Here we were detained for some reason unknown to me for several minutes, during which time I kept constantly moving up and down the column, endeavoring by example to encourage and cheer our men. I was passing toward the rear of the column, and seeing Lieutenant-Colonel Douty on the opposite side of the street, I addressed him with the following interrogatories: "Colonel, what is the order? Do we move?" To which he replied in the affirmative, "Yes," and moved rapidly to the head of the column. I saw that the enemy's infantry had closed down near the fence on our right, and that his cavalry had formed in the road some distance beyond in front and in the fields on our flanks.
Hearing no other order but that communicated by the lieutenant-colonel as he passed, I ordered my sabers drawn, and took my post at the head of my squadron in the column, the head and center of which had already commenced to advance at a brisk trot. This pace was soon increased to a gallop, and now another enemy presented itself. The dust from the pike began to rise and envelop us in such dense clouds as to shut out all objects from our vision at a distance, and so intense was it at times that our file-leaders were not distinguishable.
We were now moving in column closed in masse, and had gained the distance, I should judge, of a mile, under a raking fire from the enemy, when suddenly the column in front of us was brought to a stand, the consequent danger of which instantly occurring to me, I turned and called a halt, directing the saber points to be kept erect, thereby intending to obviate the press which I knew must follow, those in my rear from the impenetrable could of dust surrounding us being unable through the organ of vision to guard against it. my horse, as well as others near me, began to sink from the pressure around us, but now the column in front again advanced, and we were relieved.
We again moved forward, but soon came in contact with the rear of the baggage train, which, being deserted by the drivers, was tumbling down the pike in wild confusion, impeding our passage and so seriously checking my advance that when the dust cleared away for a moment I found myself with the command in my rear separated from the main body of the column.
Supposing, from the clouds of dust still visible and nor far distant in front, that Lieutenant-Colonel Douty, with the main body of the command, had cut his way through the enemy's cavalry, and conjecturing also, as no special directions or orders had been received or heard by me since that mentioned above in the street, that the object of the movement down the pike and in this direction was to form a junction with the rear guard of your column, which I had good reason to suppose could not be far distant, I pressed my way through the labyrinth surrounding us, and soon gained a clear space in the road.
The enemy, taking advantage of our condition, formed his cavalry again in our front, and concentrating the fire of his artillery and infantry, hurled a shower of lead and shell upon us. At this discharge the fragment of a shell which exploded near me struck my left holster, cutting the brass tip from the end, and striking the end of a Savage pistol, glanced, wounding my left knee, and passed, inflicting a severe wound on the side of my horse. Here I left 2 men who were wounded and their horses shot by fragments of the same shell.
Recovering again from the momentary shock, I shaw at a glance that to make a diversion on either flank would be to risk the destruction of my brave companions, and to boldly dash upon the cavalry in front would secure the positive advantage to us as we neared them of causing