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[266] Burnside's lines by Ord to support their assault, was then attempting to press forward from the right of the crater. Such was the concentration of fire upon their front and flanks that the Federals were unable to develop and form their column of attack, and this was their last attempt to charge.

Meanwhile the struggle had continued for the possession of the trenches. On the Confederate right of the crater these were held by the remainder of the 22d and the 23d South Carolina, aided by the 26th and part of the 46th Virginia. Barricades were constructed, and the Federals did not succeed in advancing more than thirty yards. On the left they gradually occupied the trenches for less than two hundred yards, turning the barricades by advancing along and under cover of the glacis, and springing thence into the trench, until Colonel McMaster erected a last barricade1 at the bend, in advance of the covered way leading to General Elliott's quarters. From this point the glacis took a direction which exposed the Federals attempting to use it to a flank fire from the exterior parapet, held by the right of Ransom's brigade; and here the enemy's advance was effectually checked, both in the trench and outside of it.

The entire Federal offensive had now been reduced to an impotent and fractional conflict in the trenches, when, at 9.45, General Meade gave General Burnside a peremptory order to withdraw his troops.2 It even appears, from what General Badeau says of this order to withdraw,3 that it originated with, and was first suggested by, General Grant himself, and not by General Meade. Says General Badeau:

Burnside's despatches to Meade, reporting the fight, were meagre and unsatisfactory in the extreme; and Grant at last rode out to the National line, and there dismounting, walked across the front, under a heavy fire, to a point where Burnside was watching the battle. He took in the situation at a glance, and, perceiving that every chance of success was lost, at once exclaimed, “These troops must be immediately withdrawn. It is slaughter to leave them there.” 4He then returned to Meade's headquarters, and a written order to this effect was sent to Burnside.’

It follows from this that, before Meade's order to withdraw was

1 Colonel McMaster's statement. See Appendix.

2 See ‘Conduct of the War’ (1865), Appendix, vol. i., pp. 229, 230.

3 ‘Military History of Ulysses S. Grant,’ vol. II., p. 482.

4 The italics are ours.

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