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river, the enemy charged with the cry "Vicksburg and mule meat!" But that point was far away, as he afterwards learned to his cost.

The weary days of the siege passed slowly away. The monotony was broken only by occasional skirmishing and cannonading, a sortie of our men upon some part of the rebel lines which was thought weaker than the rest, or an attempted advance of the enemy's pickets and batteries. The loyal citizens of the town were engaged in zealous emulation with the troops in perfecting the defences. It became necessary to seize and destroy some buildings outside of our lines of fortification, which afforded shelter to the enemy's sharpshooters and were in the way of our artillery fire. The work was gallantly and thoroughly accomplished, on the night of the 20th, by a detachment of the 17th Michigan. On the night of the 23d, the enemy made an attack upon the right of our lines, and succeeded for a time in gaining considerable advantage. But at daylight on the 24th, Colonel Hartranft, with the 48th Pennsylvania and the 21st Massachusetts, made a counter assault, which was successful in driving the enemy from his advanced position and in reëstablishing our own lines of defence. On the 24th Colonel Mott, with a small cavalry force, had a smart engagement with General Wheeler, near Kingston, and inflicted upon him a serious defeat. serious defeat. On the same day Colonel Cameron was attacked, on the south side of the river, but gallantly repulsed the assault, with considerable damage to the attacking party. During this time, also, the enemy had been engaged in felling trees and adopting other means for strengthening his position. A force was detached to pass above the town, cut down trees upon the river bank, and make a raft to float down upon our pontons which connected the garrison with the troops on the opposite heights. The movement was discovered and seasonably foiled.

General Longstreet was watching every opportunity and adopting every expedient to reduce the place. General Burnside was holding on with the utmost tenacity, and though his

communications were cut, his supplies were lessening, his forces were inferior, he himself was suffering somewhat from illness, and affairs generally were gloomy, yet he never once lost his hope. At last, it became evident that an assault must be made by the enemy, or the attempt to regain East Tennessee must be abandoned. General Bragg had become alive to the magnitude of the blunder which he had made. General Grant was making his power felt upon the enemy's weakened lines in those grand operations at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, which, on the 23d, 24th and 25th of November, inaugurated the final and successful campaign against Atlanta. General Longstreet could not endure the thought of leaving his enterprise unfinished, or retiring from it baffled by an inferior force. His position had now become perilous. Grant's success made it impossible for him to rejoin Bragg. General Sherman's junction with General Grant threatened his position in the rear too seriously to be neglected. The rebel General determined to risk an assault, hoping thus to secure the long desired position and an unmolested line of retreat to Virginia. General Burnside was ready for him, and the attack came.

The day appointed was the 29th of November. The place selected for the assault was Fort Sanders. It had been strengthened by General Burnside's accomplished Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel Babcock and Captain Poe, assisted by Lieutenant Benjamin, with every art known to their profession or available for their purpose. The ditch was widened, abattis were thickly laid in front and flank, trees were felled, and wires stretched from stump to stump. It was a desperate enterprise on the part of General Longstreet, and cost the lives of many brave men to no purpose, except to prove that the defences of Knoxville were impregnable. During the night of the 28th29th, the first demonstration was made by an attack upon our skirmish line to the right of the Kingston road, which resulted in some slight advantage to the enemy. Sharp skirmishing continued nearly all night, with little result, except in annoying our troops and preventing their needed rest.

In the gray of the morning of the 29th, the assaulting column, composed of three picked brigades, appeared. The garrison of the fort was awake and ready. Reënforcements were held in readiness to throw upon any point which was too hardly pressed. It was the men of the brave Ninth Corps that held the defences the 79th New York for immediate garrison, with four companies of the 17th Michigan in support, and the men of Benjamin's and Buckley's batteries for cannoniers. It was a glorious day in the calendar of these invincible troops. Onward came the storming party-five regiments in columns by divisions closed in mass. They struck and stumbled over the wires amidst the deadly fire of our men. This obstruction was soon passed. A number fell amidst the entanglement, but the weight of the column carried it through. They came steadily on, with a courage which extorted the admiration of their antagonists. They cut away the abattis, never faltering beneath the withering musketry fire, and the destructive projectiles of the artillery. They filled the ditch. Their way was marked by carnage and death. Would nothing stop those devoted men? A few mounted the parapet. But they could go no further. Hand to hand, the conflict raged with unabated fury. One rebel, with a flag, endeavored to approach the embrasure, when Sergeant Frank Judge, of Company D, 79th New York, "seized him by the collar and dragged him with his flag into the fort." Grenades were thrown into the ditch. Lieutenant Benjamin, with his own hands, threw several lighted shells over the parapet among the masses of the struggling enemy. "It stilled them down," the Lieutenant said.

