entirely in our rear without difficulty, and that was to extend my line as far as I could to the left, to let the right rest in the gorge still, and to send to my superiors for reenforcements, to continue the line from my right to the gap on the main road, an interval of three quarters of a mile at least. Having thrown out skirmishers along the whole front and to the left, they very soon became engaged with the enemy's skirmishers. This was about three P. M., and it was perfectly evident then that my force of about twelve hundred muskets was opposed to one which outflanked mine, on either side, by at least half a mile. I thought the enemy's force opposed to my brigade was at least a division. In a short time the firing became steady along the whole line, the enemy advancing very slowly; the danger of his possessing the top of the left hill, and thus being in my rear, became so imminent, that I had to cause my left regiment (the Sixth Alabama, under Colonel Gordon) to move along the brow of the hill under fire, still farther to the left. He did so in good style, and having a fair opportunity to do so with advantage, charged and drove the enemy back a short distance. By this time the enemy, though met gallantly by all of the regiments with me, had penetrated between them, and had begun to swing their extreme right around toward my rear, making for the head of the gorge, up the bottom and sides of which the whole of my force, except the Sixth Alabama, had to retreat, if at all. I renewed again and yet again my application for reenforcements; but none came. Some artillery, under Captain Carter, who was moving up without orders, and some of Captain Cutts's, under a gallant Lieutenant, whose name I do not now recollect, was reported by the last-named officer to be on its way to my relief; but at this time the enemy had obtained possession of the summit of the left hill. before spoken of, and had command of the road in rear of the main mountain; the artillery could only have been used by being hauled up on the high peaks, which arose upon the summit of the ridge just at the head of the gorge before mentioned. This they had not time to do, and hence I ordered it back. Just before this, I heard that some Confederate troops had joined my right very nearly. Finding that the enemy were forcing my right back, and that the only chance to continue the fight was to change my front so as to face to the left, I ordered all the regiments to fall back up the gorge and sides of the mountain, fighting, the whole concentrating around the high peak before mentioned. This enabled me to face the enemy's right again, and to make another short stand with Gordon's excellent regiment, which he had kept constantly in hand, and had handled in a manner I have never seen or heard equalled during this war, and with the remainders of the Fifth, Third, and Twelfth Alabama regiments, I found the Twelfth had been relieved by other troops and closed in toward my right; but had passed in rear of the original line so far that, upon reestablishing the line on the main peak, I found that the Third Alabama came up on its right. The Twenty-sixth Alabama, which had been placed on my right, was by this time completely demoralized; its Colonel (O'Neal) was wounded, and the men mingled in utter confusion with some South Carolina stragglers, on the summit of the hill, who stated that their brigade had been compelled to give way, and had retired. Notwithstanding this, if true, left my rear entirely exposed again, I had no time or means to examine the worth of their statement. I determined, in accordance with the orders I received about this time, in reply to my last request for reenforcements, to fight on on the new front. My loss up to this time had been heavy in all the regiments except the Twelfth Alabama. The Fifth Alabama, which had occupied the left centre, got separated into two parts in endeavoring to follow up the flank movement of Gordon's regiment; both parts became engaged again before they could rejoin, and the right battalion was finally cut off entirely; the left and smaller battalion, under Major Hobson's gallant management, though flanked, wheeled against the flanking party, and, by desperate fighting, silenced the enemy so far as to enable his little command to make its way to the peak before mentioned. In the first attack of the enemy up the bottom of the gorge, they pushed on so vigorously as to catch Captain Ready and a portion of his party of skirmishers, and separate the Third from the Fifth Alabama regiment. The Third made a most gallant resistance at this point, and had my line been a continuous one, it could never have been forced. Having reestablished my line, though still with wide intervals, necessarily, on the high peak, (this was done under constant fire and in full view of the enemy, now in full possession of the extreme left hill and of the gorge,) the fight at close quarters was resumed, and again accompanied by the enemy's throwing their, by this time apparently interminable right, around toward my rear. In this position the Sixth Alabama and the Twelfth suffered pretty severely; the latter, together with the remainder of the Third Alabama, which had been well handled by Colonel Battle, was forced to retire, and in so doing lost heavily; its Colonel (Gayle) was seen to fall, and its Lieutenant-Colonel (Pickens) was shot through the lungs. The former was left on the field, supposed to be dead; Pickens was brought off. Gordon's regiment retired slowly, now being under an enfilading as well as direct fire, and in danger of being surrounded; but was still, fortunately for the whole command, held together by its able commander. After this I could meet the enemy with no organized force, except Gordon's regiment; one more desperate stand was made by it from an advantageous position. The enemy by this time were nearly on top of the highest peak, and were pushing on when Gordon's regiment, unexpectedly to them, opened fire on their front and checked them. This last stand was so disastrous to the enemy that it attracted the attention of the stragglers even, many of whom Colonel Battle and I
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
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.