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[142] captured before night. In vain might Hill plead or Walker swear, when no orders came and no chief could be found to give them. Chafed and disappointed the grand Kentuckian found himself for want of support at last exposed to destruction or capture, and slowly and stubbornly both he and Cleburne fell back and reformed, but much nearer to the enemy than the line from which they advanced. Scarcely had the decimated forces of Hill reformed, when, all too late, Walker went forward with another single line, to be hurled back by the fresh troops that the enemy was rapidly massing on his left to meet the design now developed by our ill-managed movement. Cheatham, meanwhile, was not allowed to budge an inch or fire a gun. Thus was the plan frustrated and the attacking force driven back and cut to pieces in detail for want of a present, active-moving head to strike with the two arms of the right wing at one time. The fierce onslaught of Hill failed, as did the no-less impetuous charge of Walker, because as a chain is no stronger than its most defective link, so, a single advancing line is no stouter than its weakest point.

The splendid conduct of our troops on our right and the dread inspired by Breckinridge's bold charge of the morning, bore fruit, however, in a way entirely unexpected, when it led the enemy to mass so much of his force behind Thomas. This was the occupation of the enemy while Hill and Forrest were riding up and down in front of our line and drawing the fire of the enemy upon the young troop who followed at their heels, and when there was a temporary lull in front of Longtreet on the left and left center.

At last the thunder of artillery and the roar of musketry again burst upon us from along the whole front of the Virginia Lieutenant, while Hill in vain sent messenger after messenger to beg that three lines be formed and a general advance ordered on the right as well as on the left. Just before night General Polk permitted Hill to take charge of the forward movement of the three lines, Walker in front, his own corps composing the second and Cheatham the third. The advance of our attacking column on the left, before that time steady, now became impetuous, and with a momentary wavering of a brigade on the right, we rushed over the breastworks of Thomas and caught 5,000 prisoners in the angle, where Longstreet and Hill met, as they had on many hard-fought fields before, to discuss the events of that day and prepare, as they had hoped, for a still more eventful one that was to follow. But a short time had elapsed when they were

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D. H. Hill (7)
James A. Walker (4)
Gray Thomas (2)
Frank Cheatham (2)
L. E. Polk (1)
Longtreet (1)
J. Longstreet (1)
C. S. N. Forrest (1)
Patrick Cleburne (1)
John C. Breckinridge (1)
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