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[93]

Chapter6

  • Communicating with Burnside
  • -- Grant attacks the enemy's center -- how a famous message was despatched -- news from the other armies -- preparing to attack the “angle” -- an eventful morning at headquarters -- two distinguished prisoners -- how the “angle” was captured -- scenes at the “bloody angle”


At half-past 10 on the morning of May 10 the general-in-chief called me to where he was standing in front of his tent, spoke in much detail of what he wanted Burnside to accomplish, and directed me to go to that officer, explain to him fully the situation and the wishes of the commander, and remain with him on the left during the rest of the day. As I was mounting the general added: “I had started to write a note to Burnside; just wait a moment, and I'll finish it, and you can deliver it to him.” He stepped into his tent, and returned in a few minutes and handed me the note. I set out at once at a gallop toward our left. There were two roads by which Burnside could be reached. One was a circuitous route some distance in rear of our lines; the other was much shorter, but under the enemy's fire for quite a distance. The latter was chosen on account of the time which would thereby be saved. When the exposed part of the road was reached, I adopted the method to which aides so often resorted when they had [94] to take the chances of getting through with a message, and when those chances were not particularly promising-putting the horse on a run, and throwing the body down along his neck on the opposite side from the enemy. Although the bullets did considerable execution in clipping the limbs of the trees and stirring up the earth, they were considerate enough to skip me. The horse was struck, but only slightly, and I succeeded in reaching Burnside rather ahead of schedule time. His headquarters had been established on the north side of the river Ny. I explained to him that a general attack was to be made in the afternoon on the enemy's center by Warren's and Hancock's troops, and that he was to move forward for the purpose of reconnoitering Lee's extreme right, and keeping him from detaching troops from his flanks to reinforce his center. If Burnside could see a chance to attack, he was to do so with all vigor, and in a general way make the best cooperative effort that was possible.

A little while before, the heroic Stevenson, commander of his first division, had been struck by a sharpshooter and killed. He had served with Burnside in the North Carolina expedition, and the general was much attached to him. He felt his loss keenly, and was profuse in his expressions of grief.

The forward movement was ordered at once. Burnside was in great doubt as to whether he should concentrate his three divisions and attack the enemy's right vigorously, or demonstrate with two divisions, and place the third in rear of Mott, who was on his right. I felt sure that General Grant would prefer the former, and urged it strenuously; but Burnside was so anxious to have General Grant make a decision in the matter himself that he sent him a note at 2:15 P. M. He did not get an answer for nearly two hours. The general [95] said in his reply that it was then too late to bring up the third division, and he thought that Burnside would be secure in attacking as he was.

I had ridden with General Burnside to the front to watch the movement. The advance soon reached a point within a quarter of a mile of Spottsylvania, and completely turned the right of the enemy's line; but the country was so bewildering, and the enemy so completely concealed from view, that it was impossible at the time to know the exact relative positions of the contending forces. Toward dark Willcox's division had constructed a line of fence-rail breastworks, and held pretty securely his advanced position.

I had sent two bulletins to General Grant describing the situation on the left, but the orderly who carried one of the despatches never arrived, having probably been killed, and the other did not reach the general till quite late, as he was riding among the troops in front of the center of the line, and it was difficult to find him. I started for headquarters that evening, but owing to the intense darkness, the condition of the roads, and the difficulty of finding the way, did not arrive till long after midnight.

