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[296] means of replying, as our guns could not be dragged up that steep and rugged ascent.1 Then, a little after sunrise, their infantry moved forward in heavy force to attack us. “The troops of the Twelfth corps,” says Swinton, “had returned from the left, and the divisions of Williams and Geary, aided by Shaler's brigade, of the Sixth corps, entered upon a severe struggle to regain the lost position of the line.” 2 They drove in our skirmishers, but could not dislodge us from the works we had captured, although these were commanded in part by the works on the crest of the hill to our right, whence a galling fire was poured into our ranks. Next a strong effort was made to take us in flank, and I well remember that at one time our line resembled three sides of a pentagon, the left side being composed of some other brigade, centre and right composed of our own brigade, which thus occupied the most advanced position towards the crest of the hill.3 About this time, I think, word came to General Steuart that the men's ammunition was almost exhausted. One of his staff immediately took three men and went on foot to the wagons, distant about a mile and a quarter, and brought up two boxes of cartridges. “We emptied each box into a blanket and swung the blanket on a rail, and so carried it to the front.” It was now, I think, about half-past 9, and ever since 4 o'clock the fire of the enemy had been almost continuous, at times tremendous.4 Professor Jacobs says “the battle raged furiously, and was maintained with desperate obstinacy on both sides.” He goes on to speak of the “terrible slaughter” of our men. General Howard says: “I went over the ground five years after the battle, ”

1 “To one conversant with the ground, it is now apparent why the enemy did not reply. The creek, the forest, and the steep acclivities made it utterly impossible for him to move up his guns, and this circumstance contributed to the weakness of his position and the futility of his occupation of this part of the line .... But, though he fought with a determined bravery well worthy the name of the old-time leader, yet he gained no ground and had sustained terrible losses.”

2 The enemy was evidently before us in immense numbers, and posted behind two lines of breastworks. To resist them we had but one division, which was subsequently strengthened by the brigades of Smith and Daniel.--Extract from a letter.

3 “The crest of the hill to the right was still more difficult of approach. and from it the enemy were able to enfilade our whole line ... . The struggle for the hill now became more and more fierce. The enemy endeavored to drive us out of the works. They attacked us in front and in flank, and opened a terrific cannonading upon us from a battery posted about 500 yards off ... . On the right and left flank, where our lines were almost perpendicular to the front line, there were no breastworks, and the struggle was very fierce and bloody. Our men maintained their position, however, and received reinforcements.” The Third North Carolina was on the right, and suffered most heavily during this part of the battle, so that but a handfull were left to participate in the final charge.

4 “As the day wore on, the heat from the fire and smoke of battle, and the scorching of the July sun, became so intense as to be almost past endurance. Men were completely exhausted in the progress of the struggle, and had to be often relieved; but revived by fresh air and a little period of rest, again returned to the front.” --Bates, page 142. No such refreshing rest had our brave men. They were never relieved for a moment during all that seven-hours unintermitting fire of which General Kane speaks.

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