War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0698 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

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left the crest, which it was essential for it to occupy on account of being of too short range to compete with the longer range guns of the enemy, but I sent orders for its return. Jenkins' brigade was chiefly employed dismounted, and fought with decided effect until the 10 rounds were expended, and then retreated, under circumstances of difficulty and exposure which entailed the loss of valuable men. The left, where Hampton's and Lee's brigades were, by this time became heavily engaged as dismounted skirmishers. My plan was to employ the enemy in front with sharpshooters, and move a command of cavalry upon their left flank from the position lately held by me, but the falling back of Jenkins' men (that officer was wounded the day previous, before reporting to me, and his brigade was now commanded by Colonel [M. J.] Ferguson, Sixteenth Virginia Cavalry) caused a like movement of those on the left, and the enemy, sending forward a squadron or two, were about to cut off and capture a portion of our dismounted sharpshooters. To prevent this, I ordered forward the nearest cavalry regiment (one of W. H. F. Lee's) quickly to charge this force of cavalry. It was gallantly done, and about the same time a portion of General Fitz. Lee's command charged on the left, the First Virginia Cavalry being most conspicuous. In these charges, the impetuosity of those gallant fellows, after two weeks of hard marching and hard fighting on short rations, was not only extraordinary, but irresistible. The enemy's masses vanished before them like grain before the scythe, and that regiment elicited the admiration of every beholder, and eclipsed the many laurels already won by its gallant veterans. Their impetuosity carried them too far, and the charge being very much prolonged, their horses, already jaded by hard marching, failed under it. Their movement was too rapid to be stopped by couriers, and the enemy perceiving it, were turning upon them with fresh horses. The First North Carolina Cavalry and Jeff. Davis Legion were sent to their support, and gradually this hand-to-hand fighting involved the greater portion of the command till the enemy were driven from the field, which was now raked by their artillery, posted about three quarters of a mile off, our officers and men behaving with the greatest heroism throughout. Our own artillery commanding the same ground, no more hand-to-hand fighting occurred, but the wounded were removed and the prisoners (a large number) taken to the rear. The enemy's loss was unmistakably heavy; numbers not known. Many of his killed and wounded fell into our hands. That brave and distinguished officer, Brigadier-General Hampton, was seriously wounded twice in this engagement. Among the killed was Major [W. G.] Conner, a gallant and efficient officer of the Jeff. Davis. Legion. Several officers and many valuable men were killed and wounded whose names it is not now in my power to furnish, but which, it is hoped, will be ultimately furnished in the reports of regimental and brigade commanders. Notwithstanding the favorable results obtained, I would have preferred a different method of attack, as already indicated; but I soon saw that entanglement by the force of circumstances narrated was unavoidable, and determined to make the best fight possible. General Fitz. Lee was always in the right place, and contributed his usual conspicuous share to the success of the day. Both he and the gallant First Virginia begged me (after the hot encounter) to allow them to take the enemy's battery, but I doubted the practicability of the ground for such a purpose.