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Finding that the supports did not come, he gave the order for his brigade to retire, and the men left the field in perfect order.
Soon afterwards the other brigades came on, and made up for their tardiness by their valor. Rushing impetuously up the glacis, undeterred by the fury of the enemy, whose fire was not intermitted, several of the regiments succeeded in crossing the ditch, scaling the parapet, and descending into the fort. Here a hand-to-hand conflict ensued. The troops fought with desperation, and were able to drive the enemy from one side of the work to seek shelter between the traverses, while they held possession for something over an hour. This piece of gallantry was unfortunately of no advantage. The enemy rallied, and, having received re-enforcements, made a charge upon them and expelled them from their position by the force of numbers. One of the regiments engaged in this brilliant dash was the Forty-eighth New York, Colonel Barton, and it came out almost decimated. The Fortyeighth was among the first to enter the fort, and was fired upon by a regiment that gained the parapet some minutes later, under the supposition that it was the enemy. About midnight the order was given to retire, and the troops fell back to the rifle-pits outside of their own works. The loss in killed, wounded, and missing was fifteen hundred and thirty.
The second parallel was opened by the flying sap on the 23d July, at seven hundred and fifty yards from the fort. The third parallel, at four hundred and fifty yards, on August 9th; and beyond this point the trenches were sometimes pushed forward by the flying sap, sometimes by the full sap, as opportunity demanded. The fourth parallel, at about three hundred yards, was made on the 22d and 23d August. The fifth parallel at two hundred yards, and a ridge wrested from the enemy, August 26th. Beyond this point the approaches were simply zigzags, making very acute angles with each other, as there was not front enough for a parallel.
The bombardment of Fort Sumter had been irregularly opened on the 18th of August, and was continued until August 24th, when Gillmore reported it a shapeless mass of ruins, and that it was no longer necessary to continue the bombardment. Batteries were established within effective range of Charleston, and notice was given to General Beauregard to evacuate Fort Sumter, and that Charleston would be shelled. Beauregard protested, and threatened retaliation. The bombardment was commenced, with very little effect, however, on military events. Gillmore now moved to the front all his light mortars, enlarged the positions for his sharpshooters, obtained the co-operation of the Ironsides by day, used powerful calcium lights to blind the enemy by night, and opened fire with as many heavy guns to his rear as he could without danger to his men in the trenches, thus essaying to keep the garrison confined to their bomb-proof, and to breach this through a breach in the work. These measures were inaugurated on the morning of September 5th, and for forty-two hours the fort was silent. The garrison were immured in their bomb-proof, and the work went on in safety except from the batteries on James's Island. The men moved about in the trenches, even sat on their parapets, and
hunted torpedoes, at which they had become as skilful as rat-catchers at scenting out rat-holes. The counterscarp of the work was crowned on the night of September 6th, and some formidable obstructions in the ditch removed. All being now ready for an assault, the order for it was given; but seeing the hopelessness of their position, the enemy evacuated just in time to avoid the result.
The evacuation was thus reported by Gillmore :
"DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH, HEAD-QUARTERS IN THE FIELD, September 7, 1863.
"Major-General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief: GENERAL:-I have the honor to report that Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg are Last night our sappers mined the counterscarp of Fort Wagner on its sea point, unmasking all its guns, and an order was issued to carry the place by assault at nine o'clock this morning, that being the hour of low tide.
"About ten o'clock last night the enemy commenced evacuating the island, and all but seventy-five of them made their escape from Cummings's Point in small boats.
"Captured dispatches show that Fort Wagner was commanded by Colonel Keitt, of South Carolina, and garrisoned by one thousand four hundred effective men, and Battery Gregg by between one hundred and two hundred men.
"Fort Wagner is a work of the most formidable kind. Its bomb-proof shelter, capable of containing one thousand eight hundred men, remains intact after the most terrific bombardment to which any work was ever subjected.
"We have captured nineteen pieces of artillery and a large supply of excellent ammunition.
"The city and harbor of Charleston are now completely covered by my guns. "I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Q. A. GILLMORE, Brigadier-General Commanding."
The captured forts on Morris Island were enlarged and new batteries erected by General Gillmore, which effectually commanded Fort Sumter, and could aid any naval attack on Charleston. But little further progress, however, was made in the siege during the remainder of the year. The forts of the enemy were occasionally bombarded severely, and the shelling of Charleston at intervals, during day and night, was continued. The portion of the city within the reach of the shells was greatly injured, and entirely abandoned by its inhabitants. An attempt was made by the enemy to blow up the frigate Ironsides, with a torpedo, on the night of October 5th. It failed of success, and did no serious damage to the vessels.
