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[210] attack with the whole army in mass, for the purpose of breaking through the enemy's line and making one more effort to move on.

Finally the order “forward!” ran along the line, and as it advanced the chiefs of detachments, gunners and commissioned officers marched in rear, keeping up a continual cry of “Close up, men, close up!” “Go ahead now, don't lag!” “Keep up!” Thus marching, the line entered a body of woods, proceeded some distance, changed direction to the left, and emerging from the woods, halted in a large open field, beyond which was another body of woods which concealed further view in front.

After some delay, a detail for skirmish duty was ordered. Captain Jones detailed four men,--Fry and Garber the same number. Lieutenant McRae was placed in command. The infantry detailed skirmishers for their front. All arrangements completed, the men deployed and entered the woods. They had advanced but a short distance, when they encountered a strong line of picket-posts. Firing and cheering they rushed on the surprised men, who scampered away, leaving all their little conveniences behind them, and drove them for about a mile. From this point large bodies of the enemy were visible, crowding the hilltops like a blue or black cloud. It was not many minutes before a strong line of dismounted cavalry, followed by mounted men, deployed from this mass to cover the retreat of their fleeing brethren and restore the picket line. They came down the hills and across the fields, firing as they came. On looking around to see what were the chances for making a stand, Lieutenant McRae found that the infantry skirmishers had been withdrawn. The officer who had commanded them could be seen galloping away in the distance. The little squad, knowing they were alone, kept up a brisk fire on the advancing enemy, till he was close up in front and well to the rear of both flanks. On the left, not more than two hundred yards, a column of cavalry, marching by twos, had crossed the line and were still marching, as unconcernedly as possible, to the rear of McRae. Seeing this, McRae ordered his squad to retire, saying at the same time, “But don't let them see you running, boys!”

So they retired, slowly, stubbornly and returning shot for shot with the enemy, who came on at a trot, cheering valiantly, as they pursued four men and a lieutenant. The men dragged the butts of their old muskets behind them, loading as they walked. All loaded, they turned, halted, fired, received a shower of balls in return, and then again moved doggedly to the rear. A little lieutenant

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