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[305]

Report of Colonel O'Neal.

headquarters Rodes's brigade, Santee, Caroline county, Va., May 12, 1863.
Captain G. Peyton, A. A. G.:
Captain: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of Rodes's brigade during the eight days campaign, commencing on the twenty-ninth April and ending on the sixth May, 1863. Early in the morning of the twenty-ninth April I received orders to hold the brigade in readiness to move at a moment's warning, and about eight o'clock the brigade was formed on the road, the right resting on Round Oak Church. Thence, after a short delay, we moved to Hamilton's Crossing. Here I was ordered to put the brigade in line of battle, in a skirt of pine woods, about one mile to the right of the railroad and just in rear of our works. The brigade rested here during the balance of the day and until three o'clock next morning, when I was ordered to move the brigade to the right, about half a mile, and place it in the intrenchments — the right resting on Massaponax Creek and the left on the Bowling Green road. During the day the enemy's batteries across the river shelled a portion of the line,--the Third and Sixth Alabama regiments,--but, being protected by the earthworks and the hill, no damage was done. At three o'clock on the morning of the first May, I moved the brigade to Hamilton's Crossing, left in front, and thence to the plank road, some seven or eight miles, where I was ordered to prepare for immediate action, to support the forces of General Anderson, who were engaging the enemy. Being in rear of General Colquitt's brigade, I was directed to connect with him and move as he moved. At this point the men were ordered to take off and pile their knapsacks, and, forming by the rear rank, I moved the brigade across an open field to a public road, and then down it about one mile, where we rested in a wood till late in the evening, when I received orders to march back to the plank road, and after reaching it, to halt the brigade and send back for the knapsacks. Having obtained the baggage, I moved down the plank road about two miles and bivouacked for the night. Early on the morning of the second of May the brigade was moved forward on the plank road about one mile, and thence taking a road to the left, passed the furnace and formed in line of battle, after a march of some ten or twelve miles, beyond the turnpike road, just above its junction with the plank road, and in rear of the enemy. The brigade was formed perpendicular to the road and on the left of it, with the right regiment, the Third Alabama, resting on the road and connecting with General Doles's, which was on the right of the road. About half after five o'clock the order to advance was given, and very soon the corps of sharpshooters, under Major Blackford, of the Fifth Alabama, were engaged with the enemy's pickets. The brigade moved rapidly and steadily forward, and in a few minutes was engaged, delivering a regular and telling fire. We drove the enemy from his first line of breastworks, and, pursuing him with spirit and rapidity, soon came upon his second line of works, which were carried after only a moment's delay. At this time the enemy's batteries poured upon us, especially the right wing, the Third and Sixth Alabama regiments, a shower of grape and canister. Still advancing, we continued to drive the enemy before us and passed to his third line, consisting of log works, which were immediately carried — the enemy giving only one volley before he fled. Darkness coming on, the pursuit was discontinued. In this short space of time we drove the enemy before us about two miles, and from three breastworks and two abatis. We captured a considerable number of prisoners. Captain W. T. Renfro, commanding the right wing of the Fifth Alabama, after Colonel Hobson had been wounded, brought in two hundred and twenty-five, and Colonel Lightfoot, of the Sixth Alabama, one hundred and five. Among the prisoners was Colonel Packer, Fifth Connecticut, and several other officers. We captured three pieces of artillery, and part of a fourth piece, which was claimed by another brigade. We also captured a lot of ammunition and a quantity of small arms. The Third Alabama captured and have now in possession two stands of Federal artillery colors, and the Sixth Alabama captured one battery flag. Being with the brigade throughout this brilliant charge, I can personally bear witness to the gallant bearing of the officers, and the daring, dashing courage of the men. In this connection, permit me also to state the order, regularity, and precision with which the several regimental commanders moved and handled their commands throughout this charge. The Third Alabama, under the command of Captains Bonham, Chester, and Phelan, was ordered to move along the road and perpendicular to it, and was the battalion of direction; and the other regiments — the Sixth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot and Major Gordon; the Twelfth, under Colonel Pickens and Captain Proskauer; the Twenty-sixth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Garvin and Major Bryan, and the Fifth, under Colonel Hall and Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson--moved in line of battle with this regiment, and, although passing through a dense and “tangled forest” for a mile, all the regiments were connected and moved in a regular unbroken line, the officers exhibiting the greatest coolness and daring, cheering on their men by both voice and example. In this charge, Lieutenant Colonel E. L. Hobson was wounded, while gallantly rushing in front of his men, near the enemy's second line of works. Major Bryan, Twenty-sixth Alabama, was also wounded, near the same place and about the same time, while bravely performing his duties. Captain Watkins Phelan, who commanded the left wing of the Third Alabama, was also wounded in this charge. He, with Captain Bonham, who commanded the regiment, and Captain Chester, who commanded the right wing of the Third Alabama, acted most gallantly, and led their regiment with great success, and it is but simple justice to say that each regiment did its whole duty. As soon as the night


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E. L. Hobson (3)
R. E. Rodes (2)
Watkins Phelan (2)
Lightfoot (2)
Chester (2)
Henry Bryan (2)
Bonham (2)
W. T. Renfro (1)
Proskauer (1)
S. B. Pickens (1)
Green Peyton (1)
Packer (1)
Edward O'Neal (1)
J. M. Hall (1)
A. M. Gordon (1)
Garvin (1)
George Doles (1)
A. H. Colquitt (1)
Blackford (1)
R. H. Anderson (1)
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