If we except Elliott, who with the remnant of his brigade was occupying the ravine to the left and rear of the Crater, no officer of rank was present on the Confederate side to assume immediate direction of affairs, and a considerable time elapsed before Beauregard and Lee—both beyond the Appomattox—were informed by Colonel Paul, of Beauregard's staff, of the nature and locality of the disaster.
But almost on the moment,
JOHN HASKELL, OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
a glorious young battalionc-ommander, whose name will be forever associated with the artillery corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, galloped to the front, followed by two light batteries, and having disposed these pieces along the Plank Road, and opened Planner's light guns from the Gee House, passed to his left to speak a word of cheery commendation to Lampkin of his battalion, who was already annoying the swarming masses of the enemy with his Virginia battery of eight-inch mortars. Passing through the covered-way, Haskell sought Elliott, and pointing out to him the defenceless position of the guns on the Plank Road, urged him to make such dispositions as would afford them protection. Essaying this, Elliot sprang forward, followed by a mere handful of brave fellows, but almost on the instant fell stricken by a grievous hurt and was borne from his last field of battle.
The fire of the enemy's artillery was now very severe, owing to their superior weight of metal, and the guns on the Plank Road, exposed in addition to the fire of sharp-shooters, were suffering such loss that it was determined to retire all but six pieces, and, as the situation seemed rather hopeless, to call for volunteers to man these. To Haskell's proud delight, every gun-detachment volunteered to remain.
Nor did the artillery to the right and left fail to bear themselves with the resolution of men conscious that, for the time, the hope of the army was centred in their steadiness, and that
THEIR GUNS ALONE BARRED THE ROAD TO PETERSBURG;