When they drove their wedge toward Corinth, one flange on the Bolivar road, the other on a branch of the Chewalla, they intended both wings should extend together. Topographical and artificial obstructions interrupted Van Dorn. He was obliged to sweep over a rugged ravine, through dense thickets, up hill over a heavy abattis with his left; it was necessary for his centre to dip down hill under the fire of Fort Williams, Capt. Gau's siege-guns in the rear of the town, and under heavy musketry, while his right had to girdle a ridge and move over almost insurmountable abattis under a point-blank fire of both Fort Williams and Fort Robinette, sup-ported by a splendid division of veteran troops. The latter fort had ten-pounder Parrotts, three of them — the former thirty-pounder Parrotts, which devour men. It was a task to be accomplished, or a terrible failure to be recorded. Price had comparatively plain sailing, and lost no time. Van Dorn was seven or eight minutes behind time. During that precious seven minutes Price was overwhelmed, and Van Dorn was left with a feat of desperation to be accomplished. He tried it audaciously. His men obeyed magnificently. Evidently he relied chiefly on Texas and Mississippi, for the troops of those States were in front. The wings were sorely distressed in the entanglement on either side. Two girdles of bristling steel glistened on the waist of the ridge. Two brigades, one supporting the front at close distance, moved up solidly toward the face of the fort. The Parrotts of both redoubts were pouring shot and shell, and grape and canister into them from the moment of command--“for ward — charge!” shouted clearly from the brave Col. Rogers, (acting Brigadier,) of Texas. They tell me it was a noble exhibition of desperate daring. At every discharge great gaps were cut through their ranks. No faltering, but the ranks were closed and they moved steadily to the front, bending their heads to the storm. Dozens were slaughtered while thrusting themselves through the rugged timber, but no man wavered. Onward, onward, steady and unyielding as fate, their General in front. At last they reach the ditch. It is an awful moment. They pause to take breath for a surge — a fatal pause. Texas Rogers, with the rebel flag in his left, revolver in his right, advanced firing, leaped the ditch, scaled the parapet, waved his banner aloft and tumbled headlong into the ditch. A patriot's bullet had killed him in the moment of triumph. Five Texans who followed pitched forward through the embrasures like logs, and fell into the fort. But we anticipate. Remember that the two redoubts are on the same ridge, Fort Williams commanding Fort Robinette, which is in front. Had the rebels taken the latter the guns of the former would have destroyed them. They were separated by a space not exceeding one hundred and fifty yards. The Ohio brigade, commanded by Col. Fuller, was formed behind the ridge, on the right of the redoubts. The left of the Sixty-third Ohio resting on Fort Robinette, its right joining the left of the Twenty-seventh Ohio; the Thirty-ninth was behind the Twenty-seventh supporting it; the right of the Forty-third joined the left of the Sixty-third, forming a right angle with it, and extending to Fort Williams, behind the crest of the ridge. The Eleventh Missouri, Col. Mower, (U. S.A.,) was formed behind the Sixty-third Ohio, its left in the angle, and the regiment faced obliquely to the right of the Sixty-third. The positions of these gallant regiments should be described, because their actions are memorable. Colonel Fuller, perfectly collected, required his brigade to lie flat on their faces when not engaged. While the enemy was steadily approaching he warned them to wait till they could see the whites of their eyes, then fire coolly. It was at the moment the Texan Rogers was flaunting his flag on our parapet, that the Sixty-third was ordered to fire. Dead Capt. McFadden gave the first command of his life to fire in the field of battle, and he fell mortally wounded. There were only two hundred and fifty of the Sixty-third in the conflict, but their volley was fearful. It is said fifty rebels fell at once. Six volleys were fired and the rebels were gone. The Sixty-third again laid down. Directly the supporting brigade of the rebels advanced. The Sixty-third was ordered to make a half left wheel to sweep the front of the redoubt, and the manoeuvre was handsomely executed. The Eleventh Missouri moved on the left into line into the vacant space; the Forty-third moved by the right of companies to the left, and the Twenty-seventh half-faced to the left. Suddenly the enemy appeared, and a furious storm of lead and grape was launched at them. The Sixty-third fired five or six volleys and the rebels rushed upon them. A terrific hand-to-hand combat ensued. The rage of the combatants was furious and the uproar hideous. It lasted hardly a minute, but the carnage was dreadful. Bayonets were used, muskets clubbed, and men were felled with brawny fists. Our noble fellows were victors, but at sickening cost. Of the two hundred and fifty of the splendid Sixty-third, one hundred and twenty-five lay there on the field, wounded, dead, or dying. The last final struggle terminated with a howl of rage and dismay. The foe flung away their arms and fled like frightened stags to the abattis and forests. The batteries were still vomiting destruction. With the enemy plunging in upon him, brave Robinette, with his faithful gunners of the First United States artillery, double shotted his guns and belched death upon the infuriate enemy, and now he sent the iron hail after the fugitives with relentless fury. The abattis was full of them, but they were subdued. Directly they begun to wave their hankerchiefs upon sticks in token of submission, shouting to spare them “for God's sake.” Over two hundred of them were taken within an area of a hundred yards, and more than two hundred of them fell on that frightful assault upon Fort Robinette. Fifty-six dead rebels were heaped up together in front of that redoubt, most of whom were of the Second Texas and Fourth Mississippi. They were buried in one pit, but their brave General
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.