No. 71. Report of Colonel Samuel Henry,
Ninth Alabama Infantry.
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ALABAMA REGIMENT, May 11, 1862.
SIR: I beg leave to submit the following brief summary of facts as my official report for the Ninth Alabama Regiment on May 5, at Williamsburg, Va.:
At between 7 and 8 a.m. we were moved from our camp to the rear of the redoubt on the right of the road leading from Williamsburg to Wynn's Mill, where we then moved to the edge of the woods on the right of the field, on the right of said road, to support the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment. We had not been in this position long before a rapid firing commenced on our right and very soon in front of the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment. The two left companies were now ordered, to be sent, so as to support the Tenth Alabama Regiment in case the enemy attempted to turn its flank. Immediately thereafter a rapid fire commenced in front of the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment, when we were ordered to close on said regiment. We were not long in this position until the two left companies were ordered back to the regiment, when Brigadier-General Wilcox ordered us to move by the flank, so as to unmask the Nineteenth Mississippi, and then to advance on the enemy's battery. This placed our regiment on the extreme left of the advancing line and in the field between our own and the enemy's batteries. It was now near 11 o'clock, when the regiment was ordered to advance. Major Williams was ordered to the left of the regiment and Adjutant Featherston on the right, with orders to feel for the left of the Nineteenth Mississippi, so that we might act in concert all the time with our advancing lines. This disposition was made because, having no lieutenant-colonel, there were five companies on the left wing and only four on the right, Company F (Captain T. H. Hobbs) having been detached from the regiment on April 5, at Lee's farm.
The regiment was now ordered to advance, and was very quickly under the enemy's fire, but continued to advance, and soon reached a ravine, where the enemy, from behind his cover, poured a continuous and telling fire into our ranks. Advance now seemed impossible, the cut-down timber being so thick as to form almost a series of breastworks, preventing company officers from advancing their companies in line; but the men had to wind and work their way through as best they could, while the enemy, concealed from our men, using every log as a breastwork, were pouring into them a continuous and galling fire; yet the officers and men displayed great coolness and moved at the command and slowly drove the enemy back. The advance continued almost uninterruptedly and without wavering almost 200 yards, contesting every foot of ground with the enemy in his strong places, our men having to expose themselves all the time to the enemy's five, while he, in greatly superior numbers, used every log and the fallen timber for protection. The left of the regiment was now near the road, and not more than from 50 or 75 yards from the enemy's nine-gun battery, across the road in the field. We had received no re-enforcements and the regiment had been between four and five hours in the fight, and the original force (333) with which we went into the fight was now much reduced. The enemy seemed here to have made a determined