Page images
PDF
EPUB

Antietam, leading a division in the corps of General Hooker, when he fought Stonewall Jackson, General Doubleday proved that he had already measured to the requirements of any responsibility on a big field.

Encomiums in plenty came to him for his noble work at Gettysburg. Quoting but one historian of the battle, Samuel P. Bates says:

“ It must be evident that the manoeuvring of Doubleday was admirable and that it stamps him as a corps commander of consummate excellence. Where in the whole history of the late war is this skill and coolness of the commander or this stubborn bravery of the troops matched."

General Robinson was born at Binghamton, April 10, 1817. His command at Gettysburg, the Second Division of the First Corps, encountered opposition and sustained casualties hardly surpassed during the three days that the battle raged; no more, considering the handicap of numbers by which his brigades were beset, could any other division claim better achievement than his. As one of his feats of soldiership, far out in the firing line, in the northern part of the field, five hundred in one of the brigades facing his lines fell, and a thousand more of them were made prisoners. His Second Brigade — Paul's — was led by five successive commanders, four of them having become incapacitated by wounds. General Robinson himself had two horses shot under him. Says General Doubleday in his report:

“General Robinson guarded the right with great courage and skill, when it was left exposed during the close of the day."

When orders to retreat reached him he was almost outflanked right and left and in danger of being surrounded. His last act, before withdrawing to Cemetery Hill, was thoroughly characteristic of him. Observing Stewart's Battery, of the Fourth U. S. Artillery, hard pressed and liable to be captured, he formed his men in line and sent them to its rescue.

At the commencement of the Civil War, during the troubles in Baltimore, he saved, by a ruse de guerre, Fort McHenry from being taken by the hosts of secessionists that threatened and surrounded it, though having at his disposal but a garrison of sixty men. Until incapacitated for further field activity by a dangerous wound, necessitating amputation of his leg, suffered at Spottsylvania, May 8, 1864 (a few days after General Grant launched, at the Wilderness, the overland campaign to Richmond), General Robinson continued adding laurels to his fine Civil War records. He joined the Army of the Potomac immediately following Fair Oaks (June 1, 1862) as commander of a brigade in the division of General Kearny, who, shortly after, when writing his account of the seven days' battle in the Peninsula, said of the invaluable held he gave him:

“I have reserved General Robinson for the last. To him this day is due, above all others in the division, the honors of the battle (Frazier's Farm). The attack was on his wing.' Everywhere present, by personal supervision and noble example he secured for us the honor of victory."

After completing his course in the military academy at West Point, General Robinson began studying law, but ere long the lure of the sword induced him to reliquish jurisprudence. If, however, he did not practise law, he helped to make laws, for after retiring from the army he was lieutenant-governor, in the administration of General Dix.

The smoke of the battle had scarcely vanished from the horizon of Gettysburg on the evening of the first day's conflict when a cloud of misunderstandings began to hover around Cemetery Hill, putting several of the generals in high command there at odds with each other, and full light has not yet been shed on some of the obscurities and speculations that followed in the wake of those misunderstandings. General Ewell, evidently, had not done what General Lee wished (when subsequently pining over the “ lost opportunity ") he had ordered, instead of recommended, him to do, the capture, while (as is thought) they could be taken, of the heights in his vicinity, where the First Corps and the Eleventh were intrenching themselves after being driven from their first positions. General Howard was at odds with General Hancock on the question of supreme command on the field, to which General Meade had just appointed the latter for the time being. Misunderstandings at that juncture, and shortly before, also put General Howard at odds with General Doubleday, and as a consequence with General Meade, with the result that General Doubleday was summarily adjudged unequal to the responsibility of handling an entire corps, and he was relegated the other two days to the position of division commander.

General Wadsworth, exercising his best judgment, at a critical moment in the initial contest, ordered three of his regiments to withdraw temporarily toward the Lutheran Seminary to prevent their being surrounded and captured, and one of them, the 147th New York, narrowly escaped that fate — what was left of it. General Howard misapprehending on the spur of the moment (he had only just come to the field then) this retreat of part of General Wadsworth's Division came to the conclusion that the First Corps was giving way thus early in the day. This he reported to General Hancock, and, in all its inaccuracy, it was conveyed without much delay to General Meade, who thereupon at once put General Newton in charge of General Doubleday's Corps.

