Ohio and Seventy-eighth Illinois, who have in turn their skirmishers in front. At fifteen minutes after four o'clock the artillery rouses the hoarsest echoes of the glens and valleys, and heralds the coming of the assaulting column. Hazen, of Wood's division, then joins Davis' left, and he too throws forward by way of diversion a heavy line of skirmishers. The first few shells dislodged the rebels from their barricades of boulders, and the rapidity with which they measured ground en retraite elicits a shout of merriment that accelerates, if such were possible, their speed. There is at least one thing in which the rebels cannot be easily excelled, and that is the accuracy of aim displayed by their sharpshooters. It was actually unsafe to show one's self within three-quarters of a mile of Rocky Face or of the little spurs that guard the entrance to the gap. The fire of the rebel sharpshooters slackens. The skirmishers are quiet, and all along the line the stillness is so intense that one intuitively feels a storm is coming. Looking to the woods below, which is but one dense mass of foliage, I catch glimpses of troops in motion and change my point of observation. The line moves on as I supposed, and now, as I see it quit the works, the regular sway of that long, calm line assures me all will be well. A quarter before five and my eyes had the long watched — for confirmation. Like the tiger from his lair, flushed with the ardor of confidence that knows no failure when the will commands, cheering lustily as throats e'er cheered, the men seem borne forward by some supernatural impetus. The hill is very steep, and the enemy has circled the point with a heavy line of rifle-pits. Firing almost ceases. Naught is heard to break the taxing stillness cave an occasional exchange of shots between our daring skirmishers and the sharpshooters on the slope. Officers may be brave, brilliant, even in recklessness; and yet genuine fearlessness, the lion hearts, the dispassionate characters that love scenes where men pit their lives against the lives of other men merely for the novelty, for the satisfaction that follows a safe return, are oftener found in the ranks than elsewhere. There were no cowards here. If the national cause could have been personated and could have witnessed the ascent as I did, the “well done” would have hailed the flag that Mitchell's gallant fellows planted on the rebel parapet that day. While the rebel forces on the centre are employed in vigilantly preparing to oppose successful resistance to Davis and to such forces as we might hurl against the Gap, Willich, taking advantage of the diversion, ascends to the summit of Rocky Face, and asks that he be permitted to march steadily forward toward the Gap. The Fifteenth Wisconsin regiment--the original old Norwegians — ascended to the summit of the ridge and held it firmly until relieved by General Newton under proper orders. Whether an opportunity was lost or not I do not presume to say publicly, for such criticism would seem to impugne the judgment of our leaders and lead to no good results. We shall see the result. General Wood's division was taken from the left of Davis and placed in the centre, communicating with Newton, who still holds the summit of the mountain unable to advance against such superior numbers. Now it seems that the possession of the summit by sweeping its whole length if possible seems feasible, and Wood is ordered to demonstrate in front to attract the enemy, while Newton sallies out to press forward his lines. At half-past 8 o'clock in the morning the firing opened with great severity, and Wood pushes his skirmishers to the very base of that lofty facade of solid rock, which, in the language of the General, “not even a cat could ascend.” The rebels, secure comparatively on their rocky eyry, hurled down upon our troops huge rocks and clubs and logs. The Thirty-fifth Illinois, of Willich's brigade, lost in this sham effort to scale an impassable barrier, over thirty men killed and wounded. The loss of the division in this demonstration numbered not less than eighty men. Arriving at the base of the towering cliffs from which the enemy's sharpshooters were picking off our men at a murderous rate and with a malicious pleasure, General Ward so reported, and the main force retired from easy range, leaving a line of skirmishers to answer the enemy's shots. At ten minutes before nine o'clock the Ninety-sixth Illinois and Fifty-first Indiana regiments, of Whitaker's brigade, enter the forest on the slope of Rocky Face, just on the left of Davis, and at once engage the rebel skirmishers. Ten minutes later the firing becomes brisk. The enemy, holding a gorge, seems to have made a sally, and is determined to push our forces to the base again. The bugle sounds the “forward,” and a portion of Cruft's brigade, that had up to this time been in reserve, moves across the open field and enters the fight. Major Simonson trots out a section of the Fifth Indiana battery, which takes position just in front of General Stanley's headquarters in the open field, and, with the usual precision that marks the practice of this famous battery, a plentiful supply of shells is pitched among the jubilant Johnnies on the mountain, which is found wonderfully efficient in assisting them to the adoption of a lower pitch of voice and a loftier and securer perch among their rugged fastnesses. Two guns of the Second Pennsylvania battery, planted to the left and rear of the former battery to command the enemy's position in the gorge, industriously hurl their iron missiles against the mountain, and so vigorously ply the work that no further effort on the enemy's part is made to affect our lodgment on the slope. As <*> toiled along the rugged, rocky slope,
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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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