MILITARY REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR
BY JACOB DOLSON COX, A.M., LL.D.
Formerly Major-General commanding Twenty-Third Army Corps_
NOVEMBER 1863-JUNE 1865
NASHVILLE-HOOD'S ARMY ROUTED
Defensive works of Nashville--Hood's lines--The ice blockade--Halleck on remounts for cavalry--Pressing horses and its abuse--The cavalry problem--Changes in organization--Assignment of General Couch--Confederate cavalry at Nashville--Counter-movements of our own--Detailed movements of our right--Difference of recollection between Schofield and Wilson--The field dispatches--Carrying Hood's works--Confederate rout.
At Nashville, when we reached there on the 1st of December, after the battle of Franklin, we were left for a couple of days in bivouac. The city had been covered by a line of interior earthworks, suitable for a moderate garrison, with strong forts on commanding hills. The Cumberland River, in its general course from east to west, partially encloses the town on north and west by one of its bends, and the Chattanooga Railroad runs out of the place not far from the river, passing under St. Cloud Hill, on which was Fort Negley, one of the strongest of the defensive works. Southwest of this, about eight hundred yards, was the Casino block-house on a still higher eminence, and some five hundred yards northwest of the Casino was Fort Morton, on a summit connected with the other. My division was assigned to the line including these forts, which formed the strong southern salient of the original city defences. Other troops of our corps continued the line on my left to the river, and Steedman's division was placed in advance of the left, along Brown's Creek, which was crossed by the Murfreesborough turnpike. From Fort Morton the original works continued northwestwardly, skirting the city to the Hyde's Ferry turnpike. [Footnote: Official Atlas, pl. lxxiii.] But the army now collected needed more room, and instead of turning back at the Casino the line was continued southwest till it reached a prominent hill near the Hillsborough turnpike. There it turned to the northwest, following a succession of hilltops to the river, enclosing the whole of the bend in which the city was. The Fourth Corps occupied the part of the line next to us on the right, and General A. J. Smith's detachment of the Army of the Tennessee was on the right of all. Until the eve of the battle of Nashville the cavalry were concentrated at Edgefield, on the north side of the Cumberland.
Hood had followed us up promptly from Franklin, and established his lines nearly parallel to ours on our centre and left, though they were shorter in extent, and a wide space near the river on our right was only occupied by his cavalry. In my own immediate front, looking down from the Casino block-house, were the Nolensville and Franklin turnpikes with the Alabama Railroad, along which we had retreated. Near my right was the Middle Franklin turnpike, which goes southward, a mile or two distant from the main road, into which it comes again below Brentwood. It is known locally as the Granny White pike. My headquarters were in rear of Fort Morton, at the dwelling of Mrs. Bilbo, a large house with a pillared portico the full height of the front. We had two rooms in the house for our clerical work, and pitched our tents in the dooryard. A short walk along the ridge led to the Casino, from which was a fine outlook southward and eastward.
During the time of the ice blockade from the 9th of December to the 13th, the slopes in front of the lines were a continuous glare of ice, so that movements away from the roads and broken paths could be made only with the greatest difficulty and at a snail's pace. Men and horses were seen falling whenever they attempted to move across country. A man slipping on the hillside had no choice but to sit down and slide to the bottom, and groups of men in the forts and lines found constant entertainment in watching these mishaps. There had been a mingling of snow and sleet with the rain which began on the 8th, and this compacted into a solid ice sheet. On a level country it would have caused much less trouble, but on the hills and rolling country about Nashville manoeuvres were out of the question for nearly a week.
The dissatisfaction of
General Grant with the delay in taking the aggressive had begun with the withdrawal from Franklin on the 1st. Objections to waiting for new supplies of cavalry horses were not peculiar to this campaign. The waste of animals had been a constant source of complaint through the whole war. On the 5th
Halleck made a report to Grant that 22,000 new cavalry horses had been issued at the posts where
Thomas's forces were equipping, since September 20th. This was exclusive of those used in Kentucky or sent to Sherman. "If this number," he said, "without any campaign is already reduced to 10,000 mounted men, as reported by General Wilson, it may be safely assumed that the cavalry of that army will never be mounted, for the destruction of horses in the last two months has there alone been equal to the remounts obtained from the entire west." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 55.] It was on this report that
Stanton's famous dispatch was based, "If he waits for Wilson to get ready, Gabriel will be blowing his last horn." [Footnote: _Id_., p. 84.]
