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[220] two days in a line running about northeast and south-west, and reaching within about two miles of the base of Kenesaw. About nine in the morning the Second division (General Hascall's) which was lying in reserve, took up the line of march, passed over Nose Creek, and advancing beyond the Third, soon began to skirmish slightly with the enemy, though they were in small force, and retired slowly as the division advanced. Soon after the Third division (General Cox) left his position and began to follow up the Second to a position on the extreme right, and the Twentieth corps was likewise put in motion. The movement of the two corps was a wheel upon the left of the Twentieth as a pivot, thus tending constantly to hem in the rebels and throw them in a cul de sac between our line and the railroad on two sides and Kenesaw at the end. At the same time that the line was thus swinging, it was being extended considerably southward. When it had swung around so as to be on a north and south line, parallel with and about three miles west of the railroad, the skirmish firing began to grow heavier, and it soon became apparent that the enemy had become apprised of the threatening state of affairs and were hurrying up a strong force to check our advance. Accordingly, about two o'clock, the Twentieth corps and the Second division of the Twenty-third halted, and began to throw up breastworks to meet any sudden emergency, while the skirmishers were still advancing slowly, feeling the enemy's position. The Third division had not yet come up. The Fourteenth Kentucky, Strickland's brigade, of the Twenty-third corps, were acting as skirmishers in front of the brigade, and were nearly a mile in advance, when they ran suddenly upon a picket company, which was just being thrown out as skirmishers in front of the rebel General Stevenson's division, and so sudden was the onset and so thick was the undergrowth, that they were taken by surprise. Thirty-five of them were captured, and the remainder killed or dispersed. Most of the prisoners were from a North Carolina regiment, of whom the rebels are wont to say, “All the tar-heels want, anyhow, is just a chance to run away.” After running away and gobbling up thus summarily these pickets, the regiment was compelled to fall back hastily before the main body of the enemy, and take up a new position about half a mile in front of our works, which were now being rapidly completed. They stationed themselves on a commanding ridge, and put out two companies as skirmishers. The rebels having ascertained our whereabouts, began also to erect breastworks and prepare to resist any further advance. It was very readily apparent that they had not expected us in that quarter, both from the statements of prisoners and from the entire absence of works of defence. About five o'clock, having secured themselves by their breastworks, they advanced to dislodge the Fourteenth from their position, which, if occupied by us all night and fortified, would render theirs untenable. Three regiments were despatched against it, but as it was a very full one and stood well to its post, they were unable to effect their object. Two more were at once sent, and the whole mass then opened a destructive fire and began to advance rapidly upon them. The two companies on the skirmish line were put speedily to rout, but were nevertheless able to bring away five prisoners who had impetuously rushed right into their midst. The loss in these two companies. was very severe, one going out with sixty-five and bringing away only twenty-six. Despite the heavy odds against them, the Fourteenth awaited the approach of the five regiments with steadiness, and made no motion toward retiring till they received positive orders from General Hascall to fall back upon the works. The enemy were then so close, and were pouring in so hot a fire, that the regiment necessarily became disorganized in retreat, and came back in confusion. They were soon reformed within the lines, and it was found that the losses amounted to about fifty men killed, wounded, and missing. So rapidly had they been compelled to retreat, that a few killed and wounded were left on the field to fall into the enemy's hands. As soon as the regiment was in, the fire from the works and a few vigorous rounds from the Nineteenth Ohio battery brought the rebels to a speedy halt, and compelled them to retire with loss.

The rattling fire of musketry, and the whistling of the enemy's bullets about them, produced a disgraceful stampede among certain fragments of regiments not yet fully formed in line, and collected about a house from an idle curiosity. General Hascall, however, soon got his men well in hand and formed in four lines, ready for the worst, should it come. Generals Hooker and Schofield were at the house when the firing opened and both rode away, General Schofield to hurry up the Third division on the right, to meet any possible attempt to turn that wing, while General Hooker hastened back along his line to learn the import of a very heavy artillery firing which had been heard for several minutes. He soon returned, reporting that the rebels had made an advance in heavy masses upon the First division, (General Williams') which occupied the right of the corps, and had been driven back by the fire of artillery alone, without the employment of a musket. Batteries I and M of the First New York had secured positions which gave them a cross-fire on the rebels, as they advanced across an open field, and it proved entirely too hot for them. Again, about six o'clock, they made the same attempt, and were driven back still more rapidly, by a combined fire of artillery and musketry, which must, from the openness of the ground, have proved very destructive. Our losses were slight. They did not probably exceed two hundred killed and wounded during the day, and one quarter of this loss was suffered in the Fourteenth Kentucky.


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