North Carolina and Third Arkansas Regiments to hold the open space between the woods and Longstreet's left, the division, with Ransom's brigade on the left, advanced in splendid style, firing and cheering as they went, and in a few minutes cleared the woods, strewing it with the enemy's dead and wounded. Colonel Manning, with the Forty-sixth and Forty-eighty North Carolina and Thirtieth Virginia, not content with the possession of the woods, dashed forward in gallant style, crossed the open fields beyond, driving the enemy before him like sheep, until, arriving at a long line of strong post and rail fences, behind which heavy masses of the enemy's infantry were lying, their advance was checked; and it being impossible to climb over these fences under such a fire, these regiments, after suffering a heavy loss, were compelled to fall back to the woods, where the Forty-sixth and Forty-eight North Carolina Regiments were quickly reformed, but the Thirtieth Virginia, owing to some unaccountable misunderstanding of orders, except Captain [John M.] Hudgin's company, went entirely off the field, and as a regiment, was not again engaged during the day. Captain [W. A.] Smith, of my staff, and myself succeeded in gathering up portions of it, which acting with the Forty-sixth North Carolina, afterward did good service.
Just before the falling back of these regiments, the gallant Colonel Manning was severely wounded and was compelled to leave the field, relinquishing the command of the brigade to the next in rank, Colonel E. D. Hall, of the Forty-sixth North Carolina Regiment.
The falling back of a portion of Manning's brigade enabled the enemy to temporarily reoccupy the point of woods near the position assigned to Colonel Cooke, commanding the Twenty-seventh North Carolina and the Third Arkansas Regiments, upon whom the enemy opened a galling fire of musketry, which was replied to with spirit; but the enemy having the cover of the woods while Colonel Cooke's command was on the open ground, this officer very properly drew them back to a corn-field and behind a rail fence, which gave them partial protection. From this position they kept up an effective fire upon the enemy, driving his artillerists from a battery they were attempting to get into position to bear upon Colonel Cooke's command. They afterward succeeded in getting off with their guns, but abandoned two caissons filled with rifle ammunition, from which Captain French that night replenished his exhausted limber-chests.
Early in the afternoon, Major-General Longstreet directed Colonel Cooke, with his own regiment (Twenty-seventh North Carolina) and the Third Arkansas, to charge the enemy, who was threatening his front, as if to pass through the opening between the point of timber held by Ransom's brigade and Longstreet's left. This order was promptly obeyed in the face of such a fire as troops have seldom encountered without running away, and with a steadiness and unfaltering gallantry seldom equaled. Battery after battery, regiment after regiment opened their fire upon them, hurling a torrent of missiles through their ranks, but nothing could arrest their progress, and three times the enemy broke and fled before their impetuous charge. Finally they reached the fatal picket-fences before alluded to. To climb over them, in the face of such a force and under such a fire, would have been sheer madness to attempt,