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[444] speed in their legs, the fugutives of the fray are still pursued by threatening echoes. The road becomes populous with them; their tales of horror infuse a contagious uncertainty among officers and orderlies, galloping to front and rear. The ponderous rumor of countless hordes of rebels pouring around our right flank and already coming up the road is swung from mouth to mouth, until it smites the ears of the teamsters of the Sixth corps wagon train, parked near Wilderness Tavern. And now!

Was ever a panic like this that lays hold on the souls of these teamsters, and causes an abandonment of suppers and hot coffee, cooking over a hundred fires, and sets the lungs of stalwart men to cursing, and their hands to cruelly plying whips, and the heels of a host of mules, and the wheels of a hundred lumbering wagons rattling and clattering, heaven knows where!

There are some men who see through all this easily enough, and have the truth out of it in a few moments' time. Away down the plank-road, right in the faces of the fugitives coming out of the woods, a bonfire has been lighted. A band behind it is playing “Yankee Doodle,” and the stampeders are then called upon to rally. In less than half an hour quite a company is got together by this means, and got back to the ranks of the Sixth corps, again firm, advanced, and unmolested, in the Wilderness.

This break might have been a severe thing had the enemy been fully aware of his advantages, but he evidently was not, as he did not push them; as it was, Generals Shaler and Seymour, with the greater part of their commands, were taken prisoners.

In the afternoon, previous to the evening on which this misfortune occurred, a number of colored regiments, of General Ferrero's command, belonging to Burnside's corps, were sent into the woods in rear of, and between the right of the Sixth corps and the river. What those troops were doing, or where they were, when the flank movement of the enemy above described was in progress, I cannot tell.

Saturday and the night march.

What had been gained in the two days of battle and bloodshed just closed?

Something, on the first day, certainly, after granting that the fight was forced upon us from the first. We had concentrated our army; we had repulsed the attempt of the foe to pierce our centre; we had held our own ground, and something more. We held our ground on the second day, and a little more. Yet the field was the same, in fact; the vast extent of the Wilderness was still behind our enemy. The headquarters of the army, established Thursday morning in a grove of pines near Old Wilderness Tavern, on the Germania plank-road, had not been moved. We had captured some prisoners certainly--two or three thousand, I believe; the enemy had suffered very greatly from our fire. Our own losses were estimated at about twelve thousand--fifteen hundred killed, eight thousand wounded, and the remainder prisoners and missing. It is doubtful — I say this cautiously, for I do not know — whether the losses of the enemy were quite equal to our own. They fought more than we did behind intrenchments, and used a little, though that was more, artillery than we could bring to bear.

The fact seems that there was not much gained, nor much to be gained on either side by fighting on such ground. It was irreverently said by an officer that “both armies appeared to be bumping; bumping, to see which could bump the hardest!”

General Lee appears to have made up his mind much after this fashion; and, having failed to accomplish the object sought on our flank, he concluded to remain quiescent. General Grant did not choose to take the offensive.

Our right and right-centre had been ordered round, in anticipation of another flank attack during the previous night, and the right now crossed the Germania plank-road about half way between Old Wilderness Tavern and what is called the Spottswood House, facing obliquely toward the river. It was strongly supported by the whole of the artillery of the Sixth corps, posted on heights in the centre, and on rising ground in the rear.

Heavy artillery duelling began in the early morning, and was continued at intervals, with occasional musketry skirmishing, during the day. About noon a rather vigorous demonstration was made against our centre, and repelled by a portion of the Fifth corps, and a battery which obtained position in the woods. Reconnoissances in the afternoon discovered that the main body of the enemy had fallen back some distance. The news of Torbert's successful engagement with Fitz Hugh Lee's cavalry at Todd's tavern, and the general success of our cavalry in clearing all roads to the front and left, was refreshingly told during the day.

General Grant mounted one of his splendid horses at headquarters and made a partial tour along the lines. General Sedgwick and his staff, weary with incessant marching and fighting, lounged under some bushes by the Germania plank-road side. General Grant rode up. General Sedgwick went out to meet him.

“ Don't get up, General; I just came down for a little visit — that is all I”

The Lieutenant-General had a taking way with him when he chose — a straightforward way, appropriate to the men he met. The two commanders sat down by the road and talked a quiet talk. The day grew hotter; the bristling lines of battle stretching through the woods, and across the road, and up the slope behind them, seethed and shimmered in the sultry, dusty air.

No serious work would be done that day, if all the signs were true.

General Grant remounted, rode to headquarters in the pine grove up the road, threw himself down against a tree, and began to drowse.

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U. S. Grant (4)
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