The same day, May 10, had witnessed important fighting on the right and center of our line. Hancock moved his troops back to the north side of the Po. Barlow's division, while withdrawing, became isolated, and was twice assaulted, but each time repulsed the enemy. The losses on both sides were heavy. Wright had formed an assaulting force of twelve regiments, and placed Colonel Emory Upton in command. At 4 P. M. Wright, Warren, and Mott moved their commands forward, and a fierce struggle ensued. Warren was repulsed with severe loss, and Mott's attack failed; but Upton's column swept through the enemy's line, carrying [96] everything before it, and capturing several guns and a number of prisoners. Unfortunately the troops ordered to his support were so slow in reaching him that he had to be withdrawn. The men had behaved so handsomely, however, and manifested such a desire to retake the position, that General Grant had additional troops brought up, and ordered another assault. Again a rush was made upon the enemy's line, and again the same gallantry was shown. Many of our men succeeded in getting over the earthworks, but could not secure a lodgment which could be held; and as the assaults at other points were not made with the dash and spirit exhibited by Upton, his troops were withdrawn after nightfall to a position of greater security, in which they would not be isolated from the rest of the forces. He was compelled to abandon his captured guns, but he brought away all his prisoners. Upton had been severely wounded. General Grant had obtained permission of the government before starting from Washington to promote officers on the field for conspicuous acts of gallantry, and he now conferred upon Upton the well-merited grade of brigadier-general. Colonel Samuel S. Carroll was also promoted to the rank of brigadier-general for gallantry displayed by him in this action.

Lee had learned by this time that he must be on the lookout for an attack from Grant at any hour, day or night. He sent Ewell a message on the evening of the 10th, saying: “It will be necessary for you to reestablish your whole line to-night. . . . Perhaps Grant will make a night attack, as it was a favorite amusement of his at Vicksburg.”

While the general-in-chief was out on the lines supervising the afternoon attack, he dismounted and sat down on a fallen tree to write a despatch. While thus engaged a shell exploded directly in front of him. He [97] looked up from his paper an instant, and then, without the slightest change of countenance, went on writing the message. Some of the Fifth Wisconsin wounded were being carried past him at the time, and Major E. R. Jones of that regiment said, and he mentions it in his interesting book of reminiscences published since, that one of his men made the remark: “Ulysses don't scare worth a d n.”

The 11th of May gave promise of a little rest for everybody, as the commander expressed his intention to spend the day simply in reconnoitering for the purpose of learning more about the character and strength of the enemy's intrenchments, and discovering the weakest points in his line, with a view to breaking through. He sat down at the mess-table that morning, and made his entire breakfast off a cup of coffee and a small piece of beef cooked almost to a crisp; for the cook had by this time learned that the nearer he came to burning up the beef the better the general liked it. During the short time he was at the table he conversed with Mr. Elihu B. Washburne, who had accompanied headquarters up to this time, and who was now about to return to Washington. After breakfast the general lighted a cigar, seated himself on a camp-chair in front of his tent, and was joined there by Mr. Washburne and several members of the staff. At half-past 8 o'clock the cavalry escort which was to accompany the congressman was drawn up in the road near by, and all present rose to bid him good-by. Turning to the chief, he said: “General, I shall go to see the President and the Secretary of War as soon as I reach Washington. I can imagine their anxiety to know what you think of the prospects of the campaign, and I know they would be greatly gratified if I could carry a message from you giving what encouragement you can as to the situation.” [98]

The general hesitated a moment, and then replied: “We are certainly making fair progress, and all the fighting has been in our favor; but the campaign promises to be a long one, and I am particularly anxious not to say anything just now that might hold out false hopes to the people” ; and then, after a pause, added, “However, I will write a letter to Halleck, as I generally communicate through him, giving the general situation, and you can take it with you.” He stepped into his tent, sat down at his field-table, and, keeping his cigar in his mouth, wrote a despatch of about two hundred words. In the middle of the communication occurred the famous words, “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.” When the letter had been copied, he folded it and handed it to Mr. Washburne, who thanked him warmly, wished him a continuation of success, shook hands with him and with each of the members of the staff, and at once mounted his horse and rode off. The staff-officers read the retained copy of the despatch, but neither the general himself nor any one at headquarters realized the epigrammatic character of the striking sentence it contained until the New York papers reached camp a few days afterward with the words displayed in large headlines, and with conspicuous comments upon the force of the expression. It was learned afterward that the President was delighted to read this despatch giving such full information as to the situation, and that he had said a few days before, when asked by a member of Congress what Grant was doing: “Well, I can't tell much about it. You see, Grant has gone to the Wilderness, crawled in, drawn up the ladder, and pulled in the hole after him, and I guess we'll have to wait till he comes out before we know just what he's up to.”

