position at the extreme right, in the rear of the first brigade of Ricketts's division. Immediately after the line of battle was formed, the right, left and centre commenced moving simultaneously toward the enemy on the slope of the mountains. The rebels opened on the column with two pieces, of cannon, directing the fire of one to the right, and of the other to the left of the line. They were replied to by one of Simmons's twenty-pounders on our left, and Cooper's battery on our right. The enemy continued the firing for upward of an hour, when, on account of the severe punishment he was receiving from our guns, and the near approach of our infantry to his pieces, he disappeared on the other side of the mountain. The enemy's shells for the most part went over the Union troops, consequently they did not effect much damage. Steadily onward went our long unbroken line of infantry, until the right wing had gained a piece of woods on the mountain, a short distance from the base, when the Bucktails, who were skirmishing on the right, discovered the enemy's pickets. A desultory rattling of musketry was next heard, which indicated the commencement of the battle on the part of the infantry. The column from right to left still remained unbroken, and advanced cautiously but firmly up the steep. In a short time the enemy's main force was encountered, and then came heavy volleys of musketry on the right. The Pennsylvania reserve corps and the First brigade of Ricketts's division were now hotly engaging the enemy. The rebels stood their ground for a while, but after a contest of thirty minutes they wavered, and commenced falling back in disorder toward the summit of the mountains. Our forces pushed them vigorously, and kept up a continuous fire. The valor displayed on this occasion by the Pennsylvania reserves, and the corps formerly under the command of McDowell, is deserving of the highest praise. Not a straggler could be seen on the field. Every man was at his post in the line. They all seemed determined to force back the enemy and take possession of the mountains, in spite of any opposition that might be placed in their way. Gen. Hooker, accompanied by his staff, was where he always is on such occasions — at the front. The line did not give way for an instant, but kept moving forward and upward, pouring volley after volley of musketry into the enemy's ranks, until at last the rebels broke and ran precipitately to the top of the mountain — thence down on the other side. Reno's corps on the left did its part nobly. The men were called upon to do some severe fighting, and they performed their duty with a will and heroism seldom before displayed. The engagement on the left succeeded that on the right, and lasted about an hour and a half. The enemy contested every foot of ground, but eventually yielded it to the conquerors. The centre column was the last to come into the action. The same success that marked the advance of the two wings also attended the centre. At six P. M., after an engagement of three hours duration, the rebels fled, leaving the top of the mountain in the possession of the Union troops. Darkness prevented us from pursuing the enemy further at the time. The result of the battle secures to the Union troops a very important position, inasmuch as it commands the approaches on each side of the mountain, also a vast area of the surrounding country. I estimate, as before stated, that two thousand will cover the list of our casualties. I think that the enemy's loss in killed and wounded will not exceed our own. Altogether we captured two thousand prisoners. Gen. Reno was killed on the field of battle. At the time of the calamity he was observing, by aid of a glass, the enemy's movements. He was struck in the spine by a musket-ball — the ball lodging in the breast.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.