as well as so heavy, that it was scarcely checked by the advanced works held too long by the two brigades aforesaid, but swept over them like a torrent, hurling back our men in tumultuous rout, taking many prisoners, and driving the residue right through the center of our main line, which not merely opened to receive them, but kept widening after they had rushed past.
In an instant, the wings next that pike of the 2d and 3d divisions of the 23d (Cox
's) corps recoiled before the enemy's charge; the hill was lost, 8 of our guns taken, and the Rebel
flag planted in triumph on our breastworks, as the exulting victors, having passed over them, hastily formed on the inside, intending to follow up their triumph.
Caissons as well as men streamed wildly to the bridges, supposing the day utterly lost and nothing left to do but save from the wreck as much as possible.
“First brigade! Forward to the works!”
rang out the steady voice of Opdycke
, as the rabble rout swept by; he riding rapidly forward as the bayonets of his men came down to a charge, flashing back the rays of the setting sun. Swiftly, steadily, grandly, that brigade rushed upon the foe; a brief but bloody struggle ensued; and at its close no Rebel remained upon or inside of the works but the dead and wounded, with 300 prisoners. Our guns were recovered; 10 Rebel battle-flags taken; our line was restored, and Opdycke
's headquarters established here on the pike; and here they remained till the last shot was fired that night.
Our defenses had been regained as much by surprise as by valor — the enemy not expecting a countercharge — they must now be held by valor alone.
Exasperated rather than disconcerted, Hood
threw heavy masses against the lost breastworks, hoping to retake them before they could be adequately manned; while Opdycke
, first exhausting all the shots in his revolver, employed it as a club to drive up stragglers to the help of his heroic brigade; and, when he had broken the pistol, he dismounted and borrowed a musket, which he found even more efficient in the work of persuasion; driving skulkers out of the reserve for in which they had sought and found comparative safety.1
Of course, his efforts and those of his men were nobly supported by others — there being ample scope and work for all.
The battle raged fiercely till 10 P. M.; the enemy shifting gradually to our right and attacking on the flank; where they were more especially confronted and repelled by Stanley
's 1st division, Gen. Nathan Kimball
But our lines were never again broken: assault after assault being repulsed with great loss to the assailants and smaller to the defenders; until the enemy desisted; and then, a little after midnight--our trains being by this time well on their way — our men quietly drew out of their defenses, and followed; until, about noon, our weary, sleepless heroes were safe within the defenses of Nashville