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    Gouverneur K. Warren Archive of Documents Regarding his Defense Against Wrongdoing in the Battle of Five Forks. Twelve manuscripts; including letters, diary entries, statements, and retained carbon tissue copies, spanning fifteen years, provide great content regarding the course of battle at Five Forks. Warren, who received great recognition for his heroic actions in the defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, was removed from his command by Philip Sheridan during the Battle of Five Forks. Warren immediately set upon the task of amassing any and all information about the battle in hopes that it would help to vindicate him from what he believed, was an unjust act by Sheridan. Includes:

    Manuscript copy of General Warren's orders to General Romeyn Beck
    , in pencil, 2 pages, 5" x 8", "Head Quarters 5 A Corps", "March 30 65 10.30 am". Warren sends orders to Aryes directing him to move his division out on a reconnaissance. A postscript with a time of 11:10 am reads: "Furnished for the information of Bvt Maj Genl Crawford - who will hold himself in readiness to send support to General Ayres" indicating that this is likely Crawford's copy. Heavy wear and soiling commensurate with use in the field; with separations resulting in a tear across the text with no resulting paper loss.

    Journal entries dated April 5-6, 1865 in Warren's hand
    detailing the course of events . In pencil, 4 pages, 3¼ x 6¼". He writes: "Wednesday April 5th We lay in our camp s. of Jetersville. Cavalry actively engaged on the road towards Amelia C.H. About ten o'clk Maj Weir of Genl Crooks staff came in & reported that Davies brigade had attacked the enemy capturing about six guns & destroying some two mile of his train. Subsequently reports that our cavalry was slowly falling back. Orders to be in readiness to resist any attack. Whole rebel army that escaped from R[ichmond] and P[etersburg] said to be here. Men in readiness in the works. Four guns rifled at right of Kelloggs brigade protecting flank towards C.H. Reports now to the effect that rebel army are moving in a northern direction to cross the Appomattox & their intention is to gain the R & L plank road or turnpike... Ameila C.H. Thursday April 6th... Leave at 6 o'clk & our orders contemplate an immediate move on the enemy at Amelia C.H. The 6 Corps has come up during yesterday except one division. The enemy were expected to be in greater force than there really were. They were without rations, everything had been used in Richmond to transport the rebel govt. to Danville & the troops of Lees army were left without provisions. The troops from Bushrod Johnson & Pickett which should have joined Lee & which he expected to have joined him became a mass of fugitives after 'Five Forks'..." Warren's level of detail is meticulous and represents the states of both armies. It is unlikely that Warren would have insight to what was occurring in the Confederate forces on the date of the entries, however, we know the he immediately focused all of his efforts to collecting information so it is likely these passages were written within days after the close of the war.

    General Warren's retained carbon tissue copy of a letter to Brigadier General John A. Rawlins
    , Grant's Chief of Staff, 2 pages, 4½" x 8", "Petersburgh", April 9, 1865. Warren writes requesting an investigation, "The order of Gen Sheridan taking from me the command of my corps on the evening of the 1st of April after the victory was won, assigns no cause & leaves me open to the inferences now finding expression in the public prints..." Marked "copy" at top and affixed to a bifolio leaf with a second carbon copy of a letter by Warren addressed to Col. T.S. Bowers asking permission to publish the aforementioned letter as a means to respond to the "many letters daily recd & will prevent my silence being an injury to me..." The fourth panel of the bi-folio contains an ALS to General Crawford, Petersburg, April 26 [1865] concerning letters Warren is writing to Alexander Stuart Webb and Ulysses S. Grant.

    A separate bi-folio includes the carbon tissue copies of Warren's letter to Webb giving his account of what transpired at Five Forks. In part: "The operation of March 31 made it necessary for me to send a portion of my corps during the night to support Gen'l Sheridan's cavalry which had been forced back to near Dinwiddie C.H. He made a division of my corps march all night and the rest moved at day break on the 1st. The presence of my troops on the enemy's flank and rear of the enemy confronting the cavalry, compelled him to pull back at once to the vicinity of the 5 forks. Genl Sheridan on advancing found Pickett;s divn there in line of battle slightly entrenched and supported by all the cavalry of Genl Lee's army. On joining Genl Sheridan I recd an order from Genl Meade to report to him for orders, which I did." Warren recounts all troop movements, and the role he played in bringing about victory: "I successively followed movements of my division from left to right, being with Genl Crawford as he closed in upon the enemy. The enemy's artillery which attempted to escape north was thrown back... The enemy continued to hold his line facing our cavalry on his right but the 5th Corps moving without waiting to reform swept down along the enemy's line and captured all who remained. I was with this advance and was there when relieved, the turnout being over and not a fugitive in sight..." The accounts published in the battle focused exclusively on Sheridan's heroics, which likely added to the sting suffered by Warren upon being removed from command.

