rang out the order,—‘Close up,’ etc.—and the lines dashed on. The mission of Sumner
was to support the sorely pressed troops of Gordon
's Division was in front of the column.
After passing the turnpike, the Brigade descended slightly into another wood where Death was holding high revel.
These woods were not like the Peninsula swamp
forest, filled with underbrush and creeping vines, black stagnant marsh and stifled air, but open and clear, with large trees and firm ground underfoot and spreading branches overhead.
While descending this slope, Ernest A. Nichols
, of Company C, a lad of but 17, was hit by a spent ball on the breast plate and fell forward.
Someone said ‘Nichols
is gone’ but he sprang up again and took his place in the ranks, saying ‘I'm not killed yet.’
heard his remark and responded, ‘There's a brave man.’
The division moved on through this wood with the ranks being depleted at every step.
did not know that there were ten Confederate brigades with ‘Stuart
's Unseen Guns’ concealed behind the ridge in front and behind fences between the Dunker church and the house of a man named Miller
, east of the turnpike, ready to swing upon Sedgwick
Their centre was in a cornfield behind a stone wall, which was crowned with artillery and infantry at every available point.
's Corps had again been forced back and Burnside
had, as yet, failed to carry the bridge.
The Division was still in close column by Brigade lines, which made it impossible to manoeuvre, and the moment the lines crossed the old turnpike, afterward called ‘Dead Lane,’ and entered the woods, they were met by a storm of fire from small arms and canister from the enemy's artillery.
The first volley nearly swept the First Brigade off the earth.
The other two Brigades, of course, could use no fire themselves, and at the northern edge of the woods the Nineteenth halted on the top of a ledge.
In front, and slightly below were the Forty-Second New York and the First Minnesota, hotly engaged with the rebels, while the Nineteenth, suffering severely from the galling fire of short range, could not reply because of the position of the lines and the conformity of the ground.
They were, therefore,