Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 216
James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
Page 216
warning to Howard, 1 and a little later a joint despatch to Howard and Slocum (the commander of the Twelfth Corps), suggesting that they be prepared for a flank attack, as “We have good reason to suppose that the enemy is moving to our right.” 2 Additional reports of the Confederate movement continued to be received. “This continuous column—infantry, artillery, trains and ambulances—was observed for three hours moving apparently in a southerly direction,” wrote Sickles in his report. Acting on information to this effect, Hooker ordered Sickles to harass the movement. Sometime after noon the impression gained ground in the army that the Confederates were in full retreat and Hooker, vacillating as ever and ignoring the importance, if he were to act on the defensive, of being defended at all points, finally adopted this hopeful view, sending at 4:10 P.M. this despatch to Sedgwick: “We know that the enemy is fleeing, trying to save his trains. Two of Sickles’ divisions are among them.”  57
  An able and vigilant corps commander could have done much to repair this error of his chief, but Howard was no less infatuated than Hooker. Schurz, the general of a division in his corps, plainly observed large columns of the enemy moving from east to west two miles or more away and urged Howard to make arrangements to repel a flank attack. “Our right wing stood completely in the air with nothing to lean upon,” he wrote in his report of May 12. “Our rear was at the mercy of the enemy.” He suggested a certain disposition of the force, “if it was really the intention that we should act on the defensive and cover the right and rear of the whole army. As we were actually situated, an attack from the West and Northwest could not be resisted for any length of time without a complete change of
Note 1. J. Bigelow Jr., 276. [back]
Note 2. O. R., XXV, Pt. 2,360. [back]


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