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[576] under Gen. Whiting, which he had left on the Petersburg side of the gap in the railroad.

The attempt to turn our right was at first a decided success. Heckman's brigade, here posted, was surprised and overwhelmed. The enemy gained the rear of this flank, and was carrying all before him, when he met the 112th New York--one of three Gillmore regiments which Butler had fortunately sent to Smith as a support to his long, thin line. Joined on the instant by the 9th Maine, this regiment held the road junction which the enemy were pressing on to seize, and stubbornly refused to move. The Rebel commander, disconcerted by this unexpected resistance, and reluctant to advance in the fog to unknown and incalculable perils, desisted and withdrew.

The front of Smith's line, held by the divisions of Brooks and Weitzel, was impetuously assailed; but Smith, having found a quantity of telegraph wire lying idle, had resolved to make a precautionary use of it, by directing his men to stretch it tightly along their front, winding it occasionally around a tree or stump, at a height of two or three feet from the ground. The assaulting enemy, rushing blindly upon this in their charge, pitched headlong over it, and were shot or bayoneted ere they could regain their feet. Their attack in front was thus repulsed — the assailants recoiling with loss.

Beauregard thereupon renewed his effort to turn our right; sending a large force, and directing it to make a farther detour; which was done, and Smith thereby compelled to fall back.

Whiting, who was to have struck Gillmore on our left, failed, for some reason, to do so; hence, Gillmore stood in idle expectancy, until Smith drew back, when he did likewise. We had lost in this collision about 4,000 men; the Rebels at least 3,000. Beauregard cautiously followed up, and erected a line of works across the peninsula in front of ours; so that Gen. Butler wrote to Gen. Grant that he was “bottled up :” a remark that the Lieutenant-General, rather inconsiderately, adopts in his report of the campaign. So long as our navy and transports held undisputed possession of the rivers, enabling Butler to launch his troops in any direction but directly northward, the remark had but little pertinence or force; as the unobstructed and ready withdrawal1 soon afterward, of Smith's corps to reenforce the Army of the Potomac, sufficiently proves. When that detachment was required, Butler was on the point of striking that determined blow at Petersburg which should have been his first, and, but for misinformation as to Lee's discomfiture, probably would have been successful.

There was further fighting along Gen. Butler's front, on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, with considerable loss on each side; but without decisive results. Gen. Terry's line was forced back on the 20th, but reestablished next day. And Gen. Kautz, who had been sent on a cavalry raid to cut the railroads leading southward and westward from Petersburg, acting with caution, achieved but a moderate success; cutting the Danville road at Coalfield, Powhattan, and Chula, bit failing to destroy the iron bridge at

1 May 30-31.

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