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[285]

Shortly before this General Johnston, meeting General Beauregard near the former's headquarters, expressed his satisfaction at the manner in which the battle had been opened, and after an interchange of views concerning the operations of the day, left him and rode to the front. They parted here for the last time.

At seven o'clock the thunder of artillery announced the serious opening of the conflict, and was followed by the sharp, increasing volleys of musketry. Generals Polk and Breckinridge were now hastened forward, and, reporting to General Beauregard, at halfpast seven, were by him deployed in column of brigades, General Breckinridge on the right, General Polk on the left. They received from General Beauregard brief general instructions to keep at a proper distance in rear of General Bragg's line and apart from each other, until called on for assistance, when they should move promptly with concentrated forces wherever needed, and, if in doubt from the hidden and broken character of the country, to move upon the sound of the heaviest firing. By this time the attack had become general along the entire front of Generals Prentiss and Sherman, though stronger as yet on the former, who received the full shock of Gladden's, Hindman's, and Wood's brigades of General Hardee's line, and was driven back upon his camps, calling upon Generals Wallace and Hurlbut for assistance.1 General Beauregard now despatched members of his staff to several quarters of the field, to ascertain and report its precise condition, and sent forward Adjutant-General Jordan, charging him to maintain a careful inspection of the lines of battle, so as to secure the massing of the troops for unity of attack and prompt reinforcement to weakened points; also with impressive directions to the corps and division commanders to mass their batteries in action, and fight them twelve guns on a point.

Notwithstanding the bold movements of the Confederate cavalry on the previous evening and the noise of the conflict since dawn, General Sherman remained under the belief that no more than a strong demonstration was intended, until nearly eight o'clock, when, seeing the Confederate bayonets moving in the woods beyond his front, he ‘became satisfied, for the first time, ’

1 General Prentiss, in his Report, says he was assailed ‘by the entire force of the enemy, advancing in three columns simultaneously upon our left, centre, and right.’

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G. T. Beauregard (4)
Sherman (2)
Prentiss (2)
L. Polk (2)
John C. Breckinridge (2)
Robert T. Wood (1)
W. H. L. Wallace (1)
Thomas Jordan (1)
A. S. Johnston (1)
S. A. Hurlbut (1)
Hindman (1)
W. J. Hardee (1)
Gladden (1)
Braxton Bragg (1)
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