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The opening, Friday morning.

I must be pardoned some egotism in what remains. It is easiest to narrate what one has seen, and undue prominence may thus come to be given to certain points, for time and space press me more and more.

At daybreak crashing volleys woke the few sleepers there were. A fusilade ran along the line — each had felt the other, then came cautious skirmishing again.

But on the right there was no cessation. Ewell's men were in possession of part of our rifle-pits, and sought to gain the remainder; Slocum must defend the one part and regain the other at every hazard. They were fighting Stonewall Jackson's men — it might well be desperate work.

I had gone down the Baltimore pike at night to find a resting-place — coming up between four and five, I heard clearly on the right the old charging cheer. Once, twice, three times I counted it, as my horse pushed his way for less than a mile through the curious or coward throng that ebbed and flowed along the pike. Each time a charge was made, each time the musketry fire leaped out from our line more terrific than before, and still the ground was held. To the left and centre, firing gradually ceased. All interest was concentred on this fierce contest on the right; the rest of the line on either side was bracing itself for still more desperate work.

From four to five there was heavy cannonading also, from our batteries nearest the contested points, but the artillery fire diminished and presently ceased. The rebels made no reply; we were firing at random, and it was a useless waste of ammunition. A cloud of smoke curled up from the dark woods on the right; the musketry crash continued with unparalleled tenacity and vehemence, wounded men came back over the fields, a few stragglers were hurried out to the front, ammunition was kept conveniently near the line.

In the fields to the left of the Baltimore pike stood the reserve artillery, with horses harnessed to the pieces and ready to move on the instant. Cavalry, too, was drawn up in detachments here and there. Moved over already within supporting distance of Slocum's line stood a part of Sedgwick's corps, (the reserve of to-day,) ready for the emergency that seemed likely soon to demand it. Occasional bullets from the rebel front spattered against the trees and fences. Now and then a Minie went over with its buzzing hiss, but the pike was too nearly out of range to be cleared of the watching throng.

General Sickles.

Through this throng, with slow tread, there came a file of soldiers, armed, but marching to the rear. It was a guard of honor for one who well deserved it. On a stretcher, borne by a couple of stout privates, lay General Sickles--but yesterday leading his corps with all the enthusiasm and dash for which he has been distinguished — to-day with his right leg amputated, and lying there, grim and stoical, with his cap pulled over his eyes, his hands calmly folded across his breast, and a cigar in his mouth! For a man who had just lost a leg, and whose life was yet in imminent jeopardy, it was cool indeed. He was being taken to the nearest railroad line, to be carried to some city where he could get most careful attendance; and the guard that accompanied him showed that already there were some apprehensions for the rear.

There was reason for it. Less than an hour later orders were issued from Pleasanton's headquarters, a mile or so further back on the Baltimore pike, for Gregg to take his cavalry force and guard against a dash down the valley of Rock Creek into the rear and centre. The rebels met the preparation and drew back to try it soon again further out the line.

The battle on the right.

I rode up the high hill where General Slocum's headquarters were established; but though it afforded an excellent view of most of our positions, the fight going on was concealed by a mask of woods on the distant hills. The Rodman guns on the hill were all manned, and the gunners were eager to try their range, but it still seemed useless. Firing in the woods, they were as likely to hit friend as foe. Signal-officers here were in communication with general headquarters, with Howard on Cemetery Hill, Hancock next him on the right, and one or two of the headquarters on the left. There was no fear of lack of certain communication between the different portions of the field, let the fortunes of the day go what way they would.

As I rode down the slope and up through the wheat-fields to Cemetery Hill, the batteries began to open again on points along our outer line. They were evidently playing on what had been Slocum's line of yesterday. The rebels, then, were there still, in our rifle-pits. Presently the battery on Slocum's hill gained the long-sought permission, and opened, too, aiming apparently in the same direction. Other batteries along the inner line, just to the left of the Baltimore pike, followed the signal, and as one after another opened up, till every little crest between Slocum's headquarters and Cemetery Hill began belching its thunder, I had to change my course through the wheat-fields to avoid our own shells.

Still no artillery response from the rebels. Could they be short of ammunition? Could they have failed to bring up all their guns? Were they, perhaps; massing artillery elsewhere, and only keeping up this furious crash of musketry on the right as a blind?

By eight o'clock I had reached Cemetery Hill. Yesterday's conflict was more plainly inscribed on the tombstones than the virtues of the buried dead they commemorated. Shells had ploughed up lately sodded graves; round shot had shattered marble columns; dead horses lay about among the monuments, and the gore of dead men soaked the soil and moistened the roots of flowers on the old graves.

This morning it was comparatively quiet again.

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