Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Battle of the Wilderness – Gordon Attacks

On the other side of the field there was only desultory fighting throughout the day. However one Confederate commander, John B. Gordon, had a plan to strike the Federal forces. He scouted around the Union right flank and found it unguarded. Confederates could move undetected and roll up the Union right, as Longstreet as their left. He presented this plan to Ewell, who did not approve it for most of the day because of reports of a force that could strike Gordon in the rear.

The Wilderness
Finally just before sunset the plan was approved. Gordon set out on his march with his own and two other brigades, totaling around 4,000 men. They silently deployed and then charged. The Federals were completely surprised. The two flank brigades were completely unprepared and were driven into headlong retreat. But this was all Gordon could accomplish. It was nearly impossible to keep an attack organized in the woods, especially at night. By the time another attack was made it was 10 pm, and the Federals were able repulse it. Gordon believed that the delay in implementing his plan prevented a complete Confederate victory on that day:
[H]ad [the attack] been made at an early hour in the day instead of at sundown, the 6th of May would have ended in the crushing defeat of General Grant's army.



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