of the enemy, for the instant advance in force of our column of assault.
The explosion had occurred; the Rebel
fort had been hoisted 200 feet, and had fallen in fragments; our guns had opened all along the front, eliciting a far feebler and ineffective response; but several minutes passed — precious, fatal minutes!--before Ledlie
's division, clearing with difficulty the obstacles in its path — went forward into
the chasm, and there stopped, though the enemy at that point were still paralyzed and the deciding crest completely at our mercy.
Then parts of Burnside
's two remaining White
's and Wilcox
's) followed; but, once in the crater, Ledlie
's men barred the way to a farther advance, and all huddled together, losing their formation and becoming mixed up; Gen. Potter
finally extricating himself, and charging toward the crest; but with so slender a following that he was soon obliged to fall back.
Two hours were thus shamefully squandered, while the Rebels
, recovering their self-possession, were planting batteries on either side, and mustering their infantry in an adjacent ravine; and now — when more men in the crater could only render the confusion more hopeless and magnify the disaster — Burnside
threw in his Black division; which, passing beyond and rather to the right of the crater, charged toward the crest, but were met by a fire of artillery and musketry which speedily hurled them back into the crater, where all order was lost, all idea of aught beyond personal safety abandoned, while the enemy's shells and balls poured into it like hail, rendering it an arena of unresisted slaughter.
The Black charge, feeble as it was, had given us a few prisoners; but now our men could no more retreat than advance; the enemy's guns sweeping the ground between the chasm and our front.
A first Rebel assault on our unfortunates was repulsed in sheer desperation; and thousands, of course, took the risk of darting out of the death-trap and racing at top speed to our lines; but our loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 4,400; while that of the enemy, including 300 blown up in the fort, was barely 1,000.
Undismayed by the disastrous result of “this [needlessly] miserable affair,” as he fitly characterizes it, Grant
paused scarcely a fortnight before he resumed the offensive; returning to successive operations on both flanks.
Once more, Hancock
against the front of the Rebel
left, facing Deep Bottom
; his depleted corps being strengthened by the 10th, now led by Birney
, and by Gregg
's division of cavalry.
Again pushing out to the right, Hancock
attempted to flank the Rebel
defenses across Bailey
's creek: Barlow
, with two divisions, being sent around to assault in flank and rear; while Mott
's division menaced their eastern front, and Birney
's corps assailed them next the river.
gained some advantage, taking 4 guns; but Barlow
's assault was delivered by a single brigade, and came to nothing.
In fact, Hancock
had been delayed in landing his men, so that Lee
, forewarned, had begun to reenforce this flank; as he did more fully next day: so that, when our troops again advanced