SIEGE OF THE CHICKAHOMINY.
June 2.--Under a heavy cross fire until 8 A.M., when we were relieved. At 5 P.M. the 115th took the front again, and held the skirmish line at night.
June 3.--At dusk the rebels made a charge on the 6th Corps front, and were repulsed, with the loss of prisoners, and many killed and wounded.
June 5.--Heavy firing day and night. Two killed and two wounded during the day.
June 6.--Heavy and continuous skirmishing during the entire day. One of Berdan's men dropped a rebel flag in our front, three times in succession. Large reinforcements of heavy artillery arrived from Washington, by way of Port Royal, Va. The rebels made furious onset on our line at 8 P.M., and as usual in such cases, were repulsed with slaughter.
Our artillery swept their whole line with grape and cannister doing much damage.
After the enemy were repulsed our boys sent over cheers of defiance, and the different corps and division bands played the pleasant strains of victory, which did not please the Johnnies, so they undertook to shell the musicians out.
One thousand wounded from our corps were taken to White House in army wagons.
One man was mortally wounded in the 115th.
June 7.--Regiment at the front. Heavy skirmishing and some artillery firing. Grant busy in fortifying. The enemy came in with a flag of truce in the afternoon, and requested a cessation of hostilities for two hours, that they might bury their dead. The request was granted, and each side proceeded to bury their killed, while both armies mounted their respective breastworks and looked on earnestly.
It is said that General Lee sent his compliments to General Grant with a bottle of wine to wash them down; but that is rather doubtful.
During the day the enemy had a band in the works, which played various southern airs; so to make things all square, one of our best bands was dispatched to our outer works, and there, amid showers of lead rolled off some fine pieces.
The first piece struck up was "Aint I glad to get out of the wilderness." The rebels took that as an imputation against their fighting at the battle of the wilderness, and immediately began to howl dismally, and kept it up until the piece was through.
The next piece was Dixie, which pleased the rebels amazingly, and they cheered all along their lines, while our men groaned to a man.
The favorite southern air (?) John Brown was next in the programme, and of course the greybacks groaned, while or boys made the woods ring again with cheers.
At midnight there was a heavy engagement on our left. Enemy repulsed.
I lay in the woods to day at the foot of a large pine, sick and worn out.
Shells burst all around me, and cannon balls cut off the trees over my head; but thank God, I escaped injury.
I saw one of General Ames's staff officers struck with a solid shot within a few feet of me. He fell with his leg badly shattered, and crying, "Oh! Oh! carry me off, carry me off!" A shell exploded on my left, killing two and wounding three.
Our surgeon visited me and left some powders. Received and read a letter from home which did me more good than all the medicine.
The rebels charged our skirmish line and left one of their captains stuck in the mud, and our boys took charge of him.
At dark I found myself looking rather scaly. Shoes full of holes and can't purchase any new ones; pants badly torn while making the charge on the rebel works; coat dirty and greasy, and sword rusty from active service.
The poor wounded fellows were killed in our corps hospital to day by shell. It is the heighth of danger to be safe here. One man wounded during the day.
June 8.--We drew some rations of pork and bacon to day, and how glad the hungry soldiers were. Its weight in pure gold would be no object. Some of the heavy artillery just from Washington, saw our cooks boiling the dainty morsels, and they visited us in squads, complaining that they had tasted none for a week, and begging for small portions, offering in exchange money to any amount. But the cooks replied, "our boys have been out to the front for a whole week under constant fire and must have it all." The artillery boys thus came to grief, and concluded that they were not luxuriating in the beautiful forts around Washington, but had come to hard, active service; and they are resolved to strike for the "old flag" as patriotic soldiers and brave men: as a regiment of their comrades did, who in a few minutes lost several hundred men while nobly fighting.
All through this portion of Virginia the planters had put in heavy crops, mostly corn and wheat, evidently thinking they would not be disturbed by the Union army.
Corn was then a foot and a half high, wheat nicely headed out, and beautiful fields of clover in full bloom stretched out in every direction. The vast fields of corn and wheat would soon be ground to powder by the army, and thousands of Gen Sheridan's horses were grazing in the rich fields of clover.
Heavy skirmishing and some artillery firing during the day. The regiment engaged in building bombproofs. I was still sick. A fellow sufferer very truly remarked that we were in a bad state--the state of Virginia.
