“Dont move until the infantry does”

Later that evening reports began to come back from the skirmish lines of both Rodes and Johnson’s divisions. These reports told of suspicious noises that indicated a large body of troops was moving towards the Confederate right. What was not clear from the noise was whether these were sounds of troops withdrawing or troops being assembled to launch an attack. Prudence however required that all units be alerted and the artillery returned to its positions. General Johnson therefore sent two couriers to General’s Ewell and Long laying out his suspicions and requesting  that the artillery be returned to its positions.


Artillery of Cutshaw’s battalion available along the line of Johnson’s division 4:30 AM 5/12/1864 as well as proposed positions.

Having alerted his superiors General Johnson took steps to ensure that his own units were alerted and ready to repel an attack if it came. A circular was prepared and sent to the brigade commanders alerting them to the danger. General Johnson himself “trooped the line” (15) making sure that all was in order. Passing back by the position of Carrington’s battery the Captain offers a suggestion. (16) “reminding him of the ravine I have attempted to describe, that I thought either my own or Tanner’s battery could be of more service if we were allowed to move to the position from which Captain Massies battery of Nelson’s battalion had been taken.” (17) After some hesitation General Johnson agrees and tells the Captain that he will “communicate with General Ewell, Long, or Colonel Cutshaw, (18) I don’t remember which, and would have my horses sent for the proposed change”. The General then left and presumably returned to the McCoull House.


looking out from the works from a point near where Carrington wanted either his or Tanner’s guns relocated to. The Federal attack would have come from the upper right and filled almost the entire field.

About a half hour later the General sent Captain Carrington word that he would have to stay where he was that he had received a message that other guns would be up in time to take the position that he had agreed his battery should be changed. So evidently there was no further thought of relocating the guns to assist the defense further to the right where Nelson’s battalion had been. And evidently no sense of urgency to attempt to move them by hand the approximately two hundred yards to Nelson’s former positions. Guns were often used for short distances using the prolongues which each gun should have had. And there was certainly an abundance of manpower available if needed. But perhaps in this case there were too many obstructions in the way. Whatever the reason the guns remained in their positions, well sited to repel an attack to their left. But not intended to oppose an attack on their right.


About Russ

Avid student of military history as well as amateur historian. Has a keen interest in archaeology. Founded his company Roadraceparts.com in 2004.
This entry was posted in 1864, American Civil War, artillery in the Overland Campaign, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Battle of the Muleshoe, Bloody Angle, Carrington's Battery, Cutshaw's Battalion, Doles Salient, Earthworks and trenchs, field fortifications, Hancock's assault on the Muleshoe, Johnson's Division, May 12, Mule Shoe, Overland Campaign 1864, Richmond Howitzers, Tanner's Battery, West Angle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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