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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 38, Part 3 (The Atlanta Campaign)
Page 842 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.

person that the movement would begin on the right, and that before making the charge that his brigade would make a change of direction to the left, so that each regiment would attack the force left obliquely to its front. In accordance with this plan the Eighteenth Alabama, which was on my right, advanced first, making a change of direction to the left, to which my regiment conformed; so when the right of my lines was 200 yards in front of the breast-works the left was about half the distance. After a halt of a few moments to rectify the alignment by the left, the order was given by General Clayton, who was near the right of my regiment, and repeated along the line, "Forward, guide left, march." The enemy began a heavy fire of shell, grape, and canister from the time we began to advance. We first encountered the heavy line of skirmishers, which was driven rapidly back on the line of battle. Although exposed to a very heavy fire of canister and musketry, I never saw my regiment move on drill with better order than they did in this charge. They did not begin to fire until within seventy or eighty yards of the lines of the enemy, and they continued to press forward until within twenty yards of the line of the enemy under a most galling fire. The line and position of the enemy could by only imperfectly seen, on account of the small pines and other dense undergrowth. We held our advanced position for several minutes; fired four or five rounds, when the men began to give way and retreat was inevitable.

I refer to the appended list to show better than I can describe in language the gallantry with which my men obeyed the order to forward.

I did not retire until the regiments on my right and left had been repulsed and I saw that further efforts would only involve a useless sacrifice of life.

While in the most advanced position Lieutenant Stewart, who commands a company in the Eighteenth Alabama, reported to me on the right of my regiment that his regiment had gone back, and he wished to report with a part of his company to me. His men, six or eight in number, fought very gallantly and retired only with my regiment. I think it due to Lieutenant Stewart to commend especially his gallantry, but I wish to do so without making any reflection on the remainder of his regiment.

I claim only for my regiment that, with a full knowledge of the superior forces massed in their front, they advanced with cool and deliberate gallantry, and that they endured all that brave men can be expected to do; that they retired only after it was apparent that it were vain to struggle longer, and that if I had persisted longer in the charge it could have resulted only in a failure and the entire destruction of my command; but as the conduct of my regiment was under the immediate observation of the brigade commander, who shared their dangers, I will leave it to him to make such a report thereon as he thinks their conduct deserves. In this charge I believe every officer of my command did his duty, and if there was any shirking on the part of a single man it escaped my observation.

I regret to state that Major Harry Thornton is among the number of the wounded, but his wound, though disabling for several weeks, perhaps, is not dangerous. He endeavored to remain with the regiment, but after a trial of several days he was compelled to go to the rear.

We were unable to bring off many of our dead and wounded, on account of the nearness of their bodies to the enemy's lines; but under the circumstances this was unavoidable.


Page 842 THE ATLANTA CAMPAIGN. Chapter L.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 38, Part 3 (The Atlanta Campaign)
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