War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0830 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.

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picket, and commanded by Captain William R. Aylett, and at the time engaging the enemy. Captain Aylett immediately turned over the command to me and used diligence to show me the position of our force and the enemy, and made the following report of the action of the regiment up to the time of my arrival:

That on the 24th instant, at 4.30 p.m., the Fifty-third and Ninth Virginia Regiments and the Fifth Virginia Battalion were sent out to relieve the Third Georgia Regiment, on the advance line between the Williamsburg road and the York River Railroad. Nothing of moment transpired during the night.

About 8 a.m. on the 25th instant Captain Aylett, upon visiting the picket post on the extreme right of the line, resting on the Williamsburg road, was informed that one or more regiments of the enemy were advancing up the road, and about that time heavy firing commenced on the other side of the road, where it appeared the pickets had been driven in. Cautioning his pickets to stand their ground until he could re-enforce them Captain Aylett went for his reserve, consisting of Companies A and D. This little force was double-quicked to the support of the pickets, but before it could reach the line the pickets on the right next to the road were met retiring before the enemy, who had suddenly advanced in overwhelming numbers, driving them in by his immense odds and rapid advance. The reserve, together with the pickets which had been driven in, were promptly deployed by Captain Aylett, so as to connect with that portion of our picket line which not been forced back. The men were made to lie down behind trees to conceal their small numbers and position, in order that the enemy might be held in check until re-enforcements could arrive. For one hour and a quarter did this little force of only three small companies maintain its position against two regiments, alone and unaided, amid a storm of bullets rarely surpassed for severity. The men were ordered not to fire until they saw an object and thought they could hit it; hence almost every shot told, as was indicated by the frequent cries of those struck.

While the right of the Fifty-third was enduring this fire the enemy had advanced on the right of the road, and thus flanked our position and gotten even in the rear of a portion of it; still Captain Aylett and his command held their ground until the noble Twenty-fifth North Carolina came to their assistance, to whose gallant commander Captain Aylett reported, and was ordered by him to take position on his left.

The Fifty-third Virginia and Twenty-fifth North Carolina were now both subjected to a terrific fire for some time, but they returned it with such effect that the enemy was driven back, and the Fifty-third was enabled to resume its picket line, except a small portion of it immediately on the road, where, from the exposure of a field and the fire from a battery (planted by the enemy in the road after they had advanced by us on the right of the Williamsburg road), it could not then be occupied. There was fighting along the whole line occupied by the Fifty-third at intervals during the day, but, as indicated, mainly on the right. Five or 6 prisoners were taken by the Thirty-third, and the loss of the enemy must have been heavy.

Later in the evening the woods were heavily shelled by the enemy, but the Fifty-third, men and officers, gallantly stood their ground, though they were almost broken down with fatigue and exhaustion from having been on picket duty so long.

It would be pleasing to mention the names of those who most gallantly