cover of high ground, and just on the left of the Twentieth corps. From some cause, probably to draw the enemy's attention toward our left, and cause the shifting of his spare force to his right, the attack was delayed until about nine A. M. The lines at this point bear almost north and south, and continue in that direction until we reach the centre of Hooker's (Twentieth) corps, where they bear to the south-east. The ground in front of Newton is open and rolling. The rebel main works occupy a light ridge covered with timber, and his batteries sweep the whole space between the lines. Harker's brigade on the right was formed in column of division, left in front, and Wagner in the same order on the left. Kimball's brigade, retired on Wagner's left, with orders to guard the flank and support whichever of the brigades seemed weakest, was formed in column of divisions, right in front. Harker, debouching from the forest, is met by a withering fire of artillery and musketry, but still holds straightforward toward the rebel works. Finding that Wagner and he are moving in such close proximity as to create confusion should he desire to deploy, Harker obliqued to the right, moved off again slowly under a very destructive fire, and Wagner hastened forward to a depression where his men might be sheltered somewhat from the seething fire of grape and canister that swept through and tore his ranks. . Think of columns at the distance of six hundred yards from artillery braving a continuous storm of grape and canister, and you have the ordeal through which these brave fellows passed. Wagner was still exposed to an enfilading fire from artillery, and soon from a flank fire of infantry, that the enemy pushed out to effect his dislodgment. During the advance Wagner's troops were struck so heavily at the very first shock that a good portion crumbled off and drifted to the rear. Enfiladed, and unused to such formations for battle, it required all the firmness and sternness at command to keep the men to the work. Now and then a little rift from the line, like the premonitory snow-slides that warn of the avalanche, drifted back, and Kimball was ordered up to Wagner's relief — to pass over him and, if possible, to enter the rebel works. The rebels, perceiving the movement, sallied out, and, forming on Kimball's left, annoyed him very much. An order came to “form in column of battalion,” and at once the lines took a shape in which the troops were more readily handled; it was a return to the “good old style,” as the boys said, and then the battle raged furiously. Harker, stern, determined, and desperate, hurls his column against the works, only to see it borne back with an impetus equal to the blow, and again he essays a breach. Again his column dashes madly, desperately forward, is cut and mangled by the plunging grape and canister, and returns again, exhausted. Ambitious as he was brave, the thought of failure is unendurable, and, though the broiling heat of midsummer's sun is pouring down upon the fields, and the sweltering troops are dripping with perspiration and gasping for breath, he implores them to follow him once more. With head uncovered and hat in hand, he rides boldly out in front. As he passes Colonel Bradley he acquaints him with his intention. The Colonel answers: “General, don't go up there; we cannot take the works without support.” Harker only answers: “I must have the works,” and, turning to his men, asks: “Who will follow me?” Fifteen brave fellows, kindred spirits all, that have not in their composition a tinge of fear, spring to their rifles and answer, “II” “I!” and the die is cast. A handful of bravery unalloyed, heroes enough to leaven an army, dauntless martyrs that Huge's pen alone can laud as they should be lauded, this little band of devoted soldiers move quickly up the slope of a little knoll that, up to this time, has sheltered them. The summit of this knoll is but fifteen yards from the rebel works. Harker and his little band are under fire, but the enemy, as if loth, in absolute admiration, to slaughter heroes of that stamp, are silent. Hopeless though the effort is, Harker moves on, and his men follow him. He reaches the summit; a line of gray smoke shoots out; hundreds of rifles ring, and, as the hurricane would sweep off the thistle-down, Harker and his brave fellows are swept into eternity. Kimball and Wagner battle on, essay again and again to advance, and at last push up to the very works, when a terrible volley sweeps through the line cutting down many of their bravest, trustiest officers. Kimball loses the brilliant Chandler, the light of whose intellect seemed to illumine every difficult subject, and adjust it with the wisdom of a sage. Lieutenant-Colonel Kerr, of the Seventy-fourth Illinois, has also fallen, and been left within arm's reach of the rebel earthwork. Wagner loses heavily, also, in officers and enlisted men. Captain Kirkpatrick and Lieutenant Sharp, of the Fortieth Indiana, are killed while leading their men in a charge. Lieutenant-Colonel Boone, of the Twenty-eighth Kentucky, who never thinks of danger when discharging duty, is disabled, though not dangerously injured. Scores of brave and accomplished officers in those few bloody charges are gone down, and hundreds of our best troops strew the field. It would be invidious, where men fought so unexceptionably well, to make distinctions between regiments. A volume would hardly record the deeds of heroism performed that day; much less could I, who am limited in time and space. An hour's bloody work has failed to achieve our object, and, oppressed with that thought, but not disheartened, the main body of the assaulting force withdraws to our main line, leaving a force adequate to the task, to intrench
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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