upon our pickets, and under cover of this succeeded in carrying off their dead and wounded. Our own loss was inconsiderable: Griffin's division, which bore the brunt of the attack, may have lost two hundred; Cutler about one hundred and thirty, while the loss of Crawford's division, which held the left, and whose skirmish line alone was engaged, was but trifling. All things considered this may justly be regarded as one of the most beautiful detached engagements of the campaign; and taking into account the very important results hanging upon it, it fully merits the praise accorded to it by the Commanding General in a despatch sent to General Warren immediately after the action, in which General Meade “congratulated him and his gallant corps upon the handsome manner in which the enemy's attack was repulsed.” Although the Commanding General extends praise to the whole corps, the other divisions will willingly acknowledge that it belongs more particularly to the First division (Griffin's), which received and repulsed the main attack of the enemy. Especial credit is due to the Second brigade of this division, commanded by Colonel Sweitzer, though equal eulogy is claimed by the brigade of Bartlett, which so promptly checkmated the flanking manoeuvre of Brown. Passing now from the position of Warren, on the right, to that of Hancock, on the left, we find his corps engaged at the same time with the Fifth, though unlike Warren, who passed the river unopposed, he had to carry his crossing against severe opposition. As I have already mentioned, Hancock's point of passage was the Chesterfied or county bridge, half a mile above the railroad bridge. Here the rebels had a strong position and a tete-de-pont, which had to be taken before the passage could be effected. Six or eight hundred yards north of the Anna is Long creek, which runs parallel with the river, and empties into it east of the railroad bridge. The two streams, therefore, form a species of island, and here the rebels had a prepared position to oppose any crossing. Near the bridge-head is an extended redan, with a wet ditch in front, the gorge swept by rifle-pits in the rear. On the opposite, or southern bank of the river, is a similar work and other rifle-pits, while the southern bank commands the northern, and was swept by rebel artillery. These works were built a year ago, immediately after the battle of Chancellorsville. The island is a perfectly flat and bare plain, and across this it was necessary to advance in order to carry the bridge. The position was held by McLaws' division of Longstreet's corps. To General Birney's division of Hancock's corps was assigned the gloriously perilous task of carrying it. On the left was the brigade of Colonel Egan; on his right Pierce's brigade, and General Mott's brigade on the right of Pierce. The Fourth brigade (the Excelsior, commanded by Colonel Blaisdell, of the Eleventh Massachusetts), came up partly in rear, its left to the right of the redan. To cover the assault, three sections of artillery were put in position, and replied to the artillery fire of the enemy. On the left of Birney's division was Barlow's division, the left of which connected with the right of Gibbon's division, while Tyler's heavy artillery division was held in reserve. An hour before sundown of Monday, the assault was begun and most brilliantly executed by Birney's command, which swept across the open space at double-quick, under a storm of artillery and volleys of musketry. Two regiments of the Excelsior brigade (the Seventy-first and Seventy-second New York), first reached the redan, the garrison of which ran precipitately as the menacing line of fixed bayonets came sweeping along. Making foot-hold in the parapet with their muskets, the brave fellows clambered up and simultaneously planted their colors on the rebel stronghold. Thirty rebels, unable to get away in time, were captured in the ditch. The total loss in this brilliant exploit — the very rapidity and daring of which astonished and paralyzed the rebels — did not exceed a hundred men, and secured us the possession of the bridge, across which a portion of Hancock's corps immediately crossed, and held the bridge-head during the night. The work of Monday, therefore, had secured us the passage of the North Anna at two different points, and night found the whole of the Fifth corps crossed at Jericho ford, and a portion of the Second corps across at Chester-field bridge. Yesterday, Tuesday, twenty-fourth, was mainly employed in passing over the rest of the army and pushing out our lines and securing our position. That held by General Warren was happily one of great strength — being a point at which the Anna makes a bend in the form of a horse-shoe, thus affording a secure point d'appui for both flanks. Early yesterday the whole of the Sixth corps (Wright's) filed over at this point, took position in rear of the Fifth, and a portion of it in the afternoon relieved part of Warren's front. Hancock, on his front, was not able to make such rapid progress. Noon found only such portions of the command as had forced the passage the previous night across the river. The rebels still held the works, rifle-pits and commanding heights on the southern bank. In the afternoon, however, Crawford's division of Warren's corps extended to the left, to make a diversion in his favor, engaged the enemy, and enabled the whole of Birney's division to pass over. The remainder of the Second corps speedily followed. Meanwhile Burnside's corps still remained on the north bank of the river; but the operations of yesterday afternoon having swept the rebels from our whole front, the Ninth corps was able this morning to make the passage at Oxford, midway between the points of crossing of Hancock and Warren. During Monday night Hancock's left extended to the railroad bridge, we holding the northern end
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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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