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[221]

The operations on the centre to-day were characterized by nothing worthy of special note. After four days of assaults and heavy skirmishing with the Fourth and Fourteenth corps, in which he was invariably badly worsted, the enemy gave up all hope of beating back the centre and recovering his lost ground, and immediately turned his attention to another part of the line, the left of Schofield and Hooker, upon which he, to-day, made a desperate assault.

To cover this assault upon Hooker, at eleven A, M., the enemy opened a rapid but random fire upon our centre with his artillery, placed in our immediate front, on high ridges, and from Big and Little Kenesaw and Bald Gap. Our artillery returned their salutations with great vigor and precision; at every discharge of our guns, the rebels could be seen running in every direction, so accurate was the fire of our cannoneers. The enemy's guns mounted on Kenesaw were twenty-pound Parrotts, capable of very long range. Their fire was principally directed on Whitaker's brigade, which still held the hills taken from the enemy the other night. The shots, however, did little or no damage, as nearly all of them were depressed. * *

The artillery duel continued nearly the whole afternoon, with trifling loss to our troops. Never has artillery achieved greater laurels than to-day. Nearly all our shots were delivered into the enemy s line and his batteries with remarkable accuracy, So wild and inaccurate was the fire of the enemy, that to-day the rear was a much more uninviting location for non-combatants than upon the skirmish line.

On the front of the Fourth and Fourteenth corps it “was extremely slight” --so little firing indeed, was heard that one almost was constrained to jump at the conclusion that the contestants had mutually agreed to a truce for the day. In front of Whitaker, however, there was a portion of the field upon which were thickly strewn the dead and wounded of the enemy in his seven desperate assaults upon that invincible brigade. There a brisk fire was kept up all day, to prevent the rebels from getting off their wounded. General Whitaker counted one hundred and sixty rebel dead on the ground.


in front of Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia, June 24, 1864.
The problem here has not yet been solved, though our troops go to sleep every night expecting to find no enemy in their front. Kenesaw Mountain is still in the hands of the enemy, though our right wing has wheeled nearly around it, and threatens directly and imminently their rear. Yesterday morning we were within three miles of Marietta — this morning but two. Our shell go into the pretty and aristocratic town, and the roar of musketry is never out of the ears of the startled inhabitants, ever growing nearer and more ominous, and, what must be peculiarly demoralizing, extending far to the south. Universally the rebels are expected to fall back within the next few days, and their position is now so constricted that no one would be surprised to wake up in the morning and find the enemy across the Chattahoochee.

There has been something of a lull in the tremendous skirmish fire that has been maintained day and night for the last three or four weeks, and in which our troops, by great odds, bore the most active part. An enormous quantity of ammunition has been expended. Some regiments have fired three or four hundred rounds per man, and some batteries had their caissons replenished regularly twice per week. Thanks, however, to the integrity of the great railroad, in our rear, belonging to the State of Georgia, there is plenty on hand and to spare, though our batteries should continue to fire by volleys, and our skirmishers with their Minies cut down additional young saplings around the Johnnies' dirt-piles, before breakfast.

The army was never jollier, more determined, or more confident. They complain of one thing only, a want of sleep. They must fight all day, stealthily secure an advanced position (though a point has now been reached where this is no longer possible), and at night fortify. Daylight comes early these mornings, and its initial shade is hailed by the spiteful salute of the watchful outposts. In the first gray of dawn the spade is thrown aside for the musket. The country around Kenesaw is scored with toilsome parallels, thrown up when all in nature, save the soldier, slept. Rest has been said to be simply a substitution of one kind of labor for another; the correctness of which established, our army has been uniformly and comprehensively refreshed.

The fatigue of this campaign since the first day's march from Ringgold has been enormous; indeed beyond computation. The cautious approaches on Dalton, the sleepless, laborious nights and bloody days at Resaca, the fortnight of carnage and vigilant toil near Dallas, and the many even more wearisome and sanguinary days consumed in investing the rebel position at Kenesaw, are without parallel (unless it be Grant's present campaign) during the war. The losses of both these armies in killed and wounded during this period of grand activity fully equal those of one of our great encounters, without the decisiveness that sometimes pertains to a pitched battle of the first class. Men have fallen daily by scores, hundreds, and sometimes by thousands, but the morale of neither army is shaken. That Sherman has gained overpowering advantages — advantages that will give him Atlanta — will be nearly conceded. But the army of Johnston has not been destroyed, and until that is done the immense labor performed and blood spilled have no adequate return. We hope to do this when we have forced the enemy from his present formidable position, which has been held, and is held, with more than usual tenacity. That he has suffered equally, to say the least, with ourselves is a matter of certainty. The fact is confirmed in a dozen ways.

No one believes, however, as some mysterious


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Whitaker (3)
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