Bringing up the rear came Captains Willard
, the latter with his trousers and rubber coat pierced with bullets.
As the pickets and their officers reached the regiment, they took their places in line.
A few minutes after these events, the enemy, having advanced to a position within about six hundred yards of the Federal
line, opened fire with guns of the Marion Artillery, making good line shots, but fortunately too high.
It was a supreme moment for the Fifty-fourth, then under fire as a regiment for the first time.
The sight of wounded comrades had been a trial; and the screaming shot and shell flying overhead, cutting the branches of trees to the right, had a deadly sound.
But the dark line stood stanch, holding the front at the most vital point.
Not a man was out of place, as the officers could see while they stood in rear of the lines, observing their men.
In reply to the enemy's guns the Connecticut
battery fired percussion-shells, and for some time this artillery duel continued.
To those who were anticipating an attack by infantry, and looking for the support of the gunboats, their silence was ominous.
Every ear was strained to catch the welcome sound, and at last it came in great booms from Parrott guns.
Very opportunely, too, on the night before, the armed transports John Adams
and ‘Mayflower’ had run up the creek on our right flank, and their guns were fired twelve or fifteen times with good effect before the enemy retired.
The expected attack on Terry
's line by infantry did not take place, for after about an hour the enemy retired in some confusion.
By General Terry
's order, the