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Old 06 Oct 17, 01:26
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Union Mills, 1200hrs

Map

Gardner's men scramble to fire their shots against the infantry approaching the ford. One shot is effective, tearing into the head of the approaching column, while the other goes harmlessly wide. The enemy infantry divide up into smaller columns as they close on the ford. Gardner's battery gets off a second shot in its new record time, bolts flying against the battery of 6 pounders even now preparing to fire their own shots. For once, the luck of the battery is off, and the shots go harmlessly wide.

As the artillery duel begins, the infantry digs in their current positions, with Captain Finch's men proving to be just a bit quicker at it by virtue of their implements....with only one rank of three digging they still manage to equal the others in building a trench and breastworks for their company. The Tigers immediately start stealing what cover the Tarheels have accumulated as the Tarheels mount up and ride to their reserve position. It won't be long before the Brigade has a fortified position overlooking the Ford.

The Union Battery returns their first shots against Gardner's Battery, two of them so wide it's unknown what the gunners might have been aiming at, and only one of them gets remotely close, striking the hill below the position. Gardner's rifles respond, and again the shots are not close enough to do damage to the battery, though with one long and one short the range has been found.

The Grenadier Guards light cook fires and begin to heat up their ham and cornbread in an open insult to the Yankee's ability to either hit them with fire or advance to their position at the grove by Signal Hill. Lt. Col. Fawcett sends his missive to General Beauregard, not knowing whether the General will be at his headquarters or at some new front forming on that supposed left flank of the army.

As the Federal battery fires again, Gardner can see glimpses of more caissons in the smoke, and spots the tube of a larger gun, possibly a 10 pounder, wheeling behind the current battery. One shot from the 6lb battery lands only a couple of feet from the battery, nearly taking off a wheel and sending rock shards into the leg of one of the gunners, putting him down for the moment. The return fire strikes one of the 10lb guns moving behind, the carriage going down on its side as traces are cut to keep the panicked horses from damaging it further.

As the infantry continues to prepare positions, one more exchange of shots is made, and once again a brave Confederate gunner is struck, this time with the bolt itself, cleanly severing his arm at the elbow as he moves to return from bringing a bolt to his own gun. The return fire dismounts a 6lbder, splinters taking down several of its crew. Gardner observes the second battery, of 5 guns, now wheeling into positions, crews leaping to their own tasks.
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