January 9.--The regiment is at the extreme front, and Company H is engaged in the dangerous work of throwing up rifle-pits, and digging a tunnel in advance of our works, and almost under the shadow of the enemy's battery.
Captain S. intends to mine their main for, and is sure of success, and is determined to show the rebels a "right smart" hole by morning.
At sundown, for some cause, our men along the whole line sent up cheer after cheer in the most approved Yankee style, but our neighbors, the rebs, were as silent as the grave, and for some unaccountable reason did not fire a gun for hours.
Their camp fires blazed away far more brilliant than usual, and lit up the country for miles around. Our sharpshooters began to peck away, the artillery threw a number of shells into their works, and our bands played all sorts of Union pieces calculated to irritate the Johnnies and draw them out, but in was "no go;" the rebs would not reply, and all night the angel of death ceased to reap a harvest of dead, and the horrors of war were stayed. Each side were working like beavers, and were fortifying and digging up nearer to each other, and day and night, under fire and out of fire, the axe, shovel, and pick were constantly under motion, probably clearing the way for another bloody conflict. It was a sad sight to see our poor wounded fellows, most of them hit with bullets, grape and shell at short range, and had terrible wounds. Every third man lost a leg or an arm, and some both. All bore up nobly under their sufferings.
Jan 16--The usual amount of skirmishing and artillery firing. Loss small. Co. H are tunneling a hill, and the rebel sharpshooters fire at them constantly from their favorite resorts, trees, stumps, and breastworks, but cannot stop the digging.
The following are among the incidents of the day:
A cook for one of the companies built a fire, and had a kettle of coffee nearly boiled, when a shell burying itself in the ground under the fire, exploded, sending the coffee, kettle, fire and dirt high in the air, creating great consternation among the colored spectators, and frightening some so that they came near turning white. Nobody hurt.
A cruel shell burst in one of the wards of 18th Corps hospital, and killed a poor fellow who lost a leg in the battle of
A soldier of the 2nd Conn., with his discharge in his pocket and his knapsack on his back, was engaged in taking an affectionate leave of his comrades, when a bullet pierced his brain killing him instantly.
Instead of reaching his earthly home, his blood sealed his final earthly discharge.
A squad of rebel prisoners captured were dressed in our own blue. When asked why they wore blue, replied; "We feel proud of blue, because when we pace through southern towns, the ladies think we have killed a Yankee and have on his clothes, so they
wave handkerchiefs and throw kisses at us to show their respect for the deed."
A rebel said they would never want for commissary stores as long as General Banks was alive. How are you Red river campaign?
A NEW BASE.
June 12.--To day the army began to evacuate Coal Harbor for the purpose of changing its base to the James river. Our brigade was the last to leave the works, and Co. H remained until daylight the next morning, digging and firing away as usual so as to keep up appearances.
When the grand army were far in the distance, the company silently left the works and marched to the regiment at White House.
When several miles away, the rebels were heard banging away at our deserted pits, not having discovered that the Union army had "made tracks."
The Eighteenth Corps marched back minus 3,000 brave fellows, who fell at the battle and siege of the Chickahominy.
The regiment reached White House at 9 A.M.
The army of the Potomac marched over land to the James, and the Eighteenth Corps took transports. We lay at White House during the day and night and got a little rest.
June 13.--The regiment embarked on a barge at 3 P.M. Got stuck in the mud during the afternoon, but managed to steam clear. Had but few rations and hardly standing room.
The cooks made coffee from the dirty water of the Pamunkey river, and it tasted good.
June 14.--Arrived at Fortress Monroe at 10 A.M., and Fort Powhattan on the James river, late in the evening. Found our way obstructed by a pontoon bridge on which the army of the Potomac were crossing to Petersburg.
We disembarked and lay under the guns of the fort until nearly daylight the next morning.
A DAY OF SUFFERING.
June 15.--We marched from Fort Powhattan to City Point, a distance of eighteen miles. Reader, do you know the suffering of a day's march through the hot sun? Let me try in by feeble way to describe the suffering of that day's tramp.
The yellow clay hardened by the sun and ground to powder by the tramp of a great army, rose up in thick, black columns and settled upon us, filling our eyes, and causing our eye-balls to roll with pain.
The rays of the sun beat upon us with searching power; our lips cracked open for want of water, and the perspiration rolled from our bodies in a continuous stream.
To add still further to the facts, a terrible fire was raging on both sides of the road, and we were obliged to walk between the red walls of flame. How the devouring flames hissed, and cracked, and played, as they vied with us on our march.
