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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)
Page 666 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

battery was attempting to cover their rally, but Major Seddon and his Irish Battalion wrested a 3-inch rifle gun from them and bore it off. The Fourth Brigade secured another. The Forty-second is entitled to the credit of capturing the colors of the attacking brigade, which was Sickles' Excelsior, having run over them after the enemy. The flag was taken up by the Fourth Brigade and I do not claim it for the Forty-second. Returning to the first position, we held it that night.

The next day (Saturday, the 30th) the division was formed on the same ground, but in order Third, First, Second, Fourth, placing my brigade on precisely the same ground it held on Friday. During the morning the enemy sullenly felt along our line at long range with his artillery, occasionally making feints with infantry, which did not seem to be pressed with vigor, and it was difficult to understand whether he was whipped or not. He, however, took possession of Groveton, from which Hood had driven him, and the skirt of woods which we had carried, where Major Seddon captured the gun the preceding evening. I could see that some movements were being made in that skirt of woods as early as 8 a. m., and during the day had frequent reports made to me to that effect. I therefore placed the Forty-second, Captain Penn, in the railroad cut, and having assigned Captain [W. W.] Goldsborough, of the late First Maryland (my old command), who was serving with me as volunteer, to the Forty-eighth, as adjutant, put it in a copse which ran at right angles from the railroad and the right of the Forty-second, and fronted the woods in which the enemy were obviously making some movement. These positions overlooked the enemy everywhere, and being very strong, were the ones I had determined to take and hold if attacked. The Twenty-first and Irish Battalion I held in reserve, concealed in the woods on the hill, carefully instructing the officers at the order to charge without firing a shot.

About 4 p. m. the movements of the enemy were suddenly developed in a decided manner. They stormed my position, deploying in the woods in brigade front and then charging in a run, line after line, brigade after brigade, up the hill on the thicket held by the Forty-eighth and the railroad cut occupied by the Forty-second; but as they uncovered from the wood in which they had been massing during the whole day I ordered the Twenty-first and Irist Battalion to charge, which they did with empty guns. I halted them under the shelter of the cut, where, with the forty-second, they held back the enormous force pressing up the hill on them. Lieutenant Dabney had unfortunately been wounded early in the day, and Captain Goldsborough, whom I had ordered to take command, had fallen by me side in the charge, leaving the Forty-eighth without a superior officer with them, and they consequently were soon driven out by the tremendous odds against them; but for a short time the three regiments above named, viz, the Forty-second, Twenty-first, and Irish Battalion, by themselves breasted the storm, driving back certainly twenty times their numbers. As soon as their position was known the rest of the division came to their support, except the Third Brigade, which, under Colonel Taliaferro, was employed in whipping a division by itself. Before the railroad cut the fight was most obstinate. I saw a Federal flag hold its position for half an hour within 10 yards of a flag of one of the regiments in the cut and go down six or eight times, and after the fight 100 dead were lying 20 yards from the cut, some of them within 2 feet of it. The men fought until their ammunition was exhausted and then threw stones. Lieutenant Lewis Randolph, of the battalion, killed one with a stone, and I saw him after the fight with his skull fractured. Dr. Richard P. Johnson, on my volun-


Page 666 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)
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