War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0091 Chapter LXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

directing me to occupy the woods to the right and front of the redoubt and about 500 yards distant, this wood being a densely thick forest and supposed to be the left of the enemy's line. I at once directed Colonel Mott, Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment, to move with his regiment, following down a ravine which might serve to protect his command from the fire of the enemy's artillery. This regiment, led by its intelligent and spirited commander, marched boldly in the direction of the forest indicated, and when within 200 or 300 yards of it threw out a company of skirmishers. This line of skirmishers, preceding the regiment, took possession of the woods without firing. The regiment followed the skirmishers and formed into line just within the edge of the woods. The two remaining regiments of the brigade, Ninth and Tenth Alabama, Colonels Henry and Woodward, were moved forward to the support of Colonel Mott, and halted near to and in rear of his regiment. At this time, between 9 and 10 a. m., I ordered Colonel Mott to deploy skirmishers to his front in the woods, cautioning him not to throw them too far, as the forest was very sense and difficult to penetrate from the thick undergrowth. This line of skirmishers were soon engaged with the enemy, and after some fifteen or twenty minutes were recalled, having captured three prisoners, one a private of the Seventy-second New York, and the others privates of the Sixth New Jersey. The Tenth Alabama was now placed in position in line on the right of the Nineteenth Mississippi, and the Ninth Alabama in rear and extending a little beyond the left flank of this regiment. As soon as the Tenth Alabama had taken its position the enemy were seen in its front, and apparently moving toward its right flank. An irregular and scattering fire ensued, which was promptly returned by the enemy. The forest extending far beyond the right flank of the Tenth Alabama, I detached two companies from the Ninth Alabama and moved them so as to protect this flank of that regiment, and prevent its being turned. I am thus particular in reporting in detail, for the reason that at this time I had no force but my three regiments, one of which, with but eight companies and numbering 320 muskets, another with nine companies and numbering only 333 muskets.

Firing was heard at this time in front of the Nineteenth Mississippi and Tenth Alabama. Not having yet as definite knowledge of the strength and position of the enemy as was necessary, Colonel Mott was ordered to advance his regiment to the front 100 or 150 yards, and then to deploy two companies as skirmishers to the front, with instructions to penetrate as far as practicable, and if possible to the open field and fallen timber believed to be in front some 300 or 400 yards, in order that the ground over which we were to move and the position of the enemy's battery might be known. These two companies had not advanced more than 100 yards when they became engaged with the enemy's skirmishers, who fell back, pursued by ours. The pursuit was soon arrested by a strong force of the enemy concealed behind a fence in the thick woods and parallel to our line. The enemy opened a heavy fire upon the skirmishers, who then fell back. In this skirmish Captain Macon was severely wounded while commanding his men in this exposed and dangerous duty with great coolness and judgment. Several prisoners were taker. Knowing from the clear and intelligent report of Captain Macon that the enemy were in strong force immediately in my front, and this being confirmed by the statements of the captured prisoners, I dispatched one of my staff a Brigadier-General Hill to ask that he should advance to my support with a portion of his brigade. Not finding General Hill, Brigadier-General