impending on the left, gave Newton more territory to guard than he had troops to cover His slender brigades, eked out never so gingerly, did not furnish one line of men, though holding the most delicate spot in our lines. His troops were shifted from right to left, from left to right, from centre to flanks, and the reverse, to suit the emergency of the moment. Repeatedly during the morning Newton had received orders to advance to Atlanta, the impression seeming to prevail in high quarters that as the enemy was evidently massing on our left to deliver battle, his lines in front of our right must be vulnerable. But the enemy had reconnoitered our lines with extreme nicety. His movements to our left were a feint; he knew our weak point precisely, and having decided on an attack, he was right in aiming the full force of his formidable blow where it fell. Newton's left covered the bridge across Peach-tree creek, the road on which our trains were gathered, and along which communication was kept up with the heavy masses of our troops on the left. Newton crushed, our trains were open to them, and the army was completely cut in twain, one fragment facing Atlanta on the north, and one on the east. In that case the whole rebel army could be hurled against either fraction, and with Napoleonic vigor Sherman was to be whipped in detail. That part of our army on the north, consisting of Hooker's and Palmer's corps and Newton's division, was to be driven into the river; that done, the left, though too strong perhaps to be overwhelmed, could, nevertheless, be controlled and foiled. During the morning, as I have already said, Newton received repeated orders to advance, but Hooker had not been able to connect on Newton's right, and the latter, of course, could not safely advance until this was effected. About noon Butterfield's division, commanded by Brigadier-General Ward came up and occupied a ridge on Newton's right. Preparations to advance were made immediately. Newton ordered five regiments to be deployed as skirmishers, and about two P. M., the bugle sounded the “forward.” Then broke out the allegro of a lively skirmish. A thousand muskets sputtered, and woke the primeval echoes of the forests to the siren song of battle. Up the ridge our men slowly forced their way, driving at every step a wavering line of rebel sharpshooters, turning at bay determinedly one moment, but changing their minds the next, and stealthily gliding farther to the rear. In half an hour our skirmishers had forced them from the ridge entirely, with small loss to themselves. With the ruling passion of the campaign, as soon as Kimball's and Blake's brigades occupied the ridge just carried, the men fell to building a barricade of rails and earth. A fresh line of skirmishers was adjusted and ordered forward to relieve the panting heroes who had just taken a military fee-simple of the crest. This advance gave Newton still more territory to cover, which it was simply impossible for him to do, with his inadequate force. He however made the hasty dispositions in his power to command it, and repel an attack, which, if made, might be disastrous, if not fatal. In taking advantage of the ridges, Newton's lines assumed a singular shape — that of the capital letter T. Bradley's brigade was placed in trenches along the main Atlanta road, forming the perpendicular line of the letter, and facing to the left; Wagner's brigade, commanded by Colonel Blake, of the Fortieth Indiana, was the left half of the horizontal top line; General Kimball's brigade the right half, facing outward. A section of artillery was in position at the bottom of the letter. Blake's and Kimball's brigades were, it will be remembered, building a rail barricade on the crest just carried — the men with knapsacks unslung, and many of them some distance from their arms, conveying rails and logs to the rising parapet. The fresh skirmish line was just going forward when a growl came from the front. At the same moment a cheer arose — a wild, tumultuous, shrill cry, from thousands of throats — falling on the ear like a sudden and unsuspected clap of thunder. Our skirmishers commenced firing and falling back at the same moment. With lightning-like celerity heavy columns of rebels appeared in front of, or rather tumbled out of the forests, their columns seeming to be endless, and carrying themselves with a certain indescribable verve in the onset which made every one who beheld it from our lines tremble. “How will that fearful wave be broken?” was the piercing fear that filled every bosom, which was not allayed by seeing our lines in apparent confusion — the confusion of men grasping their muskets, taking the touch of the elbow and facing to the front. Words cannot describe the crushing suspense of the first five minutes of the charge. Newton's lines were so thin they looked, in some places, like skirmish deployments. They opened, and the section of artillery in position opened, but the momentum of the dust-colored phalanxes was hatefully steady. Their colors snapped saucily and streamed on steadily. Soon every musket in Newton's division was blazing; for at the instant Walker's rebel division attacked Blake's and Kimball's brigades, Bate's rebel division appeared on the flank and confronted Bradley's brigade, aiming for the bridge on Peach-tree creek. They seemed to spring from the ground, and to continue springing. A stream of non-combatants commenced flowing across the bridge. Pack-mules, imprudently taken close to our lines by fortuitous darkies, came scampering back, the latter turned tawny-brown with fright and reeking with perspiration. Ambulances tumbled over the bridge in demoralized columns. A few armed stragglers stalked sheepishly along, the consciousness that every-body who met them would fathom their meanness imprinted on their faces and in their movements. The curtain of pickets guarding the interval ia our lines came rushing along,
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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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