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Ii.--Hood “feeling the enemy.”

by J. H. L.
immediately after the battle of Williamsburg, as the Confederates under Johnston were moving back toward Richmond, neither by land nor water, but by a half-and-half mixture of both, General Johnston ordered me to go at once to General Hood. “Tell him,” he said, “that a force of the enemy, estimated at from three to five thousand, have landed on York River, and are ravaging the country. His brigade must immediately check the advance of this force. He is to feel the enemy gently and fall back, avoiding an engagement and drawing them from under the protection of their gun-boats, as an ample force will be sent in their rear, and if he can draw them a few miles from the river, their capture is certain.”

The order was given. General Hood repeated it to the colonel of his brigade; and the Texas boys, who were “sp'iling for a fight,” charged upon the enemy, who outnumbered them greatly, drove them back to the shelter of their gun-boats, killing and capturing several hundred. Returning to Headquarters, I had to report a result not at all in accordance with the orders or expectations of the general in command. General Johnston seemed greatly annoyed, and sternly ordered me to repeat the exact verbal orders given Hood. Just as I did so, General Hood rode up. He was asked by General Johnston to repeat the orders received from me. When he did so, “Old Joe,” with the soldierly and game-cock air which characterized him, said: “General Hood, have you given an illustration of the Texas idea of feeling an enemy gently and falling back? What would your Texans have done, sir, if I had ordered them to charge and drive back the enemy?” Hood replied: “I suppose, General, they would have driven them into the river, and tried to swim out and capture the gun-boats.” With a smile, General Johnston replied: “Teach your Texans that the first duty of a soldier is literally to obey orders.”

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