without a commander; they were ordered to join the regiment, which they promptly did.
The command had not proceeded far before firing became heavy on the left of the road, so much so that a company was then deployed as skirmishers in that direction to protect the flank. The men advanced slowly, driving the enemy (cheering all the while, inspired by the soul-stirring music of the band) some twenty-five or thirty minutes. The left being stronger than the right, it was advanced some 20 yards down the hill. After being engaged fifteen or twenty minutes, it was discovered the enemy was flanking us on the left. Captain Sandidge (Company B) retarded their movements by moving his company to the left.
Fearing that the enemy would flank us (moving to their superior numbers) in spite of our efforts to prevent it, and possibly get into our rear, by which means we would be either captured or destroyed, it was thought advisable under the circumstances to retire, but was accomplished with great difficulty. The road being occupied by the enemy we were compelled to ascend the mountain on the left of the road, over very rough ground and dense undergrowth, with rugged rocks and deep ravines to encounter. The enemy did not pursue any distance, and consequently the regiment was saved by retreating to the opposite side of the mountain (13 miles), where Companies K and G of my regiment were stationed.
By way of explanation why I was not with my command in the engagement, it is well for me to state that when I had descended the mountain more than half way I was told by several of my men who were unable to keep up in the rapid march, that the rebels were in the road between me and the regiment, and that it was impossible for me to proceed any farther (as they had been fired upon in their efforts to reach the command) without being captured or killed. Relieving that there were only a few in the way, I collected all the stragglers (8 in number) and deployed them in front of me for the purpose of reaching, if possible, my command by compelling the rebels to retire.
I had not gone far, however, when I was met by one of my men (who had been in the flight), and from him I learned that the regiment had fallen back.
When I received the information that my command was on the retreat, I dispatched word to Colonel Evans (supposing him to be not far off) that there were wagons (about 70) in the road upon the side of the mountain that possibly could be saved, and to bring the regiment to that point without delay.
I waited near the wagons some minutes, hoping to hear from him, and did not retire till I heard that the rebels were advancing and were not far from me.
Not being able to find my regiment, I rode back, hoping to meet the two companies under command of Major J. E. Hoskins, which I had ordered to the support of the other companies engaged, and cause them to return to protect the trains, which were several miles in advance, loaded with supplies for the army. I met the companies in 6 miles of Anderson's, and turned them back. But we were not pursued, and the trains reached their destination in safety.
Had we been sufficiently strong to have driven the enemy, we reached the scene of destruction too late to have saved the wagons at the foot of the mountain, for the trains were then in possession of the enemy, and most of the wagons destroyed.