and their ammunition being now almost exhausted, Colonel Cooke, very properly, gave the order to fall back, which was done in the most perfect order, after which the regiments took up their former position, which they continued to hold until night.
In the mean time Brigadier-General Ransom, whose brigade was farther on the left, having driven the enemy through and from the woods, with heavy loss, continued, with his own brigade and Colonel Hall's (Forty-sixth Regiment North Carolina), to hold it for the greater portion of the day, notwithstanding three determined infantry attacks, which each time were repulsed with great loss to the enemy, and against a most persistent and terrific artillery fire, by which the enemy hoped, doubtless, to drive us from our strong position-the very key of the battle-field. His hopes, however, were not realized. True to their duty, for eight hours our brave men lay upon the ground, taking advantage of such undulations and shallow ravines as gave promise of partial shelter, while this fearful storm raged a few feet above their heads, tearing the trees asunder, lopping off huge branches, and filling the air with shrieks and explosions, realizing to the fullest the fearful sublimity of battle.
During this time, in the temporary absence of General Ransom from his brigade to post the Twenty-fourth North Carolina, which had gone too much to the left and beyond Barksdale's brigade, the enemy made a furious attack, with heavy masses of infantry, upon the position occupied by General Ransom. Colonel Ransom, of the Thirty-fifth North Carolina, in temporary command of the brigade, not only repulsed the enemy but pursued him across the field as far as the post-and-rail fences, inflicting upon him so severe a punishment that no other attempt with infantry was made on the position during the day. While I was with General Ransom's command, about 4.30 o'clock in the afternoon, an order was brought from General Longstreet directing General Ransom to advance and capture the enemy's batteries in his front. Having been previously instructed by General Ransom to delay the execution of General Longstreet's order until I could see General Longstreet, in person, and confer with him on the subject. Upon my representations to him, he approved what I had done, and, while we were in conversation on the subject, General Jackson himself joined us, and informed us that General Stuart had made the attempt spoken of but found it impracticable, as the enemy's right was securely posted on the Potomac and protected by heavy batteries of his reserve artillery. It was then determined that the attempt to force the enemy's right with our fearfully thinned ranks and in the exhausted condition of our men was an effort above our strength.
Toward 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I was directed by General Longstreet to move Ransom's brigade toward the right to re-enforce our center, where the enemy were making demonstrations as if for an advance upon our position. No attack was, however, made, but the enemy's artillery continued to play upon the woods, upon our batteries, and upon every position along our line which they supposed to be occupied by our troops, our own batteries replying but slowly, for the want of ammunition. Gradually, as night approached, this fire died away, and darkness finally put an end to this long and bloody battle. My division rested until next morning where night overtook them and upon the line occupied by them during the day.
The conduct of the division was, generally, excellent, and, in some