Halleck repeated the same in substance to Thomas, adding, "Moreover, you will soon be in the same condition that Rosecrans was last year,--with so many animals that you cannot feed them. Reports already come in of a scarcity of forage." [Footnote: _Id_., p. 114.] Yet, to remove as far as possible the causes of delay, Grant directed mounted men from Missouri to be sent to Nashville, [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 130.] and even the "pressing" of horses in Kentucky was permitted, sure as it was to be abused in practice. This soon brought protests from the leading loyal men of
Louisville. Mr. Speed (U. S. Attorney-General) and Mr. Ballard (afterward Judge of the U. S. Courts) telegraphed Mr. Stanton, "Loaded country wagons with produce for market are left in the road; milk-carts, drays, and butchers' wagons are left in the street--their horses seized." [Footnote: _Id_., p. 139.] Indeed, from the very beginning of the war, the cavalry problem had been an insoluble one. Raw recruits could not be made to take proper care of horses, to groom them, to ride them with judgment, or to save their strength. We campaigned in regions where forage was scarce and where it could not be brought up from the rear. A big cavalry force would starve when not moving, yet exaggerated reports of the enemy's mounted troops made a constant clamor for more. [Footnote: An interesting contribution to the practical discussion of the subject is found in Sherman's letter to General Meigs, Quartermaster-General from
Savannah, December 25th, ending with, "If my cavalry cannot remount itself in the country, it may go afoot." (Official Records, vol. xliv. p. 807.) For the discussion of it in Rosecrans's campaign of '63, see _ante_, chap, xxiii. See also Official Records, vol. xxiii. pt. ii. pp. 300, 320.] The attempts to use them in large bodies were rarely successful, and the more modest duties of outpost and patrol in connection with the infantry columns were distasteful. All this knowledge, combined with the special causes of impatience now existing, gave to
Grant's dispatches a more and more urgent tone, leading up to the "Delay no longer" of the 11th. [Footnote: _Id_., vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 70, 97, 143.] To judge fairly the attitude of both Grant and Thomas, this must not be overlooked, whilst we must also remember that the new element of the icy covering of the earth in the immediate vicinity of Nashville was so exceptional that it was not appreciated or fully understood at the East.
The halt at Nashville was the occasion for some temporary changes in the organization of my division. Colonel Henderson had not fully recovered from the ill-health which had interrupted the command of his brigade, and having obtained a leave of absence to go home for a few weeks, the command of this brigade remained with Colonel Stiles. General Reilly also found the need of recuperation and was granted a short leave. It happened that Colonel Doolittle, who had distinguished himself in command of the post at Decatur, had got back from a short absence, and reached Nashville after communications with Murfreesborough were interrupted. Not being able to join his proper command, I was glad to make arrangements to give him temporary service with me and to renew the pleasant acquaintance made on our journey from Georgia. He acted as chief of staff for a few days till Reilly left, and I then assigned him to command Reilly's brigade, where there was no officer of sufficient experience. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 86, 187.]
