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GALLANT B AYONET CHARGE.
stealily advanced as they fired, but Sickles saw that with the enemy covered by the woods, the fight was too unequal to be maintained long and resolved to clear them at the point of the bayonet. To the Second Excelsior was assigned the desperate undertaking With firm set ranks, and leveled pieces this gallant regiment moved rapidly over the intervening space and approached the woods. The rebels gazed on the glittering line without dismay, and closing their ranks sternly awaited the onset. It was a fearful sight-the flashing eyes and leveled pieces of the enemy on the one side, and that noiseless unwavering line of steel on the other. The rebels reserved their fire till the bayonet points were within sixty yards of them, when a sheet of flame ran along their ranks and ä murderous volley swept the advancing regiment. Taking it full in their faces without flinching or faltering, with one wild thrilling shout they bounded on the foe. As the smoke of the volley lifted, the rebels saw that line of steel still unbroken, close upon them. Appalled at the desperate daring, they broke in utter panic. Their Colonel, overthrown in the shock, suddenly recovered, and cried out, "Rally once more my boys," but the next moment he saw that the bayonets that environed him were not those of his friends, and the loud hurrahs that rent the air came from his
conquerors. The battle now raged furiously along the whole center and right, and when the gallant regiments could not clear their way with their deadly volleys, they advanced with the bayonet, enacting over again the heroic deeds of the Second Excelsior.
Meanwhile, Richardson and Sedgwick were steadily closing their semicircle on the enemy.
Where the left wing of the division rested on the rail road, the ground was covered with woods, with here and there an opening; but on the right a cleared field a mile in extent, spread away. Here Richardson posted a battery of ten-pound Parrott guns, which, with the brigade of French, and one regiment of
THE ENEMY REPULSED.
Howard's, formed the first line. The remaining three regiments of Howard's brigade formed the second, and Meagher's with eighteen pieces of artillery, the third. Early in the morning the enemy's skirmishers formed in line and advanced over this field, 'while a large body of cavalry, their sabers gleaming in the light, were preparing to charge. The Parrott guns were immediately directed on these, which dispersed them, when the enemy swung round towards the left, and came down in tremendous force along the rail road track, till they arrived at two common, wood roads that crossed it, up which they rapidly pushed heavy columns, and deployed in line of battle. When within half musket shot, French and Howard opened a terrible fire upon them, which for an hour and a half without intermission, swept their ranks with deadly effect. Howard exposed himself like the commonest soldier, until at last he was struck by a ball which shattered his arm. Instantly waving the mutilated member aloft as a pennon, he cheered on his men to the charge, and was then borne from the field.
The enemy now fell back and the battle here seemed ended; but suddenly receiving reinforcements, he gave a tremendous shout, and moved forward again to the attack. Meagher's gallant brigade was then brought up to relieve the hard pressed regiments. Advancing with their well known war shout, they closed with fearful ferocity on the foe, and for an hour mowed them down, almost by companies. Unable to gain one inch of ground, the enemy again retreated, their flight hastened by a storm of shells from the Parrott guns.
Thus, along the whole line of battle, from left to right, they were driven back in confusion.
About noon McClellan rode on the field with his Staff, and as he swept along the lines, the enthusiasm of the troops was raised to the highest pitch, and the deafening cheers
THE BATTLE FIELD
rolled like thunder over the field. Spurring on in search of Heintzelman, he found the tired hero dismounted, and sit ting on the ground under a tree. Handing his horse to his orderly, he seated himself beside him, and questioned him rapidly of the state of things. Other Generals soon joined them, forming a brilliant group there on the edge of battle, The reports were all alike, the enemy were falling back in every part of the field.
All our lost ground was at length won, and it was determined not to advance farther, as only a portion of the army was over the river, or could be got over till the flood subsided. Had McClellan been able to move the whole army, he would have followed the enemy to the streets of Richmond, and then and there settled the fate of the rebel Capital.
After the battle was over, McClellan rode with his body guard through the victorious ranks. The shouts that greeted him, told how deeply he had fixed himself in the affections of the army.
Even the wounded raised their heads, and added their feeble cheers to the thundering hurrahs that rolled over the plain.
It was a great victory, though won at a fearful cost. Mangled heaps of friends and foes spotted the fields and woods in every direction, and lay in long and mournful lines along the roads. Men of the same faith and blood, members of the same church, who should have been worshiping in God's blessed temple on this Sabbath day, lay side by side, their spirits having passed together to that land where no confusion of right and wrong makes enemies of those who should be friends. It was a sight over which angels might weep. More than ten thousand had fallen there amid the springing grass and grain, and under the shadow of the green woods. The ghastly bayonet wounds on every side, vere a new spectacle to American soldiers. Four separate
RESULT OF THE BATTLE.
charges had been made during the day, and each time with complete success.
Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing, was five thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine. The enemy took, beside many prisoners, nineteen cannon from Casey's division, which they hurried off on Saturday night to Richmond, as trophies, and a large quantity of stores of all kinds. Their loss was variously estimated at from ten to twelve thousand; but their own reports afterward made it only a few hundred more than ours.
Several distinguished officers fell into our hands, among whom was General Pettigrew. But the heaviest loss of the enemy was that of the Commander-in-Chief, Johnston, whose wound removed him from active service. Twenty thousand men could have been better spared than he.
For days after the battle, the field covered with the wrecks of the fight, presented a frightful spectacle. Between three and four hundred horses lay strewed along where the battle had raged fiercest. These were collected in huge pyramids and burned.
As in the battle of Pittsburg Landing, both sides claimed the victory, and as in that, the first day the enemy was victorious. His tactics were the same in both; his object being to drive a part of the army into a river, before the other part could come up, and he nearly succeeded in both. But in each case he failed to carry out his plan, and was driven from the field, leaving his dead behind him.
So far as immediate results were concerned, it was a barren victory to both sides, for it left the two armies in cisely the same relative position that they were in before. The battle, however, did not in any way interrupt the plans of McClellan, but a disaster to our armies in the Shenandoah valley, that occurred about this time, did most seriously interfere with those of the government, and thus eventually overwhelmed him with disaster..
McClellan's dispatch to e government, announcing the victory, awarded unbounded praise to his troops with the exception of Casey's division, of which he spoke in severe terms. More accurate information obtained afterwards, caused him.to modify bis charges against it somewhat; still he evidently felt that its behavior was disgraceful and well nigh caused his ruin. The gallant conduct of some of the regiments and porțions of regiments, by which the enemy was held in check for a long time, could not shield the division from condemnation. The efforts afterwards made to defend its conduct were only partially successful. Even Casey's and Naglee's dispatches saved the reputation only of individual regiments.