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[496] and hence this unfortunate condition of affairs at this critical moment. The tree-tops were already tinged with the early rays of the rising sun, but the enemy lay quiet; at length the sun itself was seen between the boughs and foliage of the heavy forest, and on the plank road the Confederates, eager to catch at straws in their unprepared state, began to have hopes that the Federals would not advance but these were soon dispelled. A few shots were heard on Wilcox's right, and the firing extended rapidly along to the left, to the road and across this, and around to his extreme left, which was considerably in rear of his line on the right of the road. The musketry increased rapidly in volume, and was soon of the heaviest, kind.

Heth's men hurried to the rear, preparatory to re-forming line; the badly formed line of Wilcox received, unaided, this powerful column, which soon enveloped its flank. The fighting was severe as long as it lasted. Swinton says of it, “an hour's severe fighting.”

While the firing was severe on the flank, a dense mass of Federals poured into the road from the thickets on either side, and the Confederates began to yield. Wilcox rode back rapidly to General Lee, found him where he had been the night before, and reported the condition of his command. His response was, “Longstreet must be here; go bring him up.” Galloping to the road, the head of his corps, Kershaw's Division was met, and ordered to file at once to the right and get into line as quickly as possible, for fear his division would be forced back on it while forming. Less than a brigade had left the road when Longstreet in person arrived. He was informed where General Lee would be found-within one hundred and fifty yards. In the open space-old field — where General Lee's tent was at 9 P. M., and where he reappeared so early in the morning, was artillery-one or two batteries — on a gentle swell of the surface, in front descending and open for several hundred yards; the enemy were not within one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards of these guns. When Wilcox's men had fallen to the rear sufficiently to enable the guns to be used, they were directed into the woods, obliquely across the plank road; the enemy on the road could not see the guns. Wilcox's men, while Kershaw was uncovering the plank road, and before Fields' Division formed on the left of it, filed off the plank road and took position a half mile to the left, between Ewell's right and the troops on the plank road, filling up in part this long intervening unoccupied space. Later, Heth's Division took position on his right.

An extract will be made from Swinton, as he is often quoted, and, as far as my information goes, is in general quite accurate; in

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C. M. Wilcox (5)
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