Standing in an open wheat field near the cut in the ridge, and looking towards the long white serrated parapets on the heights opposite, screened by a thicket of young pines and a clump of tall forest trees, is a battery, which, from the conformation of the hill, has an enfilading fire on a portion of our rifle-pits, and on any force attempting to charge across the valley. It was determined, therefore, to assault, and, if possible, carry this work. At 1:30 P. M. General Judah was directed to lead a column against the heights, and Turchin descending the precipice in his front was to form in line and move to his support. At the same time, by way of diversion, Johnson was to quit his line and charge the heights immediately opposite. The forces advanced under a terrific hail of bullets, shells, grape, and deathly missiles of every character, in the following order: Hascall, of Judah's line, lapped Turchin's left in front. The right of Turchin and the left of Judah were somewhat screened, while the flanks lapping were exposed to a seething fire. There was no lagging. The colors of every regiment went right along to the base of the stronghold, and until the men were sheltered by the front from the artillery, which could not be sufficiently depressed to do them harm. Now from every angle along the line within range of the stormers poured down the merciless sleet of bullets. Artillery opens on both sides, and the whole valley is filled with the dun, sulphurous smoke, through which the steady assailants move more like churchyard ghouls or gnomes than human beings, braving the terrors of our modern Mars. A half hour later, and the quick, sharp volleys, further to the right, announce that Johnson is on the move. He, too, with banners flying, and covered by the plunging shell and canister, is fighting his way across the valley with the object of assaulting the enemy's works. As the line left the slope on the perilous charge, Captain Irvine McDowell, of the Fifteenth Kentucky, than whom, for bravery and exemplary qualities of heart, no man in the division was more highly esteemed, dropped from the line a bloody corpse. Here, too, in this charge, memorable ever as connected with that bloody assault of Judah and Turchin, fell Captain Fotrel and Lieutenant Higby, the latter of the Thirty-third Ohio. Johnson, unable to scale the hill, retires, and the enemy, pouring over his works, form in line to charge him. Facing about the thrilling “forward” rings again along the line. and Johnson's men have again scattered, as the wind scatters the straws before it, the presumptuous graycoats that thought to follow him. Let us return again to the assailants under Judah and Turchin. Still persistently the column clings to the slope, and seems determined to have the fort if fighting will suffice to capture it. Now and then the sulphur cloak that obscures and at times hides them from view floats off on the breeze, and clear and bright above the line that sways first to the right then to the left, now advances, now retires, but still bleeds on, floats, and flaps our flag so plainly that I half imagine I can hear the rustle of its silken folds. For one long hour this contest raged, and these sturdy heroes that would not waver labored and struggled to gain the top. The odds was too great, however, and the column, torn and mangled, fell back to our works on the ridge. A party of officers, among whom were General Schofield, Palmer, Thomas, Elliott, and Whipple, were standing in the open field to which I have referred, just in front of the gap in the ridge; a rebel gunner discovering the group trained his gun and sent a round shot whizzing within a few feet of the knarled and knotty old war horse, on whose countenance and gray hairs I never look but in reverence, for there is sound, tried, genuine military ability. The effect of the shot after deigning first to spare the head of Captain Snodgrass, that it actually endangered, was to cause what the boys call a “scatterment.” Captain Ingalls, who was serving on General Schofield's staff, was torn to pieces by a shell, a short distance from the spot just referred to. Stanley, who is being hard pressed, sends hastily for aid, declaring that the enemy is massing with the aim of turning our left. Hooker is called on, and prompt and eager as though not half the years that his gray locks denote had passed over him, he is in the saddle and shortly leads reinforcements to the left. Anxious to witness the struggle, should any come, I accompanied Lieutenant Shaw, of General Elliott's staff, towards the left. On the way we meet General Stanley and staff, their horses all afoam, galloping toward the left to bring up the reinforcements. He soon meets Hooker and his troops, and proposes to lead them down a dark and narrow gorge, by a nearer route, to join and assist the left. The mingled sound of cheers and musketry is distinctly heard, darkness is fast approaching, and, descending the slope as rapidly as the nature of the ground would permit, we <*>e soon in an open field. This field contains about ten acres, is rectangular in shape, and in the centre, on a knoll, Major Simonson has planted the Fifth Indiana battery, better known as the “Old Simonson battery.” In front, after passing over the open ground, runs a succession of very high hills. One of these is called “Round Hill.” Stanley pushed his division up this and occupied it all the afternoon. The enemy, finding our left weak, determined to mass against it, and, if possible, crush it before nightfall. Their onslaught had been boldly met and once or twice repulsed. Numbers, however, will at times prevail over tenacity and courage, and so it was with Stanley. The forces that were broken were defeated by force of numbers, and once disordered, that portion of
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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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