But even this stubborn resistance was not enough to stop the advancing troops. Two guns in the bastion poured triple rounds of canister in their faces. A gun upon the flank swept the ditch. Still they continued to press forward, until convinced that the attempt was useless, the assaulting column retired. But, as another column came up in support, the attack was renewed. The enemy was desperate, but our men were equally resolute. A more savage contest than the first, if that

were possible, took place. The former scenes were reenacted, with yells and shouts and most infernal tumult. The storming party again filled the ditch, and some, more daring than their companions, climbed the parapet and succeeded in placing three of the enemy's flags there. It was a short lived triumph. The flags were quickly torn away. The foe met with a terrible resistance. Muskets were clubbed-bayonets, sabres, and even axes were employed in the dreadful work. A more determined valor has not been displayed on either side during the war than this fight in the trenches and in front of Fort Sanders. Mortal men could endure it but a brief period. The second assault was no more fortunate than the first. The enemy's column faltered, hesitated, stopped, was hopelessly broken, and at last retired in great confusion. One company of the 20th Michigan from the right, and one company of the 29th Massachusetts from the left, advanced into the ditch and captured two hundred prisoners and two flags. General Longstreet had attempted too much. He had sent his chosen men to useless slaughter. He was told, in fire and blood, that Knoxville could not be taken. He drew off his forces from the scene of his defeat. General Burnside, with characteristic humanity, immediately after the fight, directed General Potter to send a flag of truce, offering the enemy the privilege of removing the wounded and dead from the scene of the conflict. The permission was courteously acknowledged, the slightly wounded and others wounded and captured in previous engagements were exchanged, the dead were taken away and buried, and, before night, Fort Sanders had resumed its wonted aspect. The enemy's loss in this assault 'was nearly or quite one thousand four hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners, of whom three hundred unhurt fell into our hands. Our loss in the fort was eight killed, five. wounded, and about thirty captured.*

*No less than ninety-six dead bodies were found in the ditch and within three or four yards of it. One regiment that was totally annihilated, and whose flag fell into our hands, was ascertained to be the 17th Mississippi, which had opposed the crossing at Fredericksburg.

A simultaneous attack was made by one brigade of the enemy upon our forces under General Shackleford upon the south side of the river, which was attended with some slight advantage to the enemy at first, but was finally repulsed with severe loss.

This action and its results were particularly creditable to the troops engaged, to Lieutenant Benjamin, who was in immediate command of the artillery, and to General Ferrero, who commanded that portion of our defensive line. Lieutenant Benjamin had prepared and armed the earthwork with great care, and had taken every precaution against surprise. The fort stood at the angle of our line to the southwest of the town, about a mile out and north of the main Kingston road. It was armed with four 20-pound Parrotts, four light 12-pounders, and two 3-inch guns, and well fitted with traverses. A hill a short distance from the work to the south was armed with two guns from Captain Buckley's battery. The northwest bastion was the salient. The fort was open in the rear and flanked by rifle pits. The parapet was partially covered with brush, for purposes of concealment, and the embrasures were arranged in such a way as to enable our officers, by removing a few shovelfuls of earth, to train the guns upon the approaches to the northwest bastion, which became the enemy's point of attack. The enemy ran a parallel about three hundred yards distant from the bastion, about half enveloping it. He also posted batteries, varying from seven hundred to fifteen hundred yards' distance from the fort, upon its different fronts :—on the west, one battery of six 12-pounders and another of one 20-pound Parrott; on the north, one battery of two 20-pound Parrotts and two 3-inch guns, and two batteries of two guns each; across the Holston one battery of six guns.

The prisoners taken belonged to eleven different regiments, with an estimated strength of from two hundred to four hundred each. The officers reported that there were two brigades to watch and fire upon our lines, one brigade to assault, and two more to support the attack. Two brigades actually reached

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