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[93] (Lieutenant Graham commanding,) Captains Wilson, Smith, Garber, Dance, and the Louisiana Guards of my corps, thrown into position so as to cross their fire with the guns of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, and designed to check the advance of the enemy in that direction. About ten o'clock,, as the fog disappeared, the lines.of the enemy, arranged in order of battle, were distinctly visible in the plain between us and the river, covering my front and extending far to the left toward Fredericksburg. The force in front of me I supposed to number about fifty-five thousand. Pelham, with part of the Stuart horse artillery, was soon engaged with the artillery of the enemy, and a brisk and an animated contest was kept up for about an hour. Soon after Pelham, in obedience to orders, had withdrawn from his position on the Port Royal road, the enemy directed his artillery on the heights held by Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, and upon the woods generally, occupied by our troops, evidently with a view of causing us to disclose whatever troops or artillery were there. Not eliciting any response, the enemy was seemingly satisfied that he would experience but little resistance to an effort to obtain possession of this hill. Accordingly, about eleven o'clock, he advanced by the flank, parallel to the Port Royal road, nearly to the road running from thence to Hamilton's Crossing, now unimpeded in his march, as Pelham was withdrawn. Facing to the front, he advanced in line of battle across the plain straight upon the position occupied by Walker. His batteries reserved their fire until the enemy's lines came within less than eight hundred yards, when the fourteen guns opened, pouring such a storm of shot and shell into his ranks as to cause him first to halt, then to waver, and, at last, seek shelter by flight. About one o'clock, the main attack was made by heavy and rapid discharges of artillery. Under the protection of this warm and well-directed fire, his infantry, in heavy force, advanced, seeking the partial protection of a piece of wood extending beyond the railroad. The batteries on the right played on their ranks with destructive effect. The advancing force was visibly staggered by our rapid and well-directed artillery; but, soon recovering from the shock, the Federal troops, consisting of the main body of Franklin's grand division, supported by a portion of Hooker's grand division, continued to press forward. Advancing within point blank range of our infantry, and thus exposed to the murderous fire of musketry and artillery, the struggle became fierce and sanguinary. They continued, however, still to press forward, and, before General A. P. Hill closed the interval which he had left between Archer and Lane, it was penetrated, and, the enemy pressing forward in overwhelming numbers through that interval, turned Lane's right and Archer's left. Thus attacked in front and rear, the Fourteenth Tennessee and Nineteenth Georgia, of Archer's brigade, and the entire brigade of Lane, fell back but not until after a brave and obstinate resistance. Notwithstanding the perilous situation in which Archer's brigade was placed, his right, changing front, continued to struggle with undaunted firmness, materially checking the advance of the enemy until reenforcements came to its support. The brigade of General Thomas, posted as before stated, moved gallantly forward, and joined by the Seventh and part of the Eighteenth North Carolina, of Lane's brigade, gallantly drove back a Federal column which had broken through Lane's line. In the mean time, a large force of the enemy penetrated the wood in rear of the position occupied by the brigades of Lane and Archer, and came in contact with Gregg's brigade. Taken by surprise, Orr's rifles were thrown into confusion. It was in the act of rallying this regiment that Brigadier-General Maxey Gregg fell, in front of the rifles, mortally wounded. General Gregg was a brave and accomplished officer, full of heroic sentiment and chivalrous honor. He had rendered valuable service in this great struggle for our freedom, and the country has much reason to deplore the loss sustained by his premature death. Colonel Hamilton, upon whom the command of that brigade now devolved, hastened to meet the emergencies of his position, and, with the four remaining regiments and one company of the Orr rifles, (Lieutenant Charles,) gave the enemy a warm reception.

The enemy was not long permitted to hold the advantage which he had thus gained. The second line came promptly to the support of the first. Lawton's brigade, commanded by Colonel Atkinson, subsequently by Colonel Evans, Trimble's brigade, commanded by Colonel R. F. Hoke, and Early's brigade, commanded by Colonel Walker, (all under the command of Brigadier-General Early,) and the Forty-seventh and Twenty-second Virginia regiments of Colonel Brockenbrough's command, were already rushing with impetuous valor to the support of the first line. In Taliaferro's command, his right regiment, the Second, Virginia, of Paxton's brigade, became engaged with part of the enemy, which, after a slight resistance, retreated. The combat in the wood was brief and decisive. The farther advance of the enemy was checked. He was driven with great slaughter from the wood to the railroad; the two regiments of Brockenbrough's command, Archer, with the First Tennessee and Fifth Alabama battalion, and the three brigades commanded by Colonels Hoke, Walker, and Atkinson, pursuing the retreating Federals to the railroad, where they made a brief stand, when Hoke and Atkinson charged upon them with impetuosity, destroying many in the charge, and taking a large number of prisoners. Nor did they stop there; but, impelled by an ardor which reflects the highest credit on their courage and patriotism, this comparatively small force pressed the discomfited foe in hot pursuit, until they appeared so far within range of his artillery and the fire of a large force of his infantry, as to make farther pursuit an act of rashness. In this gallant charge, Colonel Atkinson was severely wounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy. Captain E. P. Lawton, assistant adjutant-general

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Port Royal, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)

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