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[474] of the day. Our centre, however, stands as firm as adamant, and they fall back. Pursuit on our part is useless, for if we drove the enemy at all on the other side of the river, it would be against the side of the mountain, where one man, fighting for his life and liberty, disciplined or undisciplined, would be equal to a dozen.

Meanwhile deadly work has been going on among our artillery. Whatever they may have made others suffer, nearly all the companies have suffered severely themselves. The great balls and shells of the enemy have been thrown with wonderful accuracy, and dead and wounded men, horses and disabled caissons are visible in every battery. The instructions from Gen. Lee are that there shall be no more artillery duels. Instead, therefore, of endeavoring to silence the enemy's guns, Col. Walton directs his artillery to receive the fire of their antagonists quietly, and deliver their own against the Federal infantry. The wisdom of the order is apparent at every shot, for with the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, they might have defeated us at the outset, but for the powerful and well-directed adjuncts we possessed in our heavy guns.

Time and again did the Federals perseveringly press close up to our ranks, so near, indeed, that their supporting batteries had to cease firing lest they should kill their own men, but just as often were they driven back by the combined elements of destruction which we brought to bear upon them. It was an hour when every man was wanted. The sharp-shooters of the enemy were picking off our principal officers continually, and especially those who made themselves conspicuous in the batteries. In this manner the company of Captain Miller, of the Washington artillery, was nearly disabled, only two out of his four guns being fully manned. As it occupied a position directly under the eye of Gen. Longstreet, and he saw the valuable part it was performing in defending, the centre, that officer dismounted himself from his horse, and assisted by his Adjutant-General, Major Sorrel, Major Fairfax and General Drayton, worked one of the guns until the crisis was passed. To see a general officer wielding the destinies of a great fight, with its care and responsibilities upon his shoulders, performing the duty of a common soldier, in the thickest of the conflict, is a picture worthy the pencil of an artist.

The result of this battle, though at one time doubtful, was finally decisive. The enemy were driven across the river with a slaughter that was terrible. A Federal officer who was wounded, and afterward taken prisoner, observed to one of our officers that he could count almost the whole of his regiment on the ground around him. I did not go over the field, but a gentleman who did, and who has been an actor in all our battles, informed me that he never, even upon the bloody field of Manassas, saw so many dead men before. The ground was black with them, and, according to his estimate, the Federals had lost eight to our one. Happily, though our casualties are very considerable, most of them are in wounds.

There now ensued a silence of two hours, broken only by the occasional discharges of artillery. It was a sort of breathing time, when the panting combatants, exhausted by the battle, stood silently eyeing each other, and making ready — the one to strike, and the other to ward off, another staggering blow.

It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon, but notwithstanding the strange lull in the storm, no one believed it would not be renewed before night. Intelligence has come from the rear that General A. P. Hill was advancing from Harper's Ferry with the force which Jackson had left behind, and every eye was turned anxiously in that direction. In a little while we saw some of his troops moving cautiously, under cover of the woods and hills, to the front, and in an hour more he was in position on the right. Here, about four o'clock, the enemy had made another bold demonstration. Fifteen thousand of their troops in one mass had charged our lines, and after vainly resisting them, we were slowly giving back before superior numbers.

Our total force here was less than six thousand men; and had it not been for the admirably planted artillery, under command of Major Garnett, nothing, until the arrival of reenforcements, could have prevented an irretrievable defeat. I know less of this position of the field than any other, but from those who were engaged I heard glowing accounts of the excellent behavior of Jenkins's brigade, and the Second and Twentieth Georgia, the latter under the command of Col. Cummings. The last two regiments have been especial subjects of comment, because of the splendid manner in which they successively met and defeated seven regiments of the enemy, who advanced across a bridge, and were endeavoring to secure a position on this side of the river. They fought until they were cut to pieces, and then retreated only because they had fired their last round. It was at this juncture that the immense Yankee force crossed the river, and made the dash against our line which well-nigh proved a success. The timely arrival of Gen. A. P. Hill, however, with fresh troops, entirely changed the fortune of the day, and, after an obstinate contest, which lasted from five o'clock until dark, the enemy were driven into and across the river with great loss. During this fight the Federals had succeeded in flanking and capturing a battery belonging, as I learn, to the brigade of General Toombs. Instantly dismounting from his horse and placing himself at the head of his command, the General, in his effective way, briefly told them that the battery must be retaken if it cost the life of every man in his brigade, and then ordered them to follow him. Follow him they did into what seemed the very jaws of destruction, and after a short but fierce struggle they had the satisfaction of capturing the prize and restoring it to its original possessors.

Throughout the day there occurred many instances of personal valor and heroic sacrifice, on the part of both officers and men; but, at this

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A. P. Hill (4)
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