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TEN O'CLOCK Came, and leaving our left pausing in front of the third line of the rebel works, we must sweep around to the right where the Ninth Corps is still battling. Here the rebels made what seemed a determined effort to retake what they had lost, but which was in reality an attempt to cover their withdrawal from Petersburg. GORDON made the effort, but LEE was in the town personally superintending everything. The rebels made a charge, and seemed for a time likely to drive the Ninth Corps from the line it had won so easily. The fire was particularly heavy on the Second Division and on the Third. General POTTER, commanding the Second Division, was shot through the groin, and borne dying from the field, and his men fell in scores around. Still the division stood firm to the works, and repulsed the enemy at last. HARTRANFT was overworked and overtasked. His little division of two brigades had been put to a severer test than ever new troops had been called on to undergo. Covered with the glory of STEADMAN, they had been in the trenches night and day since, and their physical strength was so weak that for a moment they retired. But only for a moment. One last effort, a straining as of the muscles of an overstrung horse, and with the effort the enemy was beaten back. But we lost one fort at last, and the line was to that extent broken.
More troops were needed on this part of our lines. Where should they come from ? Every man of the Army of the Potomac was already in use. The Fifth and Second Corps were already en route to cut off the anticipated retreat of the enemy; and not a man of the Sixth, Twenty-fourth, or of Birney's Division of the Twenty-fifth Corps could be spared from the line west of Petersburg, for although not yet meeting with any
opposition they could not overcome, the ground we had gained there must be held against any possible attack. But Forts STEADMAN and HILL, and all the others on the front must have more men, and they were found. There were five splendid regiments and hundred's of SHERIDAN'S dismounted men at City Point, and City Point was stripped of them. All were hurried instantly to the front, and all the garrisons, prisons, and wharves of the Point were left with only one hundred and forty men. The critical hour was past now.
For the first time every man in the armies operating against Richmond was employed in active operations against the enemy.
These troops arrived at Meade station at noon, and were hurried to the front; but the yeoman service they did was some two hours later in the day, and we again hurry to the left, where,
AT ELEVEN O'CLOCK, The splendid war programme was still visible, with all its shifting, glorious changes. Glorious they were, because each spoke in thunder tones of the demoralization of LEE'S army.
MEADE and WRIGHT and GIBBON were still at work. The Sixth Corps was shifting to the right, and how was it being done? In plain view and easy range of the tbird interior line of LEE, we were moving in column as if on a gala-day parade, and so in truth it was; the Army of the Union in joyful attendance on the funeral of the Rebellion.
At this hour not a sound came from the field ; not a gun was speaking anywhere; not a shout heard on all the line. The rebel lines were as hushed as our own; their guns looked down frowningly upon us from the huge forts in which they were incased, but not one of them spoke; not a horse neighed; not a drum or bugle sounded;
not one of the ammunition wagons moving bither over the sandy soil of the undulating landscape gave forth a sound. The whole field was stilled as if in death. Suddenly one of the guns upon the fort on the rebel loft belched forth a dull report; a wreath of rising smoke, the bursting of a shell, and all was still again. The next moment another, then another, then three guns opened in a continuous roar. They were attempting to retard the march of three of our brigades gaining the shelter of a small skirt of timber upon their left, from which to assault them. Vain hope ! The columns move on, paying them not even the compliment of a moment's pause, or of a gun in reply. Poor LEE! struggling like a child in the hand of a giant determined to destroy bim. Thus the hour passed, and by
TWELVE O'CLOCK It was discovered that LEE was in retreat across the Appomattox. From our signal towers bis columns could be seen beginning to move over the river on three separate pontoons, just above the city, and huge fires were already raging in the town itself, showing that the Rebels had applied the torch to accelerate their own ruin. Provision had already been made for LEE'S anticipated retreat. It was not a part of the programme that any part of his army should escape, and the Second and Fifth Corps bad long ago moved to the Appomattox, and must have been at this hour across it or near it. At any rate, the calculations were that they were near enough to force LEE and his flying hordes to battle and ruin long before he reached the Danville road.
AT TWO O'CLOCK All was activity again, both right and left. On the left the Sixth Corps assaulted the large fort I have mentioned, and another next to it, on the left, and TURNER
and FOSTER, of the Twenty-fourth Corps, stormed one each, further to the rebel right. The scene was again in full view, and had all the elements of grandeur of its predecessor of the morning. The bugle sounded, and the mass of blue sprang forward, as before ; and, as before, the rebels made a feeble and ineffectual resistance. Our movements were like lightning. From the moment the charge sounded until the instant we swarmed over the works was the shortest appreciable period of time, and before the dumbfounded enemy well knew started, our flags were flying over the ramparts, our shout of triumph ringing along their lines, some of them flying, with their own guns turned upon them, and the remainder going to the rear as prisoners.
Carrying this line, getting into position before the fourth and last, occupied the hour from two to three on the left. Our triumph was assured—the way to Petersburg, by the Boydton road, was all but open- an hour more, and MEADE, if he so willed, could have marched into the Cockade City.
ON THE RIGHT. On the right this same hour of two o'clock was an hour of triumph. It had been determined to retake the rebel fort they had wrested from us, and the fresh brigade of General COLLIS, from City Point, was assigned to the duty, composed of the Sixty-eighth and One-hundred-andfourteenth Pennsylvania, the Twentieth New York, Sixty-first Massachusetts, and the New York Engineers, veteran regiments all.
COLLIS himself headed the charge, having left his post at City Point to share the glories of the day. A terrible fire greeted the brigade, but it swept through it and over and into the disputed fort, settling at once and forever the question of its ownership. Our loss had been severe. Captain J. M. EDDY, of the One-hundred-and-fourteenth
Pennsylvania, commanding the regiment, and leading it like a hero, fell mortally wounded, shot through the head; and of the officers there were wounded, Lieutenant JOHN WICHER, Company A, in the thigh ; Lieutenant GEORGE W. BRATTON, Company C, leg; and Lieutenant EDWARD MARRIAN, Company I, in the arm. Of the Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania, Captain MICHAEL FULMER, Company A, mortally wounded, and Captain J. C. GALLAGHER severely; and in the Sixty-first Massachusetts, Lieutenant THOMAS C. HART was killed. But we took the fort, and we held it, notwithstanding the efforts of GORDON to regain it, and we held all the others against similar attacks. Wilcox's, PORTER'S and HARTRANFT's Divisions, still displaying the valor that won back STEADMAN, and in the morning had won the rebel line. Thus, at half-past three o'clock the day was decided ; irretrievable ruin was upon the Rebellion. It had no last ditch or last legs; it had been ejected from the former, the latter had been struck from under it.
Now is the proper time to remark that this disaster came upon LEE suddenly and unexpectedly. It is true, he was preparing for contingencies by removing the public stores and works, but he intended to hold these lines to the last gasp. The whole rebel army was here. Since SHERIDAN began the battle of Five Forks, prisoners bad been taken from nearly every brigade. In fifteen captured forts the guns were mounted, the magazines supplied with ammunition, and all the personelle of the soldier was there. In every foot of the miles of their camps there were indications that the inhabitants had left home very unexpectedly, and from a pressing necessity. In many huts on the left, the unfinished breakfast was left upon the ground floor, muskets were strewed about, and blankets and knapsacks were scarce, only because the Rebels had none,