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[501] the work. During this charge we took prisoner Major-General Walker, of South Carolina, who was here temporarily in command of a brigade. He had his foot torn off by a shell, and states that his brigade ran off and left him on the field.

The firing being over for the present, our men could be seen huddled behind apple trees and others in the clearing. The Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundred and Fifteenth New York rode airily out upon an elegantly-caparisoned horse, against warning, when down went the horse, off went his rider on foot, and soon after a man was seen to crawl carefully to the animal and remove the trappings, the rebels amusing themselves by firing at him.

For a rarity there was no rain, and the day was oppressively hot. The hot noon steamed away, and at half-past 2 our guns again began to roar. Word was brought that the left of the pit was empty, and soon the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania was seen advancing against the left of the rifle-pit, in the open clearing. Their leader had mistaken or not followed precisely his orders, and the rebels had come in, and suddenly they rose and poured upon the Ninety-seventh a murderous fire of infantry and grape, and they seemed to fall in swaths. It was a sad sight, without help, but they ran deperately forward, hesitated, wavered, and ran back,,all in the space of a moment of time. Meanwhile our guns were turned upon the spot, and the fire of the rebels rapidly diminished. Thenceforward, for something like an hour, it was possible with a fair chance of impunity to sit upon the parapet and watch our shells, although for a time rebel shot flew wildly over us, and the trees flew into splinters. The clearing was now nearly empty of men, but about four o'clock word came that Colonel Howell's brigade was in the rifle-pit on the right. Five o'clock, and musketry crackled vigorously in the woods, showing that Terry's division was contesting there the right of the pit, and the guns were turned in that direction. They fired without intermission until half-past 5; then came a lull, during which the rebels could be seen busily spading and throwing the pit over the other way, while our men repaired the embrasures, many of which were too narrow, besides having been torn by the guns themselves.

Evening came, and all was quiet on the front, but on the extreme left we heard heavy firing from gunboats on the Appomattox, or from Rinks' battery on the other bank, shelling the ravine which runs from the river to the rebel position here. The woods have been so slashed that the signal corps communicate between the redoubts, and Terry's headquarters on the banks of the James are plainly visible.

Our losses to-day cannot now be estimated. In infantry fire they are heavy, and probably exceed that of the enemy; but our artillery practice was good, the rebels being sometimes seen on the run for the woods, and, perhaps, thus we have restored the balance of death. A few casualties occurred from our own guns. Not a musket shot was fired from our works.

Some shells of the Third artillery failed to explode this afternoon. One or two were examined and found to be filled with harmless plaster.

Saturday, seven A. M.--Firing on the left continued far into the night. Our batteries have just begun to fire again slowly, and the pit must be retaken to-day at whatever cost, for its loss will be the loss of our position on the Peninsula.

in the woods back of Bermuda hundred, Virginia, May 25, 1864.
Things are not working nor promising altogether well just now, in General Butler's command. For more than a week past the whole army here has been as good as shut up within its intrenchments back of Bermuda Hundred, and, instead of prosecuting a siege against Richmond or Fort Darling, is itself fairly under siege. Meanwhile the enemy has recovered possession of the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, and is evidently running trains over it day and night, his locomotive whistles being audible within our intrenchments. This is an ugly set-back from the state of things that existed, and from the prospect with which we were cheering ourselves a little more than a week ago. I, for one am not happy — not altogether happy — in the change. But there is no use disguising the fact, and I can anticipate no good from the loyal public being under a delusion in regard to the matter. The prevailing opinion here is, that General Butler has made one or two capital mistakes. He is indeed a strong man, a very strong man, and a glorious good fellow in the right place; but many a good and true man among us doubts seriously whether his right place be to have command of military operations in the field. I suppose that nobody will pretend that General Butler was educated a soldier. And it seems tolerably clear that he was not born one. Such being the case, I do not well see how he can be reasonably expected to show much mastership in a soldier's work. Probably there is no man now living in the United States who can justly claim to have been born a soldier; but we have quite a number who have been educated soldiers, and some of these, it must be confessed, are turning out pretty good ones. I must think, too, that we have had enough of undertaking to extemporize military leaders out of civilians, however capable these may be in their proper walks. And it seems rather unfortunate, to say the least, that in matters purely military the judgments of some of our best military men should still be liable to be overruled and set aside by civilian commanders.

For a due explanation of certain things already stated I must go back a little.

Up to the evening of Sunday the 15th, the whole movement of this army, in all its parts and particulars, had been a complete success. The sudden departure of the troops from

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Benjamin F. Butler (3)
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