At length there is an and to the lull in the battle storm hereabouts, and Grant
, tired of the indiscriminate slaughter that has attended his efforts to destroy Gen. Lee
's army by assaulting its breastworks, having some time since betaken himself to sapping and mining, to-day sprung a mine near the centre of our lines, in Bushred Johnson
's front, on the Boxter road, about one and a half miles below town.
Our officers were not taken altogether by surprise, and yet the men on whose line the explosion occurred were considerably demoralized.
As early as 2 o'clock this morning Gen. Lee
sent word around his lines that the enemy were making demonstrations along the lines in front of Bermuda Hundred
, but that it was by no means unlikely-that the real attack might be made somewhere else.
In obedience to this suggestion everything in the department of the Army of Northern Virginia was on the qui vive.
About five o'clock this morning the mine was sprung on the Baxter
The explosion caused a loud, deep noise, and the fragments of earth were at once flying in every direction, making a rent in the lines of some thirty or forty yards, just at one of these, to us, fatd sattents.
This sudden explosion scattered the guns (four pieces of Pegram
's battery, Branch
's battalion, of this city,) in every direction, and tore lifeless and limbless some of its gunners, and buried others in the earth, along with many of us supports, the poor fellows of Evans
's S. C. brigade, commanded by temporary Brigadier-General Elliott
, who, I regret to say, received a wound in the melee which is reported to be a mortal one.
No sooner had the explosion occurred and the fragments reached the earth than Burnsides
minions--"black spirits and gray"--bounded forward with a hellish yell, pressing back our astonished; and, for a while, discomfited troops, gaining, possession of the salient, the four guns, and a number of prisoners.
The enemy now held some two hundred yards of our lines, and could be distinctly seen hurrying up troops from the rear and forming their lines with the view of pushing forward and pressing their advantage.
A crisis was now undoubtedly upon us. A brief space and we might be undone.
was at once apprised of the disaster by Lieutenant General Hill
, who, fortunately, was on the spot.--General M. was directed by General H. to bring his own and Wright
's brigade to the scene of the disaster, and to endeavor, it possible, to regain the lost works and to retrieve the disasters of the day. With lightning speed the Virginians and Georgians, moving by the left flank, came to the rescue, under the lead of their gallant commander, who, be it known, was utterly unacquainted with the configuration of the lines or the nature of the ground.
Barely had Gen.
M. placed his old brigade in position when the Yankee
hordes, with a fresh yell, bounded for ward.
's men, like Putnam
's at Bunker Hill
, reserved their fire until they saw the whites of their adversary's eyes — not a difficult matter since many of the combatants were contraband of sooty hue. At the word fire the Yankees
would stagger and begin to fire back.
The order to charge is given, and the men dash forward and the Yankees
give back in their sui generis
rabid style into and beyond the line of breastworks.
Our men pursuing, mount the breastworks, and bestow upon the enemy a plunging fire, which tells with great success upon their ranks.
Besides driving the enemy back, Mahone
's men captured and brought off ten colors, forty officers, including Col. White
, 31st Maine, and Col. Wills
, 56th Massachusetts, and four hundred and six prisoners, including twenty negroes.
In this charge Col. Weisiger
, commanding Mahone
's old brigade, was wounded whilst leading his brigade with conspicuous gallantry.
The conduct of Capt. J. B. Girardey
, A. A. G. to Gen. Mahone
, on this as on a dozen other battle fields of the war, gave unmistakable evidence of cool courage and self possession and the highest qualities of the skillful officer.
But the work was not ended yet — only a
portion of the lines had been retaken; the salient and the rent produced by the explosion still remained in possession of the enmy. Wright
's Georgia brigade was formed and moved forward, but from some failure or misapprehension of orders, as in alleged, failed to retake the remainder of the works.
This ended the fighting, save skirmishing, and a heavy fire of grape and shrapnel, which the enemy poured into our lines.--Even this ceased about 9 o'clock, and from then until 2 o'clock there was profound quiet.
About this time General Mahone
, having ordered up Sanders
's Alabama brigade, sent it forward to recapture the rest of the works.
Led by their gallant Brigadier, they moved forward in splendid style, making one of the grandest charges of the war and recapturing every vestige of our lost ground and our lost guns, and capturing thirty five commissioned officers, including Brigadier General Bartlette
, commanding first brigade, first division, ninth corps; three hundred and twenty-four white and one hundred and fifty negro privates, and two stands of colors.
The enemy made but slight resistance to this charge, whilst our men swept everything before them, even as the stream that feeds the cataract bears irresistibly forward everything on its bosom.
The Yankee negroes and their white coadjutors came forward, exultant with pride and hope, mainly produced by strong potations of whiskey, crying "No quarter!
Remember Fort Pillow
‘ "But Linden
saw another sight,
When the drum beat at dead of night,
Commanding fires of death to light
The darkness of her scenery."
The rifle pits, and the ground in front of the battle field bore testimony to the efficiency of our fire, and the many ghastly forms of negroes and whites, in death laid low, showed how the cry of "Remember Fort Pillow
!" was responded to by our Spartan braves.
The rent made in the earth by the explosion is one of the most ghastly, unsightly objects I have ever witnessed.
The ground is torn as if by an earthquake, and great boulders of earth are scattered here and there, with ever and anon the mangled form of some lifeless Confederate protruded beyond.
Among the brave in battle slain are the gallant Colonel Evans
, 64th Georgia, and Captain Rush
, commanding 22d Georgia regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Williamson
, 4th Virginia, had his arm resected, and Major Woodhouse
was severely wounded.--Captain Broadbout
, commanding sharpshooters, Mahone
's brigade, and Captain McCrea
, commanding 3d Georgia, were also wounded.
The following is a list of the battle flags captured: Four large United States
flags; one battle tattered flag belonging to 11th N. H. V., and inscribed "Fredericksburg
;" another marked.--regiment infantry; another belonging to 57th Massachusetts; another belonging to 31st regiment infantry; 58th Massachusetts regiment, flag staff broken; 20th regiment Michigan
infantry; one guidon and one regimental flag.
And finally, but by no means least, a very handsome flag belonging to 28th regiment colored infantry.
Among our captures are to be mentioned about two thousand stand of small arms.
The loss of the enemy at the lowest calculation is at least three thousand five hundred, whilst ours cannot be over eight hundred.
's division lost about four hundred in all.
The enemy's prisoners say they have been mining for over three weeks. This mine of the enemy was about twenty-five feet below the surface of the earth.
The prisoners all say that they have other mines, which they will spring in a few days.
Whilst the contest was going on in Johnson
's front, the enemy made a demonstration in front of Harris
's Mississippi brigade, demanding its surrender, inasmuch as they had broken our lines at another point and were carrying everything before them.--General H. replied that he would never surrender the works, but if the enemy wanted the works they might come and take them, provided they could.
Among the anecdotes of the day it is related of a Capt. Richards
, that finding himself about to be taken he threw himself in a suppliant attitude, and cried. "Take my watch, my coat and purse, but for God's sake save my life!"