be more successful than the first had been. I also trusted some cover had been provided to protect the left flank of the column. This had been partially, but by no means effectually done. At the signal to advance, the First brigade dashed handsomely and gallantly forward up to the enemy's works. Men were shot down at the very base of the parapet. But again the terrible fire on the flanks, and especially the enfilading fire from the left, was fatal to success. In addition, the enemy had brought up fresh troops, and greatly strengthened the force behind his intrenchments. This fact had been observed plainly by our troops, and was subsequently fully corroborated by prisoners. The First brigade, after getting so near to the enemy's works, and after almost succeeding, was compelled, like the Second brigade, to fall back a short distance, some seventy to eighty yards, to seek shelter under cover of the inequalities of the surface. Thence it maintained a sturdy contest with the enemy, confining him to his works, till its ammunition was expended. (I must observe that, owing to the circuitous route through the woods, with no road, pursued by the division, it was impossible to take any ammunition wagons with the command. After the point of attack had been selected, a road was opened and the ammunition brought up; but it did not come up until after nightfall.) The First brigade had suffered very severely in the assault. This fact, in connection with the expenditure of its ammunition, induced me to order this brigade to be relieved by the Third brigade, Colonel Knefler, Seventy-ninth Indiana, commanding. Colonel Knefler was simply ordered to relieve the First brigade and hold the ground, without renewing the assault. The purpose of holding the ground was to cover bringing off the dead and wounded. Colonel Knefler's brigade at once engaged the enemy sharply, and confined him to his works. Meanwhile, every effort was being made to bring off the dead and wounded. This was a work of much difficulty. The ground was unfavorable for the use of the stretchers, darkness was coming on apace, and the whole had to be done under the fire of the enemy. Of course, under such circumstances the work could not be done with that completeness so desirable; and the subsequent evacuation of the enemy showed, from the numerous extensive places of sepulture outside of his lines, that many who were at first reported “missing” were killed in the terrific assaults. It is proper to remark that when the Second brigade was relieved by the First brigade, a portion of the troops of the former retained their position near the enemy's works. So, also, when the First brigade was relieved by the Third brigade, a portion of the former held on near to the enemy's works. These gallant officers and soldiers remained on the field, bravely keeping up the conflict, till the Third brigade was drawn off at ten o'clock P. M. About ten o'clock P. M., the enemy, rushing over his works, pressed forward rapidly, with demoniac yells and shouts, on Colonel Knefler's brigade. In the long conflict which the brigade had kept up it had expended its ammunition to within the last two or three rounds. Reserving its fire till the advancing foe was only some fifteen paces distant, the brigade poured in a terrible and destructive volley, and was then handsomely and skilfully withdrawn, with the portions of the other brigades that had remained on the field, by its gallant and most sensible commander, The enemy was brought to a dead halt by the last volley. Not the slightest pursuit was at-tempted. Thus ended this bloody conflict. It was opened precisely at 4:30 o'clock P. M., and raged in the height of its fury till seven P. M. From this hour till ten P. M., the conflict was still kept up, but not with the unabated fury and severity of the first two hours and a half of its duration. Fourteen hundred and fifty-seven officers and men were placed hors de combat in the action. It may be truly said of it that it was the best sustained, and altogether the fiercest and most vigorous assault that was male on the enemy's intrenched positions during the entire campaign. The attack was made under circumstances well calculated to test the courage and prove the manhood of the troops. They had made a long and fatiguing march of several hours' duration on that day, immediately preceding the assault. The assault was made without any assistance or cover whatever from our artillery, as not a single piece could be carried with us, on a strongly-intrenched position, held by veteran troops, and defended by a heavy fire of musketry and artillery. Yet, at the command, the troops, under all these adverse circumstances, moved to the assault with a cheerful manliness and steadiness; no wavering on the advance, but all moved with a gallantry and dash that nearly made the effort a complete success. After the troops had all been drawn off, and between ten o'clock in the evening and two o'clock of the following morning, the entire division was comfortably encamped, and by daylight securely intrenched. This precaution was the more necessary to protect the division against a sudden attack of overwhelming numbers, as it was in some measure isolated from the greater part of the army. The division remained in this position from the twenty-eighth of May to the sixth of June, varying it slightly by changes in the lines. Constant skirmishing was kept up the whole time. On the thirty-first of May the rebel division of General Loring made a decided movement against the front of my division; but it was readily repulsed by the intrenched skirmish line. From prisoners subsequently captured it was learned that the rebel division had suffered severely in this demonstration. Saturday night, the fourth of June, the enemy abandoned his position in the vicinity of New Hope Church, and moved eastward. This was
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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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