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[450] the bridges, which was scarcely commenced by Moody's, Rhett's and Parker's batteries when the assaulting column issued from the town preceded by a cloud of skirmishers and moving by the flank down the Telegraph and Plank roads crossed the canal.

No sooner did their columns appear than the eleven guns of Walton and Maurin, which bore upon their advance, opened a murderous fire on them, in the face of which, however, they crossed the canal and took shelter behind the rising ground between it and Marye's hills. Here for a while they remained hidden from the Confederate view, while several batteries, advanced to the edge of the city, opened a severe cannonade to aid those on the Stafford side in extinguishing the Marye's Hill guns. Very soon, however, the advancing standards of the column were again visible ascending the slope, and three of them were planted at its crest about 175 yards from the Confederate line and about opposite its centre. As it had crossed the canal on the Telegraph and Plank road bridges,1 opposite the Confederate left-flank, the Federal column must have inclined to its left before assaying to deploy as it now attempted to do on the line marked by its flags. It seemed also from its manner of deployment to have been “right in front,” which threw it still farther towards the Confederate centre, which was certainly unfortunate for it. Had its formation been in “double column on the centre,” and its deployment directly to its front after crossing the bridges, it would have found better and less exposed ground to advance upon, and would have much overlapped the Confederate left. As it was, no sooner did the deployment on the line of the flags begin than the artillery, disregarding the fire of the enemy's batteries, poured a storm of canister down the slopes, and the infantry, hitherto silent, opened so deadly a fire that the ranks were entirely swept away before the deployment was completed, and the flags were left standing alone and waiving over but a line of killed and wounded, while the Confederates jeered at their discomfitted foes, and shouted, “set them up again.”

On this repulse of French's division the battle lulled for perhaps twenty minutes, during which only the sharpshooters on both sides engaged and the Confederate artillery exchanged compliments with the Federal batteries on the edge of the city. It was during this interval that a ball from a sharpshooter mortally wounded the gallant and Christian patriot, General T. R. R. Cobb. He fell under a locust tree hanging over the Telegraph road from the yard of Stevens's house, a

1 Swinton's Army of the Potomac.

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J. B. Walton (1)
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