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[442] of Longstreet's brigade, advancing in strong columns of infantry, with artillery and cavalry, on Blackburn's Ford.

At meridian these pickets fell back silently before the advancing foe, across the ford, which, as well as the entire southern bank of the stream for the whole front of Longstreet's brigade, was covered at the water's edge by an extended line of skirmishers, while two 6-pounders of Walton's battery, under Lieutenant Garnett, were advantageously placed to command the direct approach to the ford, but with orders to retire to the rear as soon as commanded by the enemy.

The northern bank of the stream, in front of Longstreet's position, rises, with a steep slope, at least fifty feet above the level of the water, leaving a narrow berme in front of the ford, of some twenty yards. This ridge formed for them an admirable natural parapet, behind which they could and did approach, under shelter, in heavy force, within less than one hundred yards of our skirmishers. The southern shore was almost a plain, raised but a few feet above the water, for several hundred yards; then rising with a very gradual, gentle slope, and undulating back to Manassas. On the immediate bank there was a fringe of trees, but with little, if any, undergrowth or shelter; while on the other shore there was timber and much thick brush and covering. The ground in rear of our skirmishers, and occupied by our artillery, was an old field, extending along the stream about one mile, and immediately back for about half a mile, to a border or skirting of dense, second-growth pines. The whole of this ground was commanded at all points by the ridge occupied by the enemy's musketry, as was also the country to the rear, for a distance much beyond the range of 20pound-er rifled guns, by the range of hills on which their batteries were planted; and which, it may be further noted, commanded also all our approaches from this direction to the three threatened fords.

Before advancing his infantry, the enemy maintained a fire of rifle artillery from the batteries just mentioned, for half an hour; then he pushed forward a column of over three thousand infantry to the assault, with such weight of numbers as to be repelled with difficulty by the comparatively small force of not more than twelve hundred bayonets, with which Brigadier-General Longstreet met him with characteristic vigor and intrepidity. Our troops engaged at this time were the 1st and 17th and four companies of the 11th regiments Virginia Volunteers. Their resistance was resolute, and maintained with a steadiness worthy of all praise; it was successful, and the enemy was repulsed. In a short time, however, he returned to the contest with increased force and determination, but was again foiled and driven back by our skirmishers and Longstreet's reserve companies, which were brought up and employed at the most vigorously assailed points at the critical moment.

It was now that Brigadier-General Longstreet sent for reinforcements from Early's brigade, which I had anticipated, by directing the advance of General Early, with two regiments of infantry and two pieces of artillery. As these came upon the field the enemy had advanced a third time, with heavy numbers, to force Longstreet's position. Hays's regiment, 7th Louisiana Volunteers, which was in advance, was placed on the bank of the stream, under some cover, to the immediate right and left of the ford, relieving Corse's regiment, 17th


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James Longstreet (7)
J. A. Early (2)
James B. Walton (1)
Harry Hays (1)
R. S. Garnett (1)
M. D. Corse (1)
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