As division commander, General Doubleday the second day and the third day rendered signal service on Cemetery Ridge, and the battle over he resigned his command in the Army of the Potomac, July 4th, after which he was assigned to duty at Washington. “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.” After the real facts bearing on the achievement and sacrifice of the First Corps on Seminary Ridge were revealed at headquarters and General Howard's erroneous version of the affair that misled General Meade was exploited and exploded, General Meade sought to make full amends for the injury he had unintentionally done General Doubleday. Interviewing him some months after at Washington, he not only expressed his sense of the humilation that he had subjected him to at Gettysburg, but as well urged him then and there to accept another important command under him in the Army of the Potomac. Encouraged thereby, General Doubleday sought an opportunity to go to the front once more. He would have been with General Grant and General Meade in the overland campaign begun at the Wilderness early in llay, 1864, had not the War Department refused his request to go back to the Army of the Potomac, on the ground that his services could not then be spared from Washington.

1

General Robinson also had occasion to complain against belated action in giving himself and his division proper credit for what they did and endured in the Gettysburg campaign. Under date of November 18, 1863, he addressed the following letter to General Meade:

" I feel it is my duty to inform you of the intense mortification and disappointment felt by 'my division in reading your report of the battle of Gettysburg.

“For nearly four hours on July 1, we were hotly engaged against overwhelming numbers, repulsed repeated attacks of the enemy, captured three flags and a very large number of prisoners, and were the last to leave the field.

“ The division formed the right of the line of battle of the First Corps, and during the whole time had to fight the enemy in front and protect our right flank (the division of the Eleventh Corps being at no time less than half a mile in rear). We went into action with less than 2,500 men and lost considerably more than half our number.

“We have been prond of our efforts on that day, and hoped that they would be recognized. It is but natural we should feel disappointed that we are not once referred to in the report of the commanding general.

Official recognition, in full measure, was eventually accorded the men of the First Corps for what they accomplished on that occasion; and they and their commanders are rightfully classed amongst the most courageous and effective agencies during General Meade's operations in Pennsylvania. The First Corps bore , the brunt of the unequal and violent struggle of the first day at Gettysburg. Reaching the field in the morning with 8,200 men, when the sun went down not half their number was available for further fighting in that campaign.

General A. P. Hill, by whose corps they were attacked, said he had never seen the Federals fight as well as that corps did that day.

The General Doubleday statue stands on Reynolds Avenue, near the Springs Road, and General Robinson's on Robinson Avenue, at Oak Hill, the northern extremity of Seminary Ridge. They were designed and executed by J. Massey Rhind, of New York. Five other sculptors also favored the Commission with sketches for them from which to make selections. The models

[ocr errors]

were cast in bronze by Jno. Williams, Inc., of New York, as were also the inscription tablets. Worden-Gilboy Co., of Batavia, N. Y., was awarded the contracts for the pedestals. The stone used is dark Barre granite. Both statues are nine feet in height. The pedestal for the General Doubleday monument is eleven feet six inches square at the base and eleven feet eleven inches in height; the General Robinson pedestal measures eleven feet six inches square at the base and is eleven feet above the foundation.

The monuments were erected under the supervision of Commissioner Clinton Beckwith.

DEDICATION OF GENERAL DOUBLEDAY AND GENERAL ROBINSON

STATUES.

The ceremonies for dedicating these two statues were held on Tuesday, September 25, 1917, and can well be counted among the most brilliant dedications ever witnessed at Gettysburg. Colonel Lewis R. Stegman, chairman of the New York Monuments Commission, was master of ceremonies. Two of his colleagues on the Board were absent, General Horatio C. King, on account of illness, and Brig.-Gen. Charles H. Sherrill, The Adjutant General, because of pressure of other business. Delegations, numbering about 180 veterans, from the ten New York organizations in the commands of the two generals in the engagement, were in attendance. These are the 76th, 80th, 83rd, 84th, 94th, 95th, 97th, 104th and 147th infantry regiments, and Battery L, First New York Light Artillery. The procession from Gettysburg Square was led by the grand marshal for the occasion, General John A. Reynolds, of Fairport, and the adjutant general, Major Henry M. Maguire, of New York, with whom were aides from each of the organizations represented. Through the courtesy of the War Department, Colonel F. B. Jones, U. S. A., assigned a large detachment of troops, with a band, from the training camp at Gettysburg for escort duty, which greatly enhanced the ceremonies. Miss Alice Seymour Doubleday, of Quogue, L. I. (a grandniece) unveiled the statue to General Doubleday, and Mrs. Robert A. Hall, of Whitehall (a daughter) that of General Robinson. Corporal James Tanner (register of wills in Washingtoi, D. C.), of the 87th New York (Robinson's Brigade, Kearny's Division), in whose commands he was in the Second Manas

« PreviousContinue »