Directly in front and to your left, Confederate Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke's division, on loan from the Army of Northern Virginia, blocked the old Goldsboro Road (now Harper House Road) to deflect the oncoming Union advance. The division was a mixed bag of veterans of Gettysburg and Cold Harbor, "Red Infantry" (artillery units from Fort Fisher and other coastal forts who served as infantry during the battle), and teenage boys formed into three regiments as a last-ditch Southern effort.
Late in the afternoon of March 19, Hoke's Division attacked Union Brig. Gen. James D. Morgan's line in the swampy, brier-infested area south of the road, the "Bull Pen" (to your right). With limited visibility, much hand-to-hand combat ensued. As fighting intensified north of the road, McLaws's Division was removed from Hoke's far left to assist Gen. William Hardee - a tactical error, as Hardee did not use the division. Morgan's northern salient began to crumble under mounting pressure from Hoke's line and Maj. Gen. D.H. Hill's division. Yet the arrival of Union reinforcements of the XX Corps, and lack of Confederate initiative to seize the moment, doomed Southern efforts.
"For a time it seemed as though all was lost?.A yell of indignation resounded in our ears when every man flew to his pos. determined to shed his life's blood on that consecrated spot rather than give an inch?and the rebellious hosts came pressing on."
- William Kemp, 98th Ohio.
"In a few moments they charged again with redoubled fury, all along the right and right center of the line. In our immediate front they were again repulsed, with terrible loss and the Fourteenth Michigan and Sixtieth Illinois, on our immediate right, charged their broken line in turn and drove them in confusion back over their own works?."
- Capt. Herman Lund, 16th Illinois.
"The charge [of Hoke's Division] was desperate and persistent, and the roar of musketry, as it rolled up from that low wood, was incessant?the smoke obscured everything in front?.Here the view was not a cheerful one. On the opposite side of [a clearing], at perhaps twenty-five yards' distance, was a body of unmistakably rebel troops, marching by the flank in column of fours, towards the right."
- Lt. Col. Alexander C. McClurg, chief of staff, Union VIV Corps.