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[153] swollen by the flood, and, as the waters subsided, the accumulated firm gravel of the beds at the fords, it was found, had been displaced, disclosing to the horses' hoofs treacherous quicksands. Early on this morning, Gen. Grant having ordered a general assault on the Confederate position, a spirited attack was made by the Sixth, which was met with obstinate resistance. The Second Corps (Hancock's), upon our left, captured a ‘salient’ with twenty cannon; the Federal corps was hidden by a thick fog; it broke the abattis, surrounded a division, and took three thousand prisoners, including Generals Edward Johnson and Vodges. This was a complete surprise; these officers were at breakfast. The subsequent experience of our troops through the hours of the 12th was that of a desperate contest with uncertain result. Ten thousand men had fallen upon both sides. It was during these days that Gen. Grant sent his famous despatch to the department, from which was derived the oft-quoted, characteristic declaration, ‘I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.’


The following week was spent in demonstrations and manoeuvres, involving much marching; it is said that we were waiting for reinforcements.

On the 18th we were at Chesterfield, on the line of the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad; another flank movement had evidently commenced. We were proceeding southward, by the right of the Confederates. The immediate execution of this plan was delayed on the following day by an attack upon our right, but after a sharp conflict the strong Confederate force was driven back. Both armies, on the 20th, occupied lines nearly at rights angles with their positions on the 8th, 9th, and 10th,—that is to say, their backs were respectively to the east and to the west, with another race to the southward in prospective.

On the 22d of May, we were marching through the brown, sandy loam of Caroline County, a region famous in plantation minstrelsy,—‘Dandy Jim of Caroline,’—and one that seemed hitherto to have been unvisited by invading troops. All along the route, negroes were packing their simple effects and following the army; now and then a woman was seen expostulating with a colored servant who was about to depart to the visionary land of freedom and fortune, to which, in his simple intelligence, the route

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