Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/78
72 Southern Historical Society Papers.
officers, and a considerable part of the Twenty-sixth South Carolina Regiment were blown up, the mine containing, it was said, thirty tons of blasting powder. A large excavation was made, and in the smoke and confusion, amid the flying debris and mangled men, the enemy charged in great force, effecting a lodgement in our lines, and a large number of flags of Burnside's Corps floated on our works. Reinforce- ments poured to their support and a vigorous assault was made on our line on both sides of the crater. In the van were negro soldiers crying, "No quarter to the rebels. " Most fortunately for our army, we had completed but a day or two before a cavalier line in the rear of the salient, where the explosion occured; the two lines, salient and cavalier, forming a diamond shaped fortification. Into this cavalier line, from the left of the salient, rushed by the right flank the Twen- ty-fifth and Forty-ninth Regiments of Ransoms, and, from the other side, the remnant of the Twenty-sixth South Carolina, which had been blown up, and a part of another regiment of Elliott's Brigade. These rapidly formed for a charge to retake our works; but the enemy massed his troops so rapidly into the broken salient that it was deemed useless to make the attempt, but to hold on to the cavalier line. Now began the most desperate fighting of the war.
Simultaneously with the rush into the broken salient, the enemy in three lines of battle charged our works for a half mile on each side, only to be repulsed time and again with fearful slaughter. Meanwhile, in the cavalier line, our troops were clinging to the works with the tenacity of despair, and fighting with the fury of madmen. The compact, crowded mass of Federals rendered every shot effective. Our men aimed steadily and true; and as each rifle became too hot to be used another gun was at work by one who took the place of the first, or supplied him with rifles which could be handled. From a redoubt to our left and rear Wright's Battery opened upon the crowded, panic-stricken foe, as they huddled to- gether, an enfilading, plunging fire with five field pieces and two mortars, every shot and shell tearing its way through living flesh. With our men and small bodies of the enemy, who formed and tried to force their way down our works, several hand to hand conflicts, with bayonets locked and rifles clubbed, occurred, which availed nothing to the cornered Yanks. When their support on either side were driven back, it was seen that those who had filled the salient were caught in a trap. When the fighting was hottest, but our supreme danger had been averted, in a large measure, by his prompt- ness in the arrangement and disposition of his own regiment and