Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 1863 (Tuesday): Failed In Executing Orders

General Daniel Butterfield

IN THE FIELD, May 5, 1863 - 11 a. m.
(Received May 6.)
President of the United States:
    General Hooker is not at this moment able, from pressing duties, to write of the condition of affairs. He deems it his duty that you should be fully and correctly revised. He has intrusted it to me. These are my words, not his.
     Of his plans you were fully aware. The cavalry, as yet learned, have failed in executing their orders. Averell's division returned; nothing done; less 2 or 3 men. Buford's Regulars not heard from. general Sedgwick failed in the executing of his orders, and was compelled to retire and crossed, the river at Banks' Ford last night; his losses not known.
    The First, Third, Fifth, Eleventh, Twelfth, and two divisions of second Corps are now on scout bank of Rappahannock, entrenched between Hunting Run and Scott's Dam. Trains and Artillery Reserve on north bank of Rappahannock. Position is strong, but circumstances, which in time will be fully explained, make it expedient, in the general's judgment, that he should retire from this position to the north bank of the Rappahannock for his defensible position. Among these is danger to his communication by possibility of enemy crossing river on our right flank and imperiling this army, with present departure of two-years' and three-months' [nine-months'] troops constantly weakening him. The nature of the country in which we are prevents moving in such a way as to find or judge position or movements of enemy. He may cross to night, but hopes to be attacked in this position.

       Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 421-422.

Lincoln must have wearied of these post battle telegrams.  His general of the hour explaining how things were not the disaster they seemed and how, absent unexpected circumstances, the original plan would have produced results.  Here Butterfield blames the cavalry and Sedgwick for the recent turn of events.  Oddly, Hooker from start to finish insisted he wanted to be attacked in whatever position he held. 

No comments:

Post a Comment