War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 0934 N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

Search Civil War Official Records

I had been out on the front lines in command of these two companies as the skirmishing detail from the Fourteenth [Tennessee], and, when relieved by skirmishers from Anderson's division (I think it was), was much surprised to find our division had moved, I knew not where. We, however, started down the Plank road, and were met by one of the general's couriers, who directed us which way to go. We had marched, perhaps, 1 1/2 miles when we heard firing behind us, and noticed a considerable confusion among the portion of the train behind. The company was then halted to rest and get water. Several officers rode rapidly up from the direction of the firing, and asked to know what regiment. I told them it was no regiment, but only two companies of the Fourteenth Tennessee Regiment (General Archer's brigade) that had been on picket, but had been relieved and ordered to rejoin their command. They reported to me that the train had been attacked and was in great danger of being cut off. I hesitated a moment whether to go back or go on, for three reasons: 1st, I did not know but that it might be a false alarm and stampede, occasioned probably by the pickets fighting at the point we had come from; 2nd, I supposed we certainly must have a part of our army back in that direction; 3rd, I did not wish to disobey orders, for the reason that if I went back under orders from unknown and irresponsible sources, I might lay myself liable for not rejoining the regiment without delay. I was, however, relieved from this dilemma by the timely arrival of Captain [George] Lemmon, to whom I stated my position. He told me he thought I would not do wrong in going back, and that he would be responsible for the step. I immediately countermarched the company and started back at a double-quick, with orders to report to Colonel [J. T.] Brown, of the artillery. I met a good many men with guns in their hands; these I ordered to fall in. At the top of the hill, just this side of the furnace, I met the Twenty-third Georgia Regiment falling back in much confusion. We rallied them, and commenced forming a line of battle. The enemy had gained possession of the furnace works, and was pouring bullets into us. The last of the train was now passing as rapidly as possible the ground we held. Colonel Brown had ordered me, if I could not hold my ground here, to fall back slowly to a point a quarter of a mile ahead, where he had planted two pieces of artillery, and support it while he held the enemy in check, which we did. Formed again in a railroad cut just in front of his artillery, and put out skirmishers. We lay for twenty minutes exposed to the fire of the two batteries. We remained here long enough to give the train an hour and a half the start.

I received an order from Colonel Brown about an hour by sun to fall back as quickly and quietly as possible. The enemy's skirmishers and ours were then within 50 yards of each other. As we retreated over the hill, they poured a heavy fire into us. Fortunately, but one man was hurt. A portion of the Twenty-third Georgia Regiment came out with us; a portion remained and continued fighting. I do not know why they did not come out, as the order to fall back was carried to them by Lieutenant [A. P.] Collins, of Company L.

I am happy to state that, with the exception of one caisson broken down, the entire train got by safely. The enemy fired into the train, and killed 1 and wounded 1 horse. We rejoined the regiment just before it halted for the night.

Respectfully, & c.,


Captain Company H, Fourteenth Tennessee Regiment.

Captain R. H. ARCHER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.