Ashby opened the battle at 9:00 am. When Kimball moved his troops south, he saw the great strength of Pritchard's Hill, and placed 12 batteries of artillery there. After skirmishing with Ashby for 1 ½ hours, the Confederates fell back and reported to Jackson more forces would be required. Jackson came up with his men, and saw that Pritchard's Hill was key to the position. So putting his men in line, he decided to try to capture the hill by attacking it with two brigades. However, the Federal artillery broke the ranks of the assistants, defeating their attack. Jackson decided to instead try to flank the hill on the Confederate left by capturing Sandy Ridge, which was 100 feet higher. After an artillery bombardment, Jackson sent his men forward. Kimball reinforced the men on Sandy Ridge with a brigade under Colonel Erastus B. Tyler. When Tyler's men reached the ridge, they encountered just one regiment of Confederates behind a stone wall. He ordered his men to charge, without even moving into line of battle. The Confederate volleys broke the formation, and sent the men on their stomachs to escape the Confederate fire. However, the pressure of numbers soon began to toll, but another Confederate regiment came up at just the right time to stabilize the line. The line along the wall continued to be reinforced, and by 4:30 pm it was clear to Kimball that Tyler's brigade would not be able to break the Confederate line. He decided to send in three regiments of troops that had been guarding the artillery on Pritchard's Hill. They hit the Confederate right flank on Sandy Ridge, at right angles to the stone wall. A Federal soldier remembered this:
We were soon at the top-when a scene presented itself that I never will forget. Immediately in front of our whole lines, at a distance of perhaps 80 or 90 yards, was a long wreath of blue smoke settled over a low stone wall – out of this a fire flashed constantly. Between our line and this wall the dead and wounded lay in heaps, while clustered around the starts and stripes, a few heroic blue jackets still fought desperately-some standing, some kneeling, and other lying at full length; but all apparently determined to die right there.
The Union regiments charged and gained a foothold on Sandy Ridge, although they did not break the Confederate line. By this time it was 6:00. The Confederates had suffered heavy casualties and were running out of ammunition. Some soldiers decided to cease fighting and retreat. Jackson met one of these men going to the rear.
One of our company in going to the rear was encountered by General Jackson who inquired where he was going. He answered, that he had shot all his ammunition away, and did not know where to get more. Old Stonewall rose in his stirrups, and gave the command, "Then go back and give them the bayonet," and rode off to the front.Soon it was not just a few privates that were retreating. Richard Garnett, commander of the Stonewall Brigade on Sandy Ridge, decided of his own accord to retreat without consulting Jackson. He was being attacked on the flank and was out of ammunition. With the Stonewall Brigade gone, the rest of the Confederates on the field soon followed their example. By this time it was getting dark, and a Federal pursuit was unable to catch Jackson while retreating.
|Stone wall on Sandy Ridge|
|Rise in Sandy Ridge|