The general was now awaiting news from Butler and [99] Sheridan with some anxiety. While maturing his plans for striking Lee, he was at the same time keeping a close lookout to see that Lee was not detaching any troops with the purpose of crushing Butler's or Sheridan's forces. This day, May 11, the looked — for despatches arrived, and their contents caused no little excitement at headquarters. The general, after glancing over the reports hurriedly, stepped to the front of his tent, and read them aloud to the staff-officers, who had gathered about him, eager to learn the news from the cooperating armies. Butler reported that he had a strongly intrenched position at Bermuda Hundred, in the angle formed by the James and Appomattox rivers; that he had cut the railroad, leaving Beauregard's troops south of the break, and had completely whipped Hill's force. Sheridan sent word that he had torn up ten miles of the Virginia Central Railroad between Lee's army and Richmond, and had destroyed a large quantity of medical supplies and a million and a half of rations. The general-in-chief expressed himself as particularly pleased with the destruction of the railroad in rear of Lee, as it would increase the difficulty of moving troops suddenly between Richmond and Spottsylvania for the purpose of reinforcing either of those points. As usual, the contents of these despatches were promptly communicated to Generals Meade and Burnside.

The result of the day's work on our front was to discover more definitely the character of the salient in Lee's defenses on the right of his center. It was in the shape of a V with a flattened apex. The ground in front sloped down toward our position, and was in most places thickly wooded. There was a clearing, however, about four hundred yards in width immediately in front of the apex. Several of the staff-officers were on that part [100] of the field a great portion of the day. At three o'clock in the afternoon the general had thoroughly matured his plans, and sent instructions to Meade directing him to move Hancock with all possible secrecy under cover of night to the left of Wright, and to make a vigorous assault on the “angle” at dawn the next morning. Warren and Wright were ordered to hold their corps as close to the enemy as possible, and to take advantage of any diversion caused by this attack to push in if an opportunity should present itself. A personal conference was held with the three corps commanders, and every effort made to have a perfect understanding on their part as to exactly what was required in this important movement. Colonels Comstock and Babcock were directed to go to Burnside that afternoon, and to remain with him during the movements of the next day, in which he was to attack simultaneously with Hancock. The other members of the staff were sent to keep in communication with the different portions of Hancock's line. The threatening sky was not propitious for the movement, but in this entertainment there was to be “no postponement on account of the weather,” and the preparations went on regardless of the lowering clouds and falling rain. All those who were in the secret anticipated a memorable field-day on the morrow.

Hancock's troops made a difficult night march, groping their way through the gloom of the forests, their clothing drenched with rain, and their feet ankle-deep in Virginia mud. A little after midnight they reached their position, and formed for the attack at a distance of about twelve hundred yards from the enemy's intrenchments.

I had been out all night looking after the movements of the troops which were to form the assaulting columns. After they had all been placed in position I started [101] for headquarters, in obedience to instructions, to report the situation to the general-in-chief. He counted upon important results from the movement, although he appreciated fully the difficulties to be encountered, and was naturally anxious about the dispositions which were being made for the attack. The condition of the country was such that a horseman could make but slow progress in moving from one point of the field to another. The rain was falling in torrents, the ground was marshy, the roads were narrow, and the movements of the infantry and artillery had churned up the mud until the country was almost impassable. In the pitchy darkness one's horse constantly ran against trees, was shoved off the road by guns or wagons, and had to squeeze through lines of infantry, who swore like “our army in Flanders” when a staff-officer's horse manifested a disposition to crawl over them. By feeling the way for some hours I reached headquarters about daylight the next morning, May 12.

