War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0605 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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field. Whether he would have succeeded had the other two regiments of his brigade (the Twenty-third North Carolina and Thirty-eighth Virginia) pushed rapidly on must forever remain and undecided question. There was no lack of coolness or zeal upon the part of the commanders of these regiments, but they had so neglected drill and training that the simplest movements were attended with trouble and delay. My division had been removed at Yorktown, and I scarcely knew my officers by name. Add to this serious drawback that none of the officers knew the ground nor the position and strength of the Yankees, and that the men were badly drilled and disciplined, it cannot be wonderful that the brigade did not effect all that was expected of it; but it contributed largely to retard McClellan, to demoralize his troops, and to secure our retreat from a vigorous and harassing pursuit. I know but little of what was done by my two regiments sent in to the extreme right.

Colonel Ward, of the Second Florida, a noble, gallant, and accomplished officer, fell there at the head of his regiment. He was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and had won a high reputation for his soldierly bearing.

My division constituted the rear guard on the 6th. Thousand of soldiers had sought shelter from the storm of the night before in barns and outhouses, and it was with the utmost difficulty they could be driven out. Cold, tired, hungry, and jaded, many seemed indifferent alike to life or capture. The roads were in a truly horrible condition. Horses could with difficulty wade through the mud and slush, and to footmen the task seemed almost impossible. The straggling was enormous, but more especially on this the first day after leaving Williamsburg. The Yankee cavalry followed slowly in our rear picking up stragglers, who had too little life and energy to keep up. If they expected to rest by falling back they were miserably deceived, for they were immediately trotted to the rear under Yankee sabers.

Six miles from Williamsburg we encountered a swamp of the most formidable character. Here many wagons and ambulances were found abandoned and had to be destroyed by the rear guard. The Yankee pursuit, rendered very cautions by the battle of the day before, ceased altogether at this point. We were harassed no more on the march by the troops under the immediate command of McClellan. However, as was anticipated by General Johnston, a portion of the Yankee army landed at Eltham's to intercept our retreat. Franklin's corps had come up York River.

Hood, with a single brigade attacked their advance on the 7th and drove them back to their gunboats. Franklin troubled us no more. His experience gained with the Texans had been ample and satisfactory. He desired no more of it.

On the fourth day of our march from Williamsburg we reached Long Bridge, on the Chickahominy, where we halted for some days.

There had been no depots of supplies established in our rear, and the suffering of the men from hunger had been very great on the march. For three days there were no regular issues of rations, and the men subsisted on parched corn and the plunder of the neighborhood. Several thousand had thrown away their arms and straggled off to Richmond, either to procure food or to escape the perils of battle.

The reorganization of the army at Yorktown, under the elective system, bad thrown out of service many of our best officers, and had much demoralized our army. The high fighting qualities exhibited by the soldiers subsequently at Seven Pines and the battle around Richmond, notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, are striking proofs of