    M. Porter Snell's Manuscript Notes on the Campaign
    taken from his diary from March 29th to April 9th, 1865. Submitted to Major General Crawford, the account is a total of 14 pages on 8 leaves, dated April 13, 1865 and docketed "Recd May 1880" in Warren's hand at top. Excellent detailed content, in part: "March 29th... Gen. Colter's brigade was left behind at Rowanty Creek to guard and assist the train up to the Vaughen road...About 2 o'clock we move up the Quake road and cross Gravelly Run beyond which we are formed in line of battle on the left of the Corps at 3 o'clock. Our right was ordered to connect with Bartlett's left, and by order of General Commanding I went and saw the connection established. We advanced driving the enemy toward the Boydton Plank Road. At 3 1/2 o'clock Gen. Crawford sends word to Gen. Warren that his skirmishers are upon the Boydton Plank road. The remainder of the day is spent in establishing our picket lines... Thursday March 30th... Rainy day... We hear fighting in our front as some other portion of the corps have advanced toward the White Oak Road... Friday March 31st... At midnight orders are received and issued to the brigade commander to be ready at dawn... Saturday. April 1st. Soon after daylight our division cutting all connections commenced a march in retreat through the fields in a direction nearly south west until we reach the Dinwiddie Road - Colter on the right - Kellogg on the left & Baxter in the centre. We march down the Dinwiddie Road till about 10 o'clock when we reach the junction of a road leading to the Five Forks and meet Sheridans cavalry. Here we halt for some hours: we hear fighting to the west of us where the cavalry are engaged. About two (2) o'clock we march up the the [sic] Five Forks road a mile or two, meeting many wounded and prisoners; then taking a crossroad to the right we advance to the Gravelly Run Ch... where our division is formed in a line of battle... At 3 1/2 o'clock we are ordered to advance... soon after crossing the road the fighting becomes general and continues almost without intermission until after dark. We continue advancing with scarcely a halt... Evening finds us in full possession of the Five Forks. Between 9 & 10 o'clock we withdraw to a short distance east of the Ford Road... In the midst of the fighting Gen. Sheridan relieved Gen. Warren & place Gen Griffin in command of our Corps..."

    Warren has made annotations in pencil most notably on the verso of the last page of the account, where he notes: "the corps remained to parole the prisoners & take charge of the property. We returned finally to Petersburg & marched through it to Richmond to Washington & my division was mustered out of service in the summer of 1865 -" Great content throughout with heavy wear and minor separations at folds. With two file holes at left margins, and a single fastener remains.

    Gouverneur K Warren Letter Signed
    addressed to the Adjutant General of the U.S. Army, 7 pages, 8" x 13", Washington, D.C., April 16, 1866. Marked "Copy for Genl Crawford" at top of first page, and signed by Warren, adding his rank as "Formerly Major General of Volunteers commanding Fifth Army Corps". A letter recommending Charles Griffin, John C. Robinson, Romeyn B. Ayres, and S.W. Crawford and giving a summary of performance under his command including battles of Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Bethesda Church, activity in lines around Petersburg, the seizing of Weldon R.R., battles of Hatcher's Run, and of course, Five Forks. Regarding Five Forks, he notes: "My connection with the Corps ceased with the close of the successful battle of April 1st..." Near fine condition, save a small dampstain affecting the wide left margin well away from the text.

    Confederate Officer, Major Johnson Manuscript
    , statement made to General S.W. Crawford regarding Five Forks. 4 pages, 7¾" x 12", Nashville, Tenn., October 26, 1869. Docketed and signed by Crawford with a few pencil annotations in Warren's hand. Johnson served under Brigadier General Matthew W. Ransom, and is able to provide an account of events from the Confederate perspective, focusing particularly on the directives given by battalion leaders. He closes: "The enemy was rapidly advancing upon our entrenchments and we soon engaged. His forces were at first driven back and we were prepared and able to hold our position against any force in our front and we were actually and actively engaged when word was brought to us that the enemy had completely burned our left flank [Warren has noted in pencil in the margin "Crawford's division"] - was on the Ford Road & in our rear the force there having been driven away. This at once changed the whole feature of the battle& our men hearing the firing in their left& rear gave way. Pegram's battery which was on our left & rear was taken. When this was communicated to Genl. Pickett, he gave orders for every man to save himself as all was lost..." Gently toned, and near fine save light soiling along the exterior folds.

    This extensive group also includes three Autograph Letters Signed by Warren to General Crawford dated June 17, 1865 (1 page), May 9, 1870 (3 pages), and January 18, 1871 (1 page); all regarding his efforts to exonerate himself of any wrong doing at Five Forks. Each letter is In his June 1865 letter he quotes from Sheridan's report: "'I then rode over to where the Fifth Corps was going into position, and found them coming up very slowly... General Warren did not exert himself to get up his corps as rapidly as he might have done.'" He asks Crawford to issue a statement "which I may publish with my report whether or not all proper dispatch was used by the troops whether I did not sufficiently urge the importance of dispatch, and whether in your opinion the movement and formation was not executed was not executed in a period of time remarkably brief..." All letters are in very good to near fine condition, with minor separations at the folds of the May 9th letter. Together with a single page of notes in pencil in Warren's hand listing several of the items in this archive, and two small envelopes. Fabulous content archive from multiple perspectives, containing primary and secondary sources. Warren would finally be vindicated at court of inquiry convened by Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879; however his much sought goal to have his reputation cleared in print would not occur until after his death three years later. Warren maintained copious records, most of which are housed at the New York State Library. This is the only grouping to come on the market related to his efforts.


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    June, 2009
    25th Thursday
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