Another change which occurred was among the general officers, and strongly illustrated the chafing likely to arise under such circumstances. In pursuance of a policy before mentioned, the War Department was bringing pressure to bear upon officers to make them accept any active service suitable to their rank, or resign and leave room for promotions for others, since Congress refused to enlarge the number of general officers. Major-General Darius N. Couch had been, during the war, hitherto connected with the
Army of the Potomac, but had drifted out of active service and was "waiting orders." Grant had suggested that he be sent to command the district of Kentucky, relieving Burbridge, whose administration was not satisfactory to the General-in-Chief. [Footnote: _Id._, pp. 16,28.] But political influences at Washington did not favor this change, and Couch was ordered to report to General Thomas for duty, and by him was sent to the Fourth Corps to report to General Stanley. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 58.] The latter was just going on "sick leave" on account of his wound received at Franklin, and without being assigned to any division, Couch, by rank, assumed temporary command of the corps in the absence of the regularly assigned commandant. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 72.] The immediate result of this was to supersede Brigadier-General Wood, who had been second in rank in the corps through the year, and was one of the oldest officers in the
Army of the Cumberland. In the rearrangement of divisions when the temporary command would cease, it would displace General Kimball, who was also one of the most experienced brigadiers, and would reduce him to a brigade. The dissatisfaction thus caused in Thomas's own department made him transfer the problem to Schofield and the Army of the Ohio. Thomas proposed to Couch to take a division, therefore, in the Twenty-third Corps. [Footnote: _Ibid_.] Schofield was induced to consent to this, as it was accompanied by an arrangement for the speedy organization of a division of new troops, to which General Ruger could be assigned whilst Couch should take that which Ruger now commanded. When the new scheme was laid before Couch, he replied with dignity that he would readily serve where he was ordered, but could not, of his own election, take a position that would throw him into a lesser command. The formal orders making the changes were then issued. [Footnote: _Id_., pp. 86, 103, 104.] We had two good brigadiers in our corps, who had recently proved their capacity to take the new division,--Reilly, who had been distinguished in the battle of Franklin, and Cooper, who had conducted his brigade by a most perilous and circuitous retreat from Centerville to Nashville; [Footnote: "Battle of Franklin," chap. vii. and p. 206.] but the commissions of these dated only from the taking of Atlanta, and being juniors on the list of general officers, their claims to the larger command were not considered very strong.
My own position was the one most affected by the advent of a senior in rank into the corps. I had been senior of the division commanders in East Tennessee as well as in the Atlanta campaign, and actually in command of the corps in the absence of its regular chief or his assumption of still wider duties. As second in rank, one is necessarily in confidential possession of much knowledge which he would not otherwise have, for the possibility that accidents of the campaign may throw the larger command upon him requires that he should have the means of judgment and action in such an event. He is therefore in much closer relations to his superiors than he would be as division commander merely. Again in marches and in any scattering of forces, as senior, his command will be extended over other portions of the corps in the absence of the commander, and I had not infrequently found myself in command of another division beside my own, either by definite orders or by operation of the articles of war. [Footnote: "Battle of Franklin," pp. 277, 278.] When to this is added such command as fell to me in the October campaign in Georgia, and in the battle of Franklin, which could not have been mine if I had not stood next to Schofield in the corps, it will be seen that for me it was the practical loss of a grade, as it would have been for General Wood in the Fourth Corps if General Couch had remained there. My only purpose in noting these things is to make intelligible the feeling in the army that such transfers are not good administration, except where they are in the nature of promotion for brilliant service. The feeling was also strong that the loss of one's footing in one large army, unless caused by exceptional reasons, fully understood, is a reason against a transfer to another, where, in generous rivalry, all have been striving to merit advanced instead of diminished grades. In justice to General Schofield, however, I must not omit to say that he fully appreciated my situation, and with an earnestness which outran anything I could claim, exerted himself to secure my promotion and to make me eligible to the permanent assignment to the corps' command when his own authority was afterward enlarged. General Couch's position was by no means a desirable one for him; for he could not be ignorant of the sentiment of the army, and he would probably have preferred a division in the Potomac Army to one in ours, for there in spite of a temporary eclipse, he had a fixed and honorable reputation which would justify a reasonable expectation of regaining prominence in it. [Footnote: In the spring of 1863 General Couch was the senior corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, and as such was nominally in command on the field in the battle of Chancellorsville during the temporary disability of
General Hooker. Shortly after that battle he asked to be transferred to some other command, and was assigned to the Department of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, where the duty was merely administrative. In reducing these organizations in the fall of 1864, he became a supernumerary. See Walker's Second Army Corps, pp. 234, 235.]
