War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0596 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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No. 72. Report of Colonel J. J. Woodward,

Tenth Alabama Infantry, of operations May 4-5.


Near Long Bridge, Va., May 11, 1862.

On our march from our position near Yorktown to this point we arrived at Williamsburg the evening of the first day, being the 4th instant.

The enemy pursued and showed himself on the morning of the 5th before our line of breastworks in the suburbs of the city by opening with cannon on our batteries. His infantry, which could not be seen by us, was supposed to be in an extensive forest in front of our batteries of the Second Brigade (General Wilcox's command) which was together and with us at the place was ordered out. It was the Nineteenth Mississippi and parts of the Ninth and Tenth Alabama.

About 9 o'clock we arrived near the forest alluded to, General Wilcox attending in person and directing our respective positions. The Nineteenth Mississippi was ordered into the heart of the forest. That fraction of my command (Tenth Alabama) which was present, not more than 320 men, was ordered by the general to the right of, near to, and somewhat to the rear of, the line of direction of the Nineteenth Mississippi. This position was taken certainly within a few minutes after the hour of 9 o'clock. I soon discovered the enemy in inclosing part of it with a field, through which we passed in obtaining our position. We were within the inclosure, our right resting nearly on the fence, and our line such as to make the angle between it and the fence in front about 45.

From our right wing, in consequence of its proximity to the fence, and at the same time moved to the right flank, so as to defeat his object if it was to flank us. We were thus confronting the enemy, my right being considerably beyond his left.

We took this position about 10 o'clock and held in for about an hour and a half. Immediately on taking it an irregular, scattering fire ensued along the principal part of my line, which was returned by the enemy.

About 11.30 o'clock General Wilcox ordered my command to be thrown outside of the fences and to press on the enemy. I immediately threw forward my right wing, advanced within full view and short distance (say 50 to 75 yards) of the enemy, and commenced the general engagement.

After firing some (say ten) minutes a man walked up a ravine from our right and in rear of our line, claiming to belong to the Second Louisiana Regiment, saying, "You are firing on your friends." I had been previously apprised that a body of our troops would be thrown into the woods near the ground which my right wing occupied. With a view, therefore, to interrogate this individual and ascertain whether we were firing at our friends from any part of the line I commanded