On June 30 General Alexander was interrupted in his valuable services by a wound from a minie-ball, received under the sharp and continuous skirmishing on his line. Happily, though disabling, it was not dangerous. During his absence, which continued until August 18, Lieutenant-Colonel Huger was assigned to the command of the guns and mortars on that part of the line.
Throughout the month of July sharp skirmishing day and night and desultory cannonading were continued, but nothing material was developed till near the close of the month.
During the night of the 26th the enemy crossed to the north side of James River near Deep Bottom a large force of infantry and artillery, making in that direction a formidable demonstration. Colonel Carter commanded on that side of James River Hardaway's and Cutshaw's battalions of artillery, belonging to the Second Corps, which had remained behind when the rest of their corps moved westward. With this artillery Colonel Carter had efficiently patrolled that bank of the river against the enemy's gun-boats since the transfer of the army to Petersburg. He now met the enemy's advance, supported by Kershaw's division. A portion of the latter giving way too easily left the four 20-pounder Parrotts, of Graham's (Rockbridge) battery, to be captured, although they were served with admirable steadiness for a considerable times after the infantry had retired. The enemy, however, did not venture far. No considerable conflict there appeared to be his intention. The event proved his movement to be a feint to draw out troops from Petersburg. In this, however, he succeeded only very partially. Lieutenant-Colonel Poague's battalion, with Penick's battery in addition, was on the night of the 28th detached from position north of the Appomattox and sent to Colonel Carter. The withdrawal did not materially weaken our lines, and when on the night of the 29th the enemy recrossed from the north the south side of James River, Colonel Poague was directed instead of returning to his former location to take position on the left of General Pickett's line and guard that flank against approach from Dutch Gap. There he has remained ever since doing admirable service with guns and mortars, annoying working parties on Butler's canal, and otherwise frustrating the enemy's plans.
July 30, the significance of the enemy's movements for the day or two previous was revealed.
About dawn of July 30 a mine was sprung by the enemy under the salient occupied by Pegram's battery, Coit's battalion, near the right of General Beauregard's line. Two of the guns were thrown to a great distance outside the works and a considerable breach effected. The enemy, profiting by our surprise and his own elaborate preparations, pressed forward his assaulting column, and entering the chasm seized a portion of our lines on its right and left. At the same time he opened a furious cannonade from perhaps over 100 guns on the adjacent parts of our lines and the approaches to them; but his advance was speedily arrested and his achievement rendered in the end eminently disastrous to himself by the vigor with which his troops were met, and the deadly fire poured into his ranks by Wright's battery, on the left, and by Haskell's guns and mortars, previously arranged to bear directly upon this salient. The enemy, unable either to advance or retreat, and by the co-operating fire of all our artillery on this front, crouching into the crater to escape this deadly fire, were literally crushed and torn asunder by mortar shells.
Major Haskell, with conspicuous gallantry, taking personal charge of two 12-pounder mortars, moved them forward to the trenches within