Without going into a narration of the battle of Nashville, it may be worth while to remark that the publication of the official records increases the importance of the absence of Forrest's cavalry, which gave the opportunity for an almost unopposed advance of Thomas's right in the manoeuvres of the 15th December to turn Hood's flank. We had known that Chalmers, one of Forrest's division commanders, had been sent to cover the four miles of space intervening between the left of the Confederate line and the river. [Footnote: "March to the Sea, Nashville," etc., pp. 107, 114.] Chalmers' report now tells us that he had only Colonel Rucker's brigade with him, the rest of the division having been sent to the other flank. He asserts that, after leaving one regiment on the Granny White turnpike in immediate touch with the infantry line, he had only 900 men left. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 765.] With so small a force he, of course, could hardly do more than observe and report the advance of our three cavalry divisions. Coleman's brigade of infantry which had held the Hillsborough and Hardin turnpikes was recalled to the main line early in the day, [Footnote: Walthall's Report, Official Records, vol. xiv. pt. i p. 722] and as it moved away without his knowledge, Chalmers, on learning it, supposed it was driven back. It left uncovered the cavalry baggage train on the Hardin turnpike, which was captured by part of Colonel Coon's brigade of our horse. [Footnote: Chalmers' Report. _Id_., p. 765; Coon's Report, _Id_., p. 589.] Chalmers then took Rucker's brigade to the Hillsborough turnpike so as to cover more closely the infantry flank, and left only one regiment to delay the advance of our cavalry on the roads nearer the river.
[Illustration: Map: Battle of Nashville.]
During the night of the 15th and the morning of the 16th the movement of Cheatham's corps to Hood's left had been observed by both our infantry and our cavalry. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 217, 224.] As part of these troops had been seen marching northward on the Granny White turnpike, Schofield very naturally took into consideration the probability of their being new reinforcements coming to Hood from the rear. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 214.] The extension of the enemy's fortified line to our right had made it necessary to extend my division in single line without reserves, and even then they were stretched almost to the breaking-point. [Footnote: Cox's Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 407.] Thomas began his inspection of the line at Wood's position on the left in the forenoon, and came westward visiting the commands in turn. [Footnote: Wood's Report, _Id_., p. 131; A. J. Smith's Report, _Id_., p. 435; "Franklin and Nashville," p. 118; Schofield's "Forty-six Years in the Army," p. 246.]
At ten o'clock in the morning Wilson had most of his cavalry "refused, on the right of Schofield, the line extending across and perpendicular to the Hillsborough turnpike." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 220. In the dispatch quoted, the name is given "Murfreesborough" by a manifest clerical error. Schofield's right was near the Hillsborough turnpike, the Murfreesborough turnpike being beyond the other flank of the whole army.] A regiment had been sent to try to reach the Granny White turnpike, but had been driven off and reported
Cheatham's infantry moving to the left upon it. [Footnote: _Id_., p. 224.] Wilson reported this to Schofield, adding, "The country on the left of the Hillsborough pike, toward the enemy's left, is too difficult for cavalry operations. It seems to me if I was on the other flank of the army I might do more to annoy the enemy, unless it is intended that I shall push out as directed last night." [Footnote; _Id_., p. 216. See also Schofield's "Forty-six Years," p. 244.] Schofield acknowledged the receipt of this information at 11.15, and forwarded it to General Thomas. In view of the apparent concentration of the enemy's forces in his front, he advised Wilson, until he should receive other orders from Thomas (who was then on the left with General Wood), to hold his forces "in readiness to support the troops here, in case the enemy makes a heavy attack." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 216. See also Schofield's "Forty-six Years," p. 244.] At half-past one his dispatch to Thomas, from his position on the field close to my own, fixes with clearness the situation at that hour. "Wilson is trying to push in toward the Granny White pike, about a mile south of my right. My skirmishers on the right are supporting him. The skirmishing is pretty heavy. I have not attempted to advance my main line to-day, and do not think I am strong enough to do so. Will you be on this part of the line soon?" [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 215; see also Stiles's Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 431.]
