Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/718

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CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

Fort Gregg," says General Harris, "and were repulsed with great loss. Again and again they charged the works, being as often driven back by the deadly, withering fire, until at last, by the momentum of numbers, they pushed into the ditch, then up onto the parapet, where for a few minutes, amid the hand-to-hand conflict that ensued, both the Federal and Confederate colors were seen." Gregg was assisted materially by a flank fire from Whitworth, but the contest was too unequal. After the fall of Battery Gregg, Harris was instructed to withdraw from the other battery, time having been gained for Longstreet to arrive from the north side of the James. This heroic struggle of the Mississippians was of a piece with their indomitable fight at the Bloody Angle. Swinton, the Federal historian, is correct, except in exaggerating the loss of the Confederates, when he says: "This handful of skilled marksmen conducted the defense with such intrepidity that Gibbon's forces, surging repeatedly against it, were each time thrown back. At length, at 7 a. m., a renewed charge carried the work, but not until its 250 defenders had been reduced to 30; and it is calculated that each of these riflemen struck down at least two assailants, for Gibbon's loss was above 500 men. The protracted resistance of Fort Gregg enabled Lee to establish what of force remained to him in such wise as would best avail for the defense of the city."

Humphreys' brigade had served with Kershaw's division on the north side of the James near Fort Gilmer. On April 2d it marched through the Confederate capital, then being sacked by a mob, and overtook the rear of the retreating army at Amelia Court House. On April 6th, after holding at bay the Federal cavalry until the trains could pass by, Humphreys' brigade, under Colonel Fitzgerald, took position to cover the crossing of the division over Sailor's creek, but was soon overpowered and forced back upon the remainder of the division, which