would be the last of it. We knew neither the numbers of the enemy, nor their plans, nor their present condition: whether they had surprised us or whether we had surprised them was all a mystery.
was urgent to go on and complete the enterprise.
All my impulses said the same thing; but then I had the most explicit injunctions from General Saxton
to risk as little as possible in this first enterprise, because of the fatal effect on public sentiment of even an honorable defeat.
We had now an honorable victory, so far as it went; the officers and men around me were in good spirits, but the rest of the column might be nervous; and it seemed so important to make the first fight an entire success, that I thought it wiser to let well alone; nor have I ever changed this opinion.
For one's self, Montrose
's verse may be well applied, “To win or lose it all.”
But one has no right to deal thus lightly with the fortunes of a race, and that was the weight which I always felt as resting on our action.
If my raw infantry force had stood unflinchingly a night-surprise from “de hoss cavalry,” as they reverentially termed them, I felt that a good beginning had been made.
All hope of surprising the enemy's camp was now at an end; I was willing and ready to fight the cavalry over again, but it seemed wiser that we, not they, should select the ground.
Attending to the wounded, therefore, and making as we best could stretchers for those who were to be carried, including the remains of the man killed at the first discharge (Private William Parsons
of Company G), and others who seemed at the point of death, we marched through the woods to the landing,--expecting at every moment to be involved in another fight.
This not occurring, I was more than ever satisfied that we had won