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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 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
Page 643 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

effect of the fire of our artillery, this brigade lying behind that of General Ripley, in reserve, with Colquitt's still in our rear. The concentrated fire of two of the enemy's batteries from the hill was too heavy for the single battery (Moorman's) which we opposed to them.

Late in the afternoon orders were communicated that the commander-in-chief had selected a position from which our artillery could enfilade the enemy's batteries; that the effect of our fire could be seen, and that when the enemy's guns were crippled or silenced a general advance of the infantry would be ordered. The enfilading fire soon commenced, and the commander of this division, accompanied by several of the brigade commanders, including, the writer, went to a point from which the effect could be observed. So far from producing marked effect,the firing was so wild that we were returning to our posts under the impression that no movement of infantry would be ordered, when suddenly one or two brigades, belonging to a division on our right (either Magruder's or Huger's), charged out of the woods toward the right with a shout. Major-General Hill at once exclaimed, "That must be the general advance! Bring up your brigades as soon as possible and join in it." Hurrying back to my own brigade, I moved it down the road by the flank to the edge of the field over which the enemy's batteries were playing and filing out to my right formed line of battle. I was then ordered to advance and charge the batteries, which were some 800 or 900 yards off on a commanding hill, straight to the front, supported by two lines of infantry. There was no cover, and the ground nearest the enemy was plowed. Anderson's, Ripley's, and Rodes' brigades, Gordon commanding, had proceeded farther down the road, thus keeping under partial cover, and approaching somewhat nearer and on the right of the enemy position. When ordered forward I saw no troops of our own in front of me.

The brigade moved forward with alacrity about half way to the battery or nearer, when the terrible fire of artillery and the opening fire of the infantry induced it to halt, lie down, and commence firing without my orders and contrary to them. The fire of the enemy was very severe, and being satisfied that the exhibition of force presented by a single brigade on that front was not sufficient to intimidate the foe nor to carry the position. I sent my acting aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Haywood, to inform Major General D. H. Hill that unless I was re-enforced quickly I could effect nothing and could not hold the position I then occupied. After some delay a brigade appeared from the woods in my rear and seemed coming up to my support. But their movements seemed slow, and before they reached me my men began to give way, and very many ceased to respond to my efforts to hold them in line and maintain the position. Remaining on the spot until, in spite of every effort, the men could no longer be held there, the brigade fell back to the edge of the woods from which we had started.

It is not my desire to indulge in criticism or crimination. It is enough to say that there was somehow a want of concert and co-operation in the whole affair that made a successful attack impracticable and the consequent disorder and straggling of troops most lamentable. My own brigade went up as far as any troops I saw upon the field and behaved as well. If they retired, so did all the rest who were ordered to charge the battery. The whole division became scattered.

As night closed in General Ripley, Colonels Gordon and Colquitt (commanding brigades), and myself set to work in concert to collect our commands together and bivouacked them in a place of security.

Next morning we found that the enemy were themselves so far dam-


Page 643 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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