to meet this unlooked — for demonstration of the enemy. He hurried his brigades into position on the double-quick, and though they moved with all possible celerity, was unable to get them in their proper places ere they received a terrific fire from the enemy. Robinson's brigade hastened along the crest of the hill, then facing by the left flank, marched down the slope to receive the swarming masses of the over-confident and defiant foe. The fire of the enemy was so murderous, and his advance so impetuous, that it seemed for a time as if Robinson's line must surely yield. It was an awful moment. The combatants were mingled with each other, and fighting hand to hand. The safety of the corps, and indeed the entire army seemed to depend upon the courage and determination of those devoted men. Should they give way, the enemy would get possession of the hill, command the rear, break the centre, capture hundreds of prisoners, all our artillery, and drive the remnant of our troops back to the creek, and perhaps to the Chattahoochee. But not one inch would those intrepid veterans yield. Though their ranks were fearfully thinned, and the tangled forest became strewn with bleeding forms as with autumn leaves, yet they determinedly maintained their position, and compelled the enemy to withdraw, leaving his dead and wounded mingled with the brave heroes who had fought and fallen beneath the starry folds of the flag of the Union. While Robinson's brigade was thus contending against fearful odds, Knipe's (First) brigade had formed a line of battle stretching along the crest of the hill, in continuation of Robinson's line, and forming connection with the Fourteenth corps. Knipe had no sooner got into position than the enemy poured down upon him in an onslaught no less fierce and desperate than that made against Robinson. The awful picture of the battle as it raged at this monent no pencil can paint, no pen describe. The noon-day air became dark and heavy with the powder-smoke, which hung like a gloomy canopy over the pale, bloody corpses of the slain. Wounded men were borne to the rear by scores, the blood streaming from their lacerated flesh, and presenting a sight which at any other time would sicken the heart with horror. Each instant some patriot heart, some noble form, the treasure and the light of some distant household, fell prone upon the earth and added a new martyr to freedom, a new victim to the causeless crime of southern traitors. The rattling roll of the musketry sounded like the continuous war of a cataract, and was joined by the thunderous chime of the deep-throated cannon, which spouted unceasing volumes of flames and iron into the faces of the foe. But amid all this carnage and confusion, Williams' veteran heroes wavered not, and the red star (the badge of the First division, Twentieth corps) of the First division never gleamed more valiantly than it did in the hour of that dreadful conflict. Too much cannot be said in praise of men who would thus so nobly do and dare for the cause of country, God, and truth. The enemy, finding it impossible to break the line or drive it from the hill, suddenly withdrew a short distance into the woods; but the fight did not end here. Ever and anon the rebels would surge forward again to the charge, as if goaded by some spirit of madness or fired by a desperate resolution which would not listen to failure. The sanguinary recklessness of Chickamauga was repeated, but with different results. Every effort of the enemy was foiled, every attack repulsed. Evening came on apace, and the battle subsided into the irregular firing of the pickets. The last beams of the declining sun, though they gleamed upon a sad and revolting spectacle, yet seemed to set the bloody field aglow with the almost unearthly light of complete triumph and glorious victory. Thus terminated the fifth battle in which the First division has participated during this campaign. In each previous instance, as in this last, the enemy has been thoroughly beaten, and in no case has he gained the slightest advantage of General Williams' veterans. Twice at Resaca, once at Dallas, once at Kenesaw, and finally, once, at least, in the great struggle before Atlanta, the enemy has been compelled to eat the bitter fruit of defeat and disaster by this splendid division. Yet comparatively little has been said of its exploits in the public prints, and the credit of much that it has done has been unfairly awarded to other commands. Its intrepid and skilful leader, who has the most unlimited confidence of his entire command, seems to have been also overlooked, both by the public and the Government, and those cheap rewards, so justly due to long and faithful services, seem to have been withheld from him to be bestowed upon others who were less of soldiers and more of politicians. It is well that the Republic can yet boast of men to whom the voice of duty speaks more potently than the insinuations of public ingratitude and personal injustice. History will forever honor the men who have done the real work of this war, while she will utterly ignore the political scramblers who by wire-working have obtained lofty promotion, and on very small capital have managed to obtain a sort of fire-fly reputation. In the repulse of yesterday, the enemy received a damaging blow, from which he cannot fully recover. It is almost to be hoped, that he will continue to spend his strength in such crazy attempts to destroy this army. By no other means can he more surely bring himself to that just retribution which is the proper reward of his crime against his country and the civilization of the age. Let the rebel legions continue to precipitate themselves against the iron lines that press them toward the Gulf. It may ultimately give relief to their insane hate, and bring them, by the dreadful argument of blood, to the conviction that they are wrong and we are right.
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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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