Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/36

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

mined to drive them from their rifle pits and other places of shelter. They moved forward in splendid style, and perfect military order. Soon the advance was followed by a second and third line. It was a magnificent sight, which won the admiration of the Mississippians. There was no nervousness nor hesitation. They may have thought that all the troops in the city were killed, but, matters not, they were a fine body of men.

Barksdale's Brigade watched them from their hiding places and awaited their near approach. Suddenly, when within about 75 yards of our line, as if by common impulse, a volley rang out from the rifle pits on the cold air, which sounded almost like one gun, and hundreds fell dead in their tracks. The front line of the enemy, paralyzed and dismayed by the shock, fell back in confusion. In the meantime the Mississippians were firing on them as they ran. It was a dreadful slaughter, which might have been considered a retaliation for the dreadful bombardment of two hours before. Quickly the second line advanced, firing as they came, and was met by a deadly aim from the Confederates. The column halted in front of Barksdale's men, when the third line rushed to their support and charged headlong into the city.

Whole companies of Barksdale's men were concealed in cellars, where they remained even after the enemy had passed, and emerging, fired into the rear of the Federal line from behind corners of houses and stone walls. The Mississippians began to retire slowly, fighting as they retreated. It was a grand sight which was witnessed by both armies. Hundreds of brave officers and men fell ere they could reach the city.

General McLaws ordered Barksdale to fall back to our main line on the crest of the hills, which he did soon after dark. The fighting lasted until about that time. The brigade occupied a cut in the side of the hill until 10 o'clock the following day, December 12th. During the night of the nth the enemy crossed over two divisions, and other troops crossed during the 12th. Barksdale had been engaged continuously for forty-eight hours, and was ordered back for rest and food. We went into camp in a woods behind Marye's Heights, where we remained until the morning of the 13th. General Thos. R. R. Cobb, with his