War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0318 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

Search Civil War Official Records

sion of the bridge near South Mills at the time of our marching. The road was in most excellent marching condition, and the men pushed forward as rapidly as could be desired. The extreme heat of the sun, though, soon began to exhaust them very much. After having marched a distance of about 10 miles we were unexpectedly joined from the right by Colonel Hawkins' command, who, through an unfortunate mistake upon the part of his guide, had taken the wrong road and been misled some 10 miles from his course. His brigade fell in rear of the column, and as rapidly as possible were moved forward.

Company F, of the Fifty-first, was now sent forward to strengthen the advance guard. The heat of the sum was most oppressive, the road dusty, the men hungry. About noon General Reno, who was in advance, was just about to call a halt, in order that the men might dine and rest themselves, when, most unexpectedly, the enemy opened upon us with cannon, the position of which was well masked by a burning house and some cedar trees. They kept up from the first discharge a vigorous fire. By order from General Reno I directed the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers to move by the right flank across the field to the woods on the enemy's left, in order to flank the battery and troops supporting it. The Twenty-first Massachusetts, having halted to rest before the enemy opened, was some distance in rear. The enemy kept up an incessant fire at the Fifty-first Regiment as it crossed the field toward the woods, but the range being too great for canister they were obliged to confine themselves to solid shot, and these did no damage. After reaching the woods they were moved toward the enemy's position. On account of the extreme exhaustion of the men and and the thickness of the underbrush their advance was necessarily slow and tedious. The enemy followed the movement with his cannon, but not until we had approached sufficiently near for him to use canister did he do any injure. By the canister 1 man was killed and several wounded.

I ordered Major Schall, commanding the Fifty-first, to put out his skirmishers and advance on the enemy's left to where the Third Georgia Volunteers were posted in the woods and engage them and sent back to bring up the Twenty-first Massachusetts. On their arrival I conducted them, by order of General Reno, along the edge of the woods in the course taken by the Fifty-first. On coming up with the Fifty-first the skirmishers of the enemy showed themselves in the field and woods, and fire was immediately opened upon them by Company B, of the Fifty-first. That regiment, by my order, immediately advanced to the fence on the edge of the open field and opened an enfilading fire on the Third Georgia and other troops of the enemy, who were drawn up in the woods skirting the open field at right angles to our position. Our fire was warmly responded to. I ordered the Twenty-first Massachusetts farther to the right, in order to guard against any attack on our flank or rear. They were immediately engaged with the enemy.

Soon after we had opened fire the Ninth New York (Hawkins' Zouaves) started to charge the position of the enemy across the open field in front, but by heavy discharges of canister they were repulsed with considerable loss. Many of the men of the regiment joined us in our position. After the firing has been vigorously kept up from half to three-quarters of an hour I orders a charge across the field on their position. This was most gallantly done by the Fifty-first Pennsylvania and twenty-first Massachusetts, the Sixth New Hampshire advancing up the left of the road and the Eighty-ninth and Ninth New York from the woods. The enemy broke and fled from the field precipitately, leav-