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[160] he would be pursued and destroyed, delayed the attack until four o'clock in the afternoon. Then suddenly little gray dots could be seen to emerge from the ground held by the enemy and to advance in the direction in which their skirmishers had been deployed. The enemy were doubling their skirmishers. The line of skirmishers thus doubled advanced in quick time but without firing a shot. Suddenly up rose behind then the whole rebel line with vast masses in columns doubled on the centre in rear of the wings. A fence ran across the field in front of our position. The rebel line reached it, coolly laid it down to the ground throughout its whole extent, and then marched on. Our skirmishers fired at them, but, they paid no heed to them. Their skirmishers pressed on without firing a gun until they were almost upon our line, then opened a galling and murderous fire to stagger our line, so that the rebel avalanche might the more utterly overwhelm it, then at a command from their officers rallied on the rebel line and became a part of it. Our front line was overwhelmed and swept away. The second, fighting bravely as the first had done, was dashed to pieces in like manner. Large masses of our troops detached from the right wing were hurried across the river. Batteries posted on the right ploughed down the rebel ranks as they pressed up to the ford. Still they rushed up to the very edge of the stream and shot down our men in the water. But their doom was sealed and their destruction certain. A force attacked them in their right flank as they pressed up to the stream, our fresh troops crossed over and charged them in front, while our batteries on their left enfiladed their whole line and swept whole ranks at every discharge. Driven from the bank in disorder, they fled across the field in the wildest confusion, our batteries mowing them down and our infantry pursuing them a mile and a half. The enemy had calculated well. It was now too dark to continue the pursuit, and the rebels had time to recover from their panic. At the time that the enemy were being hardest pressed on the left, they began a furious assault on our right centre to create a diversion in favor-of their shattered right, but they were soon repulsed, and accomplished nothing.

Saturday the third, passed much as Thursday the first had done, except that the rebel fire was visibly feebler and less in both volume and extent. The day was spent principally in rationing our suffering troops. After this had been done, Gen. Rousseau obtained leave from Gen. Thomas and Gen. Rosecrans to drive the rebels from the woods in our front on the left of the road. Just before dark, Loomis and Guenther were ordered to open on the woods with shells. Two regiments of Col. Beatty's brigade were advanced to the extreme front to charge into the woods at double-quick time at the proper moment. The rest of the division was held in readiness to support them as circumstances might require. Guenther and Loomis opened a terrific fire on the woods. Nothing in this whole bloody drama was more sublime than this terrific tire just as the cloudy night was closing in. Their guns seemed to vomit flame and death upon the rebels in a continuous stream. At a signal, the cannonading ceased, skirmishers were deployed at double-quick, and both skirmishers and the line dashed forward at double-quick into the woods. The enemy were taken by surprise, and one regiment captured or destroyed entirely. Our men carried the first line of the rebel works. Sixty yards beyond was a second line. From behind these the enemy poured a fearful stream of fire into our troops through the darkness, but could not dislodge them. The firing gradually subsided as the night deepened, and we awaited the dawn of Monday morning to drive the rebels from their second line; for Gen. Rosecrans felt too sacred a regard for the Sabbath to attack on that day. But when Monday came, the rebels were gone, and we were undisputed possessors of the bloody field.

Such was the battle of Stone River, a name at which a thousand hearts will ache and floods of sorrow flow, but which to others is the thrilling sound, the prophet's word, which delivers their own names to fame and history forever. The name of Rosecrans, already famous, has now become immortal. Even when worsted, he clung to the ground and his purpose with a tenacity which wrung victory from the hands of unwilling fate. Of all our commanding generals, he is the only one that knows how to fight a battle. Gen. Thomas too deserves a large meed of praise. In every quality that constitutes the perfect soldier and then adorns him, he is without a superior. Of the heroism and capacity displayed by Rousseau, language is powerless to convey an adequate idea. Not Ney himself, the bravest of the brave, ever bore himself more nobly. Important as was the service he rendered at Chaplin Hills, I think it trifling by the side of what he has done here. With a single eagle glance he detected the key to the position, and then with the contagion of his heroism inspired his men to hold it. As he rode along the line, after getting it posted, and just as the tempest of death burst upon us, repeating to his men the words, “I am going to stay here, right here — will you stay with me through death or life?” and was answered with a cheer, I thought I had seen the culminating point of the magnanimous sublime. The most stolid face in all that line was lighted up with a radiant enthusiasm caught from their heroic General. His manner of posting the centre entitled him to a place among the best military minds of the age; his manner of maintaining the position placed him forever by the side of Ney, Bozzaris, and Leonidas. Lieut.-Col. Berry, of the Louisville Legion, acquitted himself nobly, as all who know him always knew he would. Major King, of the Fifteenth infantry, won the admiration of all who saw the grand and perilous movement, by his manner of handling his battalion in the terrible fight in the cedars. He fell severely wounded. It is to be hoped that the Government will. after a while, open its eyes to his rare qualifications for a high commander. A soldier of twenty-five

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William S. Rosecrans (3)
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