At about 4 o'clock I was ordered to draw in the skirmishers and rejoin the brigade with the regiment. Having posted a picket down the Knoxville road, this required some time, and the brigade had commenced to move, as had also the other two brigades of the division. Receiving an order from Major-General Slocum to move on in the rear of the New Jersey brigade, I did so, forming where they formed and moving on the field to their right. At about 5.30 o'clock the Ninety-sixth had marched to the line of skirmishers, and I was ordered by Colonel Bartlett, commanding the brigade, to take my position on the extreme right. The base of the mountain was now about 1,000 yards distant. At that point the road parallel to the mountain. On one or the other side of this road a substantial stone fence furnished good cover for the enemy's infantry, to say nothing of the woods on the side of the mountain. Brisk musketry firing was in progress on our left, but the good cover in possession of the enemy and the distance at which we stood rendered it quite certain that we could gain nothing at a st and-off right, while the artillery posted in the mountain was punishing us severely.
It was evident that nothing but a rush forward would win. The order to charge came at last, and with a shout the entire line started. The fields through which the Ninety-sixth charged presented many obstacles, and in order not to meet the enemy with broken lines. I twice halted momentarily, with a stone fence for a cover, for a great portion of my regiment to form. The last of the series of fields through which we had to charge was meadow and standing corn. As we emerged from the corn the enemy met us with a murderous fire.
We were within 20 paces of the road, at the base of the mountain, the stronghold of the enemy. It was here we met our great loss. Shocked, but not repulsed, the men bounded forward, determined to end it with the bayonet. The road was gained in a twinkling, the enemy leaving for the mountain. Those of the enemy who were not hours, and who seemed too much surprised to get away, begged lustily for mercy. I had seen Lieutenant John Dougherty, one of my best officers, fall, but without waiting to see who were down or who were up, I hastily formed my line, Major Meginnis, of the Eighteenth New York, promising to form on my left and follow, and dashed on up the hill, keeping the line formed as well as possible, to guard against a probable stand of the enemy at the crest of the hill. I let the men advance nearly as fast as the as they could and wanted to.
It was a most exhausting charge. By the time we had ascended half way the cannon had ceased firing on our left, and the enemy seldom replied to our fire with their muskets. We made captures at every step. After passing the crest of the mountain a lieutenant of the Fifteenth North Carolina delivered himself up, I sent during the charge, 42 prisoners to the rear, including the captain of Company G, Sixteenth Georgia, wounded, and other officers and men most of them unhurt. Sregeant Anderson, of Company K, shot the color-bearer of the Sixteenth Georgia, but did not stop to secure the colors, which were secured by some of our forces afterward.
After advancing beyond the crest of the hill, I formed my line for the purpose of resting the men, who were much exhausted by the march of the day and the furious dash up the mountain. It is with much gratification that I can report my companies all present in line, fully and fairly represented.
Colonel Seaver, of the Sixteenth, as also the officers commanding portions of the Eighteenth and Thirty-second New York, joined their lines to the Ninety-sixth, and reported to me for orders. Having thrown our skirmishers to the right and front. I rested until the reception