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with supernatural powers, and spoke in one long continuous diapason, horrible to hear, so suggestive was it of mangled, lifeless forms, laid forever at rest; or worse, of writhing, bleeding, suffering humanity stretched upon mother earth. As the day drew to its close, the contest there and everywhere upon our lines gradually ceased, until at last only now and then a desultory shot told that the defiant foe of law was on our front in battle array. Thus ended Thursday, May 5th.
During the day, General GRANT was on the field, calm and imperturbable as usual. His confidence was uushaken through all the varying fortunes of the day. LEE had met our army on his own chosen ground, and though we had not driven him from his position, the LieutenantGeneral was satisfied with the day's work, and commenced making his dispositions for renewing the battle on the next morning.
THE BLOODY CONTEST OF FRIDAY. Friday, destined to be a bloody, eventful, and almost a disastrous day in American history, was hardly graced with morning light before the action was recommenced. It was general, but during the earlier, and in fact during the entire day, it was fiercest before HANCOCK.
This magnificent soldier, backed by a magnificent corps, had terrible work before him. Pressed by the apparently constantly increasing forces of LONGSTREET, he struggled hard, fiercely, and long, to hold bis own, but was twice driven back to his breastworks; and once the adventurous Rebels ventured to plant their colors within his fieldworks--but the insult was instantly avenged, by hurling the enemy neck-and-heels out of the sanctuary. At last relief came in the shape of the Ninth Corps, under the gallant BURNSIDE, and HANCOCK was allowed to breathe free once more. Such fighting as HANCOCK did that day
had probably never been seen before. Back and forth first charged and then charging—the bodies of Union and Rebel dead lying side by side by hundreds on the contested ground, attested the unparalleled severity of the conflict.
Later in the day came DGW k's hour of trial. A lull succeeded the tempest. On our left they seemed determined to turn one or the other of our flanks, and half an hour before sunset, A. P. HILL fell with wonderful celerity and crushing force upon the extreme right of SEDGWICK. That attack will long be remembered by all in its vicinity. The battle had apparently closed for the day, when all at once the silence of the deepening evening was broken-first, by a volley of musketry to which all other firing had seemed but boyish playing, then with a yell, at once defiant and exultant! Our right was turned at once—the two brigades composing the extreme right, with their commanders, SEYMOUR and STALER, were instantly swallowed in the wild waves of yelling Rebels, whose appetite, whetted by what it fed on, still rushed on for fresh food. The day seemed utterly lost; and destruction not only to the Corps, but the army, appeared inevitable. In that moment of extreme peril, the nation and the army was fortunate enough to have SEDGWICK at the point of danger. Out of that instant of uttermost peril, bis ability and fortitude plucked, if not victory, at least safety. Taking advantage of the reflux that always follows the first impetus of a charge, he quickly reformed the Corps—and driving the enemy beyond his breastworks, once more was in safety.
From out of this desperate attack grew another incident, fearful always in an army, but doubly so at night. Just at dark, a stampede began-first, among the straggling soldiers watching the fight from a safe distance. They rushed in wild confusion to the rear. The instinct
of safety in the army teamsters is wonderfully acute, and the sight of these frightened fugitives soon started the wagons in wild confusion and galloping haste over the low hills. The rush of the wagons started every thing else, and where but a moment before all was quiet confidence, was now all hastening alarm. This scene lasted some balf an hour, when the iron hand of military law succeeded in re-establishing order, and hardly had quiet been restored, when the movements of other of the same wagons gave us a premonition-it was the general move of all the army transportation on the turnpike in the direction of Chancellorsville. What could it mean? Had the attack on our right been fatal, and were we retreating from a field sanctified with patriot blood and rendered illustrious by such heroic fortitude as our men had here displayed ? Subsequent events proved that this was not the case, but the days of hard knocks were over, and those of strategy at hand. We were still to have one more example of what desperate things desperate men will do.
At eleven o'clock, a night attack was made on WARREN'S line. Night attacks are always terrible things to the party attacked, but coupled with the partial disaster on our right it was doubly so this night. Without warning of any kind, the Rebels leaped upon the Fifth Corps. No Corps in the service had a more honorable record than the Fifth, and none under the circumstances could have borne itself more bravely; yet, in spite of its bravery, the corps was driven back and pressed until at last the line of Rebel skirmishers were in dangerous proximity to GRANT's and MEADE's headquarters.
But not for this brief episode of battle, thundering amid the darkness of the night but a little way to the front of the pike, was the movement of the trains interrupted even for a moment. Still on they went, in an almost inter
minable stream, and by daylight nearly all had passed to the left of the right centre. During the night the wounded from the hospitals in the rear of the right and right centre were also removed in the same direction, but the exact purport of the movement could not be even guessed.
Friday, May 5th, had closed partially in disaster. We had succeeded certainly in repelling most of the enemy's attacks, but we were not there with that object. The army of the Potomac had begun its present movement with the intention of sweeping LEE's army from the earth, and it had not accomplished its mission on Friday.
GRANT OUT OF THE WILDERNESS.-SATUR
DAY AND SUNDAY'S OPERATIONS. The enemy had turned our right flank, and the impracticability of a further engagement against the enemy in that position was easily perceived. Our right was turned, and Germania Ford was potentially in the hands of the enemy. Our line was now bent into an angle, and facing both south and west. The losses in killed, wounded and missing, could not thus far have been less than fifteen thousand, and we had only gained a slight advantage on the enemy's right. But the enemy, though successful against our right flank, was unable to profit by the advantage gained.
Saturday morning came and went, and the enemy showed no signs of ability to improve the advantages gained. Soon from along our lines there came reports that the enemy were retreating, and it became evident that only a small force was before us, and that the rebels were making the most diligent improvement of their time in getting safely back to such a position as would give them the start in a race toward Richmond. Indeed, it was to be feared that the enemy had already moved so far on the route as to put us second in chase.
But Saturday was, however, not unimproved on our side in preparation for anticipating the enemy in such a movement, and the Cavalry Corps, under the command of General SHERIDAN, had been sent out on the road which leads through Spottsylvania Court House to Granger's Station and Hanover Court House.
The cavalry encountered the enemy at Todd's Tavern, commanded by FITZHUGH LEE, which offered a most determined resistance on Saturday morning, and before the day closed the whole of STUART's Cavalry Corps was in position to resist the efforts we were making to turn the right ilank of General LEE's army.
We had now possession of the road to within two and a balf miles of Spottsylvania Court House. Preparations were accordingly made for moving the whole army on the enemy's flank toward Richmond, hoping that by prolonged and forced marches, and by pushing our troops vigorously into action, we might be able, having the advantage of interior lines, either to reach Richmond before the enemy, or, if we should be unable to turn his flank, and the enemy should succeed in presenting himself in force upon our front, that we might gain so complete a victory over him as to render the capture of Richmond a comparatively easy task.
At sunset, on Saturday night, the infantry commenced to move on the road to Richmond to anticipate the enemy at Spottsylvania Court House, to turn his right flank being the proximate object of the march. The Ninth Army Corps was the first upon the route, but soon halted to allow General WARREN with the Fifth Corps to pass.' The Sixth Corps left their intrenchments quietly at ten o'clock, the Second Corps followed, keeping up the rear, and cavalry protected their flank. Thus before midnight the entire line of our earthworks was vacant, and the army was again upon its march.