We were choked and signed, and oh! how eagerly we scooped up the dirty swamp water, poured the dregs down our parched throats, and thanked God for the relief it afforded us. Our feet were blistered and sore as boils, and every step we took caused an agony of pain. Our legs and shins were bruised, and the warm blood trickled down our lacerated flesh. But 'tis sweet to suffer for one's country. 'Tis glorious to be tortured for the sacred cause of freedom.
At City Point I paid $3.50 for a scant supply of food for two meals, and $1.00 for a few tough molasses cakes.
We embarked on a boat at City Point a little after dark, and were hurried up to Point of Rocks, where we again proceeded by land. We marched until two o'clock Friday morning, and then lay down on the damp ground for a couple of hours. We had been obliged to throw away all our clothing except that upon our backs, so we slept cold.
June 16.--Marched to the fortifications a Bermuda Hundreds. Our brigade cut the Petersburg and Richmond rail road again. The 115th put up their shelters. Paid $4.50 for a little food to keep from starvation. The rebels charged our picket line at daylight and were repulsed. Lee appeared in our front with a large army. Co. H was sent to garrison Fort Kantz. At midnight a portion of the 6th Corps and our brigade (115th included), formed to attack the enemy. Our brigade was to charge, and if possible capture the first line of works, when the 6th Corps were to advance and storm the second line. For that purpose, our brigade accompanied by the Ambulance Corps and surgeons, crawled on their hands and knees and were nearly up to the unsuspecting enemy, when the 6th Corps made considerable noise and alarmed the rebels, who instantly sprang to arms and began to fire at our column.
This put an end to the plans, and the troops were called off.
June 17.--Slight skirmishing along the line.
June 19.--Both armies remained comparatively quiet during day, and we had quite a Sabbath's rest. Columns of rebel troops were moving at a double quick toward Petersburg. At night the rebels charged on our convalescent pickets, driving them at first; but our man rallied and captured eight prisoners and several stands of guns.
Two men of the 115th wounded during the day.
June 20.--Two men of the 115th wounded to-day.
June 21.--Our monitors and the rebel iron clads had a brush today. It made the earth shake somewhat. Co. H still held Fort Kantz, and the remainder of the regiment are on the skirmish line.
Saw fifteen pieces marked Richmond which were captured by our corps from the rebels at Petersburg. They looked battle worn.
June 23.--At sundown, our division, now the 3rd, 18th Corps, got marching orders for Petersburg. We crossed the Appomattox river on a long pontoon, and after a weary and dusty night's march of twelve miles reached the front line of works, where we relieved a portion of the 9th Corps.
SIEGE AND BATTLES OF PETERSBURG.
June 24.--Firing continued on both sides the entire day. Every soldier rash enough to show his person received the compliments of many rebel rifles, and a large number were thus killed and wounded.
At 1 o'clock the rebels made two charges a little to our left. They first came with their "yi, yi, yi," in a single line, and were easily repulsed. They reformed in a moment, and a second time came charging up in two beautiful lines of battle.
Our men took 250 of them prisoners, killed and wounded, and routed the remainder of them.
AN ORDER THAT BROUGHT DEATH VERY CLOSE.
At 7 o'clock we were ordered to make a charge on the powerful works in our front. A charge is always a terrible thing, but that night it seemed worse than usual. Three times our brave men had charged the same line, and three times had been bloodily repulsed. A few yards in front of one company only, and upon the ground over which we were to charge, lay the dead and rotten bodies of thirty-six of our men who had fallen in a former charge. We were the "last resort," the "forlorn hope," and our little band prepared for the deadly work.
Some officers called the boys together, told them it was probably sure death, but we must reach the enemy's works or die getting there, and asked them all to protect the colors. They all resolved to fight like brave men.
Some of them wrote their farewell notes in case they should be killed, and charged any who might escape to take them from their pockets and send them to their friends.
A few hurried and earnest whispers of prayer, a survey of the ground over which we supposed we were to pass, and we started. The rebels opened their masked port holes, and their black guns were ready to rake us with grape and cannister, while great clouds of dust in our front told us that they were being reinforced.
We prayed "God save us the work," for we felt it would be a useless slaughter.
Suddenly General Smith rode up to Colonel Barton and commanded: "Halt your regiment!" The order to charge was countermanded.
We all thanked God with overflowing hearts, for we felt that we were saved from a fearful sacrifice from which no result except blood could be gained. There was one man killed and three wounded in the 115th.
June 27.--Heavy charges by the rebels during the night with a heavy loss to them. One man killed and three wounded in the 115th.
June 30.--The bells of Petersburg are ringing a merry peal, as though proclaiming the notes of victory. Regiment mustered for pay. Heavy firing; some loss.
Our division was ordered to charge the enemy's works at 5 P.M. It was intended to be a surprise, but our brigade was marched directly over the works, and of course were discovered by the rebels, who immediately opened upon us with all their artillery. The result was that the troops were obliged to fall back with the loss of a large number of men.
The following account of the affair is from the New York
"The attempt on the part of General Smith to carry one of the enemy's salients in his front on Thursday night, resulted in more casualties than was at first believed. Not less than 150 men were wounded, principally by shells, and with scarcely an exception the injuries were of the most terrible character.
"The officer upon whom the blame is thrown for the miscarriage of the plan is Colonel Willam E. Barton, commanding Second Brigade, Turner's Division, 10th Corps, which is on duty before Petersburg. The attack was intended as a surprise, and orders were issued to the brigade commander to move cautiously forward, one company at a time under cover of a piece of woods on the left of the line. Instead of obeying these orders, Colonel Barton is charged with moving his brigade directly over the breastworks in a field fully exposed to the view of the enemy. This singular action, of course, showed the rebels that some movement was on foot, and they immediately opened a heavy artillery fire from their batteries on the left bank of the Appomattox. General Smith immediately ordered the troops to withdraw, and abandon for the time the effort to advance his lines. Colonel Barton I understand, has been placed under arrest, and his conduct will be inquired into. He handled his brigade very gallantly at Coal Harbor, and was officially complemented therefor by General Smith, while his services for more than two years in the department of the south, at Fort Wagner, Olustee and elsewhere, were quite creditable.
"In the affair, General Smith narrowly escaped being a victim to the sharpshooters. Captain Butler, one of the General's aids, was badly wounded in the knee while standing by his side in conversation with him."
July 1.--Exceedingly warm. The enemy attempted to advance their works under cover of night, but were driven back. One killed, and three wounded in the regiment during the twenty four hours.
July 2.--The usual firing on our corps front. The 2d and 5th Corps are on good terms with the rebels, but the 9th and 18th are banging away at them continually.
July 3.--Very quiet, even for Sunday.
July 4.--At sunrise the national colors of the entire Union army were planted on our breastworks, where they floated in all their glory in full view of the enemy until night. During a portion of the afternoon our parrots threw shells into the streets of Petersburg at the rate of one a minute, putting Johnnies in mind of the fact that it was the "4th of July."
At midnight the rebels bombarded us quite furiously, scattering their shells over a wide extent of territory, but fortunately causing the loss of but three lives.
I examined a heap of missiles thrown by the rebels during the night, and gathered up by our Ambulance Corps in the vicinity of our surgeon's tent.
July 5.--The Christian Commission made the following generous donation to the regiment through our worthy chaplain, who rode through the heat and dust many miles for them.
24 cans each of roast turkey and mutton, to be made into soup.
24 cans of condensed milk, together with a liberal supply of corn starch to be made into puddings for the sick.
14 pounds of pure black and green tea, of which each man in the regiment received a soothing cup.
24 bottles of Jamaica ginger, in great demand by soldiers suffering from the dreadful and prevalent disease of dysentery.
Soap, so much needed to wash off the dirt.
A large quantity of stationary, for the boys to write home to their friends.
It had become necessary to issue half rations of whiskey to the army.
The rebels shelled our profane and wicked cooks, damaging a shelter and a hard-tack box considerably.
Neither army can make a surprise movement here, owing to the great clouds of dust sure to rise when any body of troops move.
One man killed, and one man wounded in the 115th.
July 6--Warm and sultry, and the same continuous, unvaried booming of cannon and rattle of musketry. Now and then a dead or wounded man is carried to the rear. We ask who he is, what regiment he belonged to, and that is the last of it.
Squads of sick drag themselves out of musket range, and feel glad to get a breath of pure air, or hide beneath the cool shade of some leafy tree. The strong watch the enemy, do the fighting, and are in the heighth of enjoyment when supplied with an
abundance of food and lead.
Three men of Co. A were wounded by a shell; one mortally.
