War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0608 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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By the COURT:

Question. What do you mean by firing three or four times by file?

Answer. I mean as near as I could get at it. I could not tell by volleys.

Question. You mean each man fired three or four times?

Answer. Yes, sir; they were green troops, and it is almost impossible to get green troops to fire by volleys; they almost generally fire by file. From the time we remained there, I should think, they fired three or four, or five, times a piece. They occupied that ground some fifteen minutes. They fell back. I heard no orders to fall back. The men were themselves pressed back by the force in front of them, and in some confusion for the reason that there was underbrush, or some kind of a vine; especially on the left, where I was. The men had very hard work to get through it at all. There was crooked circling brush, something like grape-vines; there were breastworks thrown up roughly of logs, some 40 rods in our rear; and the only way they could get to the rear, to these breastworks, was by this single road; that is the only way they could get there any ways quickly. They fell back, firing in rear of these breastworks. As soon as all our forces got in rear of the breastworks they delivered their fire again, and succeeded in checking the enemy and driving them back. There was a slashing of timber, or abatis, that was cut down in front of this breastworks, I should think about 100 yards wide, running parallel with the works. We had been ordered by Major Hewitt, if pressed back, to get in rear of these works and hold them if possible. We succeeded in checking the enemy and driving them back. The firing ceased, and there was no firing for some half or three-quarters of an hour, I should think; I cannot exactly judge the time; but about that time. After about a half or three-quarters of an hour they then attacked us by firing heavy volleys. If I remember right, there was not a single skirmish shot fired. They came right out and delivered volley after volley. Our men returned the fire, and held the place some twenty minutes, I should judge, perhaps longer, not to exceed a half an hour, however. I was on the right at the time, or nearly in the center, when the firing commenced. The colonel was in the center. I ran to the right and took some 40 men. I took them along the brow of the mountain, or at the top of the height, to prevent being flanked on the right. There is a ridge of rocks higher than the other portion of the hill; a kind of a wall, you may say, of rocks that ran back at right angles with the work. About that time I saw a horseman come up the path that came about in rear of our center. Our colonel at that time had been wounded. What orders he gave I do not know, of my own knowledge. I saw the center and left begin to fall back. On the right, where I was, I could see large parties of men filling along, under cover of the woods, on the side of the hill below on our right; and my men who were standing on these rocks commenced firing at them, some of them. Before the second firing commenced, in the interval between the first skirmish with them and this second firing, Major Hewitt came up and told our colonel to hold these works as long as possible, and, if obliged to fall back, to go down by a path, which I did not know was there, to McGrath's battery, to fall down the northwestern slope of the mountain by a by-path that ran down in rear of McGrath's battery, and to make a stand at McGrath's battery and to hold it. When I saw the center, or rather when my men saw the left and center, give way, which was on the side we would have to fall back on, they fell back also without orders, running back along the brow on this ledge of rocks, jumping from one rock to another, toward the lookout. There were some blocks lying across one another. I supposed it was a place they had made signals from, or something of that kind. We crossed over near the block-house. The rebels by that time, some of them, had got to the breastworks where we had been, in the rear of them. They kept up a heavy fire all the time. We crossed over this path I speak of in the center of the mountain, going right along the brow of the mountain and got on this path that led down the northwestern slope of the mountain to McGrath's battery. A portion of the regiment, or of all the regiments, had gone back on this path leading right straight over the mountain. I took the portion that was with me, and went down this path leading to McGrath's battery, and rejoined the other portion up above McGrath's battery. There was quite a nice road leading from McGrath's battery until you reached the highest portion of the mountain overlooking Harper's Ferry. I rejoined the remainder of the regiment that was there. In fact, the left and right had all mingled together. They were not in any particular line in rear of these works. They had come in such order, filing in, that they had not got their proper places in line. We were then ordered to go back on to the mountain; to go back by the path leading straight over the mountain again. I got my men together after some little trouble, and started back. I got about the length of my regiment on through the path, which was so narrow that the men had to go single file mostly, when I was ordered to halt by a lieutenant whom I did not know. I was a stranger to nearly all the officers there, my own as well as the rest.