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[536] force of cavalry and infantry, Hancock withdrew Gibbon's division within the intrenchments at Reams' Station, placing it on the left of the First Division, at this time under the command of General Miles. These two small divisions numbered but six thousand men.

The first Confederate attack was made at two P. M. in heavy force, and fell upon Miles' division on the right. This was speedily repulsed. A second and more vigorous assault followed at a brief interval and was likewise repulsed, some of the enemy falling within a few yards of the intrenchments. It should be here observed that the line of breastworks at Reams' Station had been constructed by another corps some time before, and was very faultily located—a fact that made the defence difficult, and materially contributed to the disaster that now befell Hancock.

The repulse of the enemy in the previous charges had been so severe, and attended with so heavy a loss, that there was hesitation in renewing the assault. General A. P. Hill, who commanded the Confederate corps on the ground, was, however, resolved to carry the position, and he ordered the division of Heth to do so at all hazards. To cover this attack the Confederates concentrated a powerful artillery fire on the position, and, from the faulty location of the breastwork, it took Hancock's line in reverse, considerably demoralizing his troops. The bombardment was promptly followed by the advance of a storming column, which, by an impetuous rush, succeeded in breaking through Miles' line. Most of the command gave way in confusion, and it was found impossible to repair the break, for the only reserve present was a brigade of Gibbon's division under Colonel Rugg, and this could neither be made to go forward nor to fire.1 The Confederates then sprang upon the artillery, and the batteries of McKnight, Perrin, and Sleeper had to be surrendered, after being brilliantly served.

On the occurrence of this disaster, General Hancock ordered

1 Hancock: Report of Reams' Station.

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Winfield Scott Hancock (5)
N. A. Miles (2)
John Gibbon (2)
Sleeper (1)
Rugg (1)
Perrin (1)
McKnight (1)
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