soon vanished with his four regiments, and the Second brigade was left isolated at the edge of the battle-ground.
Its best protection then was furnished by the 32-pound Parrott
rifled cannon, which some rods to the right, among the brushwood, was raking the road far ahead, and plunging shell among the strongholds which the enemy still maintained.
At half-past 12 o'clock the battle appeared to have reached its climax.
's and Heintzelman
's divisions were deep in the enemy's position, and our own force, excepting always the 2d brigade, was well at work.
The discharges of artillery and musketry caused a continuous and unbroken roar, which sometimes swelled tumultuously to terrific crashes, but never lulled.
On the heights before us, bodies of infantry were plainly seen driving with fury one against the other, and slowly pressing towards the left — another proof that our advance was resisted in vain.
At one point, the rebels seemed determined to risk all rather than retreat.
Many a regiment was brought to meet our onset, and all were swept back with the same impetuous charges.
Prisoners who were subsequently brought in admitted that some of our troops, especially the 71st New York regiment, literally mowed down and annihilated double their number.
regiments, in succession, were cut right and left by the 71st.
The flanking column was now fully discernible, and the junction of our forces was evidently not far distant.
The gradual abandonment of their positions by the rebels could not be doubted.
At some points they fled precipitately, but in most cases moved regularly to the rear.
It is probable that they only deserted one strong post for another even stronger, and that however far we might have crushed them back we should still have found them intrenched and fortified to the last — even to Manassas
But they had positively relinquished the entire line in which they had first arrayed themselves against Tyler
's division, excepting one fortified elevation at the left, which could and should have been carried by the 2d brigade an hour before.
How far the enemy had retreated before Hunter
, I cannot say, but I am given to understand that they had forsaken all excepting one powerful earthwork with lofty embankments, upon the highest ground of their field.
It was this work, which, later in the day, was stormed by the Zouaves, and other regiments, and which, in spite of a daring and intrepidity which our rebel prisoners speak of with amazement, resisted their charge.
But other important works had been carried by the 3d and 4th brigades on our side, so that little appeared to remain for our victory but to perfect the union of the two columns, and to hold the ground we had won.
The fire now slackened on both sides for several minutes.
Although the movements of our own troops were mainly hidden, we could see a peculiar activity among the enemy at the spot where they had been most vehemently repulsed by Heintzelman
A long line of apparently fresh regiments was brought forward, and formed at the edge of a grove through which our men had penetrated.
Four times we saw this line broken, and reformed by its officers, who rode behind, and drove back those who fled with their swords.
A fifth time it was shattered, and reformed, but could not be made to stand fast, and was led back to the fortified ground.
This afforded us who looked on from the lower battle-field, a new ground for the conviction that the triumph would be with us.
For nearly half an hour after this we were left in great uncertainty.
The enemy languished, and our own movements seemed clogged by some mysterious obstacle.
All that was done within our view was the leading forward of Schenck
's brigade a few hundred rods on the open road.
But as many of us, lookers-on, had long before passed ahead to Bull Run
, and assured ourselves that the field was open for nearly a mile in advance, this was not regarded as of much importance.
From Bull Run
, the aspect of the field was truly appalling.
The enemy's dead lay strewn so thickly that they rested upon one another, the ground refusing space to many that had fallen.
Few of our men had suffered here, although it seemed that further on they lay in greater numbers.
But the attention of those who gazed was quickly turned from these awful results of the battle to the imminent hazard of its renewal.
Down towards our left, which had so long been exposed, a new line of troops moved with an alacrity that indicated entire freshness.
As they swept around to the very woods upon which the Second brigade rested, the artillery from the last intrenchments they held upon this field — that which should have been overrun betimes by our idle troops — opened with new vigor.
Grape and round shot, most accurately aimed, struck the ground before, behind, and each side of Gen. Schenck
and the group of officers about him. The Ohio
regiments were somewhat sheltered by a cleft in the road, but the New York 2d was more exposed.
was in great danger, to which, I am glad to say, he seemed perfectly insensible, riding always through the hottest of the fire as if nothing more serious than a shower of paper pellets threatened him. But more than this Gen. Schenck
Nevertheless, our work progressed.
, with the engineers, had completed a bridge across the run, over which our ambulances were to pass for the wounded, and by which our artillery could be planted in new positions.
Even then, although that stealthy column was winding, awkwardly for us, about our left, no person dreamed that the day was lost.
The men of the brigade, at least, were firm, although they began to suffer severely.
Horrible gaps and chasms appeared once or twice in the ranks of the New York 2d. Four men