War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0294 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

Search Civil War Official Records

admirable regularity at the fence, a few hundred paces from which the enemy were drawn up in close column, exhibiting a double front, with their battle-falls defiantly displayed. Crossing this fence, which was a work slow and embarrassed, owing to the pioneer corps of the several regiments of the brigade having been reduced by their previous labors on the Peninsula, I had the misfortune to lose the services of many good officers and brave men.

Lieutenant James E. Mackey, of the Sixty-third New York Volunteers, whom I had appointed on my staff in place of Lieutenant Temple Emmert, whose death from typhoid fever the whole brigade affectionately and sincerely deplore, fell while the brigade was deploying into line of battle at this fence.

The enemy's column, with their battle flag advanced and defiantly flying in front, was at this time within 300 paces of our line. A clover field of about two acres interposed. Then came the plowed field in which this column of the enemy was drawn up, and from which from heir double front they had delivered and sustained a fire before which Sedgwick's forces on the right and French's on the left were reported at the time momentarily to have given way. The fact is, owing to some reason which as yet has not been explained, the Irish Brigade had to occupy and hold a gap in the line of the Union army, which the enemy perceiving had flung a formidable column to break through, and so take the two divisions last named on their flank and rear. This movement was suddenly checked by the impetuous advance of the Irish Brigade, which in a great measure filling up the gap through which the rebel column was descending to the rear of the Federal lines, drew up in line of battle within 50 paces of the enemy, the Sixty-ninth and Twenty-ninth being on the right of the line, and the Sixty-third and Eighty-eighth Regiments on the left. On coming into this close and fatal contact with the enemy, the officers and men of the brigade waved their swords and hats and gave the heartiest cheers for their general, George B. McClellan, and the Army of the Potomac. Never were men in higher spirits. Never did men with such alacrity and generosity of heart press forward and encounter the perils of the battle-field.

My orders were, that, after the first and second volleys delivered in line of battle by the brigade, the brigade should charge with fixed bayonets on the enemy. Seated on my horse, close to the Sixty-ninth Regiment, I permitted them to deliver their five or six volleys, and then personally ordered them to charge upon the rebel columns, while at the very same moment I ordered Captain Miller, assistant adjutant general of the Brigade, and Lieutenant Gosson, first aide on my staff, to bring up the Eighty-eighth and Sixty-third immediately to the charge. It was my design, under the general orders I received, to push the enemy on both their fronts as they displayed themselves to us, and, relying on the impetuosity and recklessness of Irish soldiers in a charge, felt confident that before such a charge the rebel column would give way and be dispersed.

Advancing on the right and left obliquely from the center, the brigade poured in an effective and powerful fire upon the column, which it was their special duty to dislodge. Despite a fire of musketry, which literally cut lanes through our approaching line, the brigade advanced under my personal command within 30 paces of the enemy, and at this point, Lieutenant Colonel James Kelly having been shot through the face and Captain Felix Duffy having fallen dead in front of his command, the regiment halted. At the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler and Major Richard Bentley, of the Sixty-third, on the left of our line, having been