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408

BERRY'S TIMELY ARRIVAL.

already fallen into the hands of the enemy, around which horses, riders, and gunners lay mangled, and half buried in the mud. At length, part of the Jersey brigade, with their ammunition exhausted or wet, had to fall back; and the Ex. celsior brigade marched into their places, when the firing became more terrible than ever. It was like the roar of a cataract, and the whole stormy woods seemed an element of fire in the dull and murky atmosphere. Colonel Dwight, with the First Excelsior, though fearfully outnumbered, resolutely held his ground. Report came that the enemy were outflanking him.

“I can't help it," was his calm reply, “I must hold this spot while a man is left to stand by me. Bleeding from his wounds, he stood resolved to die at his post. A braver man never led troops into fire, and braver troops never closed with heroic devotion round a gallant leader. Rooted, rock-fast on the bloody field, they held their ground till help came, though every third man had fallen. Veterans of a hundred battle fields could do no more than this

In the mean time, Kearney's division was coming to the rescue. Officer after officer kept dashing up to him with orders to hurry on. The roads were miry and the marching heavy, and the soldiers threw aside their haversacks to lighten their load, and pressed on in the 'direction of the firing that rose in one long thunder peal over the woods. The inutes seemned hours to the brave Heintzelman, for every moment threatened to be the last that Hooker's brigade could maintain its ground. But a great load was suddenly lifted from his heart, as he saw General Berry at the head of a part of his brigade, approaching with giant strides. Through the oturm and mud, with his two regiments of Michigan men and the Thirty-seventh New York, he had pushed fiercely on, passing troops, trains and artillery, and as he now drew near, Heintzelman gave a shout of delight, and waved his cap in the air. A thundering cheer responded, as the brave fel

THE ELEVENTH MASSACHUSETTS.

409

lows bounded through the driving rain. It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and for nearly eight hours Hooker's single unconquerable brigade had withstood the whole shock of battle. Help came not a moment too soon. Berry hurled his regiments like a thunderbolt on the foe. The Fifth Michigan, receiving the fire that smote them, and too impatient to return it, charged bayonet-clearing a rifle pit with a thrilling shout, and leaving a hundred and forty-three bodies in their fiery path. Kearney immediately after came up, and riding into the thickest of the fire, led his troops forward with irresistible impetuosity. As they advanced, however, they met the long line of ambulances conveying the wounded of Hooker's brigade to the rear, whose groans and cries of distress, joined with the mud and rain, and the exhaustion of the long and terrrible march, were not calculated to produce a favorable impression on them as they were going into action. General Heintzelman saw it and immediately ordered several of the bands to strike up national and martial airs. The effect was electrical, and as the strains of the familiar tunes reached the ears of the wounded as they were carried from the field, their cheers mingled with those of the stout hearted men who were marching past them into battle. Under the sudden inspiration, mud and rain and weariness were forgotten, and with renewed energy they pusk. ed forward to where the deafening explosions told them the companions in arms were facing death. Berry charged furiously on the astonished rebels, and Birney followed, reversing the tide of battie and rolling it on the foe. Hooker's brigade, a portion of which after their ammunition was exhausted, lalu its position with the bayonet alone, was at last relieved; for Kearney now cleared the crimsoned woods and swept the field. Of the brave regiments which bled so freely this day, none was handled with more skill, or hurled again and again with more irresistible impetuosity on the foe, than the Eleventh

410

A BAYONET CHARGE.

Massachusetts of Grover's brigade, commanded by Colonel Blaisdell. Like “Le Terrible" of Napoleon's army in Italy, it broke regiment after regiment of the enemy in pieces. Its march was like that of fate, and its charging cheer was the shout of victory.

