fury and determination possible. Stewart had already repulsed him three times, and Stevenson five. A fourth time the enemy essayed to carry Stewart's line of battle, and were repulsed with fearful loss. The carnage here was dreadful, for the gallant men of Clayton's brigade withheld their fire until the enemy had approached close to them, when they poured in a terrible volley, breaking them, and forcing their massed columns to retire to their lines, badly scattered. I said that the enemy evinced neither the desire nor intention to abandon his efforts, and so it was, for within half an hour after his fifth attack and repulse, three lines of battle, closely massed, were seen forming in front of that portion of the line held by the Fifty-eighth North Carolina. As I looked over the works, a feeling of mingled fear and anxiety pervaded me, that if they succeeded in forcing the line, our army would then be cut to pieces, and overwhelmed with disaster and disgrace. There was not much time for reflection, however, for very soon a voice on the right of the regiment exclaimed, “They are coming!” and the first column was seen to advance. “Withhold your fire until they come close to you, and then aim low,” ordered the officers. On came the enemy, cheering loudly, and confident that their superior numbers would insure them success. They approached to within fifty yards of the line firing rapidly on our men — a sheet of fire, one deafening roar which sounded like the eruption of a volcano was the answer, and the dead and wounded lie piled up before our works. This was more than human endurance could command, and bewildered by the fierceness of our fire they scattered throughout the woods, and reached their line, our sharpshooters killing and wounding them by dozens in their rout down the ridge. This was the severest charge of the day. The Yankees advanced well and with spirit, but were forced to succumb to the fierce fire of our troops. To describe the scene would be almost an impossibility, for it beggars description. The Minie balls of the Yankees poured over our line in an unceasing stream, and in such numbers that the air seemed black with them. The sharp and musical whiz they emit was no longer heard; it was an angry and discordant imitation of a peal of thunder rolling along the clouds, while the booming of the artillery and the bursting of the shells as they came flying over our lines, formed a fire, unequalled, perhaps, since nations first made war upon each other. But one thing saved us from a fearful loss of life, and it was that the Yankees fired entirely too high. The sixth column was repulsed only a few minutes, when the remaining two columns of Yankees marched forward with the hope of reaching our line before our men could fire more than one volley. But their charge was not made with the same firmness which characterized that of the preceding one, and two or three well-aimed volleys from the Fifty-eighth North Carolina, assisted by a cross fire from the Fifty-fourth Virginia on the one wing, and the Sixty-third on the other, routed the seventh attacking column of the enemy. They also retired to their ridge, and for a few moments only their sharpshooters could be seen, their main body being, no doubt, engaged in re-forming their broken columns. According to the order, General Stewart advanced to the enemy, but unfortunately obliqued too much to the right, and destroyed all connection with General Reynolds. He attacked the enemy and drove him from his front until he reached his line of battle, when fresh troops reinforced the Yankees; they rallied, and making a stand, opened fire on our men. No sooner had they fired the first volley, than one of the brigades of Stewart's division broke, compelling the others to fall back, which they did in good order, although pressed by the enemy, and regained their works without losing very heavily. In this charge General Clayton's brigade distinguished itself above the balance of the division by its fine conduct. Although these men were subjected to a fearful fire from four lines of battle of Yankees, they received it with praiseworthy firmness, and succeeded in driving the enemy from their front, and regained the works in safety. Baker's brigade, aided by Gibson, also behaved splendidly, and distinguished themselves by their brave conduct; in fact, covered themselves with glory. It was now past six o'clock in the evening, but though night was fast approaching, the enemy exhibited no disposition to cease from his fruitless efforts to carry the right of General Stevenson's line, and was determined to. endeavor to turn his left wing and force him on his right. Accordingly, General Stewart was ordered to leave his works and drive the enemy from his front, sweeping towards his centre, while Reynolds' brigade of Stevenson's division was ordered to advance at the same time, for the purpose of forming a pivot to General Stewart, and changing the line of battle obliquely to the left, thus flanking the enemy, and giving General Hardee an opportunity to advance and cut the enemy off from Snake Creek Gap, while Hood cut him off from the Dalton road. While Stewart was making his movement a peremptory order reached General Reynolds for him to advance his command as a pivot. The General opposed the movement unless General Stewart's left wing formed a junction with his right, but upon the order being repeated in a more peremptory manner, the Fifty-fourth Virginia regiment was ordered to advance from their line of works and carry the ridge before them, while the other regiments were directed to be ready to move at a moment's notice for the purpose of making the pivot complete and thus performing the work allotted to them. The Fifty-fourth leaped over the works, and
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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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