Graphic Account of Battle of Crater. 363
by sergeants, some of the companies having been so depleted that they had been merged into other companies.
After we had crawled up in front of the fort, and about two hun- dred yards therefrom, we lay down flat on the ground, and our batteries in rear opened fire on the enemy's artillery in order to draw their fire. This was done that we might charge without be- ing subjected to their artillery fire, in addition to that of the fort and the main line, which was only eighty yards beyond the fort.
But the enemy appeared to understand our object and declined to reply.
Our guns soon ceased firing, and we at once arose and moved forward, as directed, in quick time, at a trail arms, with bayonets fixed.
In a short distance we came in view of the enemy both infan- try and artillery and then was presented one of the most awfully grand and cruel spectacles of that terrible war. One brigade of 628 men was charging a fort in an open field, filled with the en- emy to the number of 5,000 and supported by a park of artillery said to number 50 pieces. The line of advance was in full view of the two armies, and in range of the guns of fully 20,000 men, in- cluding both sides. When we came within range we saw the flash of the sunlight on the enemy's guns, as they were leveled above the walls of the wrecked fort. Then came a stream of fire and the awful roar of battle. This volley seemed to awaken the de- mons of hell, and appeared to be the signal for everbody within range to commence firing. We raised a yell and made a dash in order to get under the walls of the fort before their artillery could open upon us, but in this we were unsuccessful. The air seemed literally filled with missiles.
The Virginians, Georgians and South Carolinians commenced firing from the flanks of the fort and at the enemy's main line, as did our artillery, and the enemy's infantry and artillery from all sides opened upon us.
"INTO THE MOUTH OF HELL CHARGED THE Six HUNDRED."
On we went, as it seemed to us, literally "into the mouth of hell." When we got to the walls of the fort we dropped on the ground to get the men in order and let them get their breath. While waiting we could hear the Yankee officers in the fort trying to encourage their men, telling them among other things to "remember Fort