When I arrived the general was up and sitting wrapped in his overcoat close to a camp-fire which was struggling heroically to sustain its life against the assaults of wind and rain. It had been decided to move headquarters a little nearer to the center of the lines, and most of the camp equipage had been packed up ready to start. The general seemed in excellent spirits, and was even inclined to be jocose. He said to me: “We have just had our coffee, and you will find some left for you” and then, taking a critical look at my drenched and bespattered clothes and famished appearance, added, “But perhaps you are not hungry.” To disabuse the chiefs mind on this score, I sent for a cup of coffee, and drank it with the relish of a shipwrecked mariner, while I related the incidents of the embarrassments encountered in Hancock's movement, and the position he had [102] taken up. Before I had quite finished making my report the stillness was suddenly broken by artillery — firing, which came from the direction of Burnside's position. A few minutes after came the sound of cheers and the rattle of musketry from Hancock's front, telling that the main assault upon the “angle” had begun. No one could see a hundred yards from our position on account of the dense woods, and reports from the front were eagerly awaited. It was nearly an hour before anything definite was received, but at 5:30 an officer came galloping through the woods with a report from Hancock saying he had captured the first line of the enemy's works. This officer was closely followed by another, who reported that many prisoners had been taken. Fifteen minutes later came the announcement that Hancock had captured two general officers. General Grant sent Burnside this news with a message saying, “Push on with all vigor.” Wright's corps was now ordered to attack on the right of Hancock. Before six o'clock a message from Hancock's headquarters reported the capture of two thousand prisoners, and a quarter of an hour later Burnside sent word that he had driven the enemy back two miles and a half in his front. Hancock called for reinforcements, but Grant had anticipated him and had already ordered troops to his support. The scene at headquarters was now exciting in the extreme. As aides galloped up one after the other in quick succession with stirring bulletins, all bearing the glad tidings of overwhelming success, the group of staff-officers standing about the camp-fire interrupted their active work of receiving, receipting for, and answering despatches by shouts and cheers which made the forest ring. General Grant sat unmoved upon his camp-chair, giving his constant thoughts to devising methods for making the victory complete. At times [103] the smoke from the struggling camp-fire would for a moment blind him, and occasionally a gust of wind would blow the cape of his greatcoat over his face, and cut off his voice in the middle of a sentence. Only once during the scene he rose from his seat and paced up and down for about ten minutes. He made very few comments upon the stirring events which were crowding so closely upon one another until the reports came in regarding the prisoners. When the large numbers captured were announced, he said, with the first trace of animation he had shown: “That's the kind of news I like to hear. I had hoped that a bold dash at daylight would secure a large number of prisoners. Hancock is doing well.” This remark was eminently characteristic of the Union commander. His extreme fondness for taking prisoners was manifested in every battle he fought. When word was brought to him of a success on any part of the line, his first and most eager question was always, “Have any prisoners been taken” The love for capturing prisoners amounted to a passion with him. It did not seem to arise from the fact that they added so largely to the trophies of battle, and was no doubt chiefly due to his tenderness of heart, which prompted him to feel that it was always more humane to reduce the enemy's strength by captures than by slaughter. His desire in this respect was amply gratified, for during the war it fell to his lot to capture a larger number of prisoners than any general of modern times.

