us on the left. He sent the Sixty-ninth to our aid. It was now becoming decidedly interesting. Many of the boys were wounded. Among the killed was. Scott Parker, of company A. With most provoking coolness they wheeled a battery into position behind a barn and commenced playing upon us. It was so near that we could count every gunner. But our skirmishers poured in such a deadly fire that they soon removed it, with the loss of a captain and first lieutenant. Again I rode to the General for reinforcements. He said he was coming. Our ammunition beginning to fail, Col. Lucas ordered me to distribute cartridges. Not much ceremony was used in opening the boxes — we smashed them on the ground. A portion of a battery changed position to our rear. Col. Korff, the brave old Prussian, Colonel of the Sixty-ninth, telling about it afterward, said he saw them coming through the woods. Some one yelled out, “Do not fire, they are our men;” but he saw their dirty shirts, and knew they must be rebels. I see the Cincinnati correspondents, who, from their description, could not have been near, give the Ninety-fifth Ohio all the praise here. Perhaps they did well, but I know that Gen. Manson greatly blamed them for starting the confused retreat. The musketry-firing, deepened by the cannon's thunders, increased to one tremendous roar. It is difficult to conceive of such a noise, shouting to be heard but a few feet; old soldiers, who had been in the war with Mexico and in different battles in this war, said they never heard any thing to compare with it. The rebels had succeeded in outflanking us, and we were now under a terrible cross-fire from three sides — in front, through the woods to our left and through corn-fields in our rear they were coming, while their batteries still played upon us with their deadly meteors. A body of mounted infantry came through the woods. Our men, thinking them reinforcements, began to cheer, when they dismounted and began to pour their fire upon us. The rebels, now reinforced, led by Gen. Preston Smith, broke our lines, which began to give back. I heard Gen. Manson say, as he ordered Cruft's brigade into position, that we had been fighting two hours and thirty minutes, and would soon charge their batteries. Fifteen minutes longer the left wing stood that awful fire, when they gave way and retreated up the hill. The Seventy-first came gallantly forward, led by Gen. Manson, and scarcely had they met the shock when Lieut.-Col. Topping, commanding, and Major Conkling were killed, and many of the officers of that regiment fell, one second lieutenant having about twenty bullets through him. The regiment was broken, disorganized, and never formed again on that day. The men fought in squads, in companies, and with other regiments. Lieut. Smith helped his mortally wounded Colonel into an ambulance. The Colonel of a regiment dying on a battle-field alone! Hundreds of wild and startling incidents were occurring every moment. In that wild confusion, which required every man to do his duty, Capt. Jones, of the Sixteenth, deserted his company, mounted a horse and ingloriously ran. Let his name be remembered with infamy. Capt. Smith, company I, Sixteenth, raised his cap, the blood streaming down his face, and said: “Adjutant, tell the Colonel I am wounded.” The next moment Lieut. Foster, of the same company, said: “O Jim! I'm wounded.” The men were undisciplined, could not go through field movements, but they were not cowards. Vainly the officers endeavored to rally them. As well might they have attempted to stop a whirlwind, while high above the din of battle rose the infernal yell of the rebels in victorious pursuit of our broken and scattered troops. Crossing the pike, we commenced to form in a wood to the right of the road. I use the term right and left looking east from Richmond. But here the Texas cavalry came charging down upon us, driving us back. Here the Eighteenth Kentucky suffered severely. The Colonel and Lieutenant-Colonel were both wounded, while the color-sergeant and all the color-guards were killed. A wounded man gave me the banner, which Capt. Beachbard succeeded in eventually saving by tearing it off the staff and putting it in his pocket. Col. Wolfe, with great labor, succeeded in collecting the greater part of our regiment and forming in a ravine to the left of the road. Metcalfe's cavalry was drawn up in line on a hill above us, while other regiments occupied different positions. On reporting to Gen. Manson, he ordered us to fall back in line of battle. A report had spread that Col. Lucas was killed. As our gallant little hero came back from consulting with the General, the regiment greeted him with cheers. We fell back some distance and formed new lines. Here occurred the second fight. The day was hot, and a dense cloud of smoke overspread the scene; men were thoroughly exhausted and greatly suffered for water. In the midst of confusion, in the first retreat, while trying to rally our men, I met Col. Korff, who said: “Py God, Adjutant, they shoot my horse, and I am so tam mad.” A green-turbaned Dervish would have laughed at the manner of his remark. We passed through the front-yard of a beautiful mansion — the shrubbery and flowers trampled by foot and horse. Mr. Rodgers, whose house was used as an hospital, had a son, who had been in the army for some length of time, killed within a hundred yards of home. Captain Terrel, of company E, Sixteenth, met his brother in the rebel army. There was now a lull in the tempest while the rebels were advancing, during which we had time to compare notes and ascertain how badly we were hurt and how badly scared. Capt. Beachbard was shot in the leg, but remained with his company until late in the day, when he mounted a horse and acted as field-officer. Captain Hill and Lieut. Kahill were shot through the arm.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.