Farm, on the north bank of the river, and supporting the works upon this side of the river. As our troops advanced with Heckman's brigade on the right of the pike, the rebels made an assault and charged them, but were no better pleased with the result than on former occasions. Steadily but surely our lines advanced, Follett's and Belger's batteries hitting their works from the Half-way House, where we now are. A drenching rain came, but operations were continued, General Butler being determined to push matters vigorously. General Weitzel quickly got his batteries, Follett's, Company D, Fourth United States, and Belge's, Company F, First Rhode Island, into position, using the embrasures from this side the enemy's intrenchments to fire through. A ride along the centre and right showed the enemy to be very strongly posted. On the left of the pike, General Brooks with his brigade occupies the rebel intrenchments, our men having about one foot and a half of level ground to stand upon between the ditch which surrounded the works and the embankment. Here they lie against the slope, carefully watching, while the line of skirmishers in the woods beyond tell by their continual popping of the presence of the foe. To the right of the road, in rear of the rebel works, now our front, is an open field, and beyond that is a formidable earthwork, with a curtain connecting other works, bastions, &c., evidently built with great care. Over this flaunts the rebel flag, and on it seven guns have been discovered. They kept up a sharp fire for a while, but were soon silenced by our fire. Here, on the parapets of our first line of works, our sharpshooters are posted, and keep a close watch against the approach of any rebel marksmen who may aim to shoot down our artillerymen. Still further along our skirmishers are deployed through the woods, and Heckman's gallant men lie on their arms, ready for any emergency. Here we encountered General Weitzel seated upon a log, quietly smoking his pipe, the shells from both Union and rebel batteries flying over his head, and the singing of Minie balls occasionally becoming unpleasantly loud. The General has been hit, he laughingly says, for the first time, a fragment of shell striking his whiskers. He waits for the artillery on the left to commence “shooting” before he opens with all his guns, which he has been massing to bear upon the redoubt in front of us. As we look, a puff of white smoke from an embrasure, followed almost instantly by a report from the battery behind us, and the two shells traversed the air, crossing each other in their deadly flight. The rebel shell exploded to the rear of our battery, while ours struck the rebel works just at their entrance and the gun was immediately withdrawn. Our fellows watch the appearance of a gun on the fort, and then rattle away at it until it is taken off. Beyond the rebel work other defences were seen stretching away toward Fort Darling, situated on the next bend of the river. The rebels are evidently husbanding their resources expecting an assault. As we ride along we encounter soldiers lying asleep in small squads, “just relieved from skirmish line,” and snatching what sleep they can. Poor fellows! tired and weary, which of you will be the beloved to whom He giveth sleep, the sleep of death, from which you shall awake to life immortal? Here comes a stretcher, having upon it a man just wounded, and who is being taken to the rear. There limps a poor fellow who has some slight wound. Another walks slowly along, his arm in a sling, and faint from loss of blood and reaction of the nervous system. Here, by the battery, they are removing a dead comrade for burial. At one point on the parapet, where the rebel fire was particularly severe, one of our men was wounded. We could see him — though at some distance from the spot — raise his head occasionally as if imploring help. At last two or three of his comrades discovered him, made a rush, and dragged him off a parapet into the ditch, where they awaited an opportunity to remove him. General Gillmore rides up from the left to consult with General Butler, who directs that he get his batteries in position and open on the enemy's works in his front, while General Smith increases his fire on the right. About five o'clock the fire opened along our whole line, and continued for an hour, the rebels taking the whole without an answering shot. The only damage done was the bursting of a rebel caisson. Our men were a good deal annoyed by rebel sharpshooters, who picked off whoever dared to show himself. From the top of the mansion of one Friend, a good view was obtained of General Brooks' and General Turner's divisions in position. A battery near the house was firing three guns at a time, with terrible effect, as far as noise was concerned. The battery of 20-pound Parrotts on the right of the pike belched forth responsive notes, which were echoed and re-echoed from the extreme right and left. The intervals were filled with the popping of small arms. Tiring of the continued shooting, I did Mr. Friend the honor to look through his premises. The vandals had been there, and everything was turned upside down. This friend must have been a minister and scholar. A large number of valuable books were still left lying about the floors, among them many classical works. Private letters were strewn about, and a receipted tailor's bill bore testimony to the man's integrity and conscientious scruples. The mansion is quite roomy but old-fashioned, delightfully situated and but for the teachings of Mr. Friend and his brother ministers, would not have come to such desolation as was presented. Quite a quantity of unginned cotton covered the attic floors, while unnumbered Scotch ale jugs and a large quantity of carefully selected straws, for the imbibition of mint juleps, sherry cobblers, &c,, told of the Virginian's hospitality. The fire
This text is part of:
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 .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.