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[580]

Battles of Cold Harbor.

The attack was made at 4 P. M.: the enemy of course posted in a wood, which concealed their strength, facing a level, open field, across which our men advanced with great spirit under a heavy fire, carrying a good part of the enemy's advanced line of rifle-trenches and taking 600 prisoners. Their second line, however, was far stronger and more firmly held; and night fell with the Rebels still fully in its possession: our advance holding and bivouacking on the ground it had gained, at a cost of 2,000 killed and wounded. For Longstreet's corps, which had confronted our right the day before, had been moved rapidly to our left, parallel with Wright's movement, and was here facing us before the Chickahominy, as it had just been on the Tolopotomy, with a little less advantage of position but the same spirit and resolution; so that (as Lincoln once remarked to McClellan) the chief obstacle had been shifted, not surmounted, by our movement to the left. Nevertheless, Hancock was now called down from our right to the left of Wright; Warren was directed to extend his left so as to connect with Smith; while Burnside was to withdraw entirely from the front and mass on the right and rear of Warren.

These flank movements, in the presence of a vigilant and resolute enemy, may not often prove so disastrous as Rosecrans found them at the Chickamauga, but they are always critical. Burnside, attempting to obey this order in broad daylight,1 his movement was of course detected by the foe in his front, who sharply followed up his skirmishers covering the operation, taking some of them

1 June 2 P. M.

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