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[287] pierced the enemy's line, and forced their way to the crest of the hill on his left, but were compelled to fall back before overwhelming numbers. The superior force of the enemy, assisted by the fire of his batteries, south of the Chickahominy, which played incessantly on our columns as they pressed through the difficulties that obstructed their way, caused them to recoil. Though most of the men had never been under fire until the day before, they were rallied, and in turn, repelled the advance of the enemy. Some brigades were broken, others stubbornly maintained their positions, but it became apparent that the enemy was gradually gaining ground.

Jackson had not yet arrived. It was a critical time. An urgent message was sent by Gen. Lee to Longstreet to make a diversion in favour of the attacking columns. The three brigades under Wilcox were at once ordered forward against the enemy's left flank with this view. Pickett's brigade making a diversion on the left of these brigades, developed the strong position and force of the enemy in Gen. Longstreet's front; and the latter found that he must drive him by direct assault, or abandon the idea of making the diversion. He at once determined to change the feint into an attack, and orders for a general advance were issued. Gen. R. H. Anderson's brigade was divided-part supporting Pickett's in the direct assault, and the other portions guarding the right flank of the brigades under Wilcox.

At this moment Jackson arrived; and the air was now rent with shouts as the combined commands prepared for the final charge of the day. Jackson's right division, that of Whiting, took position on the left of Longstreet. The opportune arrival of this division occupied the entire field. The gallant command of Confederates was now moved forward in the face of three lines of infantry fire, supported by batteries from both sides of the Chickahominy.

With fierce grandeur the charge swept on. On the right the troops pressed steadily forward, unchecked by the terrible fire from the triple lines of infantry on the hill, and the cannon on both sides of the river, which burst upon them as they emerged on the plain. The thousand continuous volleys of musketry seemed mingled into the grand roar of a great cataract, while the louder and deeper discharges of artillery bounded forth over the hills and down the valley, with a volume that seemed to shake the earth. The canopy of smoke was so thick that the sun was gloomily red in the heavens, while the clouds of dust in the rear, caused by the commotion of advancing and retreating squadrons of cavalry, was stifling and blinding. The dead and wounded marked the way of the intrepid advance; Whiting's brave Texans leading, closely followed by their no less daring comrades. The enemy were driven from the ravine to the first line of breastworks, over which our impetuous columns dashed up to the entrenchments on the crest. These were quickly stormed, fourteen pieces

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Longstreet (3)
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