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[544] the Second corps (General Webb's division) reached the eastern edge of the wood looking out toward Broad Run. The rear of the Fifth corps was just crossing Broad Run by the northmost road, when, as suddenly as lightning and as astonishingly as a thunderbolt from a clear sky, boom, boom, boom, came a half dozen discharges of artillery, not a hundred yards away. It was the enemy emerging from the woods north of the railroad by an obscure road, and firing upon the rear of the Fifth corps. A few shells from the rebel battery killed four of the Pennsylvania reserves, and wounded eight others before they could be got over the run to a place of safety on the eastern side. Then a line of rebel skirmishers appeared, cresting the hill on the north of the track, and running obliquely from the road to the upper crossing of Broad Run.

General Warren immediately formed his plans, and right beautifully were they carried out. General Webb's division was thrown forward along the line of the south side of the railroad, with its right resting on Broad Run and its left at the wagon road. General Hayes's division was marched by the right flank, and took position to the left of Webb, while Caldwell faced the railroad and awaited action.

A section of Brown's battery, company A, First Rhode Island artillery, was thrown across Broad Run and put in position in the open field, where it could face the enemy and enfilade his skirmishers, the remainder being placed on the hill just west of the run and bearing directly upon the massing enemy. On the hill to the north-west of Brown was Arnold's famous battery — the same which at Gettysburgh did such terrible execution among the rebel infantry. Then there were other batteries not behind their compeers in the bloody fray.

As soon as the rebels discovered that the rear of the Fifth corps had crossed to the east of Broad Run, and that Warren was preparing for a fight, they developed two batteries in the edge of the wood, and commenced to send their respects to the Second corps. They were close by, their most distant guns being not over nine hundred yards from the line ef the Union infantry. They had the advantage of us at first; for they, knowing our position and having their batteries ready planted, were able to open upon us before our line could be formed or our batteries planted, and they knew and appreciated their advantage, and right heartily did they improve it.

For full ten minutes they rained their bullets and hailed their shells with demoniac fury; but not a man of the gallant old Second quailed, not a gun was dropped, not a color dipped; but like Spartans they faced their foe, as if each man felt that upon himself rested the responsibility of crushing the rebellion.

But the rebels did not long maintain their advantage, for Brown and Arnold lost no time in getting their batteries placed, which, when accomplished, made short work of all opposition. Rebel lines of infantry skirmishers melted away like wax over a hot fire, and the rebel batteries died out like camp-fires in a heavy rain. Simultaneously with the ripping, tearing, death-dealing artillery, the Union infantry stood hiding their forms behind a bank of flame and a fog of smoke, cheering as they discharged their pieces, and vainly begging to be permitted to rush over the track to the immediate locality of their adversaries.

Then came a lull in the awful music; for the enemy, unable to stand against the terrible storm, had fled to the woods for safety, leaving six of their guns upon the field, one too badly crippled to be brought away. When the enemy ceased playing upon us, and the smoke had lifted so as to exhibit the field, and it was known that the enemy had retired, a detail of ten men from each regiment was made to bring away the deserted pieces. With a cheer that could be heard for miles, the men bounded across the track and climbed the opposite hill, seized the pieces as best they could, wheeled them into position, turned them toward the retreating demons, and fired a parting salvo with the ammunition which had been designed for the Yankees. Then the boys dragged five of them away, shouting as they came to the south side of the track, and placed them in battery, the infantry acting as artillerists and doing wondrous works of carnage.

Shortly after the Second corps had got into position, the rebels tried their old tactics of massing and charging. A dense gray body of men were seen forming between the east of the woods and the run on the slope of the hill, north of the railroad, upon which the artillery and infantry opened at once, driving the throng back into the woods at a double-quick. After this manoeuvre a second line of skirmishers was thrown forward to the brow of the hill skirting the river, and two regiments of North-Carolina troops — the Twenty-sixty and Twenty-eight--came charging on our extreme right, over the railroad near the bridge.

This post was held by Colonel Heath, commanding the brigade, which was the first of the Second division, and consisted of the Nineteenth Maine, Fifteenth Massachusetts, First Minnesota, and Eighty-second New-York. Our boys waited for their “erring Southern brethren,” who came on with a yell until they reached the track of the railroad, when a volley, and another, and another, sent them homeward at a pace which defies illustration.

The brigade of Carolinians, which was commanded by Brigadier-General Heth, broke and fled, hiding themselves behind the rocks and bushes along the stream. This brigade of North-Carolinians was Pettigrew's old brigade, and the men prided themselves on their prowess. But the men opposed to them were too well versed in fighting to be intimidated, and they gave the lauded heroes the best turn in the shop. It was laughable to see them extricate themselves from their dilemma.

They did not dare to rise from behind their cover when once hid; for no sooner would a head appear from behind a log, or rock, or bush, then a Minie would whistle it back to death.


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William A. Webb (3)
Eugene H. Brown (3)
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Charles H. Arnold (2)
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