three were now ready to advance, and Sheridan
sent them the word.
In the meantime the rebels in front of Wright
had reformed their line on the opposite side of the creek, and thrown up breastworks at various points on the slope of the hill, as time permitted; but the two divisions of the Sixth corps crossed the creek, and charged the position under a terrible fire, Getty
's division, which had now come up, remaining in reserve.
The attack was splendidly made and worthy of the fame of the Sixth corps and its gallant commander.
The position was almost carried.
But at one point on the national right a rebel column, composed of the Marine
brigade and other troops from the Richmond lines
, made a counter-charge.
The onset was astounding.
These troops were really surrounded; two divisions of the Sixth corps were on their flanks, a fresh division and Wright
's artillery in front, and Merritt
's cavalry in their rear.
looked upon the entire command as prisoners, and had ordered the artillery to cease firing, out of humanity; when this little force charged against the Sixth corps front and drove it across the creek.
There was a moment of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, but the national troops moved up on every side; a tremendous storm of artillery from eighteen guns opened on the command, and there was nothing to do but yield.
Some of the men floundered wildly back through the creek, and gave themselves up to the very brigades they had just driven across.
A moment later the two sections of the Sixth corps closed like gates upon the entire rebel force, while from the hillsides in the rear Merritt
suddenly swept through the pine-trees like a