July 7.--Four men of Co. I, 117th New York, were said to have been killed in the trenches by a single shell.
Each man in the 115th received a glass of lemonade from the Sanitary Commission.
Hink's negro brigade relieved our brigade from the second line of works.
FREAKS OF SOLID SHOT
Our regimental teamster was in his shanty quietly eating his evening repast, when a solid shot suddenly demolished the house and buried him in the ruins.
A second passed through the quartermaster's tent, between a couple of officers, knocking down the ridge pole, and nearly taking away their breath.
A third tore a great hole in General Turner's headquarters, and several others came so close that he was obliged to move. Several shots went screaming through the sutler's shanty, and he "dusted right smart." One man of Co. D wounded during the day.
July 8.--Regiment much reduced in numbers and health. Some of the men have not blood enough in their veins to keep up a good circulation. One of our shells blew a rebel from behind the works, and he burned to death within sight of friends and foes. It is thought that the rebels are engaged in mining.
July 9.--Worked the most of the night on the front works, in laying up timbers, filling sand bags and throwing up dirt.
July 13.--A day of intense heat, with a withering wind.
July 19.--Three men of the 115th wounded during the past twenty-four hours.
July 20 to 29h--Regiment engaged in picketing, &c. The 115th are changed to Bell's Brigade, 3rd Brigade, 2n Division, 18th Corps.
Four killed and one wounded in the 115th.
CHARGE OF CEMETERY HILL.
On the evening of July 29th our division received marching orders, and after dark quietly moved to the rear of the 9th Corps, and lay on our arms until midnight. We then massed on a side-hill in front of the 9th Corps, and awaited the dawn of day, when a grand charge was to be made on the works on our front, in which the whole army was expected to take part.
One of the largest rebel forts was mined with several tons of powder, and when it blew up the Union army were to charge and drive the rebels from their works.
THE MORNING OF BATTLE.
July the thirtieth, 'sixty-four.--How well all who were engaged remember the scenes enacted on that eventful and bloody day; the swaths of dead; crushed and mangled limbs; the deathly palor on a thousand noble cheeks; the bravery, daring and inspiring devotion of the soldiery, and the awful roar and tempest of battle on the green hill-sides of Petersburg.
On that beautiful morning, when all nature was wreathed in smiles and loveliness, 20,000 Union soldiers awoke from their slumbers on the damp ground, hardly thinking that before the setting of the sun 5,000 of their number would either nobly die, lie bleeding in the hospital or on the battle-field, or a thousand times worse, be consigned to the loathsome horrors of southern dungeons and charnel houses. But thus it was.
What a grand and glorious sight it was to see those long, deep columns of blue, as they raised up into full view, with their guns and bayonets flashing in the sunlight. How proud we felt of our army then.
A thrill of pleasure ran through every soul, and we dreamed that victory would perch upon our banners.
THE EARTH QUAKES!
The very heavens above us are obscured from view. A dense, black column of smoke arises; the conflict has opened.
A rebel fort has been blown in pieces, a regiment of traitors hurried into eternity in a moment's time, and we are to follow up the advantage gained. A hundred and fifty Union cannon hail shell and grape into the ranks of the foe who are rushing in wild consternation from the works.
What a fearful thunder, and what a terrible concentration of iron, lead and fire, and yet men live. See how it tears, and sweeps and mows through human flesh and blood, dealing out death, destruction and slaughter with an unsparing hand. The awful, sickening sight gives us a sort of sadness; yet we know that unless we kill them, they will do their best to kill us, and to destroy the beloved fabric of liberty.
THE FIRST ASSAULT.
We hear a cheer. With eagerness we catch the sound. Thank God! it is not the low, savage howl of the rebels, but the full, honest, hearty cheer of the Union boys; and it tells us that they are making a charge. The rebels have rallied to their works again, and greet the assaulting column with a fearful fire. Great gaps, wide and deep, are cut in the ranks. They stagger for a moment, then close up like a flash; and on they press, mount the rebel works, and we behold half a dozen battle flags proudly floating from the ramparts.
THE 115TH GO FORWARD.
Now comes our turn. There is no need of calling us to attention, for every man is in his place.
Battalion right face--file left--march! commanded the colonel, and swiftly we move towards the front.
