(as I understood) until General Humphreys could come up on our right.
Soon afterward, hearing firing on our right, which I suppose was General Humphreys, we were again ordered forward. We pressed on under a very severe infantry and artillery fire, from which my regiment suffered very heavily, until we got within about 50 yards of the enemy's line, posted on a strong and elevated position on what I am informed was Pea Vine Ridge. Here the fire directed against my regiment was very deadly.
In the meantime, the regiment immediately on my right (and which had already obliqued much too far to the right of mine) veered still farther to the right, and left a gap between us, I suppose, of at least 300 yards. With my right flank thus exposed and my line terribly thinned by the galling fire that still raged in my front, and with no signs of a continued advance on my left, I found it impossible to advance farther with any advantage, and I therefore halted and returned the enemy's fire as effectively as I could. I directed an officer to report my surroundings to General Kershaw, who sent an order to retire behind a low ridge just in front of the fence which ran along the northern side of the field and which we had just before crossed. Here the line was reformed, and seeing the importance of holding this position, I directed my men in the lull of battle which then ensued to bring forward the rails from the fence mentioned, to make a rude breastwork just behind the crest of the ridge where we had taken position.
Soon afterward the enemy advanced against us, but were very handsomely repulsed by the cool and deliberate fire of our then thinned line. An irregular fire was then kept up until at length re-enforcements came up in General Gracie's brigade, which passed over my line and attacked the enemy in the position in which we had last assailed him, but, so far as I could discover, with no better success. After these re-enforcements became engaged my regiment took no active part in the action, as, on account of my heavy losses, and of the importance of holding the line then occupied, in case of failure of the pending attack, I understood that I was to act on the defensive. The wisdom of this order was afterward illustrated. When Gracie's brigade failed to carry this strong position of the enemy, they retired with other troops that had been unsuccessfully thrown against the same point. Night was now near, and the battle thus terminated in my immediate front.
My regiment, with those associated with it, became engaged about 12 m. (I suppose), and continued so until about 4 p.m. without relief or re-enforcements, but we drove the enemy nearly half a mile, and were only stopped when we encountered him in large force in the strong position mentioned; and though we did not succeed in forcing this position, the enemy eagerly availed himself of the cover of night to retreat from it.
A list* of casualties is herewith submitted. It will be seen that the losses in the regiment were heavy.
Among the gallant men who fell that day was Cap. W. A. Williams, Company F, who was acting major of the regiment when he was killed. He was an excellent officer and an estimable man, and his death is a serious loss only to his company, but the regiment.