As we know Hancock’s attack struck the Confederate lines at approximately 5:00 am. As they approached General Walker ordered the two guns of Carrington’s battery in the main works be trained as far to the right as possible and fired at the approaching column. After a few rounds he told the crews to stop that “you can’t hit the yankees that way”. (19) Thereafter the guns were not able to take part as the Federals swept up the works. General Walker approached Captain Carrington and asked whether he could not do something to help his men. Of course they could not because the retiring defenders were between them and the Federals. Finally the guns of both batteries were abandoned and the gunners made their escape a best they could. Some men from Carrington’s battery did escape . Tanner’s battery however lost virtually all its men. All 8 of the guns were lost and removed from the field by the field. Colonel Robert McAllister, of Mott’s division, claiming that his brigade captured an 8 gun battery and removed the guns across the works. (20)
While there is no way of ever knowing it is interesting to speculate about the events of that evening. What would have happened if the Confederates had manhandled Carrington’s guns to the proposed position? What effect would 4 Napoleon cannon firing at Barlow’s right center have had? Could they have halted the attack? In this writers opinion its not likely. But would they have disrupted the attack enough to slow it down even slightly? Remember that historically Captain Willie Carter had two of his guns in position and fired one round each. Each 30 seconds they would have fired again, and possibly more guns would have been in position. Each additional gun would have increased the defenders chances. But we will never have an answer to that question.
Robert Rodes meanwhile was not waiting for horses to be returned. He personally ordered Captain Asher Garber to extricate his guns from their pits along the line and have them manhandled into position along the re-entrant line. There they were joined by the Louisianians of Hayes Brigade and the Carolinian’s of Daniels Brigade. Together these men were able to stop the Federals from rolling up the Confederate line. Rodes then sent other brigades from his left as well as Jones’s 2nd Company of the Richmond Howitzers to extend the line.
The rest of the day was one long slugfest with both sides showing incredible bravery and determination. One of the most dramatic battles of the American Civil War.
But one where we, from the comfort of our armchair, can say “if only”.