Meade had come over to Grant's headquarters early, and while they were engaged in discussing the situation, about 6:30 A. M., a horseman rode up wearing the uniform of a Confederate general. Halting near the campfire, he dismounted and walked forward, saluting the group of Union officers as he approached. His clothing [104] was covered with mud, and a hole had been torn in the crown of his felt hat, through which a tuft of hair protruded, looking like a Sioux chiefs warlock. Meade looked at him attentively for a moment, and then stepped up to him, grasped him cordially by the hand, and cried, “Why, how do you do, general” and then turned to the general-in-chief and said, “General Grant, this is General Johnson Edward Johnson.” General Grant shook hands warmly with the distinguished prisoner, and exclaimed, “How do you do? It is a long time since we last met.” “Yes,” replied Johnson; “it is a great many years, and I had not expected to meet you under such circumstances.” “It is one of the many sad fortunes of war,” answered General Grant, who offered the captured officer a cigar, and then picked up a camp-chair, placed it with his own hands near the fire, and added, “Be seated, and we will do all in our power to make you as comfortable as possible.” Johnson sat down, and said in a voice and with a manner which showed that he was deeply touched by these manifestations of courtesy, “Thank you, general, Thank you; you are very kind.” He had been in the corps of cadets with General Meade, and had served in the Mexican war with General Grant, but they probably would not have recognized him if they had not already heard that he had been made a prisoner. I had known Johnson very well, and it was only four years since I had seen him. We recognized each other at once, and I extended a cordial greeting to him, and presented the members of our staff. He was soon quite at his ease, and bore himself under the trying circumstances in a manner which commanded the respect of every one present. General Hancock had already provided him with a horse to make his trip to the rear with the rest of the prisoners as comfortably as possible. After some pleasant conversation [105] with Grant and Meade about old times and the strange chances of war, he bade us good-by, and started under escort for our base of supplies. General George H. Steuart was also captured, but was not sent in to general headquarters on account of a scene which had been brought about by an unseemly exhibition of temper on his part. Hancock had known him in the old army, and in his usual frank way went up to him, greeted him kindly, and offered his hand. Steuart drew back, rejected the offer, and said rather haughtily, “Under the present circumstances, I must decline to take your hand.” Hancock, who was somewhat nettled by this remark, replied, “Under any other circumstances, general, I should not have offered it.” No further attempt was made to extend any courtesies to his prisoner, who was left to make his way to the rear on foot with the others who had been captured.

While Generals Grant and Meade were talking with General Johnson by the camp-fire, a despatch came in from Hancock, saying, “I have finished up Johnson, and am now going into Early.” General Grant passed this despatch around, but did not read it aloud, as usual, out of consideration for Johnson's feelings. Soon after came another report that Hancock had taken three thousand prisoners; then another that he had turned his captured guns upon the enemy and made a whole division prisoners, including the famous Stonewall Brigade. Burnside now reported that his right had lost its connection with Hancock's corps. General Grant sent him a brief, characteristic note in reply, saying, “Push the enemy with all your might; that's the way to connect.”

The general-in-chief showed again upon that eventful morning the value he placed upon minutes. Aides were kept riding at a full run carrying messages, and [106] the terseness, vigor, and intensity manifested in every line of his field orders were enough to spur the most sluggish to prompt action.

After giving such instructions as would provide for the present emergencies, the general ordered the pony “Jeff Davis” to be saddled, and started for the front. He left an adjutant-general behind, with orders to forward to him promptly all communications. The staff rode with the general, and after a while reached a clearing on a piece of elevated ground from which a view of portions of the line could be obtained. It was found, upon learning the details of the assault upon the “angle,” that, notwithstanding the fatigues and hardships to which the troops had been subjected, they had moved forward with the step of veterans, and had marched half-way across the open ground which separated them from the well-defended earthworks in their front with a steady pace and unbroken alinement. At that point they sent up cheers which rent the air, and the columns dashed forward at a run, scattering the enemy's pickets before them in their swift advance. A brisk fire was opened by the Confederate line from a position to the left, but, unheeding it, and without firing a shot, the assaulting column tore away the slashed timber and other obstacles in its path, and rushed like a mighty torrent over the intrenchments. A desperate hand-to-hand encounter now followed, in which men fought like demons, using their bayonets and clubbed muskets when in too close contact to load and fire. The main assault fell on Johnson's division of Lee's army. Lee was led to believe that there was an intention to attack his left, and he had sent most of Johnson's artillery to strengthen that flank. Johnson had his suspicions aroused during the night that there were preparations under way for attacking his front, and had induced Lee to order the [107] artillery back. By a strange coincidence, it arrived just as Johnson's line was carried, and before the guns could fire a shot they fell into Hancock's hands. Besides capturing Generals Steuart and Johnson, he took nearly four thousand prisoners, thirty pieces of artillery, several thousand stands of small arms, and about thirty colors. His troops swept on half a mile, driving the enemy before them in confusion, and did not pause till they encountered a second line of intrenchments. The enemy was now driven to desperation, and every effort was bent toward retaking his lost works. Reinforcements were rushed forward by Lee as soon as he saw the threatening condition of matters at the “angle” ; and a formidable counter-movement was rapidly organized against Hancock. As our troops were upon unknown territory, and as their formations had been thrown into considerable confusion by the rapidity of their movements, they withdrew slowly before the attack to the main line of works they had captured, and turning them against the enemy, held them successfully during all the terrific struggle that followed.

