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[65]

New life was infused among those wearied with watching and waiting; every man was at his post; loud shouts of welcome rent the air; all sprang to their feet, feeling certain of victory with such a support. Being the ranking colonel of the brigade (Colonel Hodges being stunned and having his beard singed by the explosion of a shell when just emerging from the wood), General Armistead being absent, I gave the order to charge, which was most gallantly performed by all engaged. Again leading, closely followed by General Wright's brigade until we reached the musket-range of the enemy's supports to his artillery, where the fire from both became so galling a momentary pause ensued. Six times was the attempt made to charge the batteries by the regiments of Armistead's brigade (just mentioned), and as many times did they fail for want of support on the left, involving the necessity of falling back a short distance under the cover of the brow of the hill.

Major Joseph R. Cabell, commanding the Thirty-eighth Virginia regiment, says: ‘When Generals Mahone and Wright came up with their brigades the order was given to charge, which was obeyed with promptness and alacrity, the Thirty-eighth being on the right and leading the charge. After getting in about seventy-five yards of the enemy they were halted and commenced a terrific fire, after which the order was given to charge, which the men did most gallantly-attempted five separate and distinct charges—but were compelled to fall back for the double reason of not being supported on the left and the heavy reinforcements coming up to the support of the enemy.’

Let us see what is stated by the Federal officers:

General McClellan says:

When the battle commenced in the afternoon I saw that in the faces and bearing of the men which satisfied me that we were sure of victory.

The attack was made upon our left and left center, and the brunt of it was borne by Porter's corps (including Hunt's reserve artillery and Tyler's heavy guns) and Couch's division, reinforced by the brigades of Sickles and Meagher. It was desperate, brave, and determined, but so destructive was the fire of our numerous artillery, so heroic the conduct of our infantry, and so admirable the dispositions of Porter, that no troops could have carried the position. Late in the evening the enemy fell back, thoroughly beaten, with dreadful slaughter. So completely was he crushed and so great was his losses that he has not since ventured to attack us.


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Ambrose R. Wright (2)
Fitz John Porter (2)
Drury L. Armistead (2)
John Tyler (1)
Daniel E. Sickles (1)
Meagher (1)
McClellan (1)
William Mahone (1)
Hunt (1)
Hodges (1)
D. N. Couch (1)
Joseph R. Cabell (1)
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