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[214] but by their firing put the cavalry-men to rout. The disgust of the Lieutenant was great; as by this means a valuable post for observation was allowed to slip through his fingers. He declared that with four resolute infantrymen he could have carried the heights and established his flag.

About noon the rebel skirmish line in front of General Cox, who was by this time slightly in advance of the Twentieth corps, arrived sufficiently near its supporting reserves who were strongly posted on a ridge and intrenched, to halt and begin to deliver a strong fire. Their fortifications could be seen quite plainly in the edge of the wood, at the opposite side of the cleared interval, and the gentle slope in front was dotted with detached rifle-pits from which sharp-shooters played upon our line with considerable effect. Finding that he had developed their position, General Cox brought up and planted four pieces each of battery D, First Ohio, and battery D, of the Fifteenth Indiana, which poured into them, at a distance of three quarters of a mile; rapid and effective volleys of shells, to which they could not or would not reply. The position of the ground was such as to give admirable effect to our firing. The shells were accurately sent, and literally shaved the summit of the opposing hill, and, following along down parallel with its descent, ploughed through the tents and their inhabitants at will. Prisoners taken soon after, and bloody traces found upon the ground when we took it, testify alike to their havoc. The First and Fifty-seventh Georgia were broken and fled in confusion. Upward of forty prisoners, mainly from these two regiments, were taken by our fellows, and the manner of their capture was as honorable to the firing of our gunners as it was vexatious to the captives. They were advanced, as I have said, a little distance down the side of the hill, and stationed in little temporary works built of rails, and the explosion of our shells on the top of the hill in their rear was so rapid that they dared not retreat, and were forced to lie still, while our boys marched stealthily forward and laid hands upon them. They cursed their leaders beyond measure, because they did not employ artillery in response to ours, when they had it posted so favorably as it was. Other prisoners were taken by having been left on the skirmish line by their reserves, who departed without giving due notice of the fact, and left them to be “flanked” by our boys. The Nineteenth Ohio battery, Captain Shields, also did effective service in shelling the rebel line, preparatory to our advance. This battery was posted on the right of General Cox's division.

A short time before the batteries ceased firing a sad mishap occurred, in the death of Lieutenant William H. Knowles, Sixty-fifth Illinois, acting Inspector-General to Colonel Cameron's brigade. Riding rashly out into the very skirmish line, he was warned repeatedly of his danger, but continued to advance till he was satisfied and turned to withdraw. A whole volley was at that moment poured into him, and he fell fatally pierced by four bullets. He survived but a few hours.

As soon as the batteries ceased playing, the entire division, with the Eighth Tennessee and Sixty-fifth Illinois as skirmishers, advanced rapidly and found the rebel works deserted. They had fallen back in haste to another line stretching from Lost Mountain to Kenesaw Mountain, which their prisoners said, and we afterward discovered, to be their main line — their ultimate reliance. But the first one which we had taken was sufficiently strong, and might have offered much more opposition.

The losses in this advance were slight owing to the entire absence of artillery firing from the enemy.

The advance of the Twenty-third corps was ended about noon, and at once some of the guns were brought over and planted in the old rebel works to be employed again, perhaps, upon their next one, a mile or two distant. It had moved in such a direction with regard to the main line, that the Second corps began now to be crowded between it and the Fourth on the left. It was accordingly moved by the right flank to give room, and placed en echelon while General Hooker prepared to bring up his command even with those on its flanks. Early in the afternoon the Twentieth corps began to move forward, and as the Twenty-third on its right and Fourth on its left had already slightly passed it, and were firing into the rebels in Hooker's front “endways,” as they expressed it, the corps met little resistance till they approached this main line, of which I have spoken above, the back-bone of the rebel position at this point. The Third division (General Butterfield's) occupied the right, resting on the Sandtown road, and was drawn up about three o'clock in the afternoon, in a cleared field in the rear of a protecting hill, in five lines. The Second division (Geary's) was next on the left, and the First division, with the exception of General Knipe's brigade, which was sent in on the left of General Butterfield, was held in reserve in rear of the Second. The Second division moved out from its position on the main line, and passing south of Pine Mountain, which was already occupied by the Fourth corps, compelled the rebels to fall back from a line of breastworks a mile in extent, running north and south. This result was brought about by General Geary debouching to the east and coming in their rear.

The Third brigade (Colonel Ireland) was then formed in a continuous line, and pushed forward through a piece of open timber to encounter the enemy, and develop his position. The nature of the ground in the rear and the density of the forests, prevented the employment of any supporting batteries, while the rebels had ten pieces and employed them all. The rebel skirmishers were driven from crest to, crest, until they rallied upon their main line of breastworks,

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C. C. Cox (3)
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