In a letter written in 1882, to assist me when preparing to write my account of the battle of Nashville, [Footnote: "Franklin and Nashville," etc., chap. vi.] General Schofield gave me his recollection of the situation on our right during the morning of the 16th of December. [Footnote: Letter of June 1, 1882.] "I had gone back to Nashville in the night preceding," he said, "to persuade Thomas to order Wilson to remain on my right and take part in the battle the next morning, and A. J. Smith to close up on our left. Thomas had only partially adopted my views, and had not given Wilson any orders to attack. I had waited impatiently all the morning, and until some time after noon for Wilson to get orders from Thomas, or to comply with my request to put his troops in without waiting for orders. Finally, some time after noon, Wilson had consented to go in with his cavalry (I relieving him of all responsibility), and I had directed you, with your reserve brigade, which was not then in contact with the enemy, to support Wilson or join with him in attacking the enemy's flank." When Schofield received the proposal from McArthur through Couch, that an assault should be made on Shy's hill, in the angle of the enemy's line, by one of McArthur's brigades, supported by Couch, he "became impatient," he says, "for Wilson and Stiles [my flank brigade] to get possession of the commanding ground to the enemy's left-rear, so as to prepare the way for your [my] assault upon his intrenched line." [Footnote: See also General Schofield's discussion of the events of the 16th, in his "Forty-six Years," pp. 263-275.] The field dispatch of General Couch in regard to supporting McArthur was dated at 2.30 P.M. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 217.]
General Schofield sought an opportunity to compare recollections with General Wilson, and wrote me again on the 29th of June, 1882, saying that he was greatly surprised to find that Wilson did not recollect the proposal and request stated above, but thought that General Thomas had come in person to his position on the Hillsborough turnpike, and about 10 or 10:30 o'clock A.M. had given him the orders under which he then undertook to advance against Hood's left-rear. Wilson also associated with it the capture of a dispatch from Hood to Chalmers, urging the latter to drive the Yankee cavalry from his left and rear, as otherwise he could not hold the position. This dispatch, Wilson said, he promptly sent to Thomas. As the conference between Schofield and Wilson was for the purpose of assisting me in getting undisputed facts for the history of the campaign, I was permitted to know the result and to have the contents of a letter from Wilson to Schofield of date of June 28, 1882, restating his recollection. In pursuance of my rule to avoid as far as possible the debate of subsidiary controverted points in my connected history, I omitted any reference to them in this instance. General Schofield's memory is, however, so strongly supported by the field dispatches, that it does not seem difficult now to reach a sound historical judgment.
It is plain that during the earlier part of the day General Wilson was reporting through General Schofield, who forwarded to General Thomas the information received. At some time before noon the latter had completed his examination of the position of the Fourth Corps on the left of the army, so that General Wood was at liberty to ride to General Steedman's headquarters on the Nolensville turnpike. [Footnote: Official Records, vol xlv. pt. i. p. 131.] Thomas passed westward to General Smith's headquarters at the centre, where he seems still to have been at three o'clock, [Footnote: _Id_., p. 435.] or at the time of the arrangement between McArthur and Couch, which the latter places at half-past two. [Footnote: _Id_., pt. ii. p. 217.] Thomas then visited General Schofield's position, where he was when the final assault was made and the enemy routed. General Wilson's reports make no mention of a visit from General Thomas on the 16th, and the contents of his dispatches show that there had been none up to eleven o'clock, when Thomas was with Wood on the other flank of the whole army. It can hardly be necessary to mention the extreme improbability of the commander's omission to visit Schofield's quarters near the Hillsborough turnpike, if he were going by that road to Wilson, who was also on it. We must conclude that General Wilson is mistaken in his recollection. That he saw General Thomas at Schofield's position late in the day, is conceded by all. [Footnote: The account in "Franklin and Nashville," etc., p. 119, must be modified in accord with the facts above stated.]
We find no mention in the records of any capture of an important dispatch from Hood to Chalmers, except that found on the person of Colonel Rucker, when he was wounded and captured at 6.30 P.M., trying to hold the pass of the Brentwood hills on the Granny White turnpike, in the darkness, two hours after the collapse of Hood's line. [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. p. 218.] This dispatch seems to have strongly resembled the language used by Wilson in his letter to Schofield in 1882. It is said to have stated that Chalmers' cavalry must take care of this flank. In sending the information to General Johnson, Wilson added, "Go for him with all possible celerity, as Hood says the safety of their army depends upon Chalmers." [Footnote: Wilson to Johnson, Id., p. 222.] As we have already noted, Rucker's brigade, just routed, was all there was of Chalmers' division on that flank except a regiment covering trains making for Franklin.
