War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0616 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

admirably adapted for artillery, and from which an incessant fire could be maintained against an advancing force over the heads of its own infantry which was screened from harm by the abrupt declivity of the hill under which they had been posted; so that our men had the day before exposed for over two hours to the combined fire of shot, shell, grape, and musketry to which Yankee ingenuity had added a sort of "repeating gun," called a telescopic cannon, discharging 60 balls per minute. Several of these were captured. The natural defenses of the position were strengthened by felling timber on the hill-side and in the marshy ground of the rivulet at its foot, to make the progress of an attacking force slow and longer held under fire. Many parts of the brow of the hill were provided with rude breastworks of logs, &c. There is good reason to believe that fresh forces of the enemy were successively brought into action for several hours to replace those who had become fatigued or defeated.

To repulse a force double our own thus advantageously posted free from a fatiguing march and liberally supplied with whisky (as the canteens of dead, wounded, and prisoners proved), required much more than the ordinary exhibition of skill and daring. That it was done everywhere along the line by troops who had marched all day without food entitles the army to the name of " The Indomitable." It is with just pride I record the fact that not one of the regiments of the Seventh Brigade came out of the action during its progress, and that the charge of the Sixteenth Mississippi and Twenty-first North Carolina, sustained from the first movement without a falter, could not be surpassed for intrepid bravery and high resolve.

I need not enumerate the gallant exploits of a brigade where every officer and man behaved so well, but I cannot refrain from allusion to the conspicuous gallantry of Captain Brown, of the Sixteenth Mississippi, and Captain Guerry, of the Fifteenth Alabama, both shot dead in front of their companies while cheering on their men to the charge; and of my aide, Lieutenant McKim, who rode by my side or along the line constantly repeating with inspiring voice and gesture the command, "Charge! charge!"

Captain Hall, assistant adjutant-general, did signal service during the action by bringing up and directing the movements of fresh troops, also Lieutenant Lee, assistant inspector-general, who was slightly wounded.

The subjoined list of killed and wounded* best shows the severity of the conflict, and a comparison of those of the different regiments fairly illustrates the superiority of a rapid charge over a standing fight, not only as the best mode of securing victories, but doing it with smaller loss: The Fifteenth Alabama and Twenty-first Georgia, numbering 1,315 men, stood under a destructive fire for an hour or more, returning the enemy's volleys all the time, and advanced half a mile, with only fragments of companies at the day. Their loss in killed and wounded was 251 men. The Sixteenth Mississippi and Twenty-first North Carolina, numbering 1,244 men, passed under as hot a fire and equal distance in fifteen minutes, losing in killed and wounded only 85 men.

Annexed is a sketch# of that part of the field of battle on which the Third Brigade was engaged, but on which is put down only the positions occupied by the regiments of the Seventh Brigade. The Alabama and Georgia regiments advanced in a body no farther than the swamp

---------------

*Embodied in returns, pp. 608, 975.

#Omitted as unimportant.

---------------