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268

A BRILLIANT EXPLOIT.

with the dead and wounded who had fallen there in the vain attempt to stem the overpowering tide, and amid them stood our captured guns.

Darkness was now settling over the mournful field, and the fighting ceased. The night was bitter cold, yet those brave men, though hungry and exhausted, spent it in bringing in the wounded and in ministering to their wants.

While this success was being gained on our right, Smith, on the left, performed a still more brilliant exploit. A little after three o'clock he was ready to storm the enemy's works at that point. The hill on which they stood was high and very precipitous and strongly defended. Sending Cook's and Lauman's brigade to the right; as if about to move in force on them from that point, he took three picked regiments, the Second and Seventh Iowa and the Fifty-second Indiana, as the storming force, and riding at their head, led tem round to the left, and began swiftly to ascend the steep sides of the hill. The enemy seeing the storm that was ready to burst upon them, opened a terrible fire on the advancing regiments. But not a shot was returned---the gaps riatło by it were instantly closed, and shoulder to shoulder, like a dark, resistless wave, the undaunted column swept upward. Their march was silent and terrible as death, and the solid earth shook under their measured tread. In front, towering unhurt amid the tempest of balls, rode Smith--lis Cp on the point of his sword, guiding them to victory. Breasting the descending torrent of fire that drifted like wintry haii adown their ranks, they kept their eye on that strange pennon, and with unfaltering step, and waving hanners, climbed higher and higher. Not when the chivalry of Trance pressed after the white plume of llenry of Navarre, tossing "amid the ranks of war,” did braver hearts crowd to the portals of death, than there on that wintry evening, strained up the slippery hights. Inch by inch they won

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their terrible way, grim and silent as fate, till at length the hights were reached. Then, with one loud and thundering cheer--one swift, tremendous volley into the closely packed ranks below, they flung themselves forward with the bayonet. The astonished enemy recoiled before the descending avalanche, and turning, fled to the inner works. The next moment the Stars and Stripes swung out in the wind above the ramparts, and amid the hurrahs that greeted it, floated forth the exultant strains of the “Star Spangled Banner." Guns and supports were immediately brought forward, and the commanding position made secure against any force the enemy could bring against it. From this point, the whole of the rebel strong works could be enfiladed.

Thus ended the day, and the cold, long night came on in which no cheerful camp fires lighted the gloom or warmed the stiffened limbs of the weary soldiers.

In the morning, the grand assault all along the lines was to be made, and as soon as the first gray streaks illuminated the eastern horizon, the drum called Wallace's heroes to their post. Though hungry and chill, they swiftly closed their ranks on the blood-stained snow, while not a heart beat faint. No sublimer spectacle was ever witnessed than those gallant men presented on that Sabbath morning, as they took their position for the final assault. Marching from fort fienry without tents or rations, except such as they could carry in their haversacks---exposed for three days and nights without shelter or fire, and two out of the three to driving snow or piercing cold, all the time under fire, and compelled to bi. vouac on the field of battle with their arms in their hands, they yet with undaunted, fearless hearts, closed up their ranks in the early dawn, eager for the order “forward,” to launch themselves on the frowning defenses before them.

Below, Smith was at the same hour training his guns on the devoted garrison, and all was ready for the final strug.

272

JOHNSTON RECEIVES THE NEWS.

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gle. At that moment, Colonel Lauman heard the clear, shrill strains of a bugle from within the enemy's works, pealing forth neither the reveillé nor the rally. Attracted by the strange sound, he turned his eye thither, and lo, a white flag was dimly seen waving in the wind. The fort had surrendered. . Then there went up a long, loud shout, which, taken up by regiment after regiment, as the exciting news traveled round the line, shook the heavens, till at last it reached the division of Wallace on the extreme right, just ready to move forward to the assault. In a moment their caps were in the air, and cheer after cheer swept down their line of battle, and the bands struck up inspiring airs till the whole atmosphere was alive with notes of exultation.

The night before, the rebel Generals had held a consultation, in which it was decided that Floyd should hand over the command to Pillow, and he to Buckner, who should surrender the place, while the former made their escape by night, with a brigade up the river.

About fifteen thousand men, with all their arms and stores, etc., fell into our hands. It was a great victory in itself, but important chiefly because it broke the rebel line of defense in the center, and opened the gate to Nashville.

On this same Sabbath morning, Johnston, who had evacuated Bowling Green, with the guns of Mitchell playing on his retiring columns, sat at breakfast in the little town of Edgefield, opposite Nashville, and turning suddenly to the lady of the house, said, “Madam, I take you to be a person of firmness and trust your neighbors are; don't be alarmed; a murier has just arrived from fort Donelson, saying that our forces there must surrender."

The news reached Nashville just as the people were assembling for church, amid the ringing of bells.

The last news that arrived the night before was a dispatch from Pillotv, saying, “THE DAY IS OUR's." All, therefore,

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