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[152]

During the day the temperature rose to ninety-four degrees in the shade.

Soon after daybreak the skirmishers of both sides began with scattering shots, which presently came thicker and faster; the batteries came into play, and shells were falling and bursting all around. So it continued until half-past 9. Then came a sudden and amazing change in the whole aspect of the battle. A vast column of gleaming bayonets was seen to flash from the woods east of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad; long lines of determined, gray-clad troops of Price's divisions quickly formed and began to march swiftly and steadily along the Purdy road, toward Davies and Hamilton, behind whom lay the town of Corinth. Presently the great column took the shape of a wedge as it moved impetuously forward.

General Rosecrans was prepared for the charge. He had skilfully planned to entice the Confederates to attack at a point where his carefully placed batteries and infantry could sweep the road with direct, cross, and enfilading fires. There was an outburst from the Federal guns. Gaps were torn in the moving gray column, but they were instantly filled and the lines moved on with great steadiness. A gently sloping hill led up to the Federal position. As Price's troops began the ascent, volley after volley of grape, canister, and shell were poured into their ranks, but still they marched on with a valor not surpassed by Leonidas and his Spartans at Thermopyle.

Colonel Sweeny, who commanded a brigade of Davies' division on that memorable 4th of October, gives a vivid picture of this remarkable charge:

An ominous silence took place for a few moments, when a sharp rattling of musketry was heard, accompanied by heavy volleys, and the enemy's columns burst from the woods in front and to the right, driving the sharpshooters before them and following close upon their heels. Colonel Burke's regiment fought like heroes and disputed every inch of ground as they fell back on my position. I cautioned my men, who were lying on the ground, to reserve their fire until the enemy got within

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