War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0581 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

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both sides the mountain was very steep, and it was covered with a dense undergrowth of stiff bushes, mostly ivy. As soon as I received the order I sent forward the Twentieth, under Major J. D. Waddell, to the point indicated, and went back for the next regiment (the Second), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William R. Holmes, and ordered him to follow the Twentieth as quickly as possible. The Second was then on the railroad and separated some little distance from the Twentieth, and the descent down the embankment of the railroad was difficult. The consequence was that the regiment did not reach the point from which the Twentieth had started until the latter was out of sight. Colonel Holmes consequently halted there for directions. Meantime I had, as soon as I gave him the order, galloped forward to the Twentieth, which I overtook double-quacking toward the mountain through a field, exposed to a hot fire from the enemy's batteries. As soon as it reached the foot of the mountain it was formed line of battle, and, preceded at a short distance by a company of skirmishers, under Lieutenant Thomas, it commenced the ascent. This, though the ground in some places was almost precipitous and everywhere was covered with stiff bushes, it accomplished at a rapid gait, and it was well that it did so, for when the skirmishers reached the summit the enemy's skirmishers, supported by a line of infantry, were in sight, coming up on the other side. Fire was immediately opened on them by our skirmishers, and by the time the regiment itself arrived at the summit, short as that was, the enemy's skirmishers had commenced falling back, and directly their supporting line also withdrew, and left us in possession of the mountain. If the enemy had succeeded in seizing this mountain he would have had complete command of the Gap. Very soon afterward his batteries commenced playing on the mountain. This they continued to do, short intervals excepted, until the close of the action.

The company of skirmishers was then posted as pickets down the side of the mountain. In a short time they observed the enemy endeavoring to place a battery on the right of the outlet of the Gap, at a point from which it would have commanded the south side of the Gap as entirely as the batteries already established commanded the north side. This movement of the enemy was reported to me by Major Waddell, who at the same time suggested the propriety of sending forward the men of the regiment who were armed with long-range guns to fire on the enemy's party engaged in planting this battery. At once I adopted the suggestion. These men, numbering, I think, not more than 30, immediately took such positions in front as they could find from which the enemy's party was visible, and at about 400 or 500 yards opened fire on it. Just at this time Colonel Holmes, with the Second, came up, he having received the directions he halted for from General Jones, and I ordered those of his men who were armed with long-range guns, about 10 or 12, to join the others so armed. The enemy withstood the fire from these guns with much obstinacy, the position being evidently one of the very highest value to him. Finally, however, he gave up the attempt to establish the battery and carried off his guns; but in a short time the attempt was renewed. This time it was soon abandoned under our stinging fire. I be leave to say that if this battery had been once established the effect would have been to give the enemy complete command of both sides of the Gap and a great distance into it, and also of the part of the mountain on which our two regiments were posted. It is obvious that from position such as these he could not have been driven, except at a great cost of one of two things-time or