an active and vigorous fire was opened on us from the batteries situated on the north side of Beaver Dam Creek. I changed front to the left by throwing forward the right wing, and advanced to attack them, directing Captain Pegram to take position and open fire on the enemy's batteries, a part of General Archer's brigade having been ordered by General Hill to support me. About a mile of open ground was to be gotten over, most of which was swept by three or four batteries; but the brigade, in the original order, gallantly moved forward, though their ranks were momentarily thinned by the most destructive cannonading I have yet known. Our only safety from this fire lay in pushing forward as rapidly as possible, and getting so close to the enemy's infantry as to draw the fire upon his own troops, should it be continued. He occupied a wooded hill-side overlooking Beaver Dam Creek. Gaining a dense thicket on this side, the stream only separating us, both sides opened with the musket, and continued it until nine o'clock at night. My brigade remained upon the ground resting on their arms all night. A desultory fire was maintained for some time next morning, but without much effect on either side. In this, our first day's combat, and first in the lives of many of the brigade, all behaved well. My advance in line of battle was steady and continuous, and being throughout in full view of the enemy, must have given him no mean idea of the gallantry of troops who would press forward so steadily in the face of such a fire. Many a gallant fellow here fell, the officers leading and encouraging the men. Colonel W. E. Starke, Sixtieth Virginia, received a painful wound in the hand. I suppose it was about two o'clock on the twenty-seventh, when my brigade was ordered to support that of Brigadier-General J. R. Anderson, in an attack upon what proved to be the enemy's centre, at Gaines's Mill. Forming line of battle in a wood to the right of the road, both brigades moved forward, (mine in second line,) and debouched into an open field about two hundred yards from the enemy's line. Giving the command to charge, we rushed forward and opened fire within one hundred yards of the enemy, which was continued until forced, by an overpowering fire from greatly superior numbers, to fall back for support, which was received. I again formed and moved forward to the attack, General Archer's brigade forming on my right. Both brigades gallantly responded to the call, and rushed forward, and gaining the crest of the hill, were again stopped by an infantry fire that nothing could live under. The men, however, did not retire, but falling on their faces, maintained, until support came up, a brisk and destructive fire upon the enemy. As events afterwards proved, the enemy were in heavy force at this point, were admirably sheltered behind temporary obstacles, such as abatis, &c., and were safe from expulsion by any less force than that which came to my assistance late in the evening. In this affair, from the long and determined character of the contest, my loss was heavy, Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. Walker, Fortieth Virginia, a most gallant and meritorious officer, being twice wounded. It was late in the evening of the thirtieth when I was notified to move upon the field of battle as soon as possible. Putting the column in motion at the double-quick, we were soon upon the theatre of action. Forming in line of battle, the Fifty-fifth and Sixtieth Virginia on the right of the road, and the Forty-seventh and Second Virginia battalion on the left, the command was given to cheer heartily and charge. About three hundred yards directly in our front were two of the enemy's batteries, posted in an open field, and on the right and left of the road we were advancing on. I had heard that these batteries had been several times during the day taken and retaken, a constant struggle being maintained for their possession. At this time they were held by the enemy, but the horses being killed or wounded, he was unable to remove the guns. The whole line now rushed forward under heavy fire, beat the enemy back from the guns into the woods beyond, and pushing him on the right of the road back half a mile. The two regiments on this side the road, the Fifty-fifth and Sixtieth Virginia, were at this time in the enemy's rear, having penetrated through his centre in the eagerness of pursuit, but were withdrawn before he could profit by the circumstance. Lieutenant-Colonel Christian was wounded, and Major Burke was killed, both of the Fifty-fifth Virginia. Colonels Mallory and Starke behaved very handsomely here. The charge was impetuously made, and was an instance where bayonets were really crossed, several of the enemy being killed with that weapon, and several of the Sixtieth now being in hospital, bearing bayonet wounds upon their persons. It is proper to state that the Fortieth Virginia, Colonel Brockenbrough, forming my extreme left, became detached on account of the inequalities of the ground, and was not under my eye. The Colonel reports, however, meeting with an overwhelming force and his heavy loss. My brigade held that part of the battle-field until relieved late at night by some fresh troops, I having in the mean while sent to the rear for horses, and removed all the captured guns and equipments to a place of safety. I omitted to mention that the Forty-seventh Virginia, Colonel Mayo, after getting possession of the guns on the left of the road, manned two of them and used them against the enemy. This regiment also captured Major-General McCall, commanding the Federal forces on the field. I desire to call the attention of the General commanding to the conspicuous gallantry of Captain R. C. Collins, Engineer corps. He joined me as a volunteer aid, just as we were going into action, and by voice and action led and cheered the men through all the fight with unsurpassed spirit. The conduct of Captain Pegram's battery in the engagements excited my admiration. Always eager, always alert, Captain Pegram was in every action where opportunity offered, and always doing his duty, as the loss of every officer, killed or wounded, and sixty,
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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