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[311] decimation to no purpose, ordered them, after dark, to fall back a sort distance to a point where the irregularities of the ground afforded them comparative shelter and safety.

The two following days were devoted to bringing up and distributing provisions — the campaign in Mississippi having thus far been prosecuted on our part with scarcely a day's rations for three days service: the country traversed being drawn upon for whatever it could afford: while roads were made, cannon planted, &c.; the enemy likewise improving the time to the utmost. And now Gen. Grant ordered a second and more determined assault at all points, to be made simultaneously at 10 A. A. M.1

At the moment named, our soldiers darted from under cover and rushed upon the Rebel works before them — their men all shielded by their breastworks, while ours were necessarily exposed to a close and deadly fire.

Sherman's attack was made by Frank Blair's division, led by the brigade of Gen. Hugh S. Ewing, 30th Ohio, with Giles Smith's and T. Kilby Smith's closely following; sharp-shooters skirmishing in the advance, and a storming party carrying boards and poles wherewith to bridge the ditch--five batteries concentrating their fire on the enemy's bastion constructed to command the approach.

In vain. The storming party had reached the salient of the bastion unassailed, and passed toward the sally-port, when there shot up behind the parapet, a double rank of the enemy, who poured on the head of the column a fire that swept it down in an instant. No troops could or should persist in braving such utter, useless destruction. The rear of the column attempted to rush on; but it was madness; and soon all had sought cover from that deadly fire.

Still, the assault was not abandoned; but, swerving to the left, Ewing's men, in the advance, crossed the ditch on the left face of the bastion, and, climbing up its exterior slope, planted their colors near the top, and burrowed in the earth for shelter from the flanking fire of the enemy; while Giles Smith's brigade, turning down a ravine, found cover, formed line, and threatened the parapet still farther to the left; Kilby Smith deploying his men on the off slope of a spur of hill, and keeping up, with Ewing's, a fire on any head that appeared above the parapet. Our artillery and infantry being still at work, our stormers easily held their ground; and, at length, Giles Smith's and Ransom's brigades attempted to carry the parapet by assault; but were repelled with loss.

Meantime, Steele's division, which had advanced half a mile farther to the right, was fighting desperately to little profit; yet, on the receipt of a dispatch from McClernand to Grant, announcing that his corps lad carried three Rebel forts, Sherman ordered Tuttle to renew the assault on his left; and Mower's brigade was sent up where Ewing's had been repulsed. Lower did his best; and the colors of his leading regiment (11th Missouri) were planted beside those of Blair's storming party, and there remained till withdrawn after nightfall;

1 May 22.

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