War of the Rebellion: Serial 072 Page 0378 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

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exposed to the sharpest direct and cross fire of musketry and artillery on both flanks, the leading brigade, the Second, moved (followed in close supporting distance by the other brigades) right up to the enemy's main line of works. Under the unwavering steadiness of the advance the fire from the enemy's line of works began to slacken and the troops behind those works first began perceptibly to waver and then to give way, and I have no hesitation in saying that so far as any opposition directly in front was concerned, though that was terrible enough, the enemy's strongly fortified position would have forced. But the fire, particularly on the left flank of the column, which was at first only en echarpe, became, as the column advanced, enfilading, and finally took the first line of the column partially in reserve. It was from this fire that the supporting and covering division should have protected the assaulting column, but it failed to do so. Under such a fire no troops could maintain the vantage ground which had been gained, and the leading brigade, which had driven everything in its front, was compelled to fall back a short distance to secure its flanks, which were crumbling away under the severe fire by the irregularities of the ground. (It is proper to observe here that the brigade of the Twenty-third Corps which was ordered to take post so as to cover the right flank of the assaulting column by some mistake failed to get into a position to accomplish this purpose.) From the position taken by Hazen's brigade when it retire a short distance from the enemy's works it kept up a deadly fire, which was evidently very galling to the foe. The brigade was engaged about fifty minutes. It had expended the sixty rounds of ammunition taken into action on the men's persons; it had suffered terribly in killed and wounded, and the men were much exhausted by the furiousness of the assault. Consequently I ordered this brigade to be relived by the First Brigade, Colonel William H. Gibson, Forty-ninth Ohio, commanding. So soon as the First Brigade had relieved the Second Brigade I ordered Colonel Gibson to renew the assault. I hoped that with the shorter distance the brigade would have to move after beginning the assault to reach the enemy's works, and with the assistance of the knowledge of the ground which had been gained, a second effort might be might more successful than the first had been. I also trusted some cover had been provided to protect the left flank of the column. This had been partially, but by no means effectually done.

At the signal advance the First Brigade dashed handsomely and gallantly forward up to the enemy's works. Men were shot down at the very base of the parapet. But again the terrible fire on the flanks, and especially the enfilading fire from the left, was fatal to success. In addition, the enemy had brought up fresh troops and greatly strengthened the force behind his intrenchments. This fact had been observed plainly by our troops, and was subsequently fully corroborated by prisoners. The First Brigade, after getting so near to the enemy's works and after almost succeeding, was compelled, like the Second Brigade, to fall back a short distance, some seventy to eighty yards, to seek shelter under cover of the irregularities of the surface. Thence it maintained a sturdy contest with the enemy, confining him to his works, till its ammunition was expended. (I must observe that owing to the circuitous route through the woods, with no road, pursued by the division, it was impossible to take any ammunition wagons with the command. After the point of attack had been selected a road was opened and ammunition brought up,