were hotly engaged, but they stood their ground. No sooner were his brigades in line, than the blunt and warlike old veteran gave the word “Forward.” In superb order his division mounted the hill, and over the crest it swept, taking the skirmishers along. Portions of the hostile lines halted at close quarters and fought for a while, and on the right, so great was the momentum of the counter-charge, several regiments became commingled, the rebels in such cases exhibiting the greatest disorder, and submitting to capture without debate. The rebels opposing Ward, prominent among whom was General Featherston's division, were totally unprepared for the fearful shock which came upon them at the crest of the hill, and to a great extent they were unnerved by it. Our line poured in deadly volleys, and steadily pushed the enemy, now in confusion, across the field. The attack on Ward was virtually over in fifteen minutes, though he had not so much as a piece of artillery to settle the matter with a sharp turn. The rebels came on in double lines originally, but the moment Ward struck them they showed signs of confusion, and both lines became intermingled. Seven battle-flags were wrested from the severely-whipped foe, and are held by Ward as his tangible, trophies, He too, had done the lucky thing at the lucky moment; in addition to which his personal bravery during the fight was the theme of enthusiastic comment among his men. In front of this division the slaughter of the rebels was very great. In riding over the ground next morning, I was astonished to see the long winrows of their dead collected for burial. Many of their severely wounded — of whom one hundred and fifty-four fell into Ward's hands — were still scattered over the field, though the ambulances were all engaged in carrying them to our hospitals. General Ward's own estimate of the rebel loss in his front is from two thousand to two thousand five hundred. He captured over three hundred prisoners. His victory was the most pronounced of any along the line, and his loss, though severe, is probably much less than it would have been had he not met the enemy half way. At noon on the twentieth, Geary advanced his tete de pont, and with the assistance of a section of McGill's battery, succeeded in taking a ridge in his front, to which he advanced his division, formed with Colonel Candy's brigade on the left, Colonel Jones' on the right, and Colonel Ireland's in the centre, and proceeded at once to erect barricades. The Thirty-third New Jersey went forward and occupied another hill, some one hundred yards further south, where they began to erect works. They had just fairly got to work when the fierce shout of the enemy and the confused sound of their myriad tramp struck the startled ear. More than half of Geary's line was in a dense forest filled with underbrush; the remainder faced an open field. Across the latter, it was a brave but terrifying sight. When we remember that the entire rebel attacking column reached along the front of but four of our divisions, it can easily be conceived how massive and deep their formations were. In the forest, the thickets fairly wilted and disappeared under their feet, so closely were they packed, and so irresistible their progress. They came on without skirmishers, and as if by instinct, struck Geary's right flank, where a gap existed, that Williams' division was endeavoring to close. The four regiments forming the right brigade were enveloped on their flank and rear in a moment, and cruelly enfiladed. Subjected to half a dozen cross-fires, the brigade fell back hastily to the trenches it had left in the morning. To remain would have been annihilation. Portions of Colonel Ireland's brigade were also torn to pieces by the withering cross-fires, and fell back after repeated gallant efforts to re-form their line to return the fire on flank and rear. The moment was a desperate one. The enemy were almost within grasp of Lieutenant Bundy's battery on the right, but he wheeled one section from front to right, and by double-shotting the guns with canister, succeeded in repelling the greedy vermin in dirty gray. His gunners, however, were shot down one after another, until a detail of infantry men from the Sixtieth New York was called for to work them. A sergeant in this battery fell pierced with seven balls. A corporal received nine, seven of which passed through his heart. So bitter was this enfilading fire to which Geary's position was exposed, that the caissons of the guns that had been taken to the rear for safety were driven back to the front to escape a more deadly fire than was sustained at the ordinary point of danger. But the remainder of Geary's brigade stood firm as a rock. The enemy in vain charged and recharged from front and right flank. Until nightfall the unequal contest was waged, but Geary held his hill inflexibly. The enemy sullenly left his front during the evening, firing spitefully as he retired. The regiments that had fallen back were reformed and sent into action again on General Williams' left, aiding materially in checking the rebel column that was pouring through the untoward interval and flooding Geary's rear. I have seen most of the battle-fields in the South-west, but nowhere have I seen traces of more deadly work than is visible in the dense woods in which Geary's right was formed. Thickets were literally cradled by bullets, and on the large trees, for twenty feet on the trunk, hardly a square inch of bark remained. Many were torn and splintered with shell and round-shot, the enemy in their attack on Geary and Williams using artillery, which they did not bring into action on other portions of the line. Knapp's Pennsylvania battery was engaged from beginning to end on Geary's left flank, and contributed vastly to his success in holding to his position, as it were, with his teeth. Captain Elliott, of Geary's staff, was instantly killed during the action. The General's staff has suffered
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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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