This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 General Hooker seems to have been a witness to this attack, and was so discouraged by its result, that he galloped back across the river and tried to dissuade Burnside from making any further effort upon the position. The latter, however, insisted, and preparations were therefore reluctantly made by Sumner to carry out the order. Humphrey's division was designated for the assault, and it was ordered to advance with empty muskets, and rely solely on the bayonet. Its attack was preceded by an increased cannonade from additional batteries posted upon the suburbs of the town, and from two guns which had been previously advanced by hand to the crest of the slope within two hundred yards of the Confederate line. This was continued until after sundown, but it was effectively replied to from Marye's Hill, and accomplished nothing. At length when twilight had already begun to obscure the scene, Humphrey's division moved forward. Its attack was more judiciously planned than any of the preceding, in that it relied upon the bayonet, but the Confederate position was now defended by the fire of six ranks of infantry in the road and on the slope, besides a respectable artillery force, and the contest was very nearly such as will in future be seen between the bayonet and the breech-loader. The result augurs badly for the long vaunted supremacy of the bayonet. Humphrey's charge was undoubtedly gallantly made, for the division lost 1,700 out of 4,000 men in ranks, but they did not approach within seventy-five yards of the Confederate position. In fact, the Confederates never even suspected this feature of the assault until it appeared in the northern accounts of the battle. A little cheering and words of command were heard and at the same time a heavy musketry fire was opened from the Federal lines, probably by the supporting force. Infantry and artillery immediately replied with all their power. Through the smoke and twilight the assaulting column was scarcely seen in its dark uniform, and this fire was maintained until after dark, when about 6 P. M. it gradually died out on both sides, and the bloody day was over. A short time before this attack Kemper's brigade, of Pickett's division, had been sent to General Ransom and placed in reserve a short distance in rear — some apprehension being felt of a night attack with the bayonet. Immediately after this assault General Ransom relieved the Twenty-fourth North Carolina, of his brigade (which had now been in its narrow ditch for two days), with a fresh regiment. At the same time pickets were thrown out in front of the line of battle, and these advancing at first too far, were fired upon by the enemy still holding the crest of the plateau. It was supposed for a moment that the enemy were making another charge, and the Confederates springing to their
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.