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[147] being out of the way, the Confederate infantry opened its fire at short range against the Fourteenth Corps.

After the first encounter Carlin's men seem to have been considerably shaken. Perceiving some show of disorder, the Confederates took the offensive, advancing steadily against Carlin's left. There was doubtless some breaking here and there, but Slocum's men were veterans, and quickly rallied. The Twentieth Corps and the remainder of the Fourteenth not engaged were hastily forming a new line, half a mile to the rear. Johnston puts it this way:

Some distance in the rear there was a thick wood of young pines, into which the Federal troops were pursued, and in which they rallied and renewed the fight.

Slocum by his language implies an enforced retreat to the prepared position; but says that the retiring troops “were handled with skill, and fell back without panic or demoralization, taking places in the line established.”

Here at the second position the engagement was renewed, but the opposition was too strong for Johnston's men to overcome. They charged again and again, but finally retired beyond range, hoping to renew the attack the next morning; but during the night Johnston was assured that I was pushing in my command toward him from the east along the road from Cox's Bridge, so that he immediately took a new position where he could face both myself and Slocum.

That position was an enlarged bridgehead, embracing Bentonville and covering the crossing of Mill Creek by the Smithfield road.

I believe the Confederate lines were rather irregular

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Henry W. Slocum (3)
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