Suddenly our progress is impeded, and the road is blockaded with the flow of wounded who are being dragged to the rear. The sight of blood makes us shudder for an instant, for it flows as freely as water, and drips our path with crimson. A stretcher goes past with a wounded soldier who is soaking in his own life's blood. Another bears a man with his under jaw cut away, his tongue torn from its roots, and his head a shapeless mass. It was sickening even to us. A wounded captain is borne along, and he gives us a word of warning; "Go quick boys! its your only salvation!" How fast the shells go screaming over us, and how the grape tears up the ground. We reach our front, form line of battle, and then get orders to sit down.
A COLORED DIVISION
mount the works, and they too go forward on the charge.
We watch them eagerly; it is their first fight, and we wonder if they will stand the shock.
Noble fellows! grandly they cross the field; they are under a withering fire, but still rush on regardless of fallen comrades, and the storm of pitiless lead and relentless grape that pours upon them. Prisoners are taken, and are forced to run the fearful gauntlet of fire. A fellow comrade said he saw a colored soldier in an agony of frenzy, bayonet a rebel prisoner, and his own captain justly shot him dead. Others place wounded comrades in blankets and shelter tents, and compel the chivalry at the point of the bayonet to carry them from the field.
The colored troops are greatly elated at their success, and wildly mass and crowd together regardless of all order or position.
OUR GALLANT GENERAL
crosses the dread field alone, finds out where he wants the men to go, then rushes back, draws his sword, and glancing at his troops proudly says: "Come on my brave boys," and they did go on; some on to death, and some on to the rebel works.
THE 115TH LED THE CHARGE
and nobly followed their brave general. Lieutenant Francisco, Co. K, and Sergeant Fellows, the "iron hearted color sergeant," were among the first over the works.
The color bearer unfurls "the dear old flag," and with fire flashing from his eyes, tells the boys to come on; then calmly pointing to the works we were to carry, he flew away.
"Forward, hundred and fifteenth!" rang along the line. The regiment, and then the whole brigade sweep forward with a deafening yell.
Each one dreamed that he would stem the tide of battle, and that some other poor fellow would fall. We left the ground covered with killed and wounded. The grim banners of death floated here and there, yet the invincible columns pressed furiously on, and at last took the position by storm.
The colored troops hold the two first lines, and we, with colored troops hold the third.
The rebels are on the same line with us, on our right and left, and they engage us on either flank with infantry, at the same time sweeping our lines with a cross fire of grape.
Our men load and fire with desperation. They pour down upon he rebels in the hollow.
It must make their hair stand on end.
THE SLEEPING REGIMENT.
At the mined fort, amid gun carriages and timbers, lay the naked corpses of the South Carolinians blown up by the powder. Around the crater we see a large body of Union soldiers, lying as though in line of battle waiting for the command to move forward, and we suppose they are some regiment or brigade; but on going to the spot, what is our horror to find that they are all Union dead! There they lay both white and black, not singly or scattering, but in long rows; in whole companies. The ground is blue with Union dead. They all lay on their faces, calmly, peacably sleeping; while the battle rages all around, Jeff. Davis is reaping a rich harvest of dead.
THRILLING SCENES ON THE FIELD.
A discharge of grape tears through the men behind me, and five tumble over wounded. "Oh! Bill, I'm shot!" says one. Another limps towards the rear, but a cruel bullet lays him low. A third is lain gently on a rubber blanket, and two of his company carry him safely from the field of strife. The others remain and battle for the right.
Almon Stone is shot through the neck, but goes bravely through the fire.
Benjamin Thackarag is wounded in the thigh, but escapes capture by crawling through the woods.
A member of Co. C is shot through the mouth, and a stream of blood spouts out.
I can't begin to relate one of a thousand incidents.
THE REBELS CHARGE WITH SUCCESS.
But look! The rebels are forming on our front. They come towards us at an easy pace, and in a beautiful line. No arms are to be seen in their hands, and our officers with few exceptions, conclude that they are coming in as prisoners of war, and command the men to cease firing. Suddenly the sneaking rebels bring their guns in view, and give us a crushing volley. We give them a volley in return. The colored troops on our front for the same reason become panic stricken, and blindly hurl themselves back on our bayonets; and a wild scene of confusion ensues.
The mass of the Union army are swept back like a breath of air, and are cut up badly on the backward track. Company H with the colors, and a few of the regiment who had been able to stem the tide of confusion remained, and single handed and alone contested the ground.
The flag of the 115th still floated from the rebel works, and the brave boys surrounded it with a cordon of bayonets.
