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[111] but charging rapidly up the almost perpendicular side of the mountain, they rushed upon the enemy's infantry behind the stone wall, and drove them from it at the point of the bayonet. Now concentrating their fire upon the heavy batteries (twenty guns) of the enemy on the crest of the heights, they soon silenced them, and rushing forward with a shout, soon gained the summit of the heights, capturing all the enemy's guns, and driving their infantry in great disorder and confusion into the woods beyond.

We now had the key to the enemy's stronghold, and, apparently, the victory was won. McLaws and Hood had pushed their line well up the slope on the right; Wilcox had kept well up on his portion of the line; Wright had pierced the enemy's main line on the summit of McPherson's heights, capturing his heavy batteries, thus breaking the connection between their right and left wings. I said that, apparently, we had won the victory. It remains to be stated why our successes were not crowned with the important results which should have followed such heroic daring and indomitable bravery. Although the order was peremptory that all of Anderson's division should move into action simultaneously, Brigadier-General Posey, commanding a Mississippi brigade, and Brigadier-General Mahone, commanding a Virginia brigade, failed to advance. This failure of these two brigades to advance is assigned, as I learn upon inquiry, as the reason why Pender's division, of Hill's corps, did not advance — the order being, that the advance was to commence from the right and be taken up along our whole line. Pender's failure to advance caused the division on his left — Heth's — to remain inactive. Here we have two whole divisions, and two brigades of another, standing idle spectators of one of the most desperate and important assaults that has ever been made on this continent--fifteen or twenty thousand armed men resting on their arms, in plain view of a terrible battle, witnessing the mighty efforts of two little brigades, (Wright's and Wilcox's, for Perry had fallen back overpowered,) contending with the heavy masses of Yankee infantry, and subjected to a most deadly fire from the enemy's heavy artillery, without a single effort to aid them in the assault, or to assist them when the heights were carried. Perry's brigade, which was between Wilcox and Wright, soon after its first advance, was pressed so heavily as to be forced to retire. This left an interval in the line between Wright and Wilcox, and which the enemy perceiving, he threw a heavy column in the gap then made, deploying a portion of it in Wilcox's left flank, while a large force was thrown in rear of Wright's right flank. The failure of Posey and Mahone to advance upon Wright's left enabled the enemy to throw forward a strong force on that flank, and to push it well to his rear along the Emmetsburgh pike. It was now apparent that the day was lost — lost after it was won — lost, not because our army fought badly, but because a large portion did not fight at all.

My narrative left Wright's little brigade of Georgians in the enemy's intrenchments upon the heights. Let us return to this little Spartan band, who this day covered themselves with glory — alas! how vainly! Perceiving, after getting possession of the enemy's works, that they were certainly isolated — more than a mile from support; that Perry's brigade had been driven back on their right; that no advance had been made on their left, and just then seeing the enemy's flanking columns on their right and left flanks rapidly converging in their rear, these noble Georgians faced about, abandoning all the guns they had captured, and prepared to cut their way through the enemy who had now almost entirely surrounded them. Springing with alacrity down the hill to the stone fence, they were halted, and delivered a well-directed fire upon the enemy then passing along the pike road. Following this discharge by a charge over the stone wall and through the enemy's ranks, they soon gained the foot of the slope, when the lately abandoned guns upon the heights opened a most destructive fire of grape and canister upon them. Here their loss was very severe. But although more than one half their number had fallen — although every field officer but one had been killed or wounded — with their comrades falling in heaps on every side, this little handful of choice spirits retired in tolerable order until they reached the bottom of the second slope, where they were halted, faced to the front, and re-formed to await the approach of the enemy, now seen advancing about three hundred yards distant. The Yankees perceiving that our men had re-formed for a fight, prudently withdrew without firing a gun. During this time, Wilcox, who had driven the enemy well up the side of the mountain, capturing several of his guns, found his left exposed by the flank movement of the enemy, heretofore mentioned, and was compelled to retire, abandoning his captured guns. On our right, McLaws and Hood continued to press the enemy until night set in and ended the sanguinary conflict. The enemy's loss during this day's fight was very heavy, particularly on that portion of the field where Benning's brigade, (of Hood's division,) Barksdale's and Wofford's, (of McLaws's,) and Wilcox's and Wright's, (of Anderson's division,) were engaged. Our own loss was slight, except in Wright's and Wilcox's brigades, in both of which it was very heavy, amounting to more than half of the forces engaged.

Early next morning--Friday, the third--preparations were made for a general attack along the enemy's whole line, while a large force was to be concentrated against his centre, with the view of retaking the heights captured and abandoned the day before by Wright. Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet massed a large number of long-range guns--fifty-five in number — upon the crest of a slight eminence just in front of Perry's and Wilcox's brigades, and a little to the left of the heights, upon which they were to open. Lieut.-Gen. Hill massed some sixty guns along the hill

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Wright (10)
Wilcox (9)
Eli Perry (4)
McLaws (3)
John Hood (3)
Posey (2)
Pender (2)
Mahone (2)
A. P. Hill (2)
G. T. Anderson (2)
Wofford (1)
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Henry L. Benning (1)
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