Advance on Richmond.-Crossing of the Rapidan.-Routes of Corps.-The Enemy Attempts a Flanking Movement.-Meade's Attack.-Repulse of Griffin.-Hancock Arrives.-Concentration of the Army.-Burnside ordered Forward.-New Dispositions. -Advance of Hancock on the 6th.-Arrival of Longstreet.-Fall of WadsworthLongstreet Wounded.-Attack on the Union Right.-Results of the Two Days' Fighting.
THE advance of the Army of the Potomac against Richmond commenced on the evening of Tuesday, May 3d, when the men, provided with six days' rations, broke up camp, and marched for the Rapidan. The Second Corps crossed at Ely's Ford, and the Fifth and Sixth at Germania Ford, the Fifth Corps being four hours in advance of the
Sixth. A plankroad, as our readers will remember, runs from Fredericksburg west, past Chancellorsville, the former head-quarters of Hooker, and Old Wilderness Tavern, and across Mine Run to Orange Court-House. Hancock, with the Second Corps, advanced from Ely's Ford to Chancellorsville, the Fifth Corps from Germania Ford to Old Wilderness Tavern, and the Sixth held the road from the ford to the tavern. The Lieutenent-General and General Meade had head-quarters at Germania Ford on Wednesday night, the 4th. At early dawn on Thursday, Hancock was to move by the Pamunkey road in a southwesterly direction to Shady Grove Church; Warren was to move five miles west, to Parker's Store, twenty miles distant from Orange CourtHouse, and the Sixth Corps was to follow on the Germania Ford plankroad. Sheridan's Cavalry was to scour the country on the left of Hancock. This disposition, if carried out, would have straightened the army in a line facing southwest, with Hancock on the left. These operations were intended to be preserved until the trains could cross the river, when a general advance was to be made towards Orange Court-House, the presumed base of the enemy.
These dispositions were, however, not suffered to be completed. The enemy, from his signal station on Clark's Mountain, had observed the whole movement, devised its intent, and made preparations to defeat it. His movement began on Wednesday night, while the Second Corps was at Chancellorsville. The corps of Ewell moved along the turnpike from Old Verdierville, on Mine Run, to take the Sixth Corps in flank, while marching along the Germania Ford plankroad, while A. P. Hill moved over the Orange Court-House plankroad, which runs for some distance parallel to the turnpike, and up which Warren was advancing. Thus, as we have said, Grant's army was in a line running northwest and southeast; Sedgwick at the right in front of Ewell, Warren in the centre in front of Hill, but not yet in line, and Hancock marching to take position on the left. The enemy's design being ascertained, Sedgwick and Warren were hastily formed in line of battle on the Germania plank road, and Hancock was ordered to diverge upon the Brock road, which would bring him upon the Orange Court-House road in the rear of Warren. The danger was that Hill would force his way down this road and get possession of it before Hancock could effect a junction, and thus cut the army in two. To guard against this, the Second Division, Getty, of the Sixth Corps, was detached to support Warren's left. Meantime, the enemy pressed heavily in front, and the Fifth New York Cavalry was driven in with considerable loss.
It was supposed that Lee intended by a fierce attack upon the right centre to destroy the army; and to frustrate that attempt, Warren was ordered to assume the offensive. About noon, Griffin (who had reported the enemy in his neighborhood, and as having driven in his advance, consisting of the Eighteenth Massachusetts, with the Eighty-third Pennsylvania, under Colonel Hayes, of the former) was ordered to push his (First) Division of the Fifth Corps out to the right and left of the turnpike, to feel the enemy. Accordingly, he moved Bartlett's Second Brigade to the left of the road, and Ayres's Third Brigade of regulars
to the right-Barnes's First Brigade (Sweetser in temporary command) being in reserve. Less than a mile's march, stretching across the turnpike, brought them against a part of Ewell's force, well posted on a wooded acclivity. A sharp engagement at once ensued for an hour; but the pressure of the enemy in full strength upon our two brigades, and especially upon Ayres's on the left, could not longer be resisted, and our forces fell back, leaving two pieces of artillery, with nearly all the horses killed, in the enemy's hands. Wadsworth's Fourth Division, and Robinson's Second Division, of the Fifth Corps, at once relieved Griffin's Division, after its well-fought battle, and held the enemy in check. After an hour's firing by infantry and artillery, the enemy moved off to another point in our line. Our loss, principally confined to Ayres's and Bartlett's Brigades, was in the region of one thousand men,
At eleven o'clock, word was sent to General Sedgwick that skirmishing in front of the Sixth Corps was becoming heavy. He accordingly galloped down the Germania plankroad about a mile, dashed into the forest at the head of his staff, and penetrated to the front through the tangled underbrush and knotted trunks and ragged foliage of a thick chapparal. Through, and beyond this, far in front, the deep occasional boom of a gun might be heard amid the quickening rattle of the skirmish firing, but the denseness of the wood prevented any knowledge of what was going on at any distance. There was a volley at last-General Griffin's Division of the Fifth Corps had opened the fight.
