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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 764 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

more than a few files of his men at one view, and it was apparent that any effort to halt and reform the entire brigade would be futile, and would only serve to produce increased confusion. But whatever the error of the men in advancing two rapidly in disregard of previous orders to the contrary, it was an error upon the side of bravery.

After advancing in this way probably 1,000 or 1,200 yards, crossing two bodies of woods and a small intermediate field, the lines suddenly emerged into another field, facing a battery of the enemy, consisting of not less than eight pieces, distant but a few hundred yards, whole the enemy's infantry were found protected by an imperfect and hastily constructed breastwork and a house near by. At the same time it became apparent that another battery of the enemy was posted a considerable distance to our left. These two batteries and the enemy's infantry poured and incessant fire of shell, grape, canister, and lead upon my line, and did much execution; still there was no perceptible faltering in the advance of these brave men, who rushed across the open field, pouring a well-directed fire into the enemy, driving him from his breastworks and the battery in our front. The guns of the battery were abandoned to us for the time being, and my command was in virtual possession of the chosen position of the enemy. A more impetuous and desperate charge was never made than that of my small command against the sheltered and greatly superior forces of the enemy. The ground which they gained from the enemy is marked by the graves of some of my veterans, who were buried where they fell; and those graves marked with the names of the occupants, situated at and near the position of the enemy, show the points at which they dashed against the strongholds of the retreating foe.

It is proper to be stated here that the left of my line was entirely unsupported, and greatly to my surprise and disappointment, for I had supposed that the movement of my brigade was part of a general advance of our entire lines. Up to this time no firing was heard upon my left except the firing of the enemy, which was directed upon my line with telling effect.

Afterward, at a late hour, I found the right regiment of the Second Brigade (on the right of which I had originally formed) standing fast at or near the position it occupied in the beginning, and near the line from which my advance was begun. I was informed that this regiment had remained from the first in that position, having received no subsequent orders to move forward. I trust that I shall not be understood as alleging or intimating any delinquency upon the part of the Second Brigade, and I certainly do not undertake to say at what time that brigade, commanded by Colonel Jenkins, advanced; but if its advance was simultaneous with my own, it must have happened that the lines of advance of the two brigades were so divergent as to leave a wide interval between the right of the one and the left of the other. Whatever were the operations of the Second Brigade, they were doubtless in keeping with its proud character in the past and that of its gallant commander.

All that I undertake to state positively in this connection is that the right regiment of the Second Brigade did not advance for a long time after my brigade had been moved forward, and that at the time when my command had obtained virtual possession of the enemy's position no Confederate troops were anywhere visible except my own.

It now became evident that the position sought to be held by my command was wholly untenable by them unless largely and immediately re-enforced. The inferior number which had alarmed the enemy


Page 764 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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