By six o'clock A. M. Wright was on that portion of the field, and his men were placed on the right of the “angle.” Scarcely had he taken up this position when the Confederates made a determined and savage attack upon him; but despite their well-directed efforts they failed to recapture the line. Wright was wounded early in the fight, but refused to leave the field. Hancock had placed some artillery upon high ground, and his guns fired over tie heads of our troops and did much execution in the ranks of the enemy. Warren had been directed to make an attack before eight o'clock, in order to prevent the enemy from massing troops upon the center in an effort to retake the “angle,” but he was slow in carrying out the order. Although the instructions [108] were of the most positive and urgent character, he did not accomplish the work expected of him. A little before eleven o'clock General Grant became so anxious that he directed General Meade to relieve Warren if he did not attack promptly, and to put General Humphreys in command of his corps. General Meade concurred in this course, and said that he would have relieved Warren without an order to that effect if there had been any further delay. General Grant said to one or two of us who were near him: “I feel sorry to be obliged to send such an order in regard to Warren. He is an officer for whom I had conceived a very high regard. His quickness of perception, personal gallantry, and soldierly bearing pleased me, and a few days ago I should have been inclined to place him in command of the Army of the Potomac in case Meade had been killed; but I began to feel, after his want of vigor in assaulting on the 8th, that he was not as efficient as I had believed, and his delay in attacking and the feeble character of his assaults to-day confirm me in my apprehensions.” This was said in a kindly spirit, but with an air of serious disappointment. Longstreet's troops had continued to confront Warren, knowing that to lose that part of the enemy's line would expose the troops at the “angle” to a flank attack, and the obstacles to a successful assault were really very formidable. Warren was blamed not so much for not carrying the line in his front as for delays in making the attack.

The general now started for another part of the field, and kept moving from point to point to get a close view of the fighting on different parts of the line. Once or twice he called for a powerful field-glass belonging to Badeau. This was rather unusual, for the general never carried a glass himself, and seldom used one. He was exceptionally far-sighted, and generally trusted to his [109] natural vision in examining the field. Badeau's nearsightedness made him very dependent on his glass. A few days before, while he was using it, a battery commander who was passing attempted a professional joke by remarking, “I say, Badeau; can you see Richmond?” “Not quite,” answered the colonel; “though I hope to some day.” “Better have the barrels of your glass rifled so that it will carry farther,” suggested the artillerist.