While Hooker was thus breasting the storm on the left, Peck advancing up the road, near York river, came upon the enemy's center in the open space, in which stood fort Magruder. Though exposed to a murderous fire of shot and shell from the fort and the long lines of rifle pits that commanded all the open ground, by keeping the cover of a pine grove, he held his ground the entire day:

In the mean time, Hancock had advanced on the extreme right, and crossing a dam, took possession of some deserted earthworks. Late in the afternoon, the enemy anticipating an attack on his extreme wing, by him, moved against him with a heavy force. Fearing that his retreat might be cut off, should his force prove too weak to hold the advanced position, the latter began to fall back slowly and steadily in line of battle, ever presenting a dauntless front to the foe. The rebels, taking this movement for a retreat, and thinking the victory already won, dashed forward, cheering and firing as they came. When Hancock had got all his artillery safe, he halted his brave band, only twenty-five hundred strong. On came the enemy till they were nearly on the top of the sloping ground, and within forty yards of his line. “Fire,” | rang aiong the unfaltering ranks, and a swift, deadly. volley swept the rebel line. “Charge," followed in quick succession, and with leveled bayonets and leaning forms, the whole mass threw itself forward down the slope. As the gleaming line of steel drove swiftly on, the elated rebels halted, appalled at the sight. One glance at the determined countenances, and that even line of bayonets, moving steady and swift as the inrolling wave, and they broke and fled in dismay:

THE FIELD AFTER THE FIGHT,

411

ness.

The rebel position was turned by this success, and night having come on, the enemy retreated under cover of dark

The next morning, our victorious columns marched into Williamsburg with drums beating and colors flying. Enthusiastic shouts rent the air, but they fell all unheeded on the ears of the brave sleepers in the woods and open spaces where the battle had raged the day before. Soaked with rain, and covered with mud, the dead lay in șeaps where Hooker had so long and grimly held his ground. Amid the shattered trees, and shivered branches, and mangled horses, and wrecks of the fierce fight—the blood standing in pools around them--they slept the quiet sleep of death. All the dreary night, the soldiers, with torches, had threaded the woods in search of the wounded; still notwithstanding their untiring labors, many the next morning lay where they fell, listening with dull senses to the shouts and triumphant strains of their advancing comrades. It was a dreary sight to see the ambulances slowly moving amid the dripping trees, the drivers carefully picking their way to keep the wheels from passing over the lifeless forms.

Our loss in killed, wounded, and missing, was about two thousand, the greater part of which fell on Hooker's brigade. Hancock did not lose over twenty in his brilliant charge, which called forth a warm eulogy from McClellun to the two regiments which made it.

While this battie was raging, Franklin was approaching West Point with his troops, to intercept the retreat of the

It effected a landing, and on Wednesday was attacked by the enemy. A battle followed, in which we lost some two hundred killed and wounded, and a large number of prisoners. Nothing of consequence seemed to have been accomplished by this movement, save the rapid transportation of a large force far in advance, where it coulù co-operate with McClellan's urmy. Franklin's division was too weak to attack the whole retreating force of the enemy.

rebel army.

CHAPTER XXXII.

MÁY, 1862.

OUR GUN BOATS ASCEND THE JAMES RIVER-SURRENDER ÖF NORFOLK

DESTRUCTION OF THE MERRIMAC-GRATIFICATION OF THE PEOPLE-ATTACK ON FORT DARLING-MC CLELLAN'S ADVANCE ON RICHMOND-BATTLE OF

HANOVER COURT HOUSE-THE ROAD OPENED FOR MC DOWELL TO ADVANCE

RICHMOND NOT TO BE TAKEN UNLESS HE DOES-DISSATISFACTION AND

UNREASONABLENESS OF THE PUBLICA DEAR EXPERIMENT OF THE SECRE

TARY OF WAR.

WAR

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HILE our army was chasing the flying enemy towards

Richmond, important events were passing in the region of its long encampment before Yorktown. The day after the battle at West Point, the Galena, and two other gun boats, passed the batteries on the James river, and began to feel their way towards Richmond. Two days after, General Wool, with five thousand men, effected a landing at Willoughby point, and advanced on Norfolk. The rebel General, Huger, had evacuated it when it was decided to abandon Yorktown, and it was left defenseless. On the approach of our forces, a delegation from the city came out to meet them, and the place, which had been the great depot for the supply of heavy ordnance for the rebels, fell into our hands without firing a shot. It actually fell with Yorktown, for after that event it was entirely cut off from help. The taking it with an armed force, therefore, was a mere matter of form, though a part of the public made a laughable attempt to convert it into a brilliant military exploit of the President himself, who happened to be at fortress Monroe at the time.

The fate of the Merrimac was also sealed with the fate of Yorktown; for she was totally unfit for the sea, while her

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