With a dozen of my own company I went down the traverse to the crater.
We were the last to reach it, and the rifles of the Union soldiers were flashing in our faces when we jumped down in there, and the Johnnies were not twenty yards behind us. A full line around crest of the crater were loading and firing as fast as they could, and the men were dropping thick and fast, most of them shot through the head.
Every man that was shot rolled down the steep sides to the bottom, and in places they were piled up four and five deep.
For a few minutes the fire was fearfully sharp.
Then the enemy sought shelter.
The cries of the wounded, pressed down under the dead, were piteous in the extreme.
An enfilading fire was coming through the traverse down which we had retreated.
General Bartlett ordered the colored troops to build a breastworks across it. They commenced the work by throwing up lumps of clay, but it was slow work; some one called out, “Put in the dead men,” and acting on this suggestion, a large number of dead, white and black, Union and rebel, were piled into the trench.
This made a partial shelter, and enabled the working party to strengthen their breastworks.
Cartridges were running low, and we searched the boxes of all the dead and wounded.
The day was fearfully hot; the wounded were crying for water, and the canteens were empty.
A few of our troops held a ditch a few feet in front of the crater and were keeping up a brisk fire.
In the little calm that followed, we loaded a large number of muskets and placed them in readiness for instant use. Another movement was soon attempted by the enemy, but our fire was so sharp that they hastily sought cover.
The artillery on Cemetery Hill and Wright's Battery kept up a constant fire of grape and kept the dirt flying about us. A mortar battery also opened on us; after a few shots, they got our range so well that the shells fell directly among us. Many of them did not explode at all, but a few burst directly over us and cut the men down most cruelly.
Many of the troops now attempted to make our lines; but, to leave, they had to run up a slope in full view of the enemy, that now surrounded us on three sides; nearly every man who attempted it fell back riddled with bullets.
At 11 o'clock a determined charge was made by the enemy; we repulsed it, but when the fire slackened the ammunition was fearfully low. About this time two men, each carrying all the cartridges he could manage in a piece of shelter tent, reached us.
‘The white troops,’ continues Lieutenant Bowley
were now exhausted and discouraged.
Leaving the line, they sat down, facing