War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0741 Chapter XXIII. HANOVER COURT-HOUSE,ETC.

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wishes of General Johnston, which he had communicated to me, i moved my camp on Monday last from Hanover Court-House to Slash Church. The position was selected because, while fulfilling other requirements, it was at the mouth of a road leading to Ashland, which assured me of a means of retreat if assailed by the large forces of the enemy in close proximity to my front. I took up the position with a knowledge of its dangers, and all of my arrangements were made accordingly. No baggage train encumbered me, and my command bivouacked Monday night, infantry supports being thrown out for the cavalry pickets.

Tuesday morning the enemy were reported to be advancing on the road to Taliaferro's Mill, and I, sent Colonel [James H.] Lane, with his own regiment (Twenty-eighth North Carolina) and a section of [A. C.] Latham's battery, to support the pickets and repel any small party. At the same time Colonel [Thomas] Hardeman's regiment (Forty-fifth Georgia) was sent to repair the railroad at Ashcake, where it had been obstructed by the enemy the day before, and watch any approach of the enemy on the road.

About the middle of the day the enemy opened fire from a battery near Peake's Crossing. Latham's battery soon got into position to reply, and, after a sharp action, silenced it. In the mean time a severe cannonade had been going on in the direction of Lane, showing that he too had been attacked. As soon as the battery in the road had been driven off I sent Colonel [Charles C.] Lee, with his own (the Thirty-seventh) and the Eighteenth (Colonel Robert H.

Cowan's) regiments to re-enforce him. When these two regiments had proceeded about 1 1/2 miles the enemy was found strongly posted across the road. On learning his I galloped forward (leaving orders for Latham to follow as quickly as possible), and was informed by Colonel Lee that the force of the enemy consisted of two regiments of infantry and some artillery. My plan was quickly formed and orders were given for its execution. Lee, with the Thirty-seventh, was to push, was to push through the woods and get close on the right flank of the battery. Hoke, as soon as he should return from a sweep through, the woods on which I hade sent him, and Colonel [Benjamin O.] Wade's (Twelfth North Carolina) regiment was to make a similar movement to the left flank of the battery, and Cowan was to charge across the open ground in front, Latham meantime bringing all his guns to bear on their front. Hoke, supported by Colonel Wade, had a sharp skirmish in the woods, taking 6 prisoners and 11 horses, but came out too late to make the movement assigned to him, and Lee having sent for re-enforcements, I so far changed my plan as to abandon the attack on the enemy's left, and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Hoke to re-enforce Colonel Lee, relying on the front and right flank attack. Colonel Cowan, with the Eighteenth, made the charge most gallantly; but the enemy's force was much larger than had been supposed and strongly posted, and the gallant Eighteenth was compelled to seek shelter. It continued to pour heavy volleys from the edge of the woods, and must have done great execution. The steadiness with this desperate charge was made reflects the highest credit on officers and men. The Thirty-seventh found the undergrowth so dense as to retard its progress; but when it reached its position poured a heavy and destructive fire upon the enemy. This combined attack of the Eighteenth and Thirty-seventh compelled the enemy to leave his battery for a time and take shelter behind a ditch bank.

For two hours the cavalry pickets had been coming in from the Ashcake road reporting a heavy force of the enemy passing around my