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[95] inch was yielded. They stood up and fired, and fell, but did not retire. How long they were thus engaged with their concealed and numerous enemies I cannot say, but it was long enough to thin their ranks down to the merest handful, and to strew heaps on heaps of dead where their bullets were directed.

After long contending in this manner, the order was passed along the line, “Cease firing;” and it was added in explanation: “You are shooting down your friends.” The men were very unwilling to obey, but the officers, fearing some dreadful mistake, went along the line and with their swords enforced the order to cease firing, and after they had ceased the enemy poured in two more volleys. The remnant of the gallant regiment was then led out of the woods. The next order given was to occupy one or more of the rifle-pits; but, when they approached, these were all occupied but one, and that was so full of water that the men could not load their pieces in it. They were then led out into the open field, and took possession of a house and outhouses that stood in the front, and here their rifles told with fearful effect upon the foe. But, while they and their comrades of that brigade were so nobly contesting the ground, the enemy was pouring in fresh troops on every side, and the complete slaughter of the entire command would have resulted had not a retrograde movement been ordered. The Fifty-second, outflanked by the still increasing and advancing foe, was obliged to leave the position that for an hour or more it had occupied and used so well. They marched toward the rear amid a perfect hail-storm of bullets, which still further thinned their ranks, until not over seventy men of the entire regiment remained. Col. Dodge and Major Conyngham tried to form this mere squad into line of battle, and have them take ground again to oppose the advancing tide; but the effort was vain. The men would no longer stand to be shot down in so vain and unequal a strife. They did not equal one company in number, and would not undertake a regiment's work. For nearly four hours they and their comrades of Naglee's brigade had borne the brunt of the battle, and had held some forty thousand rebels in check, while they themselves did not number two thousand in all. Indeed, the entire number of Casey's division was less than six thousand effective men.

It cannot be denied, and need not be concealed, that some regiments of this division acted badly. Whatever was the cause, the One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania volunteers became disorganized, and their panic affected, to some extent, those in front. But if any one supposes that the rest of the division was panic-stricken, or broke into a rout, he is greatly mistaken. Cut to pieces literally, they retreated in as good order as was practicable. A few of their guns were lost, (not twelve batteries, nor even three batteries,) but why? Every horse was shot, and were the men to carry their own arms and accoutrements and yet haul their artillery off the field? Who expects anything so unreasonable, or who among those who are reported as having done so “splendidly” could have saved their guns under such circumstances? Regiments from other commands came up fresh on the field to succor us, but were among the first to leave it, and have since been the loudest in their boasting and in denouncing Casey's division.

Finally, about half-past 4 or five o'clock, some of Heintzelman's and Sumner's corps came up, and took our places. After this the enemy did not press us any further, but they were not driven back fifty yards at any point. Indeed, after five o'clock there was hardly any firing at all. They took possession of our camp and Couch's, and there passed the night. Very early in the morning they determined to retreat, and had commenced their backward march when Sumner attacked their rear-guard. The fight of Saturday was disastrous, but full of glory for those who maintained it so long and so well against such fearful odds. The fight of Sunday was little more than the pursuit of an enemy who, feeling himself foiled, had determined on retreat. It was a victory for us, but it was marked by no such heroism and no such strife as the battle of the day before.

The One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania volunteers went into the fight on Saturday about four hundred strong, and next morning rations were issued to one hundred and sixty-two men. Its Colonel and Major were both wounded. The Fifty-second Pennsylvania volunteers went in two hundred and forty-eight strong, and lost in killed and wounded one hundred and twenty, just one half; at present, after picket companies have rejoined, and sick returned, it numbers about two hundred men. The Fifty-sixth New-York, the Eleventh Maine, and the One Hundredth New-York, show proportions of the same character. If, then, any man can show an engagement during this or any other war where from one third to one half of all engaged were cut down, we will confess that Casey's division, or at least Naglee's brigade, deserves no special credit; but at present we claim to have equalled in courage, in work, and in loss on the field any portion of the army that has as yet stood face to face with the rebels. We bear the reproach of cowards, (so kindly and judiciously given by our Commander-in-chief,) and Heintzelman, Couch, Kearney, and others have the credit of doing “splendidly,” and retrieving what we so basely lost; but we dare them to a comparison of mortality. Let our dead and wounded speak for us. Let the length of time we checked the entire rebel force testify for us. And let the public insist that justice be done publicly and amply to a body of men who feel that where they have earned thanks and praise, they have received only harshness and calumny.

The whole of Naglee's brigade is now less in size than some regiments of it were three months ago. What shall be done with it? Until justice is fully done, no officer or man in the brigade cares a straw. If their best efforts win for them only the character of cowards they will not be


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Naglee (3)
Silas Casey (3)
E. V. Sumner (2)
S. P. Heintzelman (2)
Couch (2)
P. Kearney (1)
C. C. Dodge (1)
Conyngham (1)
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