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[138] each other, and the second and third lines suffered as severely as did the first. Some of the regiments faced by the rear rank and fired; others broke from the death trap with little attempt at resistance. The left having given away in confusion, the remainder of the line became so exposed that they were compelled to retire and only two regiments stood their ground,— the First Minnesota, under Sully, and the Nineteenth Massachusetts, under Hinks, who formed the right of the first and second lines respectively. Their right flanks came together, their left flanks being wide apart like the letter ‘V.’ They maintained their organization and when all others had left the woods, Col. Hinks changed front to rear on the first company, this movement being made in the face of a murderous fire. The men now faced the advancing line of rebels, and the First Minnesota fell back to the allignment of the Nineteenth Massachsetts on its right.

During this action First Sergt. ‘Tom’ Claffey, of Company G, and others were conspicuous for bravery in assisting to reform the men.

Three times in the terrible retrograde, the two noble regiments, side by side, fell back to new positions, each time by common consent after firing at the foe, until they got behind a stone wall in the middle of the field, from which vantage point they could not be dislodged. Each halting place gave proof of the obstinate contest, by the row of fallen dead and wounded that marked the spot like a black line. The track of each regiment was strewn with brave men. After a brief struggle at the stone wall, the enemy gave up the pursuit. This halting place was still in advance of any other portion of the Union line and in advance of the new line on which the remainder of the Division had reformed. Here the fighting was renewed. There was a portion of one of the companies of the Nineteenth Massachusetts which had collected in the road and, slightly protected by an angle in the ‘worm-fence,’ the men gave their attention to the advancing line of rebels and tried to keep their colors down, firing only at the color bearers. There was a good opportunity to shoot at them in the few minutes in which the men held the fence and their colors went down several times.

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E. W. Hinks (2)
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