Upon orders from General Evans I withdrew with the Eighteenth South Carolina, which had got somewhat in advance of me. Sleeping upon our arms that night, we were further withdrawn just before day to near the position form which we had advanced the night before.
Later in the day we were again placed in battle order at this same point (i. e., the northeast edge of a wood some 2 1/2 miles form Gainesville, on the southern side of the turnpike passing from that village by Groveton), and again in support of Hood's brigade, which was posted in the skirt of woods some 200 yards to our front.
By order of General Evans I here assumed command of the brigade. After a heavy engagement to the left and front I received the order to advance. We were at once under a scattering fire, which did some damage. Reaching a wood some mile from tour starting point, the right of the brigade passed over the left of a Texas regiment lying down. the enemy's fire now became annoying, and on reaching the edge of the wood it was very severe. The Twenty-third South Carolina, on the left flank, emerged at once and entire; but the skirt of the woods then ran obliquely to my line of battle, so that the Eighteenth and Seventeenth Regiments were gradually uncovered from left to right, while the Holcombe Legion was still in the wood. Upon the appearance of the Twenty-third the enemy's fire was redoubled, and the Eighteenth and Seventeenth, instead of moving straight forward, almost instinctively inclined to the right still to keep under cover. this caused my line to become gradually broken and confused until, when the right flank was finally broken and confused until, when the right flank was finally uncovered, the men of these two regiments were mingled with the Legion some then or twelve deep. In my efforts to remedy this inclination to the right I had been insensibly carried in the same direction and emerged nearly on the extreme right. Here I found the line halted and staggering under the murderous fire of grape, canister, and musketry which was pouring upon it. Urging them shill forward and giving the command to charge, I found it impossible for officers to make themselves be obeyed, owing to the commingling of regiments.
At this moment I caught sight of a regiment moving in splendid order on my right and rear, but going obliquely to my right instead of to my support. Galloping toward it, I turned it to my relief, but unfortunately the direction brought the line against some outhouses abut the Chinn house, and it became broken, as the men sought cover from the fire which now opened upon them also. With the assistance of the officers a portion were extricated, and joined by some of my own brigade we charged the battery on the hill. The enemy slowly retired and left this entire portion of the field in our hands. What regiment thus joined me I have never been able to ascertain. As we neared the battery a mounted officer (I suppose attached to this regiment) dashed forward ahead of us, and I saw him raise his sword above an artillerist who was near one of the guns which had continued to fire until we were in 20 paces of them.
After the capture of the battery I can say nothing more of the brigade. I had lost it, and Captain [M. G.] Ziegler and Lieutenant [J. A.] Tolleson, of the Legion (whom I met some hour or so later at an advanced portion of the field), were the only members of it I met until after night-fall, when I partially gathered it again. And here I am free to confess my error in having left it at all; but once separated from it I could not rejoin it in the hurry of the battle. I learn from others that, rallying from the confusion in which I had left them, the men, having lost many of their officers, fought well, but scattered. The lists* of
*Embodied in No. 128, p.561.