connection of the Sixth corps upon the left. The principal portion of the corps was soon moving further to the front. Gibbon was already in position and intrenched; for last night he had advanced as near the enemy's intrenchments as he could get without bringing on a heavy fight. Mott and Barlow pushed forward their lines of battle, with a heavy skirmish line in front. Mott was partly in position and intrenching, and Barlow was nearing the crest in front of the rebel works, when he encountered a heavy force of the enemy marching down in column by brigades, with the evident intention of piercing our position at the interval which now existed between the left of the Second corps and the right of the Sixth. The Second, Third, and Fourth brigades of Barlow's division formed his front line; the First brigade, under General Miles, being held in rear as a reserve. In this assault by the enemy, the rebel General Wilcox's division, marching in three brigade lines behind a heavy cloud of skirmishers, led the advance of Hill's veteran corps. It was early in the afternoon when the head of the rebel column struck at once the right of the Sixth and left of the Second corps. The rebels pushed on with pertinacity, and the shock was soon felt on the flanks of both these corps. The position which they occupied rendered it necessary that they should immediately withdraw the flanks that were thus exposed, and fill up the gap by making a connection with each other along the line of intrenchments in the rear. While this was being done, however, the enemy inflicted considerable damage on our men by his fire, and captured several hundred prisoners from us. The assaulting column came down in a diagonal direction, and, as it happened, struck the flank of the divisions, which were disconnected, and hence the disastrous consequences which ensued. These were, the forced retirement of Barlow, the hasty withdrawal of Mott and of part of the left of Gibbon, and the loss of four guns. The enemy swept down over the ground our troops had left, taking quite a number of prisoners as he advanced. Pressing on still in a diagonal direction, the column soon came to Gibbon's line, the left of which suffered somewhat from the shock. The right held its position with determined courage, and poured a murderous fire into the advancing force. The musketry was terrific on both sides. As the enemy swept over the angle which marked the left of the division line, he enveloped a battery of four three-inch guns, which occupied an advanced position behind the parapet, and almost before the officers were aware of the situation of affairs, the artillery was in the enemy s hands. It was Captain McKnight's Twelfth New York battery. The moment the rebels appeared in sight Captain McKnight opened upon them with canister. They separated in front, and, coming in on the right and left, surrounded the guns. A rebel color-bearer immediately mounted and planted his colors on the parapet. In the meantime Captain Clark's First New Jersey battery, which was posted in the breast-work further to the right, opened on the enemy, and contributed considerably to cheek his further advance. The rebels quickly turned upon us the captured guns, and at the same time concentrated a fire of some twenty other pieces on Captain Clark's single battery. The epaulement in which this battery was placed was well battered by the solid shot which came pouring over from the fortifications of the enemy. While this work was going on at the right of the corps, a part of the rebel attacking column, which by this time had been deployed in line of battle, was still pressing down upon the left. The interval between the right of the Sixth corps and the left of the Second was gradually growing greater, from the fact that the flanks thus exposed to the enemy were slowly melting away, when General Miles' brigade, of Barlow's division, which was in reserve, came up on the double-quick and one regiment was sent through the woods to check the enemy's advance, while the remainder of the brigade was formed behind the breastworks to fill up the interval. At the same time Lieutenant Roder's battery K, Fourth United States artillery, wheeled into position, and the infantry and artillery soon checked the further progress of the enemy at that point. Scarcely had these dispositions been effected, however, before the rebels made another attempt to pierce our lines a little to the right of that locality ; but the attack was repulsed. We took a few prisoners at this time, and among them several wounded. The casualties were not heavy, however, on either side, because the rebels did not attempt to cross the open field in front of the breastworks behind which our men were posted. About seven o'clock in the evening an effort was made by General Gibbon, with one of his own brigades, supported by one from General Griffin's, of the Fifth corps, to retake the lost guns of the Twelfth New York. The attack was very sharp and spirited, but failed to accomplish the desired object. Another effort was attended with a similar result. Later in the evening General Meade ordered an advance of the Sixth and Second corps, for he was exceedingly desirous of developing the continuation of the chain of fortifications for the defence of Petersburg. The Sixth corps swung round to the left, pushing back a line of rebel skirmishers, but apparently not meeting with any formidable force, for the firing soon ceased in that direction. Simultaneously with the movement of the Sixth a heavy line of skirmishers pushed forward in front of the Second corps. In the thick woods through which the lines had to advance, this heavy cloud of skirmishers is more desirable than a close line of battle, because it at once gives room for the men
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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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