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[212]

General Adams having received a wound while gallantly leading his brigade, the command devolved upon Colonel R. L. Gibson, who discharged its duties throughout with marked courage and skill.

Preston and Palmer being now in line — Preston on the right--Lieutenant-General Polk directed me to advance across the plain until I encountered the enemy. The right of my line rested on the river (and from the course of the stream would in advancing rest on or very near it), while the left touched a skirt of woods from which the enemy had been driven during the day. At the opposite extremity of the plain a cedar brake extended in front of Palmer's whole line and two-thirds of Preston's line, the remaining space to the river being comparatively open, with commanding swells, and through this ran the railroad and turnpike nearly side by side. It was supposed that the enemy's line was parallel to ours, but the result showed that in advancing our right and his left the point of contact would form an acute angle.

These two brigades, passing over the troops lying behind the rails. moved across the plain in very fine order under the fire of the enemy's artillery. We had advanced but a short distance when Colonel O'Hara (my acting Adjutant-General) called my attention to a new battery in the act of taking position in front of our right between the turnpike and the river. I immediately sent him back to find some artillery to engage the enemy's battery. He found and placed in position the Washington Artillery. About the same time Captain E. P. Byrne reported his battery to me, and received an order to take the best position he could find and engage the enemy. He succeeded in opening on them after our line had passed forward.

A number of officers and men were killed along the whole line; but in this charge the chief loss fell upon Preston's right and center. His casualties amounted to one hundred and fifty-five. The Twentieth Tennessee, after driving the enemy on the right of the turnpike and taking twenty-five prisoners, was compelled to fall back before a very heavy artillery and musketry fire, Colonel Smith, commanding, being severely wounded; but it kept the prisoners and soon rejoined the command. The Fourth Florida and Sixtieth North Carolina encountered serious difficulty at a burnt house (Cowan's) on the left of the turnpike from fences and other obstacles, and was for a little while thrown into some confusion. Here for several minutes they were exposed to a destructive and partially enfilading fire at short range of artillery and infantry. But they were soon rallied by their gallant brigade commander, and rushing with cheers across the intervening space, entered the cedar glade. The enemy had retired from the cedars and was in position in a field to the front and right.

By changing the front of the command slightly forward to the right my line was brought parallel to that of the enemy and was formed near the edge of the cedars. About this time, meeting Lieutenant-General Hardee, we went together to the edge of the field to examine the position of the enemy, and found him strongly posted in two lines of battle supported by numerous batteries. One of his lines had the protection of the railroad cut, forming an


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Preston (4)
Palmer (2)
Kirby Smith (1)
Polk (1)
T. O'Hara (1)
Hardee (1)
R. L. Gibson (1)
Cowan (1)
E. P. Byrne (1)
Adams (1)
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