The Story Of Gate Pa, April 29th, 1864
The Debacle — Unforeseen Contingencies
Regarding the debacle of the Gate Pa, the position was practically in our hands when three unforseen contingencies arose, darkness (which might have been obviated) being certainly one. Had the most ordinary forethought been used of ascertaining the exact range for the heavy artillery, a better breach might then have been made several hours before, and a large quantity of expensive ammunition expended to better purpose. The big 156lb. shells fired from the 110lb. Armstrong gun had concussion detonators, and coming into contact with light earth failed to explode, but, after ricochetting fell harmlessly miles beyond. It was a fatal mis- page 18 take delivering the attack so late in the day, the rain and battle smoke combining to destroy all visibility.
It is also agreed that an unmixed force would have shown greater cohesion and unity of purpose. There was no apparent reason why, with the large force available, a counter demonstration could not have been made against the eastern and western portion of the rebel position, to be pressed home or not. It seems certain that immediately the assault developed the enemy concentrated at the portion threatened.