previous next

[226] a volcano, the smoke drifting up in a pearl-gray, pendulous volume, and breaking into graceful garlands as it ascended, like the clouds from the tips of a dreamy senorita. Their missiles were not very damaging, the difficulty lying in the fact that the guns could not be depressed sufficiently to play upon our troops at the base of the mountain, while the thousand fields whitened by our wagons, though painfully distinct to their vision, were just beyond the range of their ferruginous bull-dogs. Sometimes their guns would suddenly burst out, after several hours' quietness, with one startling volley, the thunder of the several reports combined in one. Sometimes the lanyards were pulled consecutively, and the throbbing vibrations smote the ear at uniform intervals, and the smoke-clouds from the guns floated up in echelon. When the evenings were cloudy the fiery gleam of the guns was caught by the purple nimbus — the drop-curtain of the stars — that hovered behind the crest, and was reflected back to our eyes like a glare of that stealthy, noiseless lightning that often smears the horizon of a sultry night.

The day preceding the assault there was almost an absolute silence along the lines. No armies ever needed rest more than those that lay so near each other, each apparently disdaining to throw away another shot. Skirmishing was no longer a vivacious pastime, because the enemy could no longer be driven by it from field and slope. The strife could no longer swell to the thunderous verge of battle, fall to a lively racket, or dwindle to the measured pattering which this army, after its experience during this eventful and toilsome campaign, would call a silence. The skirmish was out of date; every soldier felt it to be so, and for once his rifle contained the same charge twenty-four hours.

The preparations for the assault were few and simple. Sherman's army is an instrument always carefully tuned for battle. The enemy has found it so, for there is always method in its discord when they fret the strings, and its leaders never strike up a heroic march without drawing forth an eloquent response. Now, however, a rattling bravura was to be played, which would not only test its capacity for brilliant dynamics, but the tenacity of the strings themselves. When Generals transport but a single tent, and line officers carry their effects on their arm; when, in short, an army moves with such few encumb-brances as that of Sherman, home is just where it chances to halt, and nothing in the line of duty can take it by surprise, or occassion any delay between the delivery of the order and its execution.

During the few days of almost tacit truce that preceded the twenty-seventh, the strength of the enemy's works, their general configuration, and the probability of their being strongly held, were carefully noted and weighed. The points selected for. assault were practicable, and were vitally important to Johnston's safety north of the Chattahoochec. It was decided to assault the rebel right and left centre, and at the same time feel his wings strongly, without, however, resorting to storming columns in the latter enterprise. Logan was called upon to furnish four brigades to carry Little Kenesaw, which he selected from his divisions, and placed under the command of General Morgan L. Smith. Newton's division of the Fourth corps was chosen to assault a ridge on the enemy's left centre, and a short distance further to the left, a salient in the enemy's line was chosen, which Davis should carry. Accordingly, Sunday night, Davis' division, accompanied by Baird's, which was intended to act as a support, left their position at the base of Big Kenesaw, and moved to the right of the Fourth corps, closing up closely on its right flank. There was, in fact, a general extension of the line to the right, every corps moving more or less troops in that direction,

The Fifteenth corps furnished for the assault the brigades of General Giles Smith, General Lightburn, Colonel Walcutt, and detachments commanded by General C. R. Wood, from the three brigades of Osterhaus' division. Lightburn was selected, to carry the western slope of the hill; Giles Smith to charge it directly in front; Walcutt to reach the top through the narrow gorge that divides Little from Big Kenesaw, and General Wood to act as an immediate support. At eight o'clock, the hour designated for the assault, the brigades pushed boldly out from their trenches, formed in four lines, and in splendid order, and at a quick step, pushed boldly toward the enemy's works. In a moment our skirmishers engaged those of the enemy, but without pausing save to kill those who refused to surrender (and there were some stubborn fellows who roundly refused to live any longer), they swept on, behind them the serried lines of our lads, colors flying, and the alignments unwavering. The enemy opened fiercely from Big and Little Kenesaw, but the column advanced in superb order until it struck a swampy tract, covered with a clinging thicket of thorny bushes. Through this, in mud knee-deep, the brigades forced their impetuous way, and the necessary disorder of the column was speedily retrieved, when it emerged from this fearful bar to success. Through a tempest of iron the advance was resumed, the troops breaking into a cheer and a run, and dashing over the stony sides of Little Kenesaw without faltering. As the difficulties of the ground increased, the fearful clangor from the enemy's trenches was heightened and became more and more prolonged. Over their yellow rifle-pits the blue tufts of musketry danced wildly, and the whirling spheres of vapor from their masked artillery, curled up as tightly as cocoons, seemed to start out hideously from the foliage of the knob, From right and left, down the slopes of Big Kenesaw and along the ridges to the west of the point of assault, the enemy poured his forces, emptying his adjacent trenches to confront us at the point of danger. The brigades charging the flanks of the mountain, subjected to a most cruel and destructive cross-fire, after repeated and heroic efforts, failed

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Walcutt (2)
Giles Smith (2)
W. T. Sherman (2)
J. A. J. Lightburn (2)
Charles R. Wood (1)
C. R. Wood (1)
Morgan L. Smith (1)
Osterhaus (1)
Newton (1)
John A. Logan (1)
Joe Johnston (1)
Jefferson C. Davis (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
Baird (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: