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line of retreat. The success of General HANCOCK in , driving the enemy from two lines of breastworks, and making valuable captures, has already been noticed. General BURNSIDE was less fortunate in his part of attack, for (although he moved early) he found the enemy thoroughly on the alert, and considerably over a mile in front of their main line of breastworks.
The intervening country was extremely broken, billy and densely covered with timber, chiefly small pines, whose branches, matting together, rendered it almost impossible for a man to walk erect through them. Through this wilderness, difficult to penetrate at best, the Rebels had dug small detached rifle-pits at every favorable point, from which they fired with deadly effect as we advanced ; but, in spite of their advantages, they were steadily pushed back, driven from their advanced earthworks, and compelled to take refuge in their main line of intrenchments. So severe had been the fighting in the woods, the enemy contesting every foot of ground as they receded, that it was not deemed advisable to attack them in their fortifications, and accordingly fighting ceased for several hours. But in the afternoon, several batteries of artillery having in the meantime been brought up and placed in position, an assault was ordered in accordance with instructions from headquarters of the army, and about three P. M. the attack was renewed.
The line of battle was formed with POTTER'S Second Division on the right, CRITTENDEN's First Division in the centre, and WILCOX's Third Division on the left. Our advance met with a warm reception from the enemy, who had also been preparing for an attack and would soon have taken the initiative. After advancing some distance under a heavy fire, a brigade of Rebels who had previously been placed in position, opened suddenly on the left flank of General Wilcox's Division, composed of troops of
Colonel HARTRANFT's Brigade. Three regiments on the left, the Seventeenth Michigan, Fifty-first Pennsylvania, and One-hundred-and-ninth New York, were thrown into some confusion, being attacked in front and on flank at the same moment. A flanking brigade of Rebels demanded their surrender, but the demand was not acceded to, and an extremely sharp hand-to-hand conflict ensued, our men bravely holding their ground for a time and gallantly defending their colors. About three hundred men of the Seventeenth Michigan and Fifty-first Pennsylvania were, however, ultimately made prisoners, including LieutenantColonel CHAS. N. SWIFT, of the Seventeenth Michigan. Colors of the Seventeenth Michigan were also finally captured. After making & gallant stand, these three regiments were forced to fall back, but the Seventeenth Michigan, or rather what was left of it, had, however, to bring off the field more than their own number as prisoners, including Colonel BARBER, of the Fifth North Carolina, who was in command of the brigade on their flank. mainder of the line stood firmly at the point where the flank attack was first made, and on the right a New Hampshire regiment of Colonel GRIFFIN's Brigade, POTTER'S Division, actually entered the enemy's intrenchments, but, being unsupported on right and left, they were compelled to return.
On the left, the enemy, encouraged by the repulse of the three regiments already spoken of, rushed on in eager pursuit, but were suddenly checked on emerging from the woods into an open field by finding themselves literally mown down by a tempest of grape and canister from two or three batteries planted in line and nearly together on the opposite side of the field. They retreated in confusion, leaving their dead and wounded lying in heaps upon the ground at the edge of the woods. The portions of our line which had given way was then brought up, and
although it was not possible to resume the attack on the Rebel fortifications with any prospect of success, we held our ground up to the furthest point attained, and gained the advantage of a considerably better position than that previously occupied.
The losses of the entire corps in this engagement, were not quite three thousand. Colonel HARTRANFT's Brigade lost seven hundred and fifty, including three bundred prisoners, and the loss of General Wilcox's entire Division is stated at fifteen hundred. General POTTER's Division lost about eight hundred, of whom six hundred were wounded. The loss in General CRITTENDEN's Division was probably about the same. The conduct of our troops throughout this battle merited the highest commendation; the men could not have exhibited greater firmness or more determined bravery.
SATURDAY, MAY 14th, 1864. Saturday was a day of comparative quiet. For the eight days previous, both armies had been engaged in a series of battles surpassing any ever fought either in ancient or modern times. Scores of thousands of men had fallen, and those who were still able to march were wearied and exbausted by the hardships which they had endured. But while the army rested, General GRANT's active mind was at work, and his keen eye was upon the wary antagonist on his front. During the day LEE changed his lines, which compelled a corresponding change on the part of our forces. Heavy rains rendered the roads impassable, and neither army could move, although LEE showed some signs of attempting a retreat.
Affairs remained thus until the eighteenth, when General GRANT determined to make an attack upon LEE's position. Our forces had been massed on the enemy's left during the night previous, and it was hoped by an
early assault, that his left might be broken, and his left flank turned, and success was more reasonably to be expected as the attack was to be made from a portion of the line supposed to have been abandoned by us in our movement towards the left. Every thing having been put in readiness during the night, the assault was made at early dawn as intended. The Sixth Corps, General WRIGHT, on the extreme right, the Second Corps next, and further on to the left, a portion of General BURNSIDE's Corps. Early as the assault was commenced, the enemy was found to be perfectly wide awake, and fully prepared. Their advanced line was readily pushed back, and our troops retook the rifle-pits captured in the assault of the 12th inst., without difficulty, but on advancing against the next line of intrenchments they soon found that they were to encounter earnest resistance.
The enemy opened fire upon us from a number of batteries, pouring into our ranks a destructive storm of canister. Their breastworks, extremely strong and elaborate in themselves, were defended in front by a great depth of abattis, through which our men would have to tear their way, exposed all the time to a deadly fire from the Rebels in their pits. Such an attempt would have cost thousands of lives within a very few minutes, and its impracticability being perceived, our troops were at once withdrawn. There was but little musketry, and our chief loss was sustained from the fire of the enemy's artillery.
On the afternoon of the 19th of May, EWELL’s Corps of LEE's army made an effort to turn our right, but were promptly repulsed and severely punished by the Divisions commanded by Major-Generals BIRNEY and TYLER.
While the two armies were apparently inert, General GRANT was having his thinned columns refilled with new and fresh men. Within a few days it was estimated that twenty-five thousand splended troops had been forwarded to the Army of the Potomac.
GENERAL GRANT FLANKS LEE. On the 20th of May, the army was once more in motion, the commanding general intending to flank LEE out of his works at Spottsylvania Court House. In this he was successful, and the rebels began their retreat toward Richmond, falling behind the North Anna river, and taking up a strong position. Our army followed closely. The Fifth and Sixth Corps marched by way of HARRIS' store to Jericho Ford, and the Fifth Corps succeeded in effecting a crossing and getting into position without much opposition. Shortly after, however, they were violently attacked and handsomely repulsed the assault, which was without much loss to us.
We captured some prisoners. The opposition made by LEwas not so great as was anticipated, and finding himself again flanked, he fell back to the South Anna. Here the enemy's works were found to be of extraordinary strength and magnitude, and General GRANT declining to make an assault which would cost so much blood, recrossed the North Anna, and moved his army
off in the direction of Hanover Junction, thus flanking LEE'S position on the South Anna, and forcing him again to evacuate his elaborately constructed fortifications.
On Friday morning, the 27th of May, General SHERIDAN, with two divisions of cavalry, took possession of Hanover Ferry and Hanovertown, the points designated for crossing the army over the Pamunkey river. By the 29th the whole army was across, and in position three miles south of the river. Thus was another of General GRANT's brilliant and daring manæuvres crowned with complete suc
On Sunday, the 29th, his army was encamped in a fertile country, within fifteen miles of Richmond. By this admirable movement he not only turned LEE's works on the Little river and the South Anna, and avoided the hazards of crossing those two strongly defended rivers, but