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This effort to hold the road against efforts to reenforce Geary might have been much more effective had Law thrown his brigades boldly across the road, with perhaps two brigades in his front line supported by the third in a second line. He probably failed to adopt this policy only because he was too conscious of his weakness. His retreat was more assured and easier from the position which he took. And, in view of the risks attendant on the venture, and the small chances of success, it may have been the more prudent course.

In the placing of Law's command there had been a few picket shots about 10 o'clock, which had caused Geary's command to be put under arms and to be unusually alert. Soon after midnight their own picket challenged and was shot down, upon which the camp was alarmed, all lights extinguished, and the troops formed in line. The weather was somewhat cloudy, making the moonlight fitful. Jenkins endeavored to restrain his men from firing as they deployed before the camp, but it was in vain, and gradually the regiments extending on each side overlapped the Federal line and awaited an attack on the Federal rear by Lt.-Col. T. M. Logan, with a force of sharp-shooters, who had passed around to the rear. Their attack was to be a signal for a general charge. About an hour had now elapsed.

It was just at this juncture that Jenkins gave orders to withdraw. Law had notified him that the enemy had passed his position, which was a mistake. The road had been open all the while, but no troops had passed. On the opening of the attack upon Geary there had been a general alarm in all the camps below, and several brigades had been ordered to go to his relief. The first brigade passing Law's ambush received volleys which, in the darkness, did little harm but threw their lines into confusion. Forming then parallel to the road, the Federals charged Law's position, but were at first repulsed. Re-forming, and extending their lines, Steinwehr's division made a second attempt, but Smith's brigade, which struck Law's front, was again repulsed with heavy loss. The men, however, did not on this occasion fall back to the foot of the hill, but rallied in the darkness of the woods, near at hand, until a part of the 136th N. Y., which had overlapped Law's front, had appeared in his rear. The attack

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Law (5)
Geary (3)
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Von Steinwehr (1)
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T. M. Logan (1)
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