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[590] The cannon-balls committed a fearful ravage among those deep and almost immovable masses. They were not, however, staggered, and as soon as the line was formed, Kimball's brigade, followed at a short distance by two other brigades, advanced against the stone wall adjoining the road, behind which were posted the Confederate brigades of Cook and Cobb. For the space of six hundred metres, over which these troops had to pass, every step in the advance was marked by dead bodies; they closed their ranks without stopping. When within two hundred metres of the enemy, they were received by discharges of musketry, every shot of which, aimed at leisure, made sure of a victim.

Hunt's artillery had vainly endeavored to silence the batteries posted on Marye's Hill; the distance was too great. They disdained to reply to him, devoting all their attention to the assailants, and Hunt himself was obliged to intermit his fire for fear of killing more friends than foes. The field-pieces of Couch's corps could not accompany their infantry; they would have been dismounted in an instant. French's soldiers, however, were still pushing forward, but at fifty paces from the wall, the first line, which was reduced to a handful of men, halted and began to skirmish. The two brigades that were following could not pass beyond this fatal point, and after a single discharge they retired, leaving one-third of their comrades on the ground. Hancock immediately took their place. This brilliant officer, who had always inspired his soldiers with the ardor by which he was himself animated, was in command of well-tried troops. The sight of the massacre of their companions, and the formidable positions that rose before them, did not cause them to hesitate for a single instant. Three flags, planted by French's soldiers within eighty or one hundred metres of the enemy's line, floated amid the cannon-shot and musket-balls alone above the dead bodies that surrounded them.

They seemed to call for new combatants, or rather new victims. Meagher's Irish brigade was the first to rush forward. A portion of French's troops, who had felt reluctant to leave the vicinity of this field of carnage, joined it, and the rest of Hancock's division followed close. All the generals were on foot at the head of their soldiers. Howard's division came out of the town for

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Hunt (2)
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