An assault on the centre.
About four o'clock P. M., the Fourth and Fifth corps formed and advanced by column in mass, with brigade front and lines of skirmishers thrown out. The demonstration was made chiefly by the Fourth corps, supported by Palmer
on the left.
's division, of the Fourth corps, led the movement; the Forty-second and Fifty-first Illinois, under Colonel Bradley
, acting as skirmishers.
The enemy's skirmishers were encountered and driven about half a mile, when they took refuge behind a breastwork, composed of railway ties, about three feet high.
The skirmishers of the Fourth corps, with those of Baird
on the left, and Stanley
on the right, moved forward and carried the breastworks which were upon the crest of a small ridge.
Pushing rapidly forward with the Third Kentucky and other regiments thrown in as skirmishers, Colonel Bradley
drove the enemy from the second line of ridges, and got within seventy-five or one hundred yards of the enemy's main line, in front of which was another line of works, from which the rebel skirmishers rushed out and charged upon our skirmishers, who promptly drove them back.
While these operations were in progress, the enemy opened his artillery and uncovered his position to us. The main attacking column were not sent forward, and night coming on, the skirmishers were withdrawn to a position on the first ridge about two hundred and fifty yards from the enemy's artillery, where to-night strong fortifications were erected, and our artillery placed in position to operate upon the enemy to-morrow.
's division was in supporting distance of Newton
, but neither division was engaged, except the regiments who acted as skirmishers, and who behaved most gallantly under the volleys of grape and canister poured into them by the rebel artillery.
The skirmishers of Stanley
's division were the Ninth Indiana, Fifty-ninth Illinois, and Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania, the whole under Major Carter
, of the Ninth Indiana.
's command supported Howard
on the right, and did splendid work.
No artillery was brought into action in the Fourth or Fourteenth corps.
's artillery shelled the enemy vigorously.
While the skirmishers advanced, an infamous rebel assassin named C. H. Jones
, company C, Sixth Florida, fell behind our skirmishers and hid himself.
When Captain Towsley
's ambulance corps were collecting the wounded, Jones
, from his hiding place, fired and wounded one of the stretcher-carriers, and immediately came out and surrendered himself, stating that he was tired of the war and had deserted.
One of the ambulance corps saw him fire upon his companion, and to-night great indignation is felt round our headquarters, where the murderer has been provided with quarters.
The assault upon the centre was so well planned and rapidly executed, that the enemy was completely taken by surprise.
Our loss is very light, probably not one hundred in the three corps who took part in the assault.
The day has been one of success along the whole line, which has been advanced, some portions a mile, and in other portions two and a half miles, and this with a total loss of probably less than three hundred men. The enemy are just beginning to discover that General Sherman
and his troops can storm breastworks and masked batteries as well as execute flank movements.
The Twentieth and Twenty-third corps, the latter on the extreme right, supported by the cavalry division of General Stoneman
, moved to their positions on the fifteenth, which had been at an angle to the southwest, with the main line, and their skirmishers soon came upon those of the rebels.
The latter fell back slowly before them, exchanging a few shots to draw them on. The division of General Hascall
, together with the dismounted cavalry, commanded by Colonel Watson
, appeared to extend beyond the enemy's main force; that of General Cox
, however, encountered opposition.
The Sand Town road formed the dividing line between the Twentieth and Twenty-third corps, and determined the line of advance.
That the enemy were in inferior force on our right, is evident from the fact that Lieutenant Reynolds
, of the Signal corps, had nearly reached the summit of Lost Mountain
, supported by a small squad of cavalry, when he was hailed by three shots from a signal station, which alone occupied the place,