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His sharpshooters were scattered through the swamp, and did good execution. The 27th Massachusetts sought them out in their lurking places and dislodged them.
Meanwhile, General Reno, with all the ardor of his nature, was hurrying up his brigade. If there was any man who felt. "the rapture of battle," it was the brave commander of the 2d Brigade. His men felt the influence of his enthusiastic spirit, and were eager to join the fray. General Reno ordered his troops to the left, with the intention of turning the right of the battery. The movement was accordingly made as well as it could be, considering the state of the ground. The troops found themselves entangled in a morass, where the water and mud were waist-deep, and in which almost the only firm places were the clumps of bushes, briars, and coarse grass that were scattered through the swamp. The advance in this difficult movement was taken by two companies of the 21st Massachusetts, led by Colonel Maggi and Adjutant Stearns, the latter of whom gives the following account of the attack: "General Reno came to Colonel Maggi, and, pointing to a dense, almost impenetrable cypress swamp, said: Colonel, you must flank the battery.' Colonel Maggi led the way, I followed, then Captain Foster leading his company. After an hour of almost superhuman effort, cutting bushes with our swords, and wading to our middle in bogs and water, two companies got on to the flank of the battery and began the fire." Three companies of the 51st New York, under Lieutenant Colonel Potter, followed this movement, and took position to the left of Colonel Maggi's force. The enemy, not anticipating the advance of our troops in this direction, was somewhat surprised at their appearance. It was but for a moment. He quickly trained his guns upon the men in the swamp and on the cleared ground immediately around his works. A fearful storm of grape and canister fell around our men. But they pushed steadily on, and finally reached a position where they could turn and possibly capture the battery, by a steady, well supported charge. General Reno coolly formed his line amid the heaviest of the
enemy's fire. Colonel Ferrero brought up the remainder of the 51st, and formed on the left. Major Clark brought up the remainder of the 21st, and formed on the right, relieving the two companies that had been engaged in the unequal conflict with the enemy's battery. It was now about half past one o'clock in the afternoon. The troops had been struggling through the swampy ground for two or three hours, but were ready for the further duty of the day.
While these movements were making on our left, General Foster was occupying the attention of the enemy immediately in front. The troops had advanced within short range, the naval battery steadily keeping its place in the line. The 25th Massachusetts, which had suffered quite severely, was now withdrawn, and the 10th Connecticut took its place. The 23d and 27th Massachusetts skirmished through the woods and the morass upon the right, coming full upon a battalion of the enemy and forcing it back. The 51st Pennsylvania was held in reserve. The 24th Massachusetts, which arrived from Hatteras and landed during the forenoon, was hastened up from the landing to take part in the engagement. The 23d and 27th Massachusetts succeeded, after great exertion, in penetrating the swamp and woods on our right, and in reaching, with some loss, the cleared ground upon the enemy's left. The 9th New York, of General Parke's brigade, under Major Kimball, pushed its way slowly through the underbrush to the right, then deflecting towards the road again, advanced along the edge of the causeway.
General Burnside, at the landing, now sent forward General Parke's brigade to the support of the forces combining for the grand final attack. General Parke, immediately upon his arrival, ordered the 4th Rhode Island to follow the 23d and 27th Massachusetts in the demonstration upon the enemy's left. With the utmost toil, through mud and water half-leg deepsometimes nearly waist-deep-the men struggled through the morass. The 8th Connecticut occupied the woods to the north and east of the landing, guarding the main road to prevent
any movement of the enemy in our rear. The 5th Rhode Island guarded Ashby's house, now occupied as a hospital. Such was the state of affairs when General Reno prepared, soon after one o'clock in the afternoon, to charge the enemy's battery upon its right flank. It had required hard fighting and persistent struggling through a swamp and wood, that the enemy had considered impenetrable, to reach this point. The artillery of the enemy's battery had been well served, and his infantry had shown great pluck and determination. But our men had been gradually enveloping his position, attacking him in front and on both flanks, and his time had come.
General Reno, having got his brigade into position, ordered the charge. Away went the 21st Massachusetts and the 51st New York, followed closely by the remainder of the brigade. They advanced most gallantly and with great enthusiasm. The courage of veterans could not have been more conspicuous as these brave men rushed forward to storm "the deadly breach." Onward they went. Adjutant Stearns describes the charge as "magnificent." "As our noble men advanced with bayonets fixed, at a short quick step, a low, involuntary cry burst from their lips. It was no war cry; it was a cry of exultation, of joy, which came leaping from a thousand hearts, swelling into a perfect storm of cheers."* The troops moved rapidly over the ground in front, leaped down into the ditch, struggled through, clambered up the parapet, poured through the embrasures, drove out the enemy at the point of the bayonet, and, with thundering shouts of triumph, planted the colors of their respective regiments and the national flag upon the captured works. Generals Foster and Parke, observing from their position in front that the enemy was somewhat embarassed by General Reno's appearance upon his right flank, ordered the 9th New York to charge. Then almost at the same time the enemy was taken upon his front and flank. The Zouaves rushed forward with their peculiar cry of "Zou! Zou !”—their
* Adjutant Stearns, p. 92.