previous next

[604] was in advance, to lead the brigade forward on the hill road. This was promptly complied with, and the brigade moved on without interruption, until within one mile of the outer works of the enemy. At this point, the road was completely filled with felled timber, the largest forest growth intermingling and overlapping its whole length, whilst on either side precipitous and impassable ravines were found running up even to the very intrenchments of the enemy. It was utterly impossible to move my artillery or ammunition train along this road; the obstacles were so great, indeed, that I was under the necessity of directing every officer of my command to dismount, and proceed on foot — a dire necessity, which subsequent events gave occasion seriously to deplore. After crawling through the interstices of the closely jutting limbs and boughs, and climbing over the thickly matted timber, for one mile, my line of skirmishers, who had been ordered by me not to fire, came within sight of the enemy. I went to the front, and could plainly see that the enemy was on the alert, and evidently expecting and awaiting an attack. The order of the Lieutenant-General commanding was to assault the fortifications with the several attacking columns, precisely at daylight on the morning of the fourth. Not having been apprised of the obstructions in the road, I made no arrangements to remove them. The limited time to daylight would not allow of an attempt even to take my artillery along. It was ordered to remain in the road, where the obstructions were first met with. To conform to orders, it was necessary for me to move with the utmost celerity. Freeing myself of everything except my column of infantry, I pushed forward with all the haste in my power.

At daylight I reached and attacked the enemy in his works. Colonel Hawthorne being in advance, was hurried rapidly into line on the right of the road, which led directly up to the fort on Hindman's Hill. He at once engaged the enemy, who occupied their extreme or outer line of rifle-pits. Bell's regiment emerged next from the confused mass of felled timber, and coming up was also double-quicked into line on the left of the road, engaging as they came into position the intrenched forces of the enemy, over against them. King's regiment brought up the rear. He rapidly threw his men into position, and was ordered by me immediately to the support of Colonel Hawthorne. My entire force was now engaged. The assault upon the rifle-pits was made from both the right and left of the road. Never did men behave with greater steadiness and gallantry than did the troops of those three regiments. Over the heavy timber, the deep gorges, and the precipitous banks, they moved. Over opposite to them ran the long line of fortifications, towards which they moved with eager, anxious steps. Cowering behind their strong works, the enemy beheld their advance with consternation. Still on they moved, unhesitatingly, amid the “leaden rain and iron hail.” The gorge is passed, the ascent of the steep acclivity is nearly gained, the red line of rifle-pits looms up clearly amid the uncertain light and haze of dawn. With a shout of triumph they rush towards it, and the enemy are driven pell-mell from one row of the rifle-pits to another. Up to this time there had been no attack at. any other point. Daybreak had come and gone, and still the guns of my brigade and those of the enemy were the only ones that interrupted the stillness of the morning. Owing to this my brigade was exposed to a constant and galling enfilading fire from the works on Graveyard Hill. This exposure, combined with the close and constant fire in our front, was most trying to the men. Their numbers were being rapidly decimated, not only by the fire of the enemy, but by extreme exhaustion, occasioned by their scaling the steepest of hills, made almost impassable by quantities of timber cut down, which was of itself an almost insurmountable barrier to our advance. We reached and took possession of the fourth tier of rifle-pits. Now it was that the column commanded by Major-General Price (Parsons' and McRae's brigades), charged the works on Graveyard Hill, gallantly driving the enemy before them, and taking possession of their fortifications and artillery. There remained yet one row of intrenchments between my brigade and the fort on Hindman's Hill. I ordered a charge. My men, though thoroughly exhausted and worn, answered with a shout, and sprang forward most gallantly. This being the inner and last line of works between us and the enemy, of course was defended with great stubbornness. It was of no avail. My men sprang forward bravely and defiantly, and, after a severe contest, succeeded in driving out the enemy, who fled, crowding back into the frowning fort, and under cover of its heavy guns. The fort yet remains to be taken. Of all the many obstacles and threatening fortifications that opposed our advance that morn, there only remained the fort. All other obstacles, natural and artificial, had been overcome — rugged and almost impassable ravines — the steepest and most broken hillsides, abatis, and line after line of breastworks, had been passed and left behind. Before us there only remained the fort, and the plain on which it was built. Notwithstanding the reduced condition of my command and the exhaustion of those yet remaining, I ordered a charge upon the fort. My Colonels, King, Hawthorne, and Bell, did all in their power to encourage the men to the attack. The effort Was made, but the prostrate condition of my command prevented success, and after losing in the attempt several gallant officers and many brave men, I formed again in rear of the inner line of rifle-pits, whilst the guns of the fort continued to pour forth a furious fire.

It was now verging on eleven o'clock in the day. More than three hours before, the guns on Graveyard Hill had been taken by our friends, and there seemed no obstacle in the way of their victorious march. Eagerly did we look to see their column coming to our aid, and at first with

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
A. T. Hawthorne (3)
E. B. Bell (2)
Sterling Price (1)
M. M. Parsons (1)
Dandridge McRae (1)
Heaquarters King (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: