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[112] to support Colonel Post's. I further ordered Major Goodspeed, Chief of Artillery of the corps, to open a concentrated fire on the hill, for the purpose of silencing the enemy's batteries and demolishing his defences, and to continue the fire as long as it could be done with safety to our advancing troops. The order was effectively obeyed. I also conferred with Major-General Steedman, and explained to him what I intended to do. He promptly agreed to move his command forward with the assaulting brigade, to cover its left; also to participate in the assault with a view to carrying whatever might be in his front. Everything being prepared for the attack, near three P. M., I gave the order for the assaulting brigade to advance. This it did steadily, followed by its support. Major-General Steedman's command moved simultaneously. I will here remark, that General Steedman's artillery had kept up an effective fire on the enemy's works during the interval in which the preparations for the assault were being made.

The front of the assaulting force was covered with a cloud of skirmishers, who had been ordered to advance rapidly, for the purpose of drawing the enemy's fire as far as possible, and to annoy his artillerists, and to prevent, as far as possible, the working of his guns. The assaulting force was instructed to move steadily forward to within a short distance of the enemy's works, and then, by a “bold burst,” ascend the steep ascent, cross the abatis, dash over the rude but strong parapet, and secure the coveted goal. The troops were full of enthusiasm, and the splendid array in which the advance was made gave hopeful promise of success. Near the foot of the ascent the assaulting party dashed forward for the last great effort; it was welcomed with a most terrific fire of grape and canister and musketry. But its course was onward. When near, however, the enemy's works (a few of our men, stouter of limb and speedier of movement, had already entered his line), his reserves on the slope of the hill rose and poured in a fire before which no troops could live. Unfortunately, the casualties had been particularly heavy among the officers; and more unfortunate still, when he had arrived almost at the abatis, while gallantly leading his brigade, the chivalric Post was struck down by a grape shot, and his horse killed under him. The brigade, its battalions bleeding, torn, and broken, first halted, and then began to retire; but there was little disorder, and nothing of panic. The troops promptly halted and were readily re-formed by their officers. But for the unfortunate fall of Colonel Post, the commander of the assaulting brigade, I think the assault would have succeeded. I had watched the assault with a keen and anxious gaze. It was made by troops whom I had long commanded, and whom I had learned to love and admire for their noble deeds on many a hard-fought field. I had observed, with pride and exultation, the evident steady resolve with which they had prepared for the assault, the cheerfulness with which they had received the announcement that they were les enfans perdu.

So soon as I perceived the troops begin to retire, apprehending that the enemy might attempt an offensive return, I despatched an order to all the batteries bearing on the hill to open the heaviest possible fire so soon as their fronts were sufficiently cleared by the retiring troops to permit it. I also ordered Colonel Kuefter, commanding Third brigade, Third division, to hold his command well in hand, ready to charge the enemy, should he presume to follow our troops. Both orders were promptly obeyed, and if the enemy ever had the temerity to contemplate an offensive return, he never attempted to carry it into effect. Not a prisoner was captured from us — a fact almost unparalleled in an assault so fierce, so near to success, but unsuccessful. And no foot of ground previously won was lost. After the repulse, our soldiers, white and colored, lay indiscriminately near the enemy's works, at the outer edge of the abatis But while the assault was not immediately successful, it paved the way for the grand and final success of the day. The reinforcements for Overton Hill, which the enemy had drawn from his left and left-centre, had so much weakened that part of his line as to insure the success of General Smith's attack.

After withdrawing and re-posting the troops that had been engaged in the assault, I rode to-wards the right to look to the condition of the First and Second divisions. Shortly after reaching the First division, which was on the right of the corps, an electric shout, which announced that a grand advance was being made by our right and right centre, was borne from the right towards the left. I at once ordered the whole corps to advance and assault the enemy's works. But the order was scarcely necessary: all had caught the inspiration, and officers of all grades, and the men, each and every one, seemed to vie with each other in a generous rivalry, and in the dash with which they assaulted the enemy's intrenched lines. So general and so combined an attack on all parts of the enemy's line, was resistless. It rushed forward like a mighty wave, driving everything before it. The sharp fire of musketry and artillery did not cause an instant's pause. I advanced with the First division, and witnessed, with the highest satisfaction, the gallant style in which it assaulted and carried the enemy's works. The division carried every point of the works in its front, and captured five pieces of artillery, several hundred prisoners, and many hundred stands of small arms.

The Second division gallantly carried the works in its front and captured many prisoners and small arms. The Third division re-assaulted Overton Hill, carried it, and captured four pieces of artillery, a large number of prisoners and small arms, and two stands of colors. The enemy fled in the utmost confusion. The entire corps pushed rapidly forward, pressed the pursuit, and continued it several miles, and till

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James B. Steedman (3)
P. Sidney Post (2)
A. J. Smith (1)
Kuefter (1)
Goodspeed (1)
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