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[586]

About one o'clock of the morning of the twenty-ninth I was awakened by skirmish firing, which seemed to be a short distance back on the road over which we had marched. The firing, rapidly increased in intensity, and the report of artillery soon mingling with it, admonished us that some part of our forces were engaged with the enemy.

The regiment was immediately ordered to fall in under arms, and to march in the direction of the conflict. It was soon ascertained that the firing was occasioned by an attack made by the enemy upon the command of Brigadier-General Geary, of the Twelfth corps, who had been following us from Bridgeport, and was a few hours in our rear. His command, consisting of a part of his division, had encamped for the night at a place called Wauhatchie, about three miles from the position occupied by the Eleventh corps. General Howard ordered his command to march at once to the aid of General Geary. This regiment, at a double-quick, took up the line of march in rear of the brigade, being preceded by the Seventy-third Ohio, Thirty-third Massachusetts, and Fifty-fifth Ohio. When about one and a half miles from camp, it was ascertained that the enemy occupied the crest of a hill, at the foot of which the road on which we were marching passed, and it was regarded important to dislodge him. Colonel O. Smith, commanding the brigade, was ordered to do it. Preparatory to executing the movement, the brigade was halted in the road. Colonel Smith sent forward the Seventy-third Ohio and Thirty-third Massachusetts, and directed them to charge the hill and drive the enemy therefrom. In the mean time I was ordered by Brigadier-General Steinwehr, division commander, to march my regiment by file to the left, and form in line of battle west of and perpendicular to the road on which we had been halted. This was at the foot of another hill about two hundred yards north of the one occupied by the enemy, and similar in appearance to it, and from which it was separated by a “gap” or “pass.” When I had completed the movement ordered, I was directed to send two companies to skirmish up the hill, at the foot of which our line of battle was formed, to ascertain if it was occupied by the enemy. I immediately detached companies H and K from the left of my left wing to execute the movement, and placed the force in command of Captain Eldredge of company K.

The Seventy-third Ohio and Thirty-third Massachusetts being hard pressed by the enemy on the hill which they had been ordered to charge, my regiment was ordered to their support. I marched to the base of the same hill, halted and formed in line of battle facing it. My centre was opposite the highest crest of the hill. Although it was a bright moonlight night, neither the height of the hill nor the obstacles to be encountered could be seen. I was ordered to charge in line of battle to the top of the hill, drive off the enemy, and form a junction with the Thirty-third Massachusetts on my right.

It should be borne in mind that the two companies detached as skirmishers had not at this time rejoined the regiment. I gave the command “Forward!” when the regiment advanced in line of battle at as quick a pace as the steep ascent of the hill would permit, moved steadily and firmly forward under a brisk and constant fire from the enemy, reached and crowned the crest of the hill, drove off the enemy, and took possession. Not a shot was fired by my men until the crest was gained, when one volley was discharged at the retreating enemy. At the time the charge was made the enemy was engaged in throwing up a line of rifle-pits. We captured their intrenching tools.

Having gained and occupied the crest of the hill, I deployed one company to the front as skirmishers. Moved by the right flank and formed a junction with the Thirty-third Massachusetts, which regiment had preceded me, charging up the hill on my right, and was vigorously engaged with the enemy when I reached the crest. The victory was complete. The crest of the hill is not more than six yards in width, from which there is a rapid descent, with a valley on the other side. Down this declivity the enemy precipitately fled in the utmost confusion. He staggered under the intrepid charges and deadly blows delivered to him by the braves of the Seventy-third Ohio and Thirty-third Massachusetts. His discomfiture was made complete by the vigorous and splendid charge of the One Hundred and Thirty-sixth New-York. The ground over which he retreated was strewn with rifles, swords, hats, caps, and haversacks. As daylight opened upon us, we were astonished by the audacity of our charge, and astounded at our success. The hill is over two hundred feet perpendicular height, and the distance from the road where I formed in line of battle to the crest of the hill is one hundred and eighty yards. Prisoners report (and the report is confirmed by other information, and may be regarded as reliable) that the force of the enemy occupying the hill consisted of Law's brigade of Hood's division, Longstreet's corps. This brigade was composed of six regiments, five of which were posted on the crest, the sixth being held in reserve in the valley below. The face of the hill is covered by a forest of wood and a thick coating of leaves, broken by gullies or ravines, and obstructed by bushes and upturned trees. Over and through these obstructions, up an ascent of over forty-five degrees, the men charged with a steadiness and precision that could not be excelled by the most experienced and veteran troops. At no time was there any confusion. At no time was there any wavering. From the commencement to the end of the charge the alignment of the line of battle was wonderfully preserved.

My hearty commendation and profound thanks are especially due to the officers and men of my command, for their brave and gallant conduct on this occasion. As I was deprived of the assistance of my able and energetic field-officer Lieutenant-Colonel Faulkner, being absent on detached service in the State of New-York, and


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