The Confederate records support this view. Chalmers' report relates the skirmishing during the morning in which Rucker was holding the Hillsborough turnpike against Wilson, and the attempt on our side to move to the Granny White turnpike, from which Hammond's detachment was driven back. He says that with one regiment and his own escort he "held the enemy in check for more than three hours." [Footnote: _Id._, pt. i. p. 765.] This agrees very well with the situation as indicated in General Schofield's dispatch of 1.30 P.M., when a serious effort was making on our side to reach that road. Chalmers reported the fact that the regiment was hotly beset, and Hood's adjutant-general, in acknowledging it at 3.15 P.M., said, "Your dispatch, saying you were fighting the enemy with one regiment on the Granny White pike, received. General Hood says you must hold that pike; put in your escort and every available man you can find." [Footnote: _Id._, pt. ii. p. 697.] Chalmers reports that he received this about 4.30, when the regiment had been driven back; that he then moved up Rucker's brigade, which had reached the same turnpike nearer Brentwood, and after a sharp struggle it was routed. "By this time," he adds, "it was so dark that it was impossible to re-form the men, or, indeed, to distinguish friend from foe, so closely were they mingled together." [Footnote: Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. i. p. 766.] It was in this _melee_ that Rucker was wounded and captured.
In preparation for the attack in concert with A. J. Smith's command, my flank brigade (Stiles's), which had been in echelon on our right, was ordered to swing forward in touch with our cavalry advance. [Footnote: My Report, _Id_., p. 407.] My own main attack was to be upon the bastion which made the flank of the enemy's works before us. I ordered Doolittle's brigade to charge straight at it. Casement's brigade, on Doolittle's left, was to march by the right flank at double-quick in rear of Doolittle, so as to become a second line to him and support the advance as might be necessary. The skirmishers of Stiles's brigade had accompanied the cavalry advance since half-past one, and in the final effort his troops in line were to take part as already stated. [Footnote: See Schofield to Thomas, 1.30 P. M., _Id_., pt. ii. p. 215; Stiles's Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 431; my own Report, _Id_., p. 407, and sketch map accompanying the latter, _Id_., p. 408; also "Franklin and Nashville," etc., pp. 119-122.] After personal conference with my brigade commanders to insure complete mutual understanding, I rode to the hill in rear of my lines where Thomas and Schofield were together, [Footnote: Marked 2 in map, p. 359.] watching for the concerted attack upon Shy's hill in the salient angle of Hood's lines.
When Smith's men were seen to reach the summit of Shy's Hill, I received the signal from Schofield, and galloped down the hill toward Doolittle; but he also had caught sight of the movement, and his brigade was already charging on the run when I reached him. The excited firing of the enemy was too high, and Doolittle's men entered the works with very little loss. The collapse was general. As soon as we were over the works, I was ordered to stand fast with my command and give General Smith's command the right of way down the Granny White turnpike. Doolittle's brigade had carried the bastion in front of our right and the curtain adjoining it, and his line halted immediately in rear of these, partly facing the turnpike. He had captured a four-gun battery of light twelves in the bastion and another of the same number in the curtain, with the artillerists and part of the supports. [Footnote: See the official reports cited above, and special reports as to the guns, Official Records, vol. xlv. pt. ii. pp. 234, 235; also regimental reports, Twelfth Kentucky, _Id_., pt. i. p. 417, One Hundredth Ohio, _Id_., p. 420, and Eighth Tennessee, _Id_., p. 423.] Stiles, advancing with the cavalry, was halted a short distance in front of Doolittle, facing southward on the right of the turnpike. Casement was halted in the trenches from which Doolittle had started. [Footnote: Casement's Report, _Id_., pt. i. p. 425. All the reports on the National side except that of the cavalry refer to the concerted attack on Shy's hill as the signal for the general advance. The Confederate reports also speak of the carrying of that salient as the cause of the rout. In his second report, dated Feb. 1, 1865, and in his letter to General Schofield in 1882, cited above, General Wilson says that it was on his personal report of what his men were doing on the enemy's left rear that Thomas ordered the final assault.]