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[398] ravines on the left of the plateau, and necessarily throw them into great confusion. Amid the turmoil of battle, it was difficult to trace orders to their proper source; and an erroneous impression prevailing in two of the regiments that the order came from General Jones, the Twentieth and Second Georgia regiments, and a part of the Fifteenth Georgia regiment, executed it, and marched rapidly, and, as they approached the woods in considerable confusion, over the fence, into the road and woods. Finding that a large portion of the command had, under this mistake, executed the movement, and a portion of my right (the Seventeenth Georgia regiment) having, up to this time, been prevented by troops in their front from coming up, and one company of my left (Captain Sage's) having, from the difficulties of the ground, and the interposition of other troops, been prevented from getting into line on the plateau, and seeing the importance of getting my command together, I ordered those troops whom I had prevented from executing the “left oblique” movement to unite with the command on the left, and the whole to form themselves, and await further orders and events. I then passed down my right, to put them also in position. A portion of it only had emerged from the woods, and were ordered in position. Passing up the edge of the woods, I ordered such of the broken parties as had been separated from their command (by troops retiring from their front) to join their command on the left; and, failing to find the balance of the Seventeenth and the missing company of the Twentieth, I remounted and passed down my left, which, together with the rest of the command which had joined them, were under the direction of my Adjutant, Captain Dubose, and Major Alexander, and my Aid, Captain Troup. They had formed, in part, on the road to the left of the plateau, and in the woods and ravines in the rear thereof, seeking such protection as the ground afforded, they being under a severe fire from the enemy's artillery. The stream of fugitives was pouring back over my line, frequently breaking it, and carrying back with them many of the men. I immediately began passing up and down my lines, and in the rear, ordering and bringing back those who had thus been swept away; but it frequently happened, in bringing them back, the position of those they had left had been changed by the same and other causes, and left them out of their proper positions. I continued these efforts until all the troops in my front, on the plateau, had disappeared — my own regiments mostly separated, and maintaining regimental or company organizations under such cover as the ground afforded. The cannonading still continued, and supposing that whenever it ceased, they would charge, I devoted my time to gathering up and forming my troops, and to be prepared for the charge. This work was exceedingly difficult, as it had become dark, and many brigades were mixed up in the woods and roads on this part of the battle-field. In the mean time, General Kershaw came into the field with his brigade, near one of my regiments, (the Second Georgia,) which still remained in very good order, and my Adjutant, Captain Dubose, proposed to him to unite that and some other companies of other regiments with his command in the attack on the enemy's batteries, to which he assented; and this command, under Colonel Bute and Colonel Holmes, accompanied by Captain Dubose and Major Alexander, my Quartermaster, who acted as one of my Aids on the field, advanced with General Kershaw's brigade beyond the edge of the woods, into the open field ; but under the destructive fire of the enemy's cannon and small arms, wavered, and fell back into the road skirting the pine thicket. It was during this charge (which was also participated in by part of the Twentieth Georgia) that the heroic Colonel Bute (Colonel of the Second Georgia) fell, and the command devolved upon the gallant Colonel Holmes, Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment. In this position in the road, this portion of the command remained for some ten or fifteen minutes, when a heavy musketry fire was poured into them from the left flank, and they retreated in disorder. Captain Dubose, Major Alexander, and Captain Troup, of my staff, were on this part of the road, and used their best exertions in rallying the troops, and succeeded in joining me with about two hundred men.

After these disasters, finding that the enemy did not charge, and that the troops were generally in disorder, and there not being any organized body of troops on the plateau in front, I gathered up my command, and marched back to the road where we entered the battle, and encamped them as near thereto as the convenience of water would allow.

In all of these movements, and especially during the time my brigade occupied the open plateau in front of the enemy's batteries, my losses were very severe, the total being one hundred and ninety-four, in killed and wounded, out of about twelve hundred carried into action. (A report of which has heretofore been forwarded to you, and a more detailed one will be furnished as soon as it can be made out; the wounding of two of my regimental Adjutants, and the sickness of another, and constant marches since, having retarded the work.)

I am happy to add, that the disorders which did arise were due rather to the difficulties of the ground and the nature of the attack, than from any other cause, and that, as far as my observation went, they extended to all troops engaged on the plateau in front of the enemy's guns. This is further evidenced by the fact, that at reveille next morning, over eight hundred of my command answered to their names at roll-call, leaving two hundred unaccounted for; many of whom soon made their appearance.

I considered the conduct of the officers and men highly praiseworthy and honorable to themselves and the army.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

R. Toombs, Brigadier-General, First Brigade, First Division.

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Dubose (4)
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