Reports of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum,
U. S. Army, commanding Twelfth Army Corps.
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] -- Gettysburg Campaign
HDQRS. TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
August 23, 1863.
Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL: I have the honor of submitting the following report of the operations of the Twelfth Corps, and such other troops as were placed under my command, between June 28 and July 26:
The Twelfth Corps was at Knoxville, Md., on the morning of June 28, from which place it marched at 6 a.m., and arrived near Frederick City at 2 p.m. of the same day.
The march was resumed at 7 a.m. on the following day, and although nearly the entire army was obliged to move through the city in its march northward, and great delay was necessarily caused by the obstruction of the roads by baggage-wagons, &c., still the corps marched 23 miles, performing most of it during a heavy rain-storm.
On the 30th, the march was resumed at 5 a.m., and the corps encamped for the night about 1 mile beyond Littlestown, Pa., on the road leading from that place to Hanover.
On the morning of July 1, the corps was moved to Two Taverns, and remained at that place until information was received that the First and Eleventh Corps were engaged at Gettysburg, when the march was at once resumed, and, agreeably to suggestion from General Howard, the First Division was put in position on the right of our line, near Rock Creek. The Second Division was moved forward as rapidly as possible, and placed, pursuant to orders from General Hancock, on the extreme left of the line.
The corps remained in this position until the following morning, when, by direction of the commanding general, the Second Division was moved to the right of our center, and placed in the woods east of the turnpike, between Rock Creek and the crest of the hill held by our troops under Brigadier-General Wadsworth.
The Fifth Corps arrived at 5 a.m. on July 2, and, by direction of the commanding general, was placed in line on the right of the Twelfth Corps.
At about 8 a.m. this corps (the Fifth) and the First Division of the Twelfth Corps were moved to the left and across Rock Creek, the First Division taking position on the right of the Second, with its right resting on the creek. (See map annexed.)
As soon as the corps was established on its new line, a strong force was detailed for the construction of breastworks and abatis, which subsequently proved of great value, as they enabled us at a critical moment to detach portions of the command to other points of the line. The Fifth Corps was massed between the extreme right and left of the line occupied by the army, and held in readiness to move to the support of any part of the line. About half an hour before the attack on our left, this corps (the Fifth) was moved by order of the commanding general to the support of that part of the line. This attack was made by the enemy in strong force, and with great spirit and determination. Had it been successful, the result would have been terribly disastrous to our army and to the country. The arrival of the Fifth Corps at the point of attack at so critical a moment afforded it an opportunity of doing service for the country the value of which can never be overestimated. Of the manner in which this opportunity was improved, I need not speak. The long list of its killed and wounded attests more clearly than language can the valor of its officers and men.
As soon as the attack on our left commenced, the First Division and two brigades of the Second Division, Twelfth Corps, were ordered to that part of the line. The First Division moved at once, and arrived in time to assist in repelling the assault. The two brigades of the Second Division, under Brigadier-General Geary, by some unfortunate and unaccountable mistake, did not follow the First Division, but took the road leading to Two Taverns, crossing Rock Creek. Immediately after the First Division and the two brigades of the Second Division had moved from their intrenchments, the enemy at-hacked the remaining brigade of the corps left to hold the line. This brigade was under command of Brigadier-General Greene, and the attack commenced before he had succeeded in extending his command so as to occupy the part of the line previously occupied by the troops sent to the support of our left. Although General Greene handled his command with great skill, and although his men fought with gallantry never surpassed by any troops under my command, the enemy succeeded in gaining possession of a portion of our intrenchments. After a severe engagement of nearly three hours' duration, General Greene remained in possession of the left of our line of works, while the right, which had previously been held by the First Division, was in possession of the enemy. During this engagement, General Greene was re-enforced by three regiments from the First Corps and three from the Eleventh Corps, all of which did good service. Immediately after the repulse of the enemy on the left, the First Division was
ordered to return to its position on the right, and General Geary, with the two other brigades of the Second Division, was ordered back to his original position. It was nearly midnight before this movement was fully completed.
Orders were at once issued for an attack at daybreak, for the purpose of regaining that portion of the line which had been lost. The artillery of the Twelfth Corps, consisting of Battery F, Fourth U. S. Artillery; Battery K, Fifth U.S. Artillery; Battery M, First New York, and Knap's Pennsylvania battery, was placed in position during the night by Lieutenant-Colonel Best, and opened the battle at 4 a.m. on the following morning, and during the entire engagement all these batteries rendered most valuable aid to our cause.
The enemy had been re-enforced during the night, and were fully prepared to resist our attack. The force opposed to us, it is said, belonged to the corps under General Ewell, formerly under General Jackson, and they certainly fought with a determination and valor which has ever characterized the troops of this well-known corps. We were re-enforced during the engagement by Shaler's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, and by two regiments from General Wadsworth's division, of the First Corps, and also by Neill's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, which was moved across Rock Creek, and placed in position to protect our extreme right. All these troops did excellent service.
The engagement continued until 10.30 a.m., and resulted in our regaining possession of our entire line of intrenchments and driving the enemy back of the position originally held by him; in the capture of over 500 prisoners in addition to the large number of wounded left on the field, besides several thousand stand of arms and three stand of colors. Our own loss in killed and wounded was comparatively light, as most of our troops were protected by breastworks.
The portion of the field occupied by the enemy presented abundant evidence of the bravery and determination with which the conflict was waged. The field of battle at this point was not as extended as that on the left of our line, nor was the force engaged as heavy as that brought into action on that part of the line. Yet General Geary states that over 900 of the enemy's dead were buried by our own troops and a large number left unburied, marching orders having been received before the work was completed.
Soon after the repulse of the enemy at this point, he opened from his entire line the severest artillery fire that I have ever witnessed. The losses of the Twelfth Corps from this fire were, however, light, and when the fire ceased, and was followed by an assault from his infantry on the left of the line, the entire command was in readiness to move to the support of our troops at that point. The First Division was moved, and reached the scene of conflict in time to have rendered assistance if required. They were not, however, called into action, the enemy being driven from the field by the troops already in position.
On the following morning, July 4, I moved forward with one brigade (General Ruger's), and found the enemy had retired from our immediate front.
The next day the Twelfth Corps marched to Littlestown.
On July 7, the march was resumed at 4 a.m., and although many of the men were destitute of shoes, and all greatly fatigued by the labor and anxiety of a severely contested battle, as well as by the heavy marches which had preceded it, still, a march of 29 miles was made this day.
On the following day the command passed through Frederick, and halted for the night near Jefferson.
On the 9th, we crossed South Mountain at Crampton's Pass, and encamped near Rohrersville.
On the 10th, we marched to Bakersville, and on the 11th to Fair Play.
The 12th and 13th were spent in endeavoring to ascertain the position of the enemy in our front, which we found great difficulty in accomplishing. Marsh Run extended along the position held by the enemy in our front, and at this time it was passable only at the bridges, the heavy rains having raised the water much beyond its usual depth, and caused it to overrun the marsh land in our front. During the night of the 13th, the enemy recrossed the Potomac. On the 15th, I marched the command to Sandy Hook, near Harper's Ferry, with orders to procure clothing and other supplies as soon as possible, and hold it in readiness to cross the river.
Three days were spent in procuring supplies, and on the 19th the corps crossed the river, and encamped for the night near Hillsborough.
On the following day the command marched to Snickersville, and remained there, guarding the pass in the Blue Ridge, until the 23d, when it was moved to Ashby's Gap, at which point it arrived at 2 p.m., and made preparations to encamp for the night; but at 4 p.m. I received orders to move forward at once to Markham Station, near Manassas Gap, and the march was immediately resumed, the troops arriving near the station late at night.
At 3 a.m. on the 24th, marched through Markham to Linden. At 12 m. on the same day returned, via Markham, and encamped at Piedmont.
On the 25th, marched to Thoroughfare Gap, and on the 26th to Warrenton Junction.
The enemy commenced the movement toward Pennsylvania early in the month of June. My command left its camp near Aquia Creek on the 13th of the same month. From that day until its arrival at Warrenton Junction, on July 26, it was constantly engaged in services of the most fatiguing nature. Marches of from 25 to 30 miles per day were frequently performed. We were constantly in the presence of the enemy, and even while remaining in camp for a day or two, nothing like rest or relaxation from care and anxiety was known.
The complete ration allowed the soldier was not issued to him a single day during the entire campaign. It cannot be surprising that, under these circumstances, officers as well as men were greatly exhausted on our arrival at Warrenton.
The conduct of the entire command during this campaign was such as entitles it to the gratitude of the country, and justifies me in the indulgence of a deep and heartfelt pride in my connection with it. At Gettysburg, when we were brought into conflict with the entire force of the enemy, although every one felt convinced that we were greatly his inferior in point of numbers, yet all seemed to realize the vast responsibility thrown upon our army and the fearful consequence which must result from our defeat, and every one was nerved to the task, and entered upon the duties devolving upon him with a spirit worthy of the highest praise. Their confidence in the final result of this important battle was greatly increased by the fact, which soon became apparent to all, that in this battle, at least, all our forces were to be used; that a large portion of the army were not to remain idle while the enemy's masses were being hurled against another portion.
My own corps during this conflict was moved from one point of the line to another, and all of those thus moved had the satisfaction of knowing that, where the battle was waged by the enemy with the greatest fury, there our troops were concentrated, ready and eager to meet them.
My staff officers discharged their duties during the campaign to my entire satisfaction. Supplies were furnished by all the different departments as liberally and with as little delay as could have been anticipated under the circumstances.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. SLOCUM,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
- - - - -
HDQRS. TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 4, 1863.
Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
GENERAL: I have the honor to forward herewith two flags captured by the Sixtieth New York Volunteers, of the Third Brigade, Second Division, in the action of July 2. One was borne by the "Stonewall Brigade," and is represented as the brigade flag. The other was the battle-flag of a Virginia regiment.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,H. W. SLOCUM,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
HDQRS. TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Tullahoma, Tenn., December 30, 1863.
Maj. Gen. GEORGE G. MEADE,
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
GENERAL: I inclose herewith the report of General T. H. Ruger of operations of the First Division, Twelfth Corps, at the battle of Gettysburg, together with the reports of his brigade and regimental commanders. General Ruger, width a large portion of his division, was ordered to New York City soon after the battle, and immediately after his return from New York the corps was ordered to this department. The reports of General Williams and myself were delayed with the hope of receiving General Ruger's report in time to forward it with them.
I deeply regret the necessity which compelled me to send my report and that of General Williams unaccompanied by any report of the operations of the First Division, for although an account of the operations of this division was given in the report of General Williams, who commanded the corps during the battle, I think the absence of Ruger's report may account for some of the errors contained in your report as to the operations of the Twelfth Corps.
I inclose a letter from General Williams, calling my attention to these errors, to which I respectfully invite your attention, and if anything can be done at this late day to correct these errors, I trust you will do it. Your report is the official history of that important battle, and to this report reference will always be made by our Government, our people, and the historian, as the most reliable and accurate account of the services performed by each corps, division, and brigade of your army. If you have inadvertently given to one division the credit of having performed some meritorious service which was in reality performed by another division, you do an injustice to brave men and defraud them of well-earned laurels. It is an injustice which even time cannot correct. That errors of this nature exist in your official report is an indisputable fact.
You give great credit to Lockwood's brigade for services on the evening of July 2, but state that this brigade was a portion of the First Corps, while it never at any time belonged to that corps, but was a portion of the Twelfth Corps, and was accompanied in its operations on the evening of July 2 by General Williams in person. A portion of this brigade (the One hundred and fiftieth New York) is still in General Williams' division.
I copy the following statement from your report:
During the heavy assault on our left, portions of the Twelfth Corps were sent as re-enforcements. During their absence, the line on the extreme right was held by a very much reduced force. This was taken advantage of by the enemy, who, during the absence of General Geary's division, of the Twelfth Corps, advanced and occupied part of the line. On the morning of the 3d, General Geary, having returned during the night, attacked at early dawn the enemy, and succeeded in driving him back and reoccupying his former position. A spirited contest was maintained all the morning along this part of the line. General Geary, re-enforced by Wheaton's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, maintained his position, and inflicted severe losses on the enemy.
From this statement it would appear that Geary's division marched to the support of your left; that Williams' division did not; that his (Williams') division, or a portion of it, was guarding the intrenchments when the enemy gained possession; that General Geary returned, and with his division drove the enemy back; that the engagement on the following morning was fought by Geary's division, assisted by Wheaton's brigade. This I know is the inference drawn from your history of those operations by every person unacquainted with the truth. Yet the facts in the case are very nearly the reverse of the above in every particular, and directly in contradiction to the facts as set forth in the report of General Geary, as well as that of General Williams. Geary's division did not march even in the direction of your left. Two of his brigades, under his immediate command, left the intrenchments under orders to move to the support of your left, but through some unfortunate mistake he took the road leading to Two Taverns. Williams' entire division did move to the support of your left, and it was one of his brigades (Lockwood's), under his immediate command, which you commend, but very singularly accredit to the First Corps.
Greene's brigade, of the Second Division, remained in the intrenchments, and the failure of the enemy to gain entire possession of our works was due entirely to the skill of General Greene and the heroic valor of his troops. His brigade suffered severely, but maintained its position, and held the enemy in check until the return of Williams' division. The" spirited contest maintained by General Geary, re-enforced by Wheaton's brigade," was a contest for regaining the portion of our intrenchments held by the enemy, and was conducted under the immediate command of General Williams, and was participated in by the entire Twelfth Corps, re-enforced not by Wheaton's but by Shaler's brigade.
Although the command of the Twelfth Corps was given temporarily to General Williams by, your order, and although you directed him to meet at the council with other corps commanders, you fail to mention his name in your entire report, and in no place allude to his having any such command, or to the fact that more than one corps was at any time placed under my command-, although at no time after you assumed command of the army until the close of this battle was I in command of less than two corps. I have now in my possession your written orders, dated July 2, directing me to assume command of the Sixth Corps, and, with that corps and the two then under my command (the Fifth and Twelfth), to move forward and at once attack the enemy.
I allude to this fact for the purpose of refreshing your memory on a subject which you had apparently entirely forgotten when you penned your report, for you have not failed to notice the fact of General Schurz and others having held, even for a few hours, commands above that previously held by them. I sincerely trust that you will endeavor to correct as far as possible the errors above mentioned, and that the correction may be recorded at the War Department.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. SLOCUM,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, TWELFTH CORPS,
Tullahoma, Tenn., December 26, 1863.
Maj. Gen. H. W. SLOCUM,
Commanding Twelfth Army Corps:
GENERAL: In forwarding the report of Brigadier-General Ruger, commanding First Division, Twelfth Army Corps, at the battle of Gettysburg, delayed to this late day for reasons stated in the letter accompanying the report, I embrace the occasion to call your attention to certain errors and omissions in Major-General Meade's official report of that battle, which I think do much injustice to some portions of this corps. These, briefly stated, are:
1. In crediting Lockwood's brigade to the First Corps.
2. In omitting all notice of the gallant defense by Greene's brigade of the left flank of our intrenched line on the evening of July 2, after the other troops of the corps had marched out to the support of the left.
3. In wholly ignoring the operations of the First Division.
4. In repudiating most of the material statements of my report as temporary commander of this corps.
1. As to Lockwood's brigade, the following is the notice taken of it in General Meade's report:
In the meantime, perceiving great exertions on the part of the enemy, the Sixth Corps (Major-General Sedgwick) and part of the First Corps (to the command of which I had assigned Major-General Newton), particularly Lockwood's Maryland brigade, together with detachments from the Second Corps, were all brought up, &c.
I cannot be mistaken in asserting that Lockwood's brigade was at no time during this battle a part of the First Corps, or under the command of General Newton. It was a part of the Twelfth Corps, and was brought up under my immediate command, with the First Division of same corps, to the support of the left. This brigade, composed then of the One hundred and fiftieth New York and First Maryland Potomac Home [Brigade] Regiment, coming from Baltimore, or its vicinity, reported to me as temporary commander of the corps early on the morning of July 2, while the skirmishers of the First Division, still on the south side of Rock Creek, were engaged with the enemy. General Lockwood being senior to General Ruger, then commanding First Division, and a stranger to the division, I directed him to take his orders directly from me as an unassigned brigade during the pending operations. When the First Division and Lockwood's brigade were ordered to support the left on the afternoon of the same day, I went in command of the supporting column, leaving the Second Division to cover our entire intrenched line.
On reaching the crest of Cemetery Ridge, Major (now, I believe, Lieutenant-Colonel) McGilvery, of Maine artillery, in command of one or more reserve batteries, reported to me that he was threatened by the enemy, and was without infantry supports, and that the enemy but a few moments before had drawn off into the woods in his front several pieces of artillery. I ordered General Lockwood to move into the woods indicated, which was promptly done, and our artillery, abandoned by the enemy, was almost immediately recaptured. The First Division at the same time was ordered into the woods on the left of Lockwood's brigade, and both advanced for some distance and until halted, pursuant to superior orders, meeting very little resistance at any point from the retiring enemy. Though we passed large masses of our disorganized men, we saw not one line or body of our troops in position. The enemy seemed to have a clear field in that part of our line, and were helping themselves to our artillery until interrupted by the approach of re-enforcements from the Twelfth and Sixth Corps, advancing at about the same time. These facts having been fully reported, I am at a loss to comprehend (when all other corps sending supports to the left are especially named) why the Twelfth Corps should be not only not named, but deprived of the small credit of Lockwood's Maryland brigade for the benefit of the First Corps.
2. In omitting any mention of the gallant defense made by General Greene's brigade on the left flank of the intrenched line of the Twelfth Corps on the evening of July 2.
General Meade's report thus speaks of the manner in which the enemy got possession of our line of breastworks:
During the heavy assault upon our extreme left, portions of the Twelfth Corps were sent as re-enforcements. During their absence, the line of the extreme right was held by a much reduced force, and was taken advantage of by the enemy, who, during the absence of Geary's division, of the Twelfth Corps, advanced and occupied a part of the line.
It was the absence of the whole of the First Division and of Lockwood's brigade (supporting the left) and of two brigades of the Second (Geary's) Division (marching toward Littlestown by mistake) that the enemy took advantage of, not only to occupy our line on the right and center, but also to attack with great vigor Greene's brigade, of the Second Division (the only portion of the corps left behind), on the extreme left of our intrenched line. General Meade omits all mention of this gallant contest, which lasted fully three hours, and resulted in our retaining this important part of our line of defenses, and enabling us to resist for hours, with comparatively little loss, his heavier attacks on the following day, and finally to expel him wholly from our line.
General Meade speaks of another attack in a different part of the field at about the same hour, as follows:
On the extreme left another assault was, however, made about 8 p.m. on the Eleventh Corps from the left of the town, which was repulsed with the assistance of the Second and First Corps.
The similarity of time and circumstances leads me to think that there is a mistake in locality of this attack. It is quite certain that Greene was attacked and was re-enforced by the First and Eleventh Corps about the same hour that the report says that the attack on the Eleventh Corps was repulsed by aid of troops from the First and Second Corps. Be that as it may, the defense made by General Greene was eminently worthy of notice and commendation.
3. In wholly ignoring the operations of the First Division, Twelfth Corps.
The active participation of the Twelfth Corps in the battle of Gettysburg was, first, the marching of the First Division and Lockwood's brigade to the support of the left on Thursday afternoon, July 2; secondly, the defense of the left flank of the intrenched line on the evening of the same day; and, thirdly, the long contest on Friday morning, July 3, to recover possession of our line of breastworks. I have spoken of both operations of Thursday. Of those of Friday morning, General Meade thus speaks in his report:
On the morning of the 3d, General Geary, having returned during the night, was attacked at early dawn by the enemy, but succeeded in driving him back and occupying his former position. A spirited contest was maintained all the morning along this part of the line. General Geary, re-enforced by Wheaton's [A mistake for Shaler's] brigade, Sixth Corps, maintained his position, and inflicting very severe losses on the enemy. With this exception, the lines remained undisturbed, &c.
This is certainly neither a full nor a fair statement of a conflict which was waged almost without cessation for fully seven hours, and in which all the infantry and artillery of the corps were engaged.
The idea conveyed by General Meade's report is a simple defense by one division of the corps. The engagement really began on our side by a heavy cannonading from guns placed in position after midnight. The plan of attack, arranged the night before, to dislodge the enemy from our breastworks, was for Geary's division to follow the cessation of artillery firing by an attack along the intrenchments which he held on our left, while the First Division was placed in preparation to assault over the marshy grounds on the extreme right, or attack the enemy's flank should he attempt to move beyond the breastworks. The enemy, on the other hand, had brought up strong re-enforcements, with the design of carrying the position of our intrenched line, which he failed to drive Greene from on the previous night, and which would have placed him in the rear of our army, and given him possession of our main line of communication--the Baltimore pike. Both parties started at daylight with plans of attack, each with the expectation of expelling the other.
Not only, as General Meade's report says, did Geary's division (or, more correctly, the two absent brigades of it) return during the night, but so also did the whole of the First Division and Lockwood's brigade, and the whole corps (not Geary's division alone), artillery and infantry, succeeded in driving the enemy back and occupying its former position. It is a noticeable fact, too, that the portion of the corps not mentioned by General Meade lost more in killed and wounded in this contest, from its exposed line of attack, and, I think, captured more prisoners, than did the division which gets the entire credit in General Meade's report. The commendation given to Geary's division was justly merited, but the same praise might safely have been extended so as to have embraced the conduct of the whole corps, without doing injustice or giving offense to any portion of it. The entire omission of the First Division is so marked, and the report of the contest on Friday morning so meager, and so at variance with official statements of the superior officers of the corps, that I am at a loss to conceive from what source General Meade derived his information. Not, I know, from my report as temporary commander of the corps, and not, I think, from yours as commander of the troops of the right wing.
4. The fourth item of omissions stated at the commencement of this communication is sufficiently shown in the comments already made.
General Meade either has not seen my report, or he has intentionally repudiated all its material statements as to the operations of the Twelfth Corps at Gettysburg. No commanding general can verify by personal knowledge all the occurrences in his own command in a great battle; but so confident am I of the truth of every material statement of my report in this instance, that I could confidently submit its correctness to a decision on proofs in any respectable court of justice.
There is another omission which, in connection with those I have named, has a significant bearing.
General Meade carefully names all general officers temporarily in command of corps. Major-General Schurz, in command of Eleventh Corps for six hours, from 10.30 a.m. of July 1 (when General Howard assumed command of the field)to 4 p.m. of same day (when General Howard was relieved by the arrival of General Hancock), is properly reported as such. So are Major-General Birney, Third Corps, and Brigadier-General Gibbon, Second Corps (Major-General Hancock commanding left center), named as temporarily commanding corps on different days.
I was in command of the Twelfth Corps part of July 1 and all of July 2 and 3, and on the evening of the 2d (Thursday) attended a council of corps commanders on a summons conveyed to me by a staff officer of General Meade. I may be pardoned, therefore, for expressing some surprise that my name alone of all those who temporarily commanded corps in this great battle is suppressed in General Meade's report. I know General Meade to be a high-toned gentleman, and I believe him to be a commander of superior merit and of honest judgment, and I confess to have read that part of his official report relating to the Twelfth Corps with a mixed feeling of astonishment and regret.
I submit these comments to you as the commander of the Twelfth Corps, not in the expectation that any adequate remedy can now be applied after the official report of the commanding general has become an historical record, but because I deem a statement of the facts and grievances an act of justice to the corps with which I have been long connected (and which I commanded on the occasion referred to), and especially to the gallant division which I have had the honor to command for nearly two years.I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. S. WILLIAMS,
Brig. Gen. of Vols., Comdg. First Div., Twelfth Army Corps.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, February 25, 1864.
Comdg. Twelfth Corps, Tullahoma, Tenn.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 30th of December last was received at these headquarters during my temporary absence from the army, which, owing to sickness, was prolonged till recently. This will be excuse for the delay in acknowledging it.
I very much regret that any injustice should have been done in my official report of the battle of Gettysburg to any part of the Twelfth Corps or any officer in it. I do assure you most sincerely that nothing was further from my intentions, and that what has occurred was the result of accident and not of design, the occurrence of which I will endeavor to explain. To do this, I will take up each of your points seriatim:
1. Crediting Lockwood's brigade to the First Corps.
This I acknowledge a palpable error, which I am utterly unable to account for, unless it is that Major-General Newton, in his report of the operations of the First Corps, makes marked mention of the arrival and services of Lockwood's brigade--and this being in my mind at the time of writing, induced the error.
2. The omission to mention the services of Greene's brigade on the afternoon of the 2d July.
I am not prepared to admit this as an error. My report, as is fully stated at the close, only pretends to be a general statement of the battle. It was impossible for me to recapitulate and do justice to each brigade and division in detail, and hence I refer to the sub-reports. I am willing to admit that, if my attention had been called to the services of Greene's brigade in the pointed manner it now is, I would have given it credit for this special service. I wrote my report very hurriedly, having been delayed by the failure of corps commanders to send in their reports. The great number of these sub-reports rendered it out of the question for me to read and study all of them. I therefore confined myself exclusively to the reports of corps commanders, and I think in this I was misled by considering you the commander of the Twelfth Corps, not knowing that you had considered yourself by my orders relieved from that command and that General Williams commanded it throughout the battle. This brings me to--
3. The omission to mention General Williams as corps commander.
This I very much regret, particularly on account of the good opinion I have always entertained for that officer, and the personal regard from long acquaintance which rendered him the last man in the army I would intentionally wrong. But, to tell you the truth, I was not aware, or at least it did not occur to me at the time of writing my report, that he was in command, and this arose possibly from the fact that I did not expect or design him to be so. I remember perfectly well that the Fifth Corps, early on the morning of the 2d, was placed under your command. I also remember that before the Sixth Corps had actually arrived, I proposed on its arrival to make an attack with your corps, the Fifth, and Sixth; but inasmuch as both these corps were removed to another part of the field early in the afternoon, and never returned, I presumed you would understand your command over them was only temporary, and ceased with their removal. I remember perfectly well General Williams being present at the consultation held on the night of the 2d, but I do not remember having sent for him individually, though I of course sent for corps commanders, and I also remember being puzzled to account for his presence, and refraining from courtesy to him from asking any explanation, this arising, as I said before, from the impression on my mind that you were in command of your own corps on the removal of the Fifth and Sixth. I cannot say anything more beyond the fact that General Williams' commanding the corps was not impressed on my mind either on the field or when reading your report; hence the failure to read his report and the omission to mention his name.
4. The failure to make special mention of the First Division on the afternoon of the 2d and on the 3d.
This is again an omission which I am not prepared to acknowledge, either as an error or an act of injustice. There is no corps in the army which would not have equal cause of complaint, as it was out of my power, as I stated before, to make mention of the special services of each division, brigade, and regiment. I do not agree with you that the inference can be drawn from my report that Geary's division alone went to the left on the 2d, and alone repulsed the enemy on the 3d, though I am willing to admit that marked prominence is given to the part that division took on the 3d, and that I was under the impression the main attack of that day was on Geary. Moreover, if you remember, at the time, from a report made to me by General Wadsworth, I was led to believe General Geary was unnecessarily expending ammunition, and notified you of this. Afterward, I was satisfied of the reverse, and, perhaps, the fear of doing injustice, this impression having existed, induced me to dwell more on Geary than I should otherwise have done. But I remember your dispatch in the night of the 2d stated that part of Geary's vacated rifle-pits were occupied by the enemy, and you asked for authority for Geary to attack with artillery and infantry at daylight, which I gave you.
5. The error in the case of Shaler was due to General Sedgwick's report, which he acknowledged as soon as my report appeared in print.
I have now, general, endeavored to explain the errors and omissions charged, or, rather, to show how they occurred. As you say, it will be difficult to repair them. I will, however, immediately forward to the General-in-Chief the sub-reports of General Ruger, and accompany it with a letter, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, and which I trust will meet with your approval.
GEO. G. MEADE,
Major-General, Commanding Army of the Potomac.
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