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Hooker and Burnside's headquarters were at the Phillips. House. The troops were put in readiness, and all parties anxiously awaited the lifting of the fog. The instructions seemed to be ample and sufficiently clear. General Franklin's task was to seize the heights near Captain Hamilton's at once, preparatory to a movement by the entire left wing along the old Richmond road. As soon as that was in process of accomplishment, General Sumner was to move up the telegraph and plank roads and seize the heights on the enemy's left, advancing his whole command against the enemy's lines. General Hooker was promptly to support the other two attacks with a view to pursuit, if they were succcessful, and to gathering in the fruits of victory. The main battle was to be on our left, and the attack was to be delivered "at once.” General Franklin was esteemed a brave, skilful, cool and determined officer. He had the largest portion of the army. His bridges were guarded, his flanks and rear were perfectly secure, both by the infantry and the heavy artillery posted on the heights on the hither side. But General Franklin's temperament, as is perfectly well known, is somewhat sluggish. He did not seem to comprehend General Burnside's plan of battle. He even has since appeared to doubt if General Burnside had any definite plan at all. He professed to think that the main attack was to be upon the enemy's left, and that his own movement, to be made immediately and with a view to piercing the enemy's lines, was an armed reconnaissance. He had been averse to the movement from the first, as also had been some of his inferior officers, and neither he nor they were especially zealous to contribute to its success. All of them were good and brave soldiers. None in the army were more so. General Reynolds was particularly gallant and determined, and would have carried out the wishes of the commanding general had he been properly supported. No one of the corps commanders indeed would disobey a superior officer, even when it conflicted with his own judgment. But though obedience was rendered, it was evident that there was in it a lack of enthusiasm. Obedi
ence is sometimes given in such a half-hearted way as to render it almost nugatory. When the will is wanting, it is easy to find obstructions in the way. Under such circumstances, the simplest order becomes difficult of execution. General Franklin ordered General Reynolds to send out "a division at least," to seize the heights. General Reynolds sent one division under General George G. Meade.
At nine o'clock, General Meade moved out on the old Richmond road. General Doubleday supported him with a division. But on advancing, General Doubleday was obliged to move to the left to protect the left flank of the army against a demonstration made by General Stuart with cavalry and artillery. General Gibbon's division took General Doubleday's vacated position. General Meade's skirmishers were soon engaged with those of the enemy, and the division became exposed to an artillery fire in front. General Meade's advance was very slow. He was obliged to clear away the enemy's artillery in front and flank, and to make frequent halts for the purpose of closing up his own columns, and to allow the division following to come within near supporting distance. At eleven o'clock, he had only gained half a mile, though suffering no loss of great importance. General Reynolds soon after developed his whole line, posting General Doubleday on the left, General Meade in the centre, and General Gibbon on the right-General Meade being in advance and General Gibbon in the rear, his left overlapping General Meade's right. General Franklin supposed that he was greatly outnumbered, and feared an attack from the enemy's forces on his extreme left. Instead of boldly attacking, as General Burnside had intended, he was thus far standing on the defensive. General Meade's advance seems to have been made simply to give room for further disposition of the troops. General Franklin appeared to be more disposed to hold his position than to take the aggressive. He ordered General Stoneman to cross one division, General Birney's, to support his left and occupy the gap which would remain after General Meade's advance. General Sick
les's division crossed the river soon after noon and took position in General Reynolds's line. The troops upon the left were thus formed from left to right: Doubleday, two brigades of Birney, with Meade in front; Sickles, with Gibbon in front; the remainder of Birney's division, Howe, Newton and Brooks.
The enemy's line was formed with General Longstreet's corps upon the left, occupying the works on the Marye estate, the stone wall along the telegraph road, and the heights beyond; General Jackson's corps occupied the right opposite General Franklin; General A. P. Hill held the first line in front of and near Hamilton's crossing; General Taliaferro, commanding Jackson's old division, held the second line in General Hill's rear; General D. H. Hill held the third line behind the crest. On the slope of the hill commanding the crossing, Colonel Lindsay Walker had posted his artillery, consisting of Pegram's, McIntosh's, and sections of Crenshaw's, Latham's and Johnson's batteries. On the left of this line, near the avenue leading from the Bernard estate, was Davidson's artillery, twenty-one guns, and on the right of that position were twelve guns under Captain Brockenborough. General Jackson's left joined General Longstreet's right, which was under the command of General Hood, and constituted the centre of the enemy's line. It will thus be perceived that General Meade had no ordinary work to perform. With five thousand men, he was sent by General Franklin to perform a task which required four or five times that number.
By twelve o'clock, most of the dispositions on our side were made, and General Meade began to advance with earnestness and vigor. His division consisted of three brigades, of which the third was on the left, the first on the right, closely followed by the second. General Gibbon's division was ordered to hold itself ready as a support. The troops went forward with great spirit and resolution. In handsome style they charged up the road, regardless of a hot fire from the enemy, crossed the railroad, ascended the heights beyond, broke through the enemy's first line, penetrated very nearly to the enemy's second line