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WARD AND GEARY.
wavering, continued to pour into the rebel host a steady, uninterrupted, and deadly fire. At the same time Geary's disordered regiments reformed, even under a withering fire from the enemy, while a couple of his batteries, directing their pieces full at the right flank of the lines which had driven us back, tore them in pieces with a tornado of shot and shell. The indentation in our lines produced by the giving way of Geary's two brigades, became a pit of death into which hundreds of maddened rebels plunged, only to die or to fall wounded and bleeding upon the sod. Not another inch did Geary retire, but began slowly to advance, until, when the fight closed, he occupied exactly the same ground as when it began.
“It was just as General Ward became convinced that all was going well with Newton and Geary, that his own line reached the edge of the kind of table line I have described, only to find itself confronted at a distance of thirty paces, with the flower of the rebel army! The fearful tumult that at once burst forth was such that no man could tell which portion of it was the roar of musketry, and which the fierce, indignant, defiant yell that each host hurled at the other. Both were surprised. Our men scarcely knew that the enemy had emerged from the opposite woods, when they found themselves full in their presence. The rebels, disappointed elsewhere, supposed they had certainly reached their long-looked-for gap, but found instead a line of battle and a sheet of vindictive fire! Both lines instantly charged forward, pouring the leaden hail full into each other's bosoms. They stood in some places but fifteen feet apart, and still hurled death in each other's faces. They charged again, and the men intermingled and fought hand to hand! In places the lines crossed each other, and wheeled round only to renew the combat, the rebels facing Atlanta, the soldiers of the Union, Peach Tree Creek!
6 When the storm broke upon Geary, General Williams' division had advanced upon the extreme right of Hooker's corps, almost as far as Geary himself. The gallant old veteran was struggling through a dense forest, and striving to form connection with Geary on his left, when suddenly the woods in front of him were filled with fierce yells and spurts of fire and whizzing missels, as if each Tree had held
“A spirit prisoned in its breast,
But neither Williams nor his division are made of the material which learns casily to quail. The savage yells of the demons of slavery were answered by the loud shouts of freemen, battling for their country and their God. A bristling line of steel, glittering with fire, everywhere met and checked the rebel advance. A few rude and unfinished bulwarks of rails, thrown together by the men when they had last halted, furnished but little protection from the pitiless showers of bullets flung from the muskets of the enemy; but, in spite of rebel daring, energy and hate; Williams would not yield a foot of ground.
“ Colonel Bradley's brigade of Newton's division (to the command of which he succeeded after the death of the noble Harker), was formed in columns of the regiments along the road leading from Buckhead to Atlanta, when the fight commenced. Immediately after the rebel assault began upon Newton's front, the 64th Ohio and 420 Illinois were sent to support Colonel Blake, while the 27th Illinois was dispatched to the assistance of General Kimball. The remainder of the brigade was at first also intended to go to the support of Blake; but its destination was changed, and it was formed in order of battle along the Atlanta road, where it assisted in repelling and capturing a column of the enemy which had forced its way past Blake's left flank and actually gained our rear.
“This incident deserves to be further noticed. So intense was the interest among our men to repel the rebels in our immediate front, that they did not perceive a small column had passed around entirely to the left of Blake, and penetrated the right of that long line of skirmishers which I have described as alone holding the huge gap between Newton and Wood, until they heard the noise of conflict immediately in their rear. The rebels had reached the Buckhead and Atlanta road. General Thomas was overlooking the progress of the fight in the rear of Newton. The moment he perceived the body of rebels, he hastily got together a force consisting of the pioneers of Kimball's brigade, some of the straggling skirmishers who had flu'd before the first rebel onset, and a couple of pieces of artil
lery. Taking immediate personal command of this novel battalion, he assailed the astonished rebels, and killed and captured the whole body.
“The 57th Indiana and 100th Illinois, of Colonel Blake's brigade, which were advanced in the first place as skirmishers, were separated for some time from the remainder of the brigade by the rebel column above mentioned.
“ The right of Colonel Blake's brigade rested on the Atlanta road, the left of General Kimball's upon the same. Four guns of Goodspeed's Ohio Battery, under command of Lieutenant Scovill, were placed upon the Atlanta road, just in rear of these two brigades, and during the whole time the fight lasted did terrible execution upon the enemy. Once the rebels came up the ravine just to the left of the road, in close column, with · Brigadier-General' Stephens at their head, determined, if possible, to capture these four pieces ; but Kimball's left regiment, 74th Illinois, on the right of the road, and Blake's right regiment, the 88th Illinois, on the left of the road, poured into the column so terrible a direct and cross fire, that it reeled, staggered and broke in confusion, leaving its leader dead upon the field.
