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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 1082 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter XLVIII.

On the 9th, 10th, and 11th constant and sometimes heavy skirmishing with the enemy.

In anticipation of an attack on my front on the morning of May 12, I had my brigade under arms at early dawn. Very soon I heard a terrible assault on my right. From the direction of the fire I soon discovered the enemy was gaining ground. I therefore moved the Second North Carolina Regiment, which I had in reserve, to a position on the right perpendicular to my line of battle. The enemy had broken entirely through Major-General Johnson's lines and was massing his troops for a farther advance. Major-General Rodes directed me to check the enemy's advance and to drive him back. To do this I formed my brigade in a line parallel tot he two lines of works (which the enemy had taken and were holding) in the following order: On the right, Thirtieth North Carolina, Colonel Parker; on the left, Fourteenth North Carolina, Colonel Bennett; right center. Second North Carolina, Colonel Cox; left center, Fourth North Carolina, Colonel Grimes. This formation was made under a severe fire.

Before ordering the charge I cautioned the men to keep the alignment, not to fire, to move slowly until the command "Charge," and then to move forward on the run, shouting "charge," and not to pause until both lines of works were ours.

How gallantly and succesfully my orders were executed Major-General Rodes and Lieutenant-General Ewell can testify, for they both witnessed it. Two lines of Yankees were driven pell-mell out and over both lines of our original works with great loss. This was done without any assistance on my immediate right. The enemy still held the breast-works on my right, enfilading my line with a destructive fire, at the same time heavily assaulting my right front. In this extremity Colonel Bennett, Fourteenth North Carolina, offered to take his regiment from left to right under a severe fire, and drive back the growing masses of the enemy on my right. This bold and hazardous offer was accepted as a forlorn hope. It was successfully executed; the enemy was driven from my immediate right, and the works were held, notwithstanding the enemy still enfiladed my line from a part of our works in front of Harris' brigade, on my right, which he held until the last. For this all honor is due to Colonel Bennett and the gallant officers and men of his regiment. The enemy was driven out at 7.30 a.m. on the 12th. We held the works under a direct and enfilade fire until 3 a.m. on the 13th, when, in obedience to orders, I withdrew to a new line.

In this action I cannot too highly commend the conduct of both officers and men. Having had my horse shot under me, and shortly after receiving a ball through my arm, I was prevented from giving the command to charge. Colonel Grimes, Fourth North Carolina, seeing this, his regiment being battalion of direction, gave the command "Charge" exactly at the right time. To Colonels Parker, Grimes, Bennett, and Cox, to the gallant officers and patriotic men of my little brigade, the country owes much for the successful charge, which I verily believe turned the fortune of the day at that point in our favor. Our loss here was severe. From the 13th to 19th lay in line on the left of our corps.

About 3 p.m. [on May 19] the corps was moved across the Ny River to attack the enemy in flank and rear. My brigade was in front. Some half hour after the enemy discovered our movement, and when further delay, as I thought, would cause disaster, I offered


Page 1082 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter XLVIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 36, Part 1 (Wilderness-Cold Harbor)
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