War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 0903 Chapter LVIII. THE APPOMATTOX CAMPAIGN.

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tance. Axmen had been distributed along the front of the assaulting columns, and the sharpshooters of the divisions had been so disposed as to produce their greatest effect. The point chosen for assault, selected after the most careful considerations, based upon personal examination and the reports of a large number of officers who had for a long time scanned the works of the enemy, was in front of Forts Fisher and Welch, over ground perfectly cleared of trees and offering few natural obstructions, except the marshes with which the front of the enemy's line was intersected. It was near the let of the corps line; and on its right was in inundation, which was entirely impracticable, while still farther to the right, and before reaching the Ninth Corps left, were the strong works, originally constructed for the defense of Petersburg, in the vicinity of the lead-works. All examinations concurred in designating the point chosen as the true one for attack, and, after observations, concern in sustaining this conclusion. The works in front of the chosen point of attack were known to be an extraordinarily strong line of rifle-pits, with deep ditches and high relief, preceded by one or two lines of abatis; but it was not known till after our successful columns had passed over them that these two lines of abatis were not only unusually well constructed, but that a line of very strong fraise existed between them. At every few hundred yards of this line were forts or batteries well supplied with artillery. These lines might well have been looked upon by the enemy as impregnable, and nothing but the most resolute bravery could have overcome them. It should here by remarked that, but for the successes of the 25th ultimo, in which the corps carried the entrenched picket-line of the enemy, though at a cost in men which at the time seemed hardly to have warranted the movement, the attack of the 2nd instant on the enemy's mainlines could not have been successful. The position then gained was an indispensable one to the operations upon the main lines, by affording a place for the assembling of assaulting columns within striking distance of the enemy's main entrenchments. By some mischance or misapprehension our pickets in the vicinity of the forming columns commenced firing while the columns were forming, and brought, not only upon themselves but on the dense masses in their rear, a return fire which, for a movement, threatened to seriously interfere with if not break up the plan of attack. Everything was soon quieted down, however, by the exertions of the officers, though many casualties occurred from this contretemps. The men behaved well during the whole of the severe fire, without returning a shot or uttering a word to indicate their presence to the enemy. All being ready, the hour named for the assault having passed and light enough having dawned, the columns moved promptly at the signal, at 4.40 a. m., broke over the enemy's picket line, meeting little resistance, and poured their masses over the main defenses, under a heavy fire of artillery and a more deadly though less noisy fire of musketry from the parapets. Abatis was cut away, and through the openings thus made, and through those made by the enemy for his convenience of access to the front, his works were gained. Here occurred a brief but sharp conflict, which soon resulted in giving us possession of the whole front of attack. In the ardor of the movement it was quite impossible to check the advance of the troops at once, and parties from each division soon reached the Boydton plank road and the South Side Railroad, breaking up the latter somewhat and cutting the telegraph wire of the enemy. As promptly as possible the lines were reformed, wheeled to the left, and moved, with the left of line guiding on the rebel entrenchments,