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[212] at this point from our advance. On either hand were bushes on the edge of the marsh for some little distance. The whole space at the saddle was occupied by the enemy's work, impracticable abattis on either hand, with carefully prepared trous de loup, and in front a ditch seven feet deep, with a parapet of hard-packed earth, having a relief of some nine feet above the general surface of the ground. On the fort was mounted six guns, covering the field of our approach. The whole interior of the work was swept by fire from the rifle-pits and defences in the rear, and the flank of the work itself, and the bushes lining the marsh on either hand, were under the fire of riflemen and sharp-shooters, stationed in the woods and defences lying between the work and the village of Secessionville.

It will thus be seen that the whole front was scarcely enough to deploy a single regiment. Col. Fenton, in command of the First brigade, used every exertion to throw the Eighth Michigan as far to the right as possible, and to bring on, in support, the Seventh Connecticut and the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, but the terrible fire of grape and musketry from the enemy's works cut the two former regiments in two, the right going to the right and the left to the left, whither, finally, the whole of the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts took its position, and where they were joined without scarcely an interval of time, by the One Hundredth Pennsylvania and the Forty-sixth New-York, of Leasure's brigade. These regiments had been brought up with great promptness and energy by Col. Leasure, and the right of the One Hundredth had pushed up to and joined the Seventy-ninth in their charge.

It was during this brief period of less than one half hour — from five to half-past 5 o'clock--that the greater portion of the casualties occured. The Eighth Michigan made the most heroic exertions, and suffered the most terrible losses. Captains Pratt, Church, Guild, and Lieut. Cattrell, commanding companies, were killed, and Capts. Doyle and Lewis and Lieut. Bates, commanding companies, were wounded on or near the parapet of the work. My Aid-de-Camp, Lieut. Lyons, who led the storming party, and the first man to cross the ditch, was severely wounded on the berme of the work, and was obliged to retire. Of twenty-two officers of that regiment who went into action, twelve were killed and wounded.

Seeing that without supports and re-forming the line it was useless to continue the contest, I ordered the troops to be so formed on the hedge nearest the works, and the regiments that had suffered most, namely, the Eighth Michigan, the Seventy-ninth Highlanders, and the Seventh Connecticut, to be withdrawn to the second hedge, to be re-formed.

It was not until in execution of this order the line at the advanced hedge had been formed, and the regiments at the second hedge were forming, that Col. Williams's advance was to be seen to our left, and soon afterward his Aid-de-Camp, Lieut. Adams, reported to me for orders. My orders to Col. Williams were to maintain the position he had taken on that flank, and do the best, in concert with our attack, the circumstances of the ground permitted. The movement of Col. Williams was, in my judgment, the best thing that could be done, and he executed it in a manner worthy of all admiration.

Some time was occupied in establishing the whole line at the advanced hedge. The remains of two or three companies of the Eighth Michigan, and of several companies of the Highlanders never once abandoned their advanced positions on the right and left of the enemy's works, till ordered to do so at a subsequent period of the action, and the remainder of the regiments were gallantly led — that of the Eighth Michigan, by Capt. Ely, twice wounded, and the only officer of the storming party not killed or disabled, and that of the Highlanders by their gallant Lieut.-Col. Morrison, who, wounded in the head on the parapet, seemed only the more eager to lead on to the assault. The Seventh Connecticut also moved up in a beautiful and sustained line of battle; for it must be borne in mind there had not been the least panic or running from the field on the part of a single regiment. Commands, in consequence of the roughness of the ground, the unexpected abrupt narrowing of the front at the neck of the peninsula, the destructive fire of grape and musketry from the enemy, and the rapidity with which regiment followed regiment, were divided, became somewhat intermingled, and it was simply a necessity to disentangle and re-form them. Not a fugitive did I observe passing from the battle-field.

The battery which had been temporarily withdrawn to the road, was again advanced to the hedge, and opened a destructive fire upon the enemy. Of my entire command, all were thus advanced except the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts, which had withdrawn, and now occupied a position on the left at the road.

The command was in excellent spirits and in a position enabling them clearly to discern the effect of our fire, and were prepared and eager to be led to the assault. The flank movement by Williams was having a very marked effect. I sent word to Brig.-Gen. Benham, commanding the forces, through his staff-officer, Capt. Elwell, that my troops were in line of battle, my guns in position at the hedge, and that I was preparing to move upon the enemy's works.

At this stage of the action, Williams's troops were withdrawn, and I learned from staff-officers, who reported to Gen. Benham in person, that they were withdrawn by his orders. I still maintained my advanced position. Nor did I withdraw a regiment till, by the orders of Gen. Benham, Williams's had been entirely withdrawn, and every regiment of Wright's, except the Ninety-seventh, had passed to the rear of the road. My troops were then withdrawn in good order, and were returned to their several encampments.

I must express my profound sense of the intrepid bearing and soldierly conduct of my brigade commanders, Colonels Leasure and Fenton, who did every thing that commanders could do

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Secessionville (South Carolina, United States) (1)

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A. S. Williams (6)
S. G. Leasure (3)
H. W. Benham (3)
James B. Fenton (2)
H. G. Wright (1)
Pratt (1)
David Morrison (1)
Benjamin R. Lyons (1)
David Lewis (1)
Guild (1)
Ralph Ely (1)
Elwell (1)
Richard N. Doyle (1)
Cattrell (1)
Caleb Bates (1)
John W. Adams (1)
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