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[199] a concentrated and destructive fire; consequent upon which a. general advance was to be made. The right especially was, if practicable, to sweep the enemy from his stronghold on that flank. Visiting the lines at a very early hour towards securing readiness for this great attempt, I found much, by Colonel Alexander's energy, already accomplisned on the right. Henry's battalion held about its original position on the flank, Alexander's was next in front of the peach orchard, then came the Washington artillery battalion, under Major Eshelman, and Dearing's battalion on his left, (these two having arrived since dusk of the day before,) and beyond Dearing, Cabell's battalion had been arranged, making nearly sixty guns for that wing, all well advanced in a sweeping curve of about a mile. In the posting of these there appeared little room for improvement, so judiciously had they been adjusted. To Colonel Alexander, placed here in charge by General Longstreet, the wishes of the Commanding-General were repeated. The battalion and battery commanders were also cautioned how to fire so as to waste as little ammunition as possible. To the Third corps artillery attention was also given. Major Poague's battalion had been advanced to the line of the right wing and was not far from its left; his guns were also well posted ; proper directions were also given to him and his officers. The other battalions of this corps, a portion of Garnett's under Major Richardson, being in reserve, held their positions of the day before, as did those of the Second corps; each group having from its chief specific instructions. Care was also given to the convenient posting of ordnance trains, especially for the right, as most distant from the main depot, and due notice given of their position.

From some cause the expected attack was delayed several hours. Meanwhile, the enemy threw against our extreme right a considerable force, which was met with energy, Henry's battalion rendering in its repulse efficient service.

At length, about 1 P. M., on the concerted signal, our guns in position, nearly one hundred and fifty, opened fire along the entire line, from right to left-salvos by battery being much practiced, as directed, to secure greater deliberation and power. The enemy replied with their full force. So mighty an artillery contest has, perhaps, never been waged, estimating together the number and character of guns, and the duration of the conflict. The average distance between contestants was about 1,400 yards, and the effect was necessarily serious on both sides. With the enemy there was advantage of elevation and protection from earth works; but his fire was unavoidably more or less divergent, while ours was convergent. His troops were massed; ours diffused, We, therefore, suffered apparently much less. Great commotion was produced in his ranks, and his batteries were to such extent driven off or silenced as to have ensured his defeat but for the extraordinary strength of his position.

Proceeding again to the right, to see about the anticipated advance of the artillery, delayed beyond expectation, I found, among other difficulties, many batteries getting out of or low in ammunition, and the all-important question of supply received my earnest attention. Frequent shells endangering the First corps ordnance train in the convenient locality I had assigned it, it had been removed farther back. This necessitated longer time for refilling caissons. What was worse, the train itself was very limited, so that its stock was soon exhausted, rendering requisite demand upon the reserve train farther off. The whole amount was thus being rapidly reduced. Our means to keep up supply at the rate required for such a conflict proved practically impossible. There had to be, therefore, some relaxation of the protracted fire, and some lack of support for the deferred and attempted advance. But if this and other causes prevented our sweeping the enemy from his position, he was so crippled as to be incapable of any formidable movement. Night closed upon our guns in their advanced position, and had our resources allowed ammunition for the artillery to play another day, the tremendous part it had performed on this, his stronghold could scarcely have sufficed to save the enemy from rout and ruin.


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E. P. Alexander (3)
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James Longstreet (1)
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