guarded it was withdrawn every night, and sent in early each morning before light.
The enemy in front of this salient was commanded by General Hancock
, to whose skill and gallantry was intrusted an assault on our lines at that point.
In the dusky light he came up with a rush; and just as our artillery, which was moving in battery at the same moment, galloped up, and unlimbered for action, it was captured.
Only one piece or two was fired.
The infantry of Johnson
's Division were overpowered almost as speedily; but the supports came up promptly, and a hand-to-hand conflict ensued, during which the two forces were rarely as far apart as a dozen yards.
At times, as if by mutual consent, there would be a cessation of the fire; but it would soon break out at some other point of the line, and, sweeping down, include the wasted antagonists in its folds.
In the rear of each line were the supports, who were either to relieve the first line, or send in plenty of ammunition.
There was no lack of ammunition that day.
The training of the sharpshooters in actual war was completed by these actions, and the efforts of their officers were conceded to be successful beyond the most sanguine expectations.
These battalions had already established the best reputation among friend and foe for endurance and stubborn fighting.
The knowledge that the sharpshooters held the picket lines enabled many a head to repose in peace of nights, undisturbed by visions of sudden attack, and the midnight call to arms.
The battalion was now the very lightest of light troops in every particular of impedimenta
. They carried absolutely nothing, save their arms and haversacks.
The last were of but little use. The sharpshooters found it much less burdensome to make a raid for supplies on the line of the enemy than to carry knapsacks.
When rations were ordered to be prepared for three days, they were generally cooked and eaten at the same time; not a difficult thing to do in the Confederate
service, where the ration was scientifically calculated to the least that a man could live on. Sometimes blankets and fly-tents were carried, but only when there was to be a long march, and no immediate prospect of a fight.
In the face of the enemy these daring corps usually threw away everything but their arms, and relied for provision on the chance of war. Their losses were heavy, but were easily filled by details of the best material of the line.
The prestige of the sharpshooters were well kept up, and was the just subject of pride alike to their officers and at army headquarters.
And so, when Grant
changed his base, moving south, while Lee
followed, describing the interior line, the