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[293]

Siege of Petersburg.

It was the grand old Sixth Corps that crowned its splendid record on April 2d in the last great charge of the war upon an entrenched position. Silently the troops had been brought out on the night of the 1st and placed in position just in the rear of their own picket line. The darkness hid the intended movement even from the watchful eyes of the Confederate pickets. Orders for the strictest silence had been imposed upon each man. But suddenly the pickets broke out firing, and it was only with great exertions that the officers quieted the Federal outposts. The men in the columns had maintained their positions without a sound — not a shot fired, not a word uttered. At half-past 4 in the early morning a signal gun from Fort Fisher boomed and flashed through the early light. Rushing forward, breaking the Confederate line of outposts, down streamed the blue masses upon the main line of the defenses. Into their faces the men in gray poured deadly volleys from behind the earthworks and lines of spiked abatis. The latter were rolled aside, carried by main force and tossed into the ditches. General Wright, in command of this body of men, knew from the shouts even before he saw the flag upon the breastworks that the wedge had been driven home. Leaving behind their own dead and wounded lying mingled with the bodies of the brave defenders, without waiting for orders, men from each division of the Sixth Corps pressed ahead, broke up the South Side Railroad and cut the telegraph wires. When the officers had at length calmed the ardor of their troops and re-formed the lines, a large part of the corps wheeled to the left and dashed along the Confederate entrenchments, soon overcame all resistance and swept victoriously forward as far as Hatcher's Run, capturing artillery and a large number of prisoners. There they were again re-formed, marched back to the original point of attack, and thence pushed forward in conjunction with the Twenty-fourth Corps to complete the investment of Petersburg. In this advance some Confederate batteries, very dashingly handled, inflicted considerable loss until they were driven behind the inner lines of entrenchment, when the Union troops were halted with their left resting on the Appomattox. Petersburg had fallen. The end was only a week away.

Abatis and defender in the ditch

After the last great charge


 

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Hatcher's Run (Ohio, United States) (2)
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Horatio G. Wright (2)
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April 2nd (2)
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