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[47] way, which extended from the woods where our troops lay up to within about one hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's position. Through this covered way our troops marched in single file up to the point where the first line of battle was formed. It should be remarked that the covered way spoken of was relied upon as being sufficiently deep to afford protection to our soldiers. It turned out, however, to be of no considerable consequence, owing to some fault in its construction. After the advance had arrived at the end of the covered way, they began slowly to push over the innumerable barriers that had been planted by the rebels to obstruct their march. The difficulties that I have before spoken of concerning the open field, immediately facing the enemy's works, were here experienced. The deep gullies, covered over by brush and creeping vines, were completely obscured from sight, and were only known to exist after our soldiers had plunged into them. Part of our skirmishers deployed to the right while suffering severely from the enemy's fire, and a portion of the advance took up a position on the left of the point to be attacked. They were immediately followed by General Weitzel's column, General Paine in the mean time advancing toward the enemy's works with his command further on the left. It should be stated that our troops, as soon as they had left the cover of the woods, which were scarcely three hundred yards from the enemy's breastworks, were subject to the constant fire of the rebel infantry. A portion of our artillery, which was planted some distance in the rear of our advancing forces, kept up a continuous fire at the rebel works. Captain Terry, of the Richmond, with his battery of eight-inch Dahlgren guns, and Captain McLaflin, with his battery, a portion of the Twenty-first Indiana artillery, did good execution. These batteries served very much to protect our troops as they were advancing to the attack. After our skirmishers had picked their way up to within about thirty yards of the enemy's works, they sprang into the ditch, expecting to be able to shelter themselves under the cover of the rebel fortifications, and keep the enemy down while the regiment with the hand-grenades should advance and perform their part of the work in driving the rebels from their position. The portion of the Seventy-fifth which succeeded in reaching the ditch were immediately repulsed, and nearly all of them were either killed or wounded. The ditch was so enfiladed that it was impossible for men to live long under the murderous fire of the enemy. The question may be asked why all this was not known before; but I have no time to comment.

In consequence of the repulse of the portion of Seventy-fifth that succeeded in reaching the ditch, the hand-grenaders could accomplish but little. In fact, although they made many desperate and gallant attempts to be of service, they rather damaged than benefited our prospects of success; for as they threw their grenades over the rebel breastworks, the rebels actually caught them and hurled them back among us. In the mean time, while the skirmishers were nobly endeavoring to sustain themselves in their position, General Weitzel's column moved up as rapidly as possible, and made a series of desperate assaults on the enemy's works, which for bravery and daring the history of the war can hardly furnish a parallel. At this time the sun having fairly risen, the fight became general. A fog, which had partially obscured the contending armies, lifted and revealed their respective positions. The enemy were fully prepared for us, and they lined every part of their fortifications with heavy bodies of infantry. The battle had begun in earnest, and General Paine's column, as well as General Weitzel's, was actively engaged. Before proceeding further with the details of the fight of General Grover's command, it will be necessary to mention a fact that I have previously omitted — namely, that under the general plan of attack, as directed by General Banks, Generals Augur and Dwight were to make feints on the extreme left of General Grover's position, to distract the attention of the enemy from the main assault. Accordingly, before the engagement became general between General Grover's command and the enemy, Generals Augur and Dwight had attacked the enemy, as before indicated, on General Grover's extreme left. It was not the intention that the last-named of these forces should storm the rebel works, but hold the enemy in check while General Grover was performing his part of the work according to the original plan, which, had he been successful, would have opened the way for the advance of our entire army on Port Hudson proper, which is surrounded, it is understood, by a series of fortifications more impregnable than any we have yet assaulted. The fight on the part of General Dwight's command was exceedingly severe, and scarcely less so with General Grover's. General Dwight's. loss in killed and wounded will probably exceed two hundred. General Augur's loss will fall considerably short of that number. Under General Grover's command probably the most desperate fighting was done by General Weitzel's old brigade. Colonel Smith, leading these veterans, the heroes of many fights, fell early in the action, mortally wounded. The ball pierced his spine and passed around to the right side. The Colonel still lingers, but his death is hourly expected. The charges made on the rebel works by our brave soldiers showed a determination to carry them at all hazards; but human bravery on this occasion was not adequate to the accomplishment of their object. The most formidable obstacle that presented itself as a barrier to our success, was the rebel glacis, which at the point attacked had been constructed in such a manner as to make every bullet tell that was fired from the rebel breastworks while our troops were endeavoring to make the ascent. In fact the great natural advantages and engineering ability at Port Hudson have been rather under than overrated. Immediately upon the fall of Colonel Smith, Lieutenant-Colonel Von Petten, of the One Hundred and Sixtieth New-York, took command of the brigade, and gallantly led the charge until all further hope of driving the

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Charles C. Grover (7)
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