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[595] to take the offensive. Law's brigade attacked the left of Howe's division, posted along the railroad, but it was speedily repulsed with loss; one of its regiments, the Fifty-seventh North Carolina, was almost annihilated, having had two hundred and twenty-four men disabled. In front of Hamilton's Crossing, Birney and Sickles had replaced Meade's and Gibbon's divisions, which had been placed in reserve to recover from their losses. The enemy's artillery had also caused much damage to Doubleday. Despite his forces, therefore, Franklin found himself in a position which rendered it impossible for him to make a decisive attack before night; the general-in-chief had not indicated any new plan, but simply ordered him to draw the enemy's attention toward himself as much as possible. In order strictly to carry out the order received, he might undoubtedly have subjected a large number of his soldiers to be killed by a new partial attack; but it would certainly have failed, without influencing in the least what was passing at the other extremity of the line, for the Confederates were sufficiently numerous to show themselves, in force everywhere at once. He contented himself by simply continuing the musketry-fire which nearly the whole of his line had kept up for some time with Jackson's troops.

Meanwhile, Hooker, having returned to the field of battle, prepared in his turn to storm the slopes of Marye's Hill, and to this effect he wished to concentrate his whole effort upon a single point. Several batteries were boldly planted within four hundred metres of the stone wall to open a breach through which the Federal column might penetrate. But this wall, supported by the earthworks upon which it rested, was proof against all attacks. Night was approaching, for it was four o'clock, and Burnside's order was positive. The attack must be made. Hooker at last gave the signal. The Federal artillery at once ceased firing. Humphrey's soldiers, disencumbered of everything that could impede their march, formed into columns and sprang suddenly from the shelter they had found behind a small hillock. They rushed forward with such eagerness that they nearly reached the foot of the wall. But the enemy had also acquired new strength. The whole artillery posted on the heights had been strengthened and Pickett's division had been sent to the relief

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