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Page 259 of The Seventh regiment Rhode Island volunteers in the civil war, 1862-1865

FROM FORT HELL INTO PETERSBURG. 259 Fort Mahone, whereby three of the nine officers present were killed. Having safely established his own, he returned for his other three remaining regiments, and led them in person, extending his line toward the left. By this time the firing had considerably slackened. It required nearly two hours to get the brigade into good shape for another assault, as some of the men, though only slightly wounded, had dropped into ditches during his advance. He now (about five p. m.), having previously sent out three or four small reconnoitering parties, reported in writing to General Parke that there was no enemy in his immediate front for a mile, and asked permission to advance to the town. The reply was promptly returned, "Go ahead! I will support you on both flanks." Just as his dispositions were made, however, and he was about to move forward in a line of battle, a circular order was received from General Grant (who was several miles distant, and, therefore unaware of our success) directing all corps and independent commanders to hold the position then occupied, and make a general advance at daylight on the morrow. The colonel's heart went down into his boots, for he felt sure that if the commanding general had known the true condition of affairs, General Parke could have taken Petersburg that afternoon, and seriously interfered with Lee's retreat across the river. Indeed, it is probable his entire left wing would have been captured and the surrender would have occurred long before Appomatox Court House was reached. By this time we who still remained in the fort noting the huge columns of black smoke, heavy and sullen, that were rising from Petersburg and to the north, had concluded a stunning blow had been given the Confederacy. Our flags were floating on the rebel works, and, as daylight faded into darkness, we hopefully watched them, clinging closer and closer to their eagle-peaked staffs until they were lost in the gloom. Thus closed that wild, stormy Sabbath, a day of blood, carnage, and victory. During the day Dr. Sprague was operating in the large bombproof. He had three times as many wounded as he could attend to. Most of the time the Johnnies continued pouring shot and shell into our fort and into its immediate vicinity. It was nearly noon before the colonel had an opportunity to visit his quarters to partake of a hasty breakfast. Our picket guard was changed just before dark. By this time men who had straggled away during the day were brought back and sent to their regiments, so that our line on the rebel works was again strongly manned. During the night the destruction within the city continued, and the sky was beautifully crimsoned by the many fires. Late in the evening, wrapped in their blankets, the entire regiment save details on duty, laid themselves down beside the

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