War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0981 BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS, OR SEVEN PINES. Chapter XXIII.

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R~port of Jiieut. (Jot. B. B. Gayle, Twelfth Al~tbama Infantry. HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH ALABAMA REGIMENT, June 5, 1862. On Saturday, May 31, this regiment, in company with the others of General iRodes brigade, left camp about 12 oclock for the purpose of attacking the enemy. After penetrating a swamp knee-deep in water we were in full view of the foe2 and forthwith received a heavy fire from him. We lay on the ground in the edge of the woods for a short time, using our long-range guns to no bad purpose. An order was then received to move forward to the right. This was done without hesita- tion, and the right wing, having to cross an open field, received a heavy fire. Here several of our men were wounded, but none, I believe, killed. We did not remain long in this position, for the enemy, seeing that another regiment to our right was about to flank them, retired. In a few moments the whole brigade was in line, and after making a half wheel to the left commenced to charge upon the breastworks and camp of the enemy. In this charge the men were exposed to a terrific fire, but their steady movements showed too clearly to the enemy a deter- mination to cross bayonets with them had they remained a few minutes longer. We pushed onward, and on reaching the works that were then deserted found ourselves exposed to a severe cross-fire from the bushes on the right.;, kept close to the ground until orders were given to con- tinue the pursuit, when every man rose to his feet and dashed onward. We soon came to thick brush and felled trees, in which the fleeing foe had concealed himself. Owing to these obstructions we could charge no farther. Here now we lay in the open field, while the enemy, with whom we are contending, is concealed in thick brush in front. Our brave men are falling rapidly. But do they falter? Not one! They load, rise, take deliberate aim, and fire. I saw him fall, they would exclaim, and then repeat the same operation with equal coolness. But I soon saw that our exposed position could not be maintained; we were fighting under too many disadvantages; our men were failing too rapidly. After remaining under this fli~e for more than an hour I perceived that the regiment on my right had fallen back and the foe that had en- gaged it was now opening a deadly cross-fire on the Twelfth. However, I had received no orders to retreat, and continued to remain longer in this hazardous position. Finally I concluded that our colonel, and perhaps our general, had fallen, and, besides, the battery in rear, while trying to protect us, would unintentionally throw shot and shell too short and mangle our own men. To stand this state of afi~iirs any longer I knew would be death to all, so I gave the command to retreat. The left wing, not hearing the command, was rallied before reaching the breastworks; but as soon as the order was understood no further con. fusion ensued. This, however, was productive of much good, as the enemy was checked in his advance, the left wing not being more than 40 yards from the woods. The Twelfth Alabama, while advancing, charged directly through the camp of the enemy. Soon after passing it, halted, laid down, and opened a heavy volley, then charged the brush. It was while in this hazardous position that our brave colonel was slain. After falling back to the redoubt we remained half an hour, and