a hill, commanding the road from Liberty Gap to Bellbuckle. About 12 o'clock my regiment was ordered forward to a hill a quarter of a mile in advance and immediately in our front. Deploying forward two companies as skirmishers, I placed the main body of the regiment immediately behind the crest of the hill. My orders were to observe the movements of the enemy and protect my skirmishers from any sudden assault. The skirmishers of the enemy were visible, occupying the woods on the opposite side of an intervening corn-field, some 500 or 600 yards distant, immediately in front of us.
In the afternoon, Colonel Featherston, who, with the Fifth Arkansas Regiment, supported by the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Arkansas Regiments, occupied a position on our extreme left, was ordered to move his skirmishers forward, and ascertain the disposition and force of the enemy in that quarter. After a spirited and heavy skirmish, a considerable force was developed in his front. During the skirmish my skirmishers were pushed forward to the foot of the hill, in order to be in a more advantageous position for firing on the enemy, who were moving across a rye-field, situated 400 or 500 yards diagonally to the left, and entering the woods in front of Colonels Featherston's and Josey's position. Annoyed by the constant and well-directed fire kept up by my skirmishers, the enemy made several ineffectual attempts to dislodge them from their position. Three lines of their skirmishers were driven back in confusion after advancing half-way across the field in our front. About this time two of my companies that were deployed at the foot of the hill reported to me that their ammunition was exhausted. Relieving them with two other companies, I sent immediately to the rear to supply the deficiency in ammunition, but unfortunately the ordnance train was some distance in rear, and it was impossible to supply the deficiency in time to avail me in the coming emergency.
About this time three lines of the enemy (amounting to five regiments, some say seven; I could see five flags) advanced boldly across the cornfield in front to the charge. The first line was repulsed and driven back in disorder, the second and third shared the same fate, and retired rapidly under a galling and deadly fire to the opposite side of the field. Three-fourths of my regiment were by this time out of ammunition. The enemy, reforming his disordered ranks and being re-enforced by fresh numbers, advanced again to the charge, and succeeded this time in reaching the foot of the hill. About this time the Sixth Arkansas Regiment came to my assistance, but too late to render any effectual resistance.
My ammunition was now entirely exhausted. Exposed to a heavy fire without being able to inflict any punishment on the enemy, I requested permission to withdraw to the rear, which being granted, my regiment retired in good order to the position occupied by us in the morning. The officers and men of my regiment behaved with the greatest coolness and gallantry, and retired from their position only when ordered to do so and their ammunition was exhausted.
The loss in my regiment was very severe, a report of which has already been furnished.* That of the enemy must have been at least 400 or 500 killed and wounded.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. C. GOVAN,
Captain G. A. WILLIAMS,
*See list of casualties, p. 592.
38 R R-VOL XXIII, PT I