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[299] neither from that command nor from any other had we any support. Of course it is to be presumed that General Daniel acted in obedience to orders.1 We remained in this breastwork after the charge about an hour before we finally abandoned the Federal entrenchments and retired to the foot of the hill. The Federal historians say we were driven from our position. Thus Swinton affirms that “it was carried by a charge of Geary's division.” This statement I deny as an eye-witness and sharer in the conflict to the close, and as one of the staff who assisted in carrying out the order withdrawing the troops to the base of the hill. It was a very difficult thing to withdraw the fragments of a shattered brigade down a steep hill in the face of the enemy, and I have a vivid recollection of our apprehensions of the result, of such a movement. But it was done, not before a charge of the enemy, but in obedience to orders, and we were not pursued, nor were the works occupied by the Federals until we reached Rock creek, at the base of the hill.

A few of our men on our left, rather than incur the danger of retiring down the hill under that very heavy fire, remained behind in the entrenchments and gave themselves up. The base of the hill reached, skirmishers were thrown out, and we remained on the west side of Rock creek till 11} P. M., when we retired silently and unmolested. I find the following record in my diary referring to the time when we retired to the foot of the hill: “New troops were brought on, and fighting continued until now (5 P. M).” This must refer to picket firing.

It only remains that I give such statement of our losses as my materials enable me to make. Unfortunately, I have returns only from three

1 “As soon as we were unmasked a most terrific fire was opened upon us from three directions. In front, on a rising ground heavily wooded, the enemy were posted in two lines behind breastworks, one above the other, so that both lines fired upon us at once. On the left was a piece of woods, from which the enemy's sharpshooters opened a very galling fire, raking our whole line. This decided the failure of our attempt to storm their works, for the regiments on the left first halted (while the right of the line advanced), and then fell back. . . . Still we pressed on. General Steuart, Captain Williamson, and I were all on the right-centre, where was the Second Maryland and eight men of the Third North Carolina. Oh! it was a gallant band. We had our sabres drawn, and were cheering on the men, but there was little need of it. Their gallantry did not avail, and their noble blood was spilled in vain. . . . It was as if the sickle of Death had passed along the line and mown down the noblest and the bravest. Major Goldsborough fell (as we supposed), mortally wounded. That brave officer and noble gentleman, Captain Murray, fell dead. Friends dropped all around me, and lay writhing on the ground. .... It was more than men could endure, and reluctantly they commenced falling back. Then our task was to prevent a rout, for the brigade was terribly cut up and the men much demoralized. Behind some rocks we rallied the scattered regiments and made a stand. Finally we took our old position behind the breastworks, supported by Daniel's brigade. Here we lay for about an hour under the most furious infantry and artillery fire I have ever experienced, but without much loss.” --Extract from a letter describing the battle. I give it just as I find it, adding that if the tattered battle-flag of the Third North Carolina was followed by only a handfull, it was because they had already suffered more heavily than any other regiment.

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Rock Creek, Menard County, Illinois (Illinois, United States) (2)

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Daniel (2)
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11 AD (1)
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