"Forward! by the right flank, forward!” rings along the lines. Yonder in front are the gleaming bayonets of our first line of battle; back, just in rear, is the second line, the anxious eyes of the soldiers peering through the trees.
And through a thicket blind and almost interminable, over abatis of fallen trees, through swamps and ditches and brush-heaps, and oncea glorious breathing-space-across a half-acre of open field, the obedient troops move on. The "bizz" of the balls, which had been occasional, now comes thicker and faster, while the crashing volleys are more distinct; and as the advancing lines approach a forest, a little way ahead, there is heard a crackling, roaring tumult, mingled with wild cheers.
The Fifth Corps has begun the fight in earnest-Griffin is pressing on. Wadsworth and Robinson and Crawford are going in: the latter, on the left, supported by Getty, is advancing towards the enemy at Parker's Store. Behind Crawford and Getty, who are on the Orange Court-House road, is the junction of that and the Brock road, up which, from the direction of Chancellorsville. Hancock is advancing to make connection. That is the vital point--that junction; to be held against all odds unto the death, else the army is severed. To hold the enemy all along the line in check, to prevent his massing any forces in our front upon that point, the Fifth Corps is pressing on, and the Sixth Corps is about to enter.
It was at this moment that Griffin fell back, and Crawford's Division, that had been sent forward to Parker's Store, retreated with loss. Hancock, who, in obedience to orders, had checked his advance, was rapidly marching across to close the gap in the line of battle. He
arrived in season-but with no time to spare-and found the advance of the enemy already inserting themselves in the interval. Getty's Division, of the Sixth Corps, had been temporarily detached and moved to the left, to the right of the Orange Court-House plankroad. The advance, the First Brigade, of Mott's Fourth Division of the Second Corps, had barely formed junction with Getty, when A. P. Hill was upon them with great force.
Birney formed on Getty's right, Mott and Barlow on the left of the line, and Gibbon's Division was held in reserve. The enemy were checked, but their concentration continued. Troops were sent to the left from the Fifth Corps, and by four o'clock Hancock was in command of half the army in action.
And now, from left to right the sound of the shock of battle arises anew. To relieve the pressure upon the Second Corps, an advance of the whole line is necessary. Hancock is advancing, Sedgwick is advancing, Warren is preparing. Like a great engine, dealing death, the Second Corps and its supports move forward, taking equal death in return. Companies fall, regiments are thinned, brigades melt away. Stricken in the head by a bullet, General Alexander Hayes, commanding the Second Brigade of Birney's Division, has rolled from his horse, dead. General Getty is wounded; Colonel Carroll, commanding the Third Brigade of the Second Division, is wounded; a host of line officers are stricken low; the enemy fights like a demon, but the fight
Sedgwick moves on, breaking the enemy's line for a moment, and taking four or five hundred prisoners. There are ripples of disaster on all the line, but they are quickly repaired. Slowly, for the enemy is stubborn; slower yet on the extreme right towards the river, for the enemy there has massed another force and strives to break our flank. He finds a rock, and, though he checks our advance, though hundreds of soldiers sink in death before him, he does not come on.
And as the day dies, and the darkness creeps up from the west, although no cheer of victory swells through the Wilderness from either side, we have accomplished this much at least, with much sore loss: the concentration of our army, the holding of the junction of the Orange Court-House and Brock roads, the turning back of the enemy's right flank from our path towards Richmond, and the average gain of a halfmile of ground.
In some respects, however, we had gained decided advantages. First, General Grant had learned the position and strength of Lee's army a knowledge of the greatest value. Second, he had been able to gather his troops well in hand, putting them into a more substantial line than at the opening of the engagement. Finally, there was no longer any doubt as to the policy of calling General Burnside from the further side of the river-the enemy's force being obviously all in our front. The Ninth Corps, under General Burnside, came to the field of battle on Thursday, after a forced march, and was distributed, as occasion required, on the right, right centre, and left centre. our line remained substantially as during the day, stretching north west and southeast over a line nearly parallel to that from Germania Ford