Perhaps no officers, during our Civil War, were placed in a more lamentably awkward position than Devens, and in a less degree Schurz, on this occasion. Having been fully convinced by the events of the afternoon that an attack down the pike was highly probable, having carefully reported all these events to his immediate commander, Devens was left without inspection, counsel, or help. He might have gone in person to Howard, but he did not dare leave his division. He might have sent messages which more urgently represented his own anxiety. But when the blow came, he did all that was possible, and remained, wounded, in command, and assisted in re-organizing some relics of his division behind the Buschbeck works.
Schurz was with Howard a good part of the day, and his opinions were expressed to that officer. To Schurz’s personal bearing here, or on any other occasion, no possible exception can be taken.
The conduct of the eleventh corps.
There can be no attempt to gainsay that the Eleventh Corps, on this luckless Saturday, did not do its whole duty. That it was panic-stricken, and that it decamped from a field where as a corps it had not fought, is undeniable. But portions of the corps did fight, and the entire corps would doubtless have fought well under favorable circumstances. It is but fair, after casting upon the corps the aspersion of flight from before the enemy, to do it what justice is possible, and to palliate the bad conduct of the whole by bearing testimony to the good conduct of some of its parts.
It has been called a German corps. This is not quite exact. Of nearly thirteen thousand men in the corps, only forty-five hundred were Germans. But it must be admitted that so many officers high in rank were of that nationality, that the general tendency and feeling were decidedly unlike the rest of the army. Moreover, there is not wanting testimony to show that there were some who wore shoulder-straps in the corps who gave evidence of having taken up the profession of arms to make money, and not to fight.
The artillery of the corps did well. Those general officers who most severely rebuke the conduct of the corps, all say a word in favor of the service of the guns. Dilger, on the road, just at Buschbeck’s line, fired with his own hands from his last gun a round of canister when the Confederates were within a dozen yards. Most of the guns had been well served, but had been sent to the rear in time to save them from capture.
The reserve artillery did its duty, nor limbered up until the Confederate line had outflanked its position, rendered it useless, and jeopardized its safety.
All the guns that were saved were put into action an hour later, and did effective service on the Fairview crest, in company with the artillery of the Third and Twelfth Corps.