At 12 m. General French commenced the attack by a could of skirmisher, followed by Kimball's brigade, and subsequently, at intervals by his other two brigades. My division followed that of General French, without intervals, so long as we moved by the flank. The difficulty of the movement consisted in the fact that we had to march for a considerable distance by the flank through the streets of the town, all the time under a heavy fire, before we were enabled to deploy; and then, owing to obstacles-among them a mill race-it was impossible to deploy, except by marching the whole length of each brigade by the flank in a line parallel to the enemy's works, after we had crossed the mill-race by the bridge.
The troops then advanced, each brigade in succession, under a most murderous fire of artillery and musketry, the artillery fire reaching the troops in a destructive manner in the town, even before they had commenced the movement. The distance to overcome by the way the troops were obliged to march before reaching the enemy's works was probably 1,700 yards. It took an unusually long time to advance that distance, as the planking of one of the bridges was found to be partly taken up, requiring the men to cross on the stringers.
Colonel Zook's brigade was the first in order. As soon as it had formed line, it advanced to the attack with spirit, passing the point at which the preceding troops had arrived, and being joined as it passed by the brave regiments of Kimball's brigade and some other regiments of French's division. It failed, however, to take the stone wall, behind which the enemy was posted, although our dead were left within 25 paces of it. These troops still held their line of battle in front of the enemy and within close musketry range.
The Irish Brigade next advanced to the assault. The same gallantry was displayed, but with the same results. Caldwell's brigade was next ordered into action, and, although it behaved with the utmost valor, failed to carry the enemy's position. All the troops then formed one line of battle, extending from a point a little distance to the right of Hanover street, in a line nearly parallel to the enemy, with the left thrown back, the extreme left extending about the front of two regiments to the left of the railroad culvert. This line was held during the entire day and until it was relieved, some of the regiments not coming off the field until 10 o'clock the following morning. This line was held for hours after the troops had exhausted their ammunition, and after the ammunition of the killed and wounded within reach had been expended. Shortly after the last of my brigades came into action, it appeared as if the front crest of the enemy's hill might have been taken had there been other troops at hand, for the enemy were at that time running from their rifle-pits and works on the crest directly in front of our right. But by the time Howard's troops were ready to attack, the enemy had repaired this, and making a strong attack at the same time toward our left, it became necessary that a portion of that division should be detached toward that flank. After this hour it appeared to me, although reports were occasionally received that we were gaining ground, which led us to hope it might prove true, that, our object having failed, the only thing to be done was to maintain our front line by constantly supporting it until darkness covered the scene.
At one time, about 3 p.m., the enemy essayed an attack in column down Hanover street, and advance within 150 yards of our front line. The leader being killed, the column was dispersed. Several gallant attacks by Howard, Sturgis, Humphreys, Griffin, and others were afterward made in support of these brave troops, who could not advance