Before riding far the general came to a humble-looking farm-house, which was within range of the enemy's guns, and surrounded by wounded men, sullen-looking prisoners, and terror-stricken stragglers. The fences were broken, the ground was furrowed by shells; and the place presented a scene which depicted war in its most repulsive aspect. An old lady and her daughter were standing on the porch. When the mother was told that the officer passing was the general-in-chief, she ran toward him, and with the tears running down her cheeks, threw up her arms and cried, “Thank God! thank God! I again behold the glorious flag of the Union, that I have not laid eyes on for three long, terrible years. Thank the Lord that I have at last seen the commander of the Union armies! I am proud to say that my husband and my son went from here to serve in those armies, but I have been cut off from all communication, and can get no tidings of them. Oh, you don't know, sir, what a loyal woman suffers in this land; but the coming of the Union troops makes me feel that deliverance is at last at hand, and that the gates have been opened for my escape from this hell.” The general was so touched by this impassioned speech, and felt so firmly convinced that the woman was telling the truth, that he dismounted and went into the yard, and sat for a little time on the porch, to learn the details of her story, and to see what he could do to comfort and succor her. She gave an [110] account of her persecutions and sufferings which would have moved the sternest heart. The general, finding that she was without food, ordered a supply of rations to be issued to her and her daughter, and promised to have inquiries set on foot to ascertain the whereabouts of her husband and son. She was profuse in her expressions of gratitude for these acts of kindness. Her story was afterward found to be true in every particular.

I had been anxious to participate in the scenes occurring at the “angle,” and now got permission to go there and look after some new movements which had been ordered. Lee made five assaults, in all, that day, in a series of desperate and even reckless attempts to retake his main line of earthworks; but each time his men were hurled back defeated, and he had to content himself in the end with throwing up a raw line farther in his rear.

The battle near the “angle” was probably the most desperate engagement in the history of modern warfare, and presented features which were absolutely appalling. It was chiefly a savage hand-to-hand fight across the breastworks. Rank after rank was riddled by shot and shell and bayonet-thrusts, and finally sank, a mass of torn and mutilated corpses; then fresh troops rushed madly forward to replace the dead, and so the murderous work went on. Guns were run up close to the parapet, and double charges of canister played their part in the bloody work. The fence-rails and logs in the breastworks were shattered into splinters, and trees over a foot and a half in diameter were cut completely in two by the incessant musketry fire. A section of the trunk of a stout oak-tree thus severed was afterward sent to Washington, where it is still on exhibition at the National Museum. We had not only shot down an army, but also a forest. The opposing flags were in [111] places thrust against each other, and muskets were fired with muzzle against muzzle. Skulls were crushed with clubbed muskets, and men stabbed to death with swords and bayonets thrust between the logs in the parapet which separated the combatants. Wild cheers, savage yells, and frantic shrieks rose above the sighing of the wind and the pattering of the rain, and formed a demoniacal accompaniment to the booming of the guns as they hurled their missiles of death into the contending ranks. Even the darkness of night and the pitiless storm failed to stop the fierce contest, and the deadly strife did not cease till after midnight. Our troops had been under fire for twenty hours, but they still held the position which they had so dearly purchased.

My duties carried me again to the spot the next day, and the appalling sight presented was harrowing in the extreme. Our own killed were scattered over a large space near the “angle,” while in front of the captured breastworks the enemy's dead, vastly more numerous than our own, were piled upon each other in some places four layers deep, exhibiting every ghastly phase of mutilation. Below the mass of fast-decaying corpses, the convulsive twitching of limbs and the writhing of bodies showed that there were wounded men still alive and struggling to extricate themselves from their horrid entombment. Every relief possible was afforded, but in too many cases it came too late. The place was well named the “Bloody angle.”

The results of the battle are best summed up in the report which the general-in-chief sent to Washington. At 6:30 P. M., May 12, he wrote to Halleck as follows: “The eighth day of battle closes, leaving between three and four thousand prisoners in our hands for the day's work, including two general officers, and over thirty pieces of artillery. The enemy are obstinate, and seem [112] to have found the last ditch. We have lost no organization, not even that of a company, whilst we have destroyed and captured one division (Johnson's), one brigade (Doles's), and one regiment entire of the enemy.” The Confederates had suffered greatly in general officers. Two had been killed, four severely wounded, and two captured. Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing was less than seven thousand; that of the enemy, between nine and ten thousand, as nearly as could be ascertained.

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