the entrance of the road leading to and half a mile from the intended destination of our troops. Here we were halted and ordered to remain till further orders.
At the dawn of day orders reached us to resume our march for the landing. Immediately our forces were under arms and wading through the ponds of water that intercepted our march; but we had not proceeded far when another order from the commanding officer met us, directing us to fall back again to the spot that we had just left, where we remained till 1 p.m..
At 12 o'clock the enemy's fleet engaged our fort on the shore, and one hour after the cannonading commenced our forces were ordered to gain Ashby's Landing with all possible speed, 3 miles in our rear; but before we reached the landing we were again halted. It was now about 4 o'clock, when we saw two or three companies retreating from the landing last mentioned in double-quick time, with two or three field pieces, which I supposed had been previously planted at the landing to prevent the landing of the enemy' troops. Again we were ordered to reform and retire to the little intrenchment at Suple's Hill, a point still farther to our rear.
By the time we reached this last point, after the reception of a few shot and shell from the enemy's fleet, the day had nearly reached its close. While darkness was gathering over us the firmament was becoming thickly condensed with cloud, threatening us with storms of rain, which fell incessantly before day. At the battery, while Colonel Shaw, of the Eighth North Carolina State troops, and Colonel Jordan, of the Thirty-first North Carolina Volunteers, were probably concerting their plans for the defense of the works, our troops were waiting for the next order, and apparently in eager expectation of the arrival of the enemy. At length the conclusion came, when Colonel Jordan, of the aforesaid volunteers, was left in command at the battery. My company having been detached from its regiment by order of Colonel Shaw, to remain with the forces under Colonel Jordan at the battery, was ordered by the latter (Colonel Jordan) to take position on the right of the battery and to defend it, whereupon I immediately moved my men in position, ordering them to stack their arms for the purpose of executing another order from Colonel Jordan to me relative to overlaying the battery with pine bushes, which was soon accomplished in good order; but finding the length of the breastwork from the gun and embrasure on the left of my company to the extreme right totally insufficient to admit my company in two ranks, I applied to Colonel Jordan for spades, that I might both lengthen and turn the battery to the rear so as to facilitate a disposition against a flank movement of the enemy should they attempt it, but unfortunately the spades could not be had.
The night passed, and a dark night it was.
The morning came, February 8,and we were al wet with the rain of the previous night, and soon our pickets were driven in and reported they were coming. Scarcely fifteen minutes had elapsed before the balls were whistling thick and fast about our ranks from the long-range rifles of the invaders. A vast number of shots were fired at us, taking but little effect in our lines, before we answered or returned the fire, with the exception of what firing was done by a few of our skirmishers deployed against them.
At length an attempt was made by the enemy as if to charge our battery, but it was at this crisis of the action that we poured a deadly fire into them, repulsing them, as we supposed, with considerable loss, as we did on several other subsequent occasions. Finding it impossible