“ The brigade which formed the left of General Ward's division is commanded by Colonel Jas. Wood of the 136th New York. But two of its regiments were in front line when the conflict commenced, the 28th Wisconsin and 20th Connecticut. The 55th Ohio afterward took part in the fighting, as did the 73d, which relieved the 26th Wisconsin, and the 136th New York, which relieved the 20th Connecticut. The troops immediately opposed to Colonel Wood were a Mississippi brigade, under command of a “Brigadier-General' Featherstone, who was killed early in the fight. Colonel Wood did all that was required of him.
“The center of General Ward's division was held by Colonel Coburn's brigade. It was part of Colonel Coburn's brigade, which, in the terrible shock along the front of Ward's division, exchanged places with a part of the rebel line, and wheeled about to renew the fight with them.
“ The next brigade going toward the left, was General Ward's, commanded by Colonel Harrison, of the 70th Indiana. It did its full share of this glorious day's work. When the great charge of the rebels and counter-charge by our men were made, the 129th Illinois engaged the enemy in a hand-to-hand conflict, in which officers as well as men mingled indiscriminately. Lieutenant-Colonel Flynn and a rebel Colonel, each with a gun in his hand, fought each other for a considerable time, each dodging around a bush repeatedly, so as to give or avoid a shot.
“Colonel Anson G. McCook, of the 2d Ohio, commanded a brigade, consisting of old regiments, each of which has a historical name, and was until recently under command of Brigadier-General Carlin. The latter being on leave of absence, Colonel McCook assumed command. On him was devolved the duty of clipping the left wing of the rebel host which pounced upon us. He was on the extreme left wing of Palmer's corps, and his was the left brigade of General Johnson's division. It was formed into two lines, the first commanded by Colonel Taylor, of the 15th Kentucky; the second by Colonel Hobart, 21st Wisconsin. The brigade advanced to the top of the ridge in front, to keep in line with General Hooker, and had time to throw up some slight works before it was assailed. This remark applies to the first line only--the second had no works.
“ The 104th Illinois, on the left of the first line was somewhat in advance of the other regiments, in consequence of the peculiar nature of the grounds, and was therefore the first struck when the rebels came thundering upon us. A brave stand was made, and then the right of the regiment began to crumble away. Colonel McCook, while feeling deeply the heavy responsibility resting upon his shoulders, remained cool and self-possessed as a veteran. He knew how terrible the result might be if this portion of our line was broken. Yet the rebel legions had advanced entirely up to our rude works, and a rebel color-bearer stuck his detested flag into one of the logs composing them. He almost instantly paid for his audacity with his life, being both shot and bayoneted where he stood. While the rebels were pressing with exultant shouts after the retiring 104th, the 15th Kentucky, 42d and 88th Indiana, which were in the line further back than the 104th, were shifted around in such a way that they were enabled to pour into the advancing enemy a destructive flanking and cross fire, which at once chilled his ardor and sent him to the right about. Again they essayed to charge; but by this time the gallant
Colonel Hobart had placed the second line in such positions that it could assist materially in the conflict, and again the rebel flood was rolled back. Thus gloriously did Colonel McCook inaugurate his new command, and showed himself a worthy namesake of him whose blood bathed the soil of Alabama, and of him who gave his life for freedom at Kenesaw.
“ All along the portion of our lines which we have just reviewed, the noise of battle continued to resound. At every point the rebel battalions seemed to have charged at least three times, and thrice the ground was left literally covered with their dead and mangled bodies. Against our single unprotected line of battle on Hooker's front, they hurled repeatedly two and three; and although our loss was here most terrible, yet that of the rebels so far exceeded it as to be almost unexampled in the history of warfare. By nightfall the charging squadrons had been everywhere repulsed, and driven in confusion and dismay back to their barricades. When this glorious consummation became fully evident, there rose all along our battle· begrimmed ranks, so loud, so strong, so exultant, so terrible a cheer
that it must have paled the cheeks of guilty traitors even in the streets and houses of Atlanta.
“ Major-General Palmer is one of our leaders whose prudence and foresight did much to avert disaster this day, and enable us to win victory. He seemed to have an instinctive perception of the impending attack, and at midnight of the 19th, sent word to all his division commanders to strengthen their works. Had this not been done, the storm would probably have burst on him instead of Hooker. As it was, it touched only his extreme left, with what result we have already seen. I was overcome with emotion when I saw him late on the evening of the 20th, standing near a ridge swept by rebel cannon, surrounded by Von Schrader, McClurg, Shaw, and one or two other members of his excellent staff, and rejoicing with almost boyish exultation at the result of the battle, which his own wise precaution had contributed so materially to bring about.
“The 105th Illinois captured tivo colors, the 129th one." It may seem that unusual space has been accorded to this engagement in which our total loss in killed and wounded did not reach 3,000, but it must be remembered that upon its results depended history. Johnston