not ordered forward until nearly five o'clock P. M. I then marched rapidly on, retarded much by the artillery and ambulances which blocked up the narrow road. On reaching the edge of a cornfield, about a mile and a half from the nearest point of the battle-ground, I was informed that General Ewell was sorely pressed by the enemy, and reinforcements were promptly needed. I then marched forward at double-quick, and the men reached the wood on the south side of the battle-field almost exhausted. Having no knowledge of the local geography, and failing to find any staff officers who could direct me at what point I should enter the fight, two regiments, standing in the open field, were pointed out to me as having just retired from the woods, whence the fire of the enemy had driven them. I at once moved by the flank through the interval between these regiments, promptly formed line of battle, and accepted for my brigade the position which they had abandoned. A continuous line of thirty-five hundred men moving forward in perfect order into the wood, and at once opening fire along its entire length, (chiefly armed with Enfield rifles,) made a decided impression, and promptly marked the preponderance of musketry sound on our side, as was observed by other commanders on the field. The extreme density of the wood, and the sloppy, miry soil, with no knowledge of the conformation of the country beyond me, made it evident that the different regiments of the brigade would soon be separated from each other. I therefore sent different members of my staff to the right and left of the line to press it forward, and remained myself as near the centre as possible. Onward the line advanced through the wood, firing at every step, and guided only by the volleys from the enemy, toward the thickest of the fight. In the midst of the wood I met Major-General Ewell, then hotly engaged, who, as he saw this long line advancing under fire, waved his sword and cried out--“Hurrah for Georgia!” To this there was a cheering response from my command, which then moved forward more rapidly than ever. From General Ewell I learned something of the condition of the field and the point at which my command would be most useful. To that point I directed such portions of the brigade as could then receive my orders in time. This portion advanced steadily forward, commanded by myself in person, the regiments occasionally disunited by the smoke, dust, and confusion of the battle-field, and then brought together again. They were all the time under a continuous fire of musketry and artillery, until they reached the brow of the hill on the field, directly in front of the position where they had emerged from the wood. This steady advance was only checked occasionally by the extreme difficulty of distinguishing friend from foe, as the dusk of the evening was added to the other elements of confusion. In conjunction with fragments of other brigades, having driven the enemy steadily before us, when I reached the brow of the hill already mentioned, I found his battery had retired and his infantry taken to flight. I then gathered up the fragments of several other brigades and regiments, and adding them to mine, retired a few hundred yards to the rear, and diagonally to the left, where I could still distinguish a disjointed line of Confederate troops. A hasty conversation with Brigadier-General Garland satisfied me that I was the commanding officer on that part of the field, and I at once assumed command, and ordered into line all the troops near me. It was by this time quite dark. Learning from a staff officer, who then rode up, that a charge was to be made on the extreme left of the field, in which assistance was needed, I at once commenced to move, by the right flank, all the troops over whom I had assumed command, toward the point indicated. After marching two or three hundred yards, the shouts of victory from our friends announced that the last battery of the enemy had been taken, and the “rout” complete. I then halted in the midst of the battle-field, separated the regiments of my brigade from the rest of the troops, and ordered the men to sleep on their arms. During all the time above indicated, after the brigade was fairly engaged, the two regiments on the left (Thirty-first and Thirty-eighth Georgia) were beyond my reach, and under the immediate direction of my Adjutant-General, Captain E. P. Lawton. In emerging from the wood, these two regiments found themselves in the hottest part of the field, where our friends were pressing on the enemy toward the left, and joined them in the contest at that point, under a murderous fire. Steadily on did they press, doing great execution, until the last cartridge was expended, and then joining heartily in that last charge after nightfall, which resulted in the shouts of victory already referred to. The conduct of these two regiments, officers and men, and of Captain E. P. Lawton, who led them, cannot be too highly appreciated; and the list of the killed and wounded, for the short time they were engaged, attests the danger which they so gallantly faced. Captain Lawton had his horse killed, and received a slight wound in the leg. Lieutenant-Colonel Pair, in command of the Thirty-eighth, had his arm shot off, near the shoulder, and Major Matthews was severely, it is feared mortally, wounded. Colonel Evans, commanding the Thirty-first regiment, received a slight flesh wound; and a number of other officers were killed and wounded, as appears by the annexed list. Early in the action, and soon after entering the wood, my volunteer Aid-de-camp, Captain Edward Cheves, while riding by my side, had his horse shot down. He promptly rose to his feet, announced to me his safety, and his intention to keep up with the brigade on foot. He followed on toward the left, where the Thirty-first and Thirty-eighth were so hotly pressed, and while gallantly pursuing the line of his duty, he fell, pierced through the heart by a rifle ball. Though a mere youth, he had exhibited a degree of zeal, intelligence, and gallantry worthy of all praise; and not one who fell on that bloody field has
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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