Captain Smith calmly tells the boys to fight as long as there is hope. The rebels swarm around the little band of heroes, and could snatch the colors but for the brave hearts and bright bayonets beneath its folds.
Colonel Sammons fears the flag may be lost, and rushes up to see about it, when a rebel takes deliberate aim and shoots him through the leg.
It is madness to remain longer, for if we stay, our little band will all be killed or captured. So back we go, and reach our line under a dreadful fire of lead. The rebels were sure of us; the Union army looking on think us lost; but a kind providence guides the most of the band over the dead and the dying and through the iron storm in safety.
Our flag is pierced with nine fresh wounds, and for the fourth time the staff is shot in pieces.
Our troops in the fort fare worse than we; for they are all killed, wounded or captured.
The sun pours down its scorching rays, and many are sun-struck and carried in wild delirium from the pits. All are exhausted and sink down almost helpless from the strain.
THE TERRIBLE CRY FOR WATER.
"Water! water! water!" groan the wounded. "Water! water!" fiercely gasp all the men. Oh heavens! what a thirst! A thousand soldiers crowd and swarm around a pool of dirty water, scoop up the precious beverage and pour it down their parched throats, as though it was the stream of life.
The wounded cry for water in vain. Poor fellows! they are only a few yards from us, but it is death to any man who undertakes their rescue, and none but God in heaven can save them.
Our coffee has arrived. We have eaten nothing since yesterday, are streaming with perspiration, and the coffee is very hot; yet how delicious, how delightful it is to taste it. Within a fort of dead men, and sitting over human blood and brains, yet all calmly sip their coffee.
THE DEAD AND THE DYING.
The soldiers who are badly wounded, lay exposed to the fire of friend and foe alike.
One moves painfully towards our works an inch at a time, but the heartless rebels give him a volley of bullets for his pains.
Another, unable to move, piteously begs to be saved, and motions to some friends imploringly with his hand. The brave fellows' hearts are melted with pity, and they risk their own lives and crawl out to get their comrade. After long and painful exertions their efforts are crowned with complete success; their friend is safe.
A heap of dead men lie beside us in the trenches; one shot through the right eye, and the blood trickling out; a second shot through the heart, and his clothes are bathed in blood; a third begrimed with power so that we cannot tell if he be white or black, is cut in halves. A grey-haired old man, bordering on three score years and ten, lies down the hill, his white locks red with blood.
The wounded are groaning, and some beg to be killed so as to be out of their misery, while nearly all desire to be carried to the hospital.
The band approach and throw dirt over the blood where we stand.
Captain Smith tells four of his men to take two mutilated dead men from under our feet, and they sadly obey, wondering whose loved ones they are taking out to decay.
Sergeant G------is overcome with heat, and is crazy. His eyes glare fearfully, and his eye-balls roll painfully in their sockets. "We'll fight 'em till we die, won't we boys?" he said, and then swooned away.
CLOSING SCENES OF THE BATTLE.
In the afternoon we are ordered further to the right, to relieve Barton's Brigade. We cross an open position of the works where a creek passes through, and every man is shot at.
A private of Co. F is mortally wounded. How deathly pale he looks.
A sergeant of the 48th N.Y. is shot dead, and his comrades take his watch and money from his pockets to send to his friends, and cover a blanket over the dead body to protect it from the sun, for no one gets buried now. Two stars are no better than two stripes at this time.
Lieut. G--------fired at a rebel, and in return received a bullet in the head, which left him delirious on the ground. "I'm shot! I'm shot!" he cried.
At last the order comes to relieve us. The right wing of the regiment hurry through a long ditch containing a great many dead bodies, and are free from fire. Free from fire! How good it sounds. The left wing had to remain that night.
Night closed the contest, and a dark funeral pall hung around. Tired and weary we sank to rest with the blue canopy of heaven for a covering. All hearts breathed a prayer to heaven for God's goodness.
No one desires to behold another such a day. No soldier is eager to rush to battle and to death for the mere glory of fighting, but do it from a sense of duty, or a stern necessity. A sane men cannot face death without thinking of his situation. A father thinks of his little children, a husband of his loving wife far away.
The bravest soldier on the battle field is he who counts the cost and realizes the misery of the awful work of slaughter--he whom in life is the most modest and unassuming.
The Union loss amounted to more than 5,000 in killed, wounded and missing; and the rebel loss was estimated at 4,000 men.