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[391] A few minutes later Lieutenant-General Hampton reported that the Seventeenth Corps had broken through the mere “skirmish-line” of his left, and was pressing rapidly toward Bentonville, in rear of our centre and on the only route of retreat. Lieutenant-General Hardee was directed to unite the troops then marching to the left, and to oppose this movement with them. But the rapid march of the leading Federal troops, Mower's division, left no time for this union. Fortunately, Lieut.-Gen. Hampton, while leading a cavalry reserve to meet the enemy, saw Cumming's Georgia brigade, commanded by Colonel Henderson, on its way to the left, and directed it toward Bentonvilie. It reached the point in the road toward which the enemy was marching just as he appeared. Lieut.-Gen. Hardee galloped up at the same time, followed by the Eighth Texas cavalry regiment which he had found on the way. He instantly directed Henderson to charge the enemy in front, and the Texans their left flank; Lieut.-Gen. Hampton coming up on the other side with Young's brigade, commanded at the time by Colonel Wright, threw it against Mower's right flank; and Maj.-Gen. Wheeler, at a considerable distance from this point, assailed the rear of the Federal column in flank with a part of Allen's Alabamians. These simultaneous attacks were so skillfully and bravely made, that in spite of the great disparity of numbers, the enemy was defeated in a few minutes, and driven back along the route by which the column had advanced. In the Eighth Texan regiment, Lieut.-Gen. Hardee's only son, a noble youth of sixteen, charging bravely in the foremost rank, fell mortally wounded.

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