with uplifted sword, shouting, ‘Forward, Fifty-fourth!’
and then fell dead, shot through the heart, besides other wounds.
Not a shot had been fired by the regiment up to this time.
As the crest was gained, the crack of revolvershots was heard, for the officers fired into the surging mass of upturned faces confronting them, lit up redly but a moment by the powder-flashes.
Musket-butts and bayonets were freely used on the parapet, where the stormers were gallantly met. The garrison fought with muskets, handspikes, and gun-rammers, the officers striking with their swords, so close were the combatants.
Numbers, however, soon told against the Fifty-fourth, for it was tens against hundreds.
Outlined against the sky, they were a fair mark for the foe. Men fell every moment during the brief struggle.
Some of the wounded crawled down the slope to shelter; others fell headlong into the ditch below.
It was seen from the volume of musketry fire, even before the walls were gained, that the garrison was stronger than had been supposed, and brave in defending the work.
The first rush had failed, for those of the Fifty-fourth who reached the parapet were too few in numbers to overcome the garrison, and the supports were not at hand to take full advantage of their first fierce attack.
Repulsed from the crest after the short hand-to-hand struggle, the assailants fell back upon the exterior slope of the rampart.
There the men were encouraged to remain by their officers, for by sweeping the top of the parapet with musketry, and firing at those trying to serve the guns, they would greatly aid an advancing force.
For a time this was done, but at the cost of more lives.