War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0794 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

This would have enveloped the principal work on the south and east, and had General Heckman obeyed my orders many valuable lives would have been saved, and his division, reaching the work after Stannard's had taken it, would have been available to have attacked the only other work which intervened between us and Richmond in the rear; but he went too far into the woods, got his brigades scattered, and when found was not available in the right place. Stannard's division was ordered to advance across the open at quick time directly to attack, and at double-quick when they had reached the hill. This they did beautifully, wavering a little just at the foot of the hill, which the fort crowned, when the fire of musketry and artillery was very severe. But I dispatched all my staff (just then around me) to urge the men forward, and followed them. The hill was ascend with heavy loss to us. Officers and men jumped into the ditch, followed it along round so as to cut off and capture the rebels in the extreme bastion, and helped each other up the parapet at that point. As soon as we entered this bastion or salient, I caused the guns to be turned upon the nearest adjacent parts of the enemy's works, and drove them out; and reconnoitering I saw though the smoke and fire what I supposed for some minutes was General Heckman's column entering the work next beyond Fort Harrison, Fort Gilmer; but it soon proved to be a large re-enforcement of the enemy. The men who had got into the fort were scattered behind its parapets and in its ditches fighting the rebels, who had not left the adjacent parts. I tried to gather a party and form them with a view to swing round inside, but there were but few men to collect; all was confusion and excitement. The brigade which led in had lost mortally and badly wounded two commanders in succession. Nearly all the persons in the work were company officers, and with such as I could collect I pushed toward the river, inside the work still occupied by the rebels, with a view to reconnoiter and, if possible, get possession of the pontoon bridge by which any re-enforcements would have to cross to the fort. While doing so I was hit in the upper part of the leg, inside. Stanching the wound with an improvised tourniquet, I continued in command until a surgeon coming up remonstrated, and I sent for General Heckman, turned the command over to him, told him to gather all the division (which had not as yet engaged the enemy), to the right of and about half a mile up the road, just about to attack the work in front of it. I told him my orders were to occupy such works as we took, and with any spare forces we had to push on, attacking the works toward Richmond in succession. I learned that he afterward attempted to take the next work, Fort Gilmer, by an attack in front, but failed, with heavy loss. After this was reported to me it was perhaps 10 or 11 o'clock, and I began to feel anxious that something should be done. The guns of General Birney's column could then for the first time barely be heard some miles to our right. The enemy still retained both banks of the river, and his gun-boats were firing into us from below. Their forces were expected across every minute, threatening my communications with our pontoon bridge, over which I had sent for ammunition and artillery. General Butler, in written orders he issued the night before, had limited my ammunition, and the First Division had exhausted it all. He had in the same orders specially prohibited a single wagon (and reserve ammunition is always carried in wagons) from crossing the pontoon bridge without orders from him. As soon as we got into the fort I sent two staff officers to