previous next

[251] all the Federal camps. To the left and rear of the second-mentioned farm a road comes in upon the flat lands joining the main road mentioned. Thus, to recapitulate, except the deep creek and timber-covered hill beyond it, the whole country, as seen from the north door of Gaines's house is unbroken, open, undulating and table-land, the right forming a descent to the wood-covered creek, the left being dips and gullies, with dense timber still farther to the left; the front being, for the most part, table-land. But to the southeast of Gaines's house is a large tract of timber commanding all advances upon the main road, and in this McClellan and McCall had posted a strong body of skirmishers, with artillery, to annoy our flank and rear when advancing on their camps on the high grounds, if we did so by the main road or over the table-lands to the north.

It now being three o'clock P. M., and the head of our column in view of the Federal camps, Gen. Pryor was sent forward with his brigade to drive away the heavy mass of skirmishers posted to our rear to annoy the advance. This being accomplished with great success and with little loss to us, Pryor returned and awaited orders. Meanwhile, the Federals, from their camps and several positions on the high grounds, swept the whole face of the country with their numerous artillery, which would have annihilated our entire force if not screened in the dips of the land and in gullies to our left. Advancing cautiously but rapidly to the skirt of the woods and in the dips to the left, Wilcox and Pryor deployed their men into line of battle, Featherstone being in the rear; and suddenly appearing on the plateau facing the timber-covered hill, rushed down into the wide gully, crossed it, clambered over all the felled timber, stormed the timber breastworks beyond it, and began the ascent of the hill under a terrific fire of sharp-shooters and an incessant discharge of grape and canister from pieces posted on the brow of the hill, and from batteries in their camps, to the right on the high flat lands. Such a position was never stormed before.

In descending into the deep creek the infantry and artillery fire that assailed the three brigades was most terrific. Twenty-six pieces were thundering at them, and a perfect hail-storm of lead fell thick and fast around them. One of Wilcox's regiments wavered. Down the General rushed furiously, sword in hand, and threatened to behead the first man that hesitated. Pryor steadily advanced, but slowly; and by the time that the three brigades had stormed the position, passed up the hill through timber and over felled trees, Featherstone was far in advance. Quickly the Federals withdrew their pieces and took up a fresh position to assail the three brigades advancing in perfect line of battle from the woods and upon the plateau. Officers had no horses — all were shot; brigadiers marched on foot, sword in hand; regiments were commanded by captains and companies by sergeants, yet onward they rushed, with yells and colors flying — and backward, still backward fell the Federals, their men tumbling over every moment in scores. But what a sight met the eyes of these three gallant brigades!

In front stood Federal camps, stretching to the north-east for miles! Drawn up in line of battle were more than three full divisions, commanded by McCall, Sedgwick, Porter, etc. Banners darkened the air, artillery vomited forth incessant volleys of grape, canister and shell; heavy masses were moving on our left through the woods to flank us. Yet onward came Wilcox to the right, Pryor to the left, and Featherstone in the centre--one grand, matchless line of battle, almost consumed by exploits of the day — yet onward they advanced to the heart of the Federal position, and when the enemy had fairly succeeded in almost flanking us on the left, great commotion is heard in the woods; volleys upon volleys are heard in rapid succession, which are recognized and cheered by our men. “It is Jackson,” they shout, “on their right and rear.” Yes; two or three brigades of Jackson's army have flanked the enemy, and are getting in the rear. Now the fighting was bitter and terrific. Worked up to madness, Wilcox, Featherstone and Pryor dash forward at a run, and drive the enemy with irresistible fury; to our left emerge Hood's Texan brigade, Whiting's comes after, and Pender follows. The line is now complete, and “forward” rings from one end of the line to the other, and the Yankees, over thirty thousand strong, begin to retreat.

Wheeling their artillery from the front, the Federals turn part of it to break our left, and save their retreat. The very earth shakes at the roar. Not one piece of ours has yet opened; all has been done with the bullet and bayonet, and onward press our troops through camps upon camps, capturing guns, stores, arms, clothing, etc. Yet, like bloodhounds on the trail, the six brigades sweep every thing before them, presenting an unbroken, solid front, and closing in upon the enemy, keep up an incessant succession of volleys upon their confused masses, and unerringly slaughtering them by hundreds and thousands. There was but one “charge,” and from the moment the word of command was given--“fix bayonets! forward!” --our advance was never stopped, despite the awful reception which met it.

It is true that one or two regiments became confused in passing over the deep ditch, abattis and timber earthwork. It is also true that several slipped from the ranks and ran to the rear; but in many cases these were wounded men — but the total number of “stragglers” would not amount to more than one hundred. This is strictly true, and redounds to our immortal honor. These facts are true of Wilcox's, Pryor's, and Featherstone's brigades, who formed our right; and we are positive that from the composition of Whiting's, Hood's, and Pender's brigades, who flanked the enemy and formed our left, they never could be made to falter; for Whiting had the Eleventh, Sixteenth and Second Mississippi, and two other regiments. Hood had four Texan and one Georgia regiment, and the material of Pender's command was equally as good as any,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Wheeling, W. Va. (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Jackson (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Roger A. Pryor (7)
B. F. Wilcox (5)
Featherstone (5)
Jasper Whiting (3)
Pender (3)
T. Jefferson Hood (3)
William Sedgwick (1)
Fitz-John Porter (1)
McCall (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: