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as well as to the country. The Lieutenant-General had been in contact with the ablest Confederate leader, and had not been sent back across the Rapidan, but was yet squarely before him, a match for him in daring and speed of execution, a foil upon his wisest strategy, an equally daring, speedy and original propounder of counter tactics. The movement across the Rapidan had brought Lee out of his works with his entire strength and rendered them useless, had forced him into new positions, had reduced his advantages to a minimum. And then when he attempted to strike Grant's flank by rushing Ewell along the Orange pike, he was anticipated and checked. He was equally foiled when he attempted to push Hill by way of the Orange plank road on to what was supposed to be an undefended and open Federal left. Every gap had been filled in time, and every flank had been converted into a serried front. But there was one advantage yet with the Confederates; they knew this terrible fighting ground.
What of the morrow--the 6th ? Grant and Meade came together after nightfall. Both were well aware that the battle had only begun. Word came in that Longstreet was making forced marches along the Orange plank road to support Hill. It was therefore Lee's intention to overwhelm the Federal left and turn the army in a disorganized mass back upon the Rapidan. But Burnside too was coming up to the Federal support with the fresh Ninth Corps. It was even now coming. By morning it would be nearly all there, or ought to be. As fast as it came it was thrown into position between Warren's left and Wadsworth's right, so as to pierce the Confederate centre at a time when it was thought it would be weakened to support Hill, or perhaps to prevent his being reinforced. Getty was to remain with the Second Corps while Hancock attacked with his entire line, Wadsworth was to attack Hill's leit, Warren and Sedgwick were to engage along their entire front, to prevent reinforcements being sent to Hill. It made all the
difference in the world who attacked first. At least this was Grant's theory. His tactics had ever been to make his moves a counter to the enemy's designs. Persuaded beyond all peradventure of Lee's intent to make a morning onset upon Hancock and the left, he would anticipate it by an onset upon Hill and the Confederate right. He would make it early, first. The order therefore was to attack at half past four. It began at five.
But Longstreet was not yet quite in position. In order to disguise this fact Lee ordered Ewell to attack the Federal right at an hour quite as early. Wright's division of the Sixth Corps withstood him. The battle swept rapidly along Sedgwick's lines to Warren's. The Federals gained ground, and Sedgwick's whole corps advanced some two hundred yards where it encountered the enemy behind a line of temporary breastworks thrown up the night before. This checked further advance, but the battle was kept up throughout the day on this part of the lines, amid all the uncertainties of a veiled situation.
Off to the left things were more desperate. Hancock had moved with precision along both sides of the Orange plank road. He was not in such force as he expected to be, for it had been found that Longstreet had turned off the Orange plank road and was coming on the Catharpen road, further south, and almost directly on his flank. Barlow's division and all the artillery were detached to stop this and protect the defences on the Brock road. Still Hancock moved promptly with his remaining force, and Getty's division first struck Hill's columns directly. After a fierce and general encounter the Confederates were driven back toward Parker's Store, in great confusion. Many prisoners and flags were captured, and the enemy's dead strewed the ground. Hancock halted to reform his troops, disordered by the pursuit through the pines and scrub-oaks. This halt unfortunately gave Longstrect time to swing back to Hill's aid.
The most anxious moments of the day were now on. Sedgwick
on the right was holding tenaciously. Warren in the centre had been involved and one of his brigades had given way, but the disaster had been quickly repaired. Burnside was coming tardily up with his corps, so that the gap between the Second and Fifth, Hancock's and Warren's, was not, as yet, strongly bridged. Stuart's cavalry was in hot action with Sheridan, off to the extreme left at Todd's Tavern, which fact served to keep up the impression in Hancock's mind that a part of Longstreet's force was still bent on attacking his flank from the Catharpen road. Grant and Meade were intent on studying the situation, the former unmoved, but supreme in intuitional perception and decisive action.
If only Burnside would crowd that centre and make it strong for aggressive purposes the day might end gloriously, for Lee's centre must now be weak, since everything was turned to Hill's account. It was not to be so. Longstreet was now up and on Hill's right. He moved directly on Hancock's left front. When that officer perceived this he ordered Gibbon to bring in his left, which extended back to the Brock road, and come to his support. But too much time had been lost by the halt. Longstrect's attack was furious and persistent, or rather the attack of Hill reinforced by Longstreet. Mott's division to the left caught its full force and fury, then Getty's, and so the entire line of the Second Corps, including Wadsworth's division of Warren's Sixth Corps. For hours it was a determined and bloody struggle, the Federals slowly and stubbornly receding. Little by little, step by step, they lost the ground gained in the morning, and found themselves back on the line of the Brock road, which, as has been seen, Hancock had happily fortified with temporary breastworks. During this contest Wadsworth was killed and Longstreet badly wounded. Lee took Longstreet's place in person and, consolidating his forces, again hurled them with reckless impetuosity against Hancock. The woods in front were on fire, through which, and the dense
smoke, the Confederates pushed, resolved to capture the Brock road defences. They broke them in one or two places held
tered forces and checking further Confederate advance. Carroll's brigade dashed in from a reserve position, swept the enemy from the breastworks, and inspired fresh confidence in the Federals. Still the front was uncertain by reason of undergrowth and smoke, to which approaching darkness added gloom. Hancock therefore ordered Leasure's brigade of the Ninth Corps, then temporarily under him, to sweep the entire front. This he did with great spirit and success, marching along the entire front, at a distance of one hundred paces from the Federal breastworks, till he crossed the Orange plank road.
Hancock's front was now clear. Yet the long, anxious day's work was not done. It will be remembered that as Burnside crossed the Rapidan he would naturally fill the space between Sedgwick's right and the river. But the order for him to march up and take position in the centre, between Warren and Hancock, left Sedgwick's right in the air. To be sure Grant had ordered him to fortify it so as to make it strong But just before sunset Ewell centered upon its extremity and made a bold push to turn it. The fighting was desperate for nearly an hour. Seymour's and Shaler's brigades were thrown into confusion and both generals captured with a large number of prisoners. For a few moments it looked as if Sedgwick could not save his corps. But he lost no time in throwing his imperilled right back and re-establishing his line so that it stopped the fury of the onset. This ends the events of the 6th in the deep mazes of the Wilderness, if we except the fact that Sheridan, after a sharp engagement with Stuart, off in the direction of Todd's Store, had been ordered not to risk too much, but rather to hold well to Chancellorsville in order to keep the trains and supplies in the rear well covered; and the further fact that during the day Grant had ordered the destruction of all the bridges across the Rapidan except that at Germanna ford. The army had come south of the river to stay. Knowledge of a safe bridge in the rear is an