appeal for speedy help.
Instead of moving a small force forward to an immediate attack, which would, of course, have been successful, three rifled-guns were unlimbered, and a fierce cannonade was commenced, and continued while troops were preparing for the assault.
My first courier found General Stuart
as incredulous concerning the presence of the enemy in his rear as I had been; but simultaneous with my second message came the sound of the cannonading, and there was no longer room for doubt.
The nearest point from which a regiment could be sent was Jones
' position, not less than two miles distant from Fleetwood
Two of his regiments, the Twelfth Virginia, Colonel Harman
, and White
's Thirty-fifth Virginia Battalion, were immediately withdrawn from his line and ordered at a gallop to meet this new danger.
But minutes expanded seemingly into hours to those anxious watchers on the hill, who feared, lest, after all, help could
not arrive in time.
But it did
The emergency was so pressing that Colonel Harman
had no time to form his regiment in squadrons, or even platoons.
He reached the top of the hill as Lieutenant Carter
was retiring his gun after having fired his very last cartridge.
Not fifty yards below Sir Percy Wyndham
was advancing a strong regiment in magnificent order, in column of squadrons, with flags and guidons flying, directly upon the hill, and to meet this attack the Twelfth Virginia was compelled to move forward instantly, though disordered by a hard gallop, and in column of fours.
The result was a recoil, which extended for a time to White
's Battalion, which was following close after.
reached the hill a few moments later, and, satisfied that he had here to encounter a large force of the enemy, he ordered both Jones
to withdraw with the artillery from the Beverly's ford
road and concentrate upon Fleetwood Hill
And now the first serious contest was for the possession of this hill, and so stubbornly was this fought on either side, and for so long a time, that all of Jones
' regiments, and all of Hampton
's, participated successively in the charges and counter-charges which swept across its face.
At one time Gregg
would have possession, at another Stuart
; but at no time did Gregg
retain possession sufficiently long to bring up his guns to the crest.
He did, indeed, advance three guns to the foot of the hill; but there they were destined to remain.
On the other hand, Stuart
did gain position little by little.
How fierce this struggle was, and with what determined gallantry fought by both sides, may, perhaps, best be shown by an extract from Major Beckham