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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 36, Part 1 (Wilderness-Cold Harbor)
Page 1073 Chapter XLVIII. RAPIDAN TO THE JAMES.

deadly fire poured on his right flank. Accordingly Harris' (Mississippi) brigade, which came to my assistance about 9 a.m., was sent to Ramseur's right, but as it still failed to fill the trenches, McGowan's (South Carolina) brigade, which arrived an hour later, was ordered to the same point. Only part of this brigade succeeded in reaching the trenches and joining Harris' brigade. Spite of the terrible flank fire to which they were yet exposed, the brave troops of these three brigades held their ground till 3 a.m. of May 13, when ordered back to the new line. General Daniel was killed and General Ramseur severely wounded early in the day, but the latter refused to leave the field.

The nature of the struggle will be apparent from the fact that after the loss of Johnson's division (before sunrise) my force barely numbered 8,000, the re-enforcements about 1,500 more. General Edward Johnson estimated the enemy's force at this part of the field at over 40,000, and I have every reason to believe this a moderate calculation. The engagement was spoken of in Northern papers as a general attack by their army. It was met only by my corps and three brigades sent to my aid, and after lasting with unintermitted vigor from 4.30 a.m. till 4 p.m. of May 12, ceased by degrees, leaving us in possession of two-thirds of the works first taken from us and of four of the captured guns, which the enemy had been unable to haul off. These guns were withdrawn by hand to the McCool house, and General Long was directed to send after them at night. Major Page, whom he instructed to get them, left the duty to an ordnance sergeant, who failed to find them, and they were again allowed to fall into the enemy's hands.

As it was unadvisable to continue efforts to retake the Salient with the force at my command, a new line was laid out during the day by General Lee's chief engineer some 800 yards in rear of the first and constructed at night. After midnight my forces were quietly withdrawn to it and artillery placed in position; but his efforts and losses on the 12th seemed to have exhausted the enemy, and all was quiet till May 18, when a strong force advanced past the McCool house toward our new line. When well within range General Long opened upon them with thirty pieces of artillery, which, with the fire of our skirmishers, broke and drove them back with severe loss. We afterward learned that they were two fresh divisions, nearly 10,000 strong just come up from the rear.

On May 19 General Lee directed me to demonstrate against the enemy in my front, as he believed they were moving to his right and wished to ascertain. As they were strongly entrenched in front I obtained leave to move round their right. After a detour of several miles through roads impassable for my artillery I came on the enemy prepared to receive me. My force was about 6,000, his much larger. His position being developed and my object attained, I was about to retire, when he attacked me. Part of my line was shaken, but Pegram's brigade, of Early's division (Colonel Hoffman commanding), and Ramseur's, of Rodes', held their ground so firmly that I maintained my position till night-fall, then withdrew unmolested. My loss was about 900 killed, wounded, and missing.

Next day General Early returned to his division and General Gordon was put in command of one composed of his own brigade and the remnants of Johnson's division. Hoke's brigade (Colonel Lewis commanding) returned to Early's division, and the Twenty-first

68 R R-VOL XXXVI.


Page 1073 Chapter XLVIII. RAPIDAN TO THE JAMES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 36, Part 1 (Wilderness-Cold Harbor)
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