as in close order, with the commander still riding in front, this column of Union infantry moved majestically in the charge. In a few minutes they were within easy range of our rifles, and some of my impatient men asked permission to fire. "Not yet," I replied. "Wait for the order." Soon they were so close that we might have seen the eagles on their buttons; but my brave and eager boys still waited for the order. Now the front rank was within a few rods of where I stood. It would not do to wait another second, and with all my lung power I shouted " Fire !" My rifles flamed and roared in the Federals' faces like a blinding blaze of lightning accompanied by the quick and deadly thunderbolt. The effect was appalling. The entire front line, with few exceptions, went down in the consuming blast. The gallant commander and his horse fell in a heap near where I stood--the horse dead, the rider unhurt. Before his rear lines could recover from the terrific shock, my exultant men were on their feet, devouring them with successive volleys. Even then these stubborn blue lines retreated in fairly good order. My front had been cleared; Lee's centre had been saved; and yet not a drop of blood had been lost by my men. The result, however, of this first effort to penetrate the Confederate centre, did not satisfy the intrepid Union commander.
|The Sunken Road from above|
Go back, young man, and tell General McClellan I have no command! Tell him my command, Bank's command, and Hooker's command are all cut up and demoralized. Tell him General Franklin has the only organized command on this part of the field!McClellan came from his headquarters himself to make the decision, and he sided with Sumner. He was too cautious to hazard an attack, and decided that they would just have to hold on to what they gained. He did not understand that he still outnumbered the Confederates, and the rebels were just holding on by a thin thread. No more attacks would be made on the left or center. Both sides had paid dearly for the fight over the Sunken Road. 5,600 men from both sides were either killed or wounded. So many Confederates had fallen in the road that it was said you cold walk from one end to the other on the bodies. After the battle it was given the ominous name of Bloody Lane.