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[629] and manoeuvered; finally attempting to force, by sharp fighting, a way between Kenesaw and Pine mountains. In the desultory conflict that ensued, Lt.-Gen. Polk, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, was instantly killed1 by a cannon-ball. He was engaged, with Johnston and Hardee, in making observations, when they were observed on our side, and two shots fired at them — it was said by Thomas's order — the first of which scattered the party to places of safety; but Polk soon tired of his, and, coming out to watch the firing, was struck in the side by a three-inch shot, which tore him to pieces. He neither spoke nor breathed thereafter.

Pushing forward wherever the rugged nature of the ground would permit, with frequent assaults and constant battering and picket-firing, Sherman compelled the enemy to abandon Pine mountain,2 and then Lost mountain,3 with the long line of strong breastworks connecting the latter with Kenesaw. Meantime, rain fell almost incessantly; the narrow mountain roads were rocky gullies; and the Rebel batteries on Kenesaw belched iron constantly at our lines — the balls generally passing harmlessly over the heads of our men, whom the enemy's guns could not be depressed sufficiently to reach.

It being evident that we were steadily though slowly gaining ground, especially on our right, a sally and attack were made 4 by the enemy, led by Hood, with intent to interpose between Thomas's right and Schofield's left, near what was known as “the Kulp house.” The blow fell on Williams's division of Hooker's corps, and Hascall's of Schofield's army, but utterly failed — the enemy being repulsed from our lines with heavy loss, including some prisoners.

Sherman now determined to assault in turn, and did 5 so, after careful preparation, at two points, south of Kenesaw, and in front of Gens. Thomas and McPherson respectively; but the enemy's position was found, at fearful cost, absolutely impregnable — each attack being signally repulsed, with an aggregate loss of 3,000, including Gens. Harker and Dan. McCook, killed, and Col. Rice, with other valuable officers, badly wounded. The Rebels, thoroughly sheltered by their works, reported their loss at 442.

Gen. Sherman, in his report, defends this assault as follows:

Upon studying the ground, I had no alternative but to assault or turn the enemy's position. Either course had its difficulties and dangers. And I perceived that the enemy and our own officers had settled down into a conviction that I would not assault fortified lines. All looked to me to outflank. An army, to be efficient, must not settle down to one single mode of offense, but must be prepared to execute any plan that promises success. I wished, therefore, for the moral effect, to make a successful assault on the enemy behind his breast-works. * * * Failure as it was, and for which I assume the entire responsibility, I yet claim that it produced good fruits; as it demonstrated to Gen. Johnston that I would assault, and that boldly; and we also gained and held ground so close to the enemy's parapets that he could not show a head above them.

If these be sound reasons, they at least as fully justify Grant's order to assault at Cold Harbor: Kenesaw being a palpable Gibraltar, which Cold Harbor is not.

Sherman did not choose to rest on this bloody repulse; but, waiting only

1 June 14.

2 June 15.

3 June 17.

4 June 22.

5 June 27.

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