Battle near Spotsylvania Courthouse. 323
matured plan, settled upon by Generals Grant and Meade, and at- tempted in execution in a determined manner to carry the Confed- erate works on Ewell's front, the following quotations from the published official records fully establish:
Major-General Humphrey's, Chief of Staff to General Meade, page of his book, says:
"It had been suggested by Major-General Wright, and also by myself, that, after the lapse of a few days, a return by night to the enemy's left, which would probably be abandoned, or very much weakened by our concentration on his right, might afford a good opportunity to attack there. General Wright's suggestion was for his corps only to undertake it; but it was concluded to send both the Second and Sixth Corps, and on the iyth Generals Hancock and Wright were ordered to move their troops in the night to the works captured on the i2th, and attack the enemy's new intrench- ments there at daylight on the i8th, the Sixth Corps on the right of the Second. General Burnside was directed to attack in con- junction with them, and General Warren to open his artillery at the same time and be prepared for the offensive. The Second Corps, being nearest to the point of attack, led, the Sixth Corps follow- ing. The troops were in the position designated before daylight, and at 4 A. M. Gibbon and Barlow moved forward to assault, their troops in lines of brigades. Birney and Tyler were held in re- serve. The artillery was posted in the first line of works at the apex of the salient, firing over the troops. The Sixth Corps ad- vanced on the right of the Second. But the enemy was on the alert, and the new intrenchments across the base of the Salient were of the most formidable character, being concealed on their right by woods, and having on that part of their front a heavy slashing, and on their left front, which was in the open ground of the Har- rison farm, lines of abatis. As the troops approached, they were met with a heavy musketry and artillery fire which completely swept the ground in front; but, notwithstanding, they passed for- ward to the slashing and abatis, and made several gallant attempts to carry the enemy's lines, but without success.
"Upon its being reported to General Meade that there was but little probability of the enemy's lines being carried, he directed the attack to be discontinued, and the troops were accordingly with- drawn.
"General Burnside made the attack directed on the morning of