War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0648 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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had opened on the Mechanicsville road and was rapidly verifying the range. My brigade changed front and advanced to the brow of the hill opposite the enemy's battery, expecting, if possible, to use artillery in the attack. While the troops were in motion I received orders to assault the enemy from General Lee and also from Major General D. H. Hill, the latter of whom directed me to send two regiments to support General Pender, on my right and attack the battery in front with the remainder of my force. The Forty-fourth Georgia, under Colonel Robert A. Smith and the First North Carolina, under Colonel [M. S.] Stokes, marched at once to the right, while the Forty-eighth Georgia, under Colonel [William] Gibson, and Third North Carolina, under Colonel [Gaston] Meares, moved to a position in front of the enemy on their left.

Meanwhile the passage of the Chickahominy by the artillery had been impeded by the broken bridges, and night coming on and it being deemed important to attack the position at once, the advance was ordered along the whole line. General Pender's brigade and the two regiments of my own advanced rapidly on the right, while the remainder of my command moved against the front, driving back the enemy from his advanced positions and closing in upon the batteries and their heavy infantry supports, all of which poured upon our troops a heavy and incessant fire of shell, canister and musketry. The ground was rugged and intersected by ditches and hedges and covered with abatis a short distance in front of the position to be assaulted. A mill-race, with scraped banks, and in some places waist-deep in water, ran along the front of the enemy at a distance ranging from 50 to 100 yards. To this position our troops succeeded in advancing, notwithstanding the fire of the enemy was exceedingly heavy and our loss extremely severe. Of the Forty-fourth Georgia Colonel Robert A. Smith and Lieutenant--Colonel [John B.] Estes fell wounded, the former mortally, besides 2 captains and 10 lieutenants killed and wounded. Of the First North Carolina Colonel Stokes was mortally, Lieutenant-Colonel [John A.] McDowell severely, wounded, and Major [T. L.] Skinner killed, with 6 captains and lieutenants of the regiment killed and wounded, including the adjutant. The Forty-eighth Georgia and Third North Carolina had a more advantageous position, and suffered less severely than the former regiments, although the Third lost its major (Edward Savage), wounded. The loss of non-commissioned officers and privates was heavy in the extreme, amounting in the Forty-fourth Georgia to 321 and in the First North Carolina to 133.

Near dark Captain A. Burnet Rhett's battery of artillery, attached to my command, succeeded in crossing the broken bridges over the Chickahominy, and was located directly in front of the enemy at about 1,200 yards' distance. Captain Rhett opened an effective fire, and soon relieved our infantry from the storm of shell and canister which had been poured upon them. It was soon re-enforced by another battery, and a fire was kept up on the enemy until late in the evening.

Some time after night-fall, under cover of the cannonade, our troops were withdrawn to a point of woods a few hundred yards' distance, near the angle of our line of battle, which position was held by the Third North Carolina and Forty-eighth Georgia and a portion of General Pender's brigade. The fragments of the First North Carolina and Forty-fourth Georgia were rallied some distance in the rear under some difficulty, owing to the loss of all their field and many of their company officers, who fell while gallantly performing their duty.

During the night the enemy was engaged destroying and removing.