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[654] of brigades, to approach the city and cross to the Summerville road, without exposing his men, and to develop his line as soon as he should arrive in front of the works. General Upton was directed to move on the Range Line road, sending a squadron on the Burnsville road. Lieutenant Rendelbrook, with a battalion of the Fourth United States cavalry, was instructed to move down the railroad, burning bridges, stations, and trestle-works as far as Burnsville. By rapid marching, without opposition, the troops were all in sight of the town, and mostly in position by four P. M.

As I approached the city I perceived that my information was generally correct. I therefore made a reconnoisance of the works from left to right for the purpose of satisfying myself entirely as to the true point of attack and the probable chances of success. I directed General Long to assault the enemy's works by moving diagonally across the road upon which his troops were posted, while General Upton, at his own request, with a picked force of three hundred men, was directed to penetrate the swamp upon his left, break through the line covered by it and turn the enemy's right; the balance of his division to conform to the movement. The signal for the advance was to be the discharge of a single gun from Rodney's battery, to be given as soon as Upton's turning movement had developed itself.

Before this plan could be put into execution, and while waiting for the signal to advance, General Long was informed that a strong force of rebel cavalry had begun skirmishing with his rear, and threatened a general attack upon his pack-train and led-horses. He had left a force of six companies well posted at the creek in anticipation of this movement, afterward ascetained to have been made by Chalmers, in obedience to the instructions of Forrest. This force was at Marion the day before and was expected on the road from that place. Fearing that this affair might compromise our assault upon the main position, General Long (having already strengthened the rear by another regiment), with admirable judgment, determined to make the assault at once, and without waiting for the signal gave the order to advance. The troops dismounted, sprang forward with confident alacrity, and in less than fifteen minutes, without even stopping, wavering, or faltering, had swept over the works and driven the rebels in confusion toward the city. I arrived on that part of the field just after the works were carried, at once notified General Upton of the success, and ordered him to push in as rapidly as possible, directed Colonel Minty, in command of the Second division, to gather his men for a new advance, ordered Colonel Vail, commanding the Seventeenth Indiana, to place his own regiment and the Fourth Ohio in line inside the works, hurried up the Fourth United States cavalry, Lieutenant O'Connell, and the Board of Trade battery, Captain Robinson commanding, and renewed the attack. The rebels had occupied a new line but partially finished in the edge of the city. A most gallant charge by the Fourth United States cavalry was repulsed, but rapidly reformed on the left. It was now quite dark. Upton's division advancing at the same time, a new charge was made by the Fourth Ohio, Seventeenth Indiana, and Fourth cavalry, dismounted. The troops, inspired by the wildest enthusiasm, swept everything before them, and penetrated the city in all directions. During the first part of the action the Chicago Board of Trade battery had occupied a commanding position, and steadily replied to the enemy's guns.

I regard the capture of Selma the most remarkable achievement in the history of modern cavalry, and one admirably illustrative of its new powers and tendencies. That it may be fully understood particular attention is invited to the following facts.

The fortifications assaulted and carried, consist of a bastioned line, on a radius of nearly three miles, extending from the Alabama river below to the same above the city. The part west of the city is covered by a miry, deep, and almost impassable creek, that on the east side by a swamp extending from the river almost to the Summerfield road, and entirely impracticable for mounted men at all times. General Upton ascertained by a personal reconnoisance that dismounted men might with great difficulty work through it on the left of the Range Line road. The profile of that part of the line assaulted is as follows: Height of parapet, six to eight feet, thickness eight feet, depth of ditch five feet, width from ten to fifteen feet; height of stockade on the glacis, five feet, sunk into the earth four feet. The ground over which the troops advanced is an open field, generally level, sloping slightly toward the works, but intersected by one ravine and marshy soil, which both the right and left of Long's line experienced some difficulty in crossing. The distance which the troops charged, exposed to the enemy's fire of artillery and musketry, was six hundred yards. Particular attention is invited to that part of General Long's report which describes the assault. He states that the number actually engaged in the charge was one thousand five hundred and fifty, officers and men. The portion of the line assaulted was manned by Armstrong's brigade, regarded as the best in Forrest's corps, and reported by him at more than fifteen hundred men. The loss from Long's division was forty killed, two hundred and sixty wounded and seven missing. General Long was wounded in the head, Colonels Miller and McCormick in the leg, and Colonel Briggs in the breast.

I doubt if the history of this, or any other war, will show another instance in which a line of works, as strongly constructed and as well defended as this, by musketry and artillery, has been stormed and carried by a single line of men without support. Too much credit cannot be accorded to General Long, Colonels Minty,

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Eli Long (8)
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