Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Battle of the Wilderness – Lee to the Rear

Hancock Attacks
Grant's plan for the second day of the Battle of the Wilderness was to focus his attacks on Hill's corps. His V and VI Corps were to continue their attacks on Ewell, to keep him from coming to Hill's defense, while Hancock continued his attacks on Hill, and Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps hit Hill's flank and rear through the hole in the center of the Confederates. On the Confederate side, Longstreet's First Corps was coming up, and Lee ordered it to go to Hill's aid. Longstreet miscalculated how long it would take to reach Hill and allowed his men some rest during the night. Thus, as the Federal attack began at 5 am on May 6, Longstreet had not yet come up. Hill's men, with their lines still disorganized from the previous day's fighting, were thrown into disarray by the large numbers of Federal forces. Broken Southern units streamed by the Tapp House, and the 16 guns in that field were the only thing holding the Federal advance back.

It was at this critical moment that Longstreet's forces finally began to arrive. At the head of the column was the Texas Brigade now under Brigadier General John Gregg. “I am glad to see it," Lee exclaimed, "Texans always move them!" He told Gregg, "When you go in there, I wish you to give those men the cold steel – they will stand and fight all day, and never move unless you charge them." As the Texans formed up, Gregg stood in his stirrups and shouted, "Attention, Texas Brigade! the eyes of General Lee are upon you. Forward, march!" As the line moved out, Robert E. Lee fell in behind them. He recognized the danger his army was in, and it was apparent that he intended to charge with Gregg's brigade. The Texans would not allow it. “Go back, General Lee," they cried. "Go back! We won’t go forward unless you come back.” Finally Lee was taken to the rear and the Texans' charge. Their attack, ably followed by two more divisions from Longstreet, stemmed Hancock's advance. When Burnside arrived on Hill's flank, he did not make a coordinated and forceful attack, and so the Confederates prevented disaster on that front.  

Longstreet Attacks


Post a Comment