War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0502 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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pushed to the left and front as far as the Weldon railroad, and a portion of the pioneers of this brigade went out to the road and commenced its destruction. At the same time I was called upon for 200 men, properly officered, to report to Lieutenant Colonel S. E. Pingree, Third Vermont, general officer of the day. The detail was made from the Eleventh Vermont, and the men were deployed so as to form a skirmish line from the right of the Fourth Vermont to be railroad, for the purpose of protecting the pioneers, and at the same time of maintaining a connection with the main force. Soon after I was called upon for another detail to support the line. This detail was to reported by a brigade staff officer, at a house named, to a division staff officer and by him placed in position. Major C. K. Fleming, Eleventh Vermont, was sent out in command of the force and received instructions from the division commander through the officer of his staff. Major Fleming's command was posted about half or three-quarters of a mile in front and to the left of the brigade, which constituted the extreme left of the time. The enemy attacked the party on the railroad and the skirmishers gradually fell back. It became evident that the enemy was advancing in considerable force, and Major Fleming strengthened his position by throwing up a breast-work of rails. It was thought that the attack would be made upon his front, but the enemy bore to the left around a skirt of woods. The picket-line in front of Ricketts' division advanced. It was said that it was ordered forward one mile and would protect Major Fleming's right. About the same time the Fourth Vermont was ordered forward as skirmishers on the left of Major Walker's battalion. Two regiments of the First Brigade were hurried forward to strengthen the line in that direction. Having no control over that portion of the brigade on picket, or the skirmish line, but observing the movements of the enemy, and fearing for the safety of that portion of the command that was to the front in the direction of the railroad, I went to General Wright, commanding the corps, and expressed to him my fears. He went me to the front to observe the situation. His attention was called to the position of the Fourth Vermont and Major Fleming's command, and to the fact that if the line should be broken at the point then threatened the enemy would come quite into their rear. It was said in reply that the officer in command had his instructions, and that in case the enemy broke through on the left these forces could fall back to the right and come in front of Ricketts' division, and for aught there appeared this could be done. The enemy broke through at the threatened point and occupied an open field in the rear of the Fourth Vermont and Major Fleming, and when they attempted to fall back toward the right, it was found that the picket-line in front of the Third Division had fallen back and that the enemy occupied in force the woods to the right and rear; escape in that direction was impossible. The forces on the right and left closed up and formed a line in the rear, and but a few escaped. All that subsequently transpired is not fully known, but enough is known to satisfy me that our men fought to the last, and surrendered only when the ammunition was nearly exhausted, and surrender became necessary. The Fourth Vermont Volunteers was commanded by Major John E. Pratt, a cool and intrepid officer, whose dashing bravery had often been put to the test and has never been found wanting; Major Fleming had also on more than one occasion proved himself a gallant and accomplished officer. Although Lieutenant Colonel S. E. Pingree, Third Vermont, was not under my command that day, but was acting as officer of the day in charge of the whole picket or skirmish line, I bear willing testimony to his coolness and bravery and almost