wavering battle, followed up his attack by continuing to extend his right with fresh bodies of infantry and artillery as they came forward from the rear, and by so doing threatening to turn Beauregard
Some of the Federal
guns were pressed so boldly to the front that men from the Thirty-third Virginia sprang forward and captured them, but they were soon retaken.
To meet this threatened blow on his left, Beauregard
took the offensive and ordered a counterstroke from his right to clean off the Henry plateau
in his front.
The commands of Bee
, the men who had so bravely and stubbornly held back McDowell
's advance in the early morning, now responded with spirit and speed, striking the Federal
, with strong and steady blows, pierced its center, while Smith
's Virginians and Gartrell
's Georgians charged on its right.
This bold movement, sweeping over both infantry and artillery, entirely cleared the plateau of Federal troops and captured the batteries of Ricketts
The success of this brilliant counterstroke cheered the Confederates
and braced them for another struggle.
Looking from his commanding position to the northward, Beauregard
saw the still constant and steady coming on of Federal reinforcements.
Without delay he reorganized his line of battle, under heavy fire from the artillery on the hills north of the turnpike, and prepared for the third attack, which McDowell
was then organizing with Howard
's brigade, which had just arrived on the field of battle.
The attack soon came; the fresh Federal troops swept down the slope from the north, crossed the valley of Young's branch
, and pressed up the northwestward slope of the Henry
hill, taking advantage of ravines, clumps of trees, and the sunken Sudley road, and reaching the crest, by the force of numbers bravely led, pressed the Confederates
back across the plateau, regained their lost position and recaptured their lost guns.
The conflict now became a death struggle for the final possession of the Henry
hill and for the closing victory to which that was the key. The advantage of numbers enabled McDowell
to still further extend his right through the woods west of the Sudley
road, again threaten to turn Beauregard
's left, and force him to throw that back as a protection against such a movement; this also enabled McDowell
to extend his left