompanied the troops Major Duane answered, that he did not know; neither did he know, whether or not any arrangements were made "for facilitating the debouch of the troops from our lines, and their passage over the enemy's parapets." Lieutenant Beuyaurd was equally ignorant. He did not know that there were working parties for the assaulting columns, nor that there were any preparations made in the way of collecting gabions, picks, shovels, axes or other tools. These wholly inconclusive statements were allowed to outweigh the positive testimony offered on the other
side. It is true, that General Burnside did not employ the engineer officer who was sent to him, for the simple reason that he preferred his own judgment.
The fourth point which the court made, in regard to the alleged neglect in executing General Meade's orders, to push forward General Ledlie's troops from the crater to the crest, is not supported by any testimony that was offered. On the contrary, Surgeon Chubb testified, that General Ledlie received orders in his hearing, "to move his troops forward from where they were then lying," and that General Ledlie "frequently sent up aides to have them moved forward." Surely it could not have been expected, that General Burnside should assume in person the direction of General Ledlie's division. In fact, the court in censuring General Ledlie based its condemnation of that officer upon his neglect to report the condition of affairs to his commander. Thus General Burnside was censured for not sending General Ledlie's troops forward, and General Ledlie was censured for failing to give the information upon which General Burnside was expected to act. Again, General Burnside was considered answerable for the failure, because he did. not withdraw General Ledlie's troops in order to give place to others. But it was manifestly impossible to withdraw the troops, while General Meade was continually ordering them forward. The opinion of the court, therefore, so far as General Burnside was concerned, fails in every point to correspond with the testimony.
General Ledlie was undoubtedly in fault for not accompanying his division, and pushing it forward according to orders. He declares, that at the time he was suffering from illness. But, if such were the case he should have asked to be relieved, that some other more efficient officer might direct his troops. No objection, therefore, can be made to the opinion of the court in his case. It is but fair, however, that General Ledlie should be heard in his own defence. In a letter to the Army and Navy Journal of March 18, 1865-after reciting Lieutenant Colonel Loring's evidence before the Committee of Congress, to
the effect that the first division moved with promptness, but that the troops in going into the crater could not maintain their organization, and that he reported the fact to the division commander-General Ledlie proceeds: "On receiving the report from Colonel Loring, I immediately issued the proper orders, and took the necessary steps for relieving the confused condition of the division. I am perfectly willing that the record of my conduct should stand upon this sworn statement made by Colonel Loring, with the simple addition of the fact that my life was saved on that occasion only because the ball which struck my person had not force enough to penetrate my watch. I was stunned and temporarily injured by the force of the ball, and then, for the first time, retired to regimental headquarters, which were being used as a hospital. I stayed there but a few minutes, and then returned to my post, where I remained until we received orders to withdraw."
General Ferrero absolutely denied the declaration of the court, that he was in a bomb-proof during the action. Surgeon Chubb's testimony was, that General Ferrero went out of the bomb-proof after he received the order to move his troops forward, and that he returned to it subsequently to their repulse. Surgeon Smith's testimony was, that General Ferrero was in front of the bomb-proof at the time his division charged, that he accompanied his troops to the front when they left, and returned at the time they came back. After the opinion of the court was made public, General Ferrero procured affidavits from Brevet Major Hicks, Captains F. R. Warner, W.W. Tyson and A. F. Walcott and Lieutenant Mowry, members of his staff, who positively swore that General Ferrero was not in a bombproof at any time during the action of July 30th, but was on the field, and within ten paces of his command. Lieutenant Colonel Loring, who delivered to General Ferrero the order to advance and who saw him frequently through the day, deposed that he was standing in the front line at the time of the delivery of the order; that he did not see General Ferrero in a bombproof at any time, and did not believe that he was in one.