of attraction of all deadly missiles.
At that moment that single division was going up alone in battle against the Southern Confederacy, and was being pounded to pieces.
It continued to go up, nevertheless, toward the stone wall, toward the crest above.
With lips more firmly pressed together, the men closed up their ranks and pushed forward.
The storm of battle increased its fury upon them; the crash of musketry mingled with the roar of ordnance from the peaks.
The stone wall and the rifle-pits added their terrible treble to the deep bass of the bellowing ridge.
The rapid discharge of small-arms poured a continuous rain of bullets in their faces; they fell down by tens, by scores, by hundreds.
When they had gained a large part of the distance, the storm developed into a hurricane of ruin.
The division was blown back, as if by the breath of hell's door suddenly opened, shattered, disordered, pell-mell, down the declivity, amid the shouts and. yells of the enemy, which made the horrid din demoniac.
Until then the division seemed to be contending with the wrath of brute and material force bent on its annihilation.
This shout recalled the human agency in all the turbulence and fury of the scene.
The division of French fell back — that is to say, one-half of it. It suffered a loss of near half its numbers.
immediately charged with five thousand men, veteran regiments, led by tried commanders.
They saw what had happened; they knew what would befall them.
They advanced up the hill; the bravest were found dead within twenty-five paces of the stone wall; it was slaughter, havoc, carnage.
In fifteen minutes they were thrown back with a loss of two thousand-unprecedented severity of loss.
, repulsed from the stone wall, would not quit the hill altogether.
Their divisions, lying down on the earth, literally clung to the ground they had won. These valiant men, who could not go forward, would not go back.
All the while the batteries on the heights raged and stormed at them.
's Division came to their aid. Two divisions of the Ninth Corps, on their left, attacked repeatedly in their support.
It was then that Burnside
rode down from the Phillips House
, on the northern side of the Rappahannock
, and standing on the bluff at the river, staring at those formidable heights, exclaimed, “That crest must be carried to-night.”
remonstrated, begged, obeyed.
In the army to hear is to obey.
He prepared to charge with Humphrey
's Division; he brought up every available battery in the city.
“I proceeded,” he said, “against their barriers as I would against a fortification, and endeavored to breach a hole sufficiently large for a forlorn hope to enter.”
He continued the