of this, and with a superior force rushed through the main street, which compelled us to fall back, which we did reluctantly, but not without contesting the ground inch by inch. As we retreated we loaded, halted, and poured destructive volleys into their ranks, which cleared the main street of them several times; but we found the enemy too many for us. They poured in from every street in overwhelming numbers, which broke our ranks. Upon arriving near the battery on Cemetery Hill, the regiment was halted, and formed in line of battle, fronting the town. About this time Major-General Howard, who was in the thickest of the fight, regardless of danger, asked if he had troops brave enough to advance to a stone wall across a lot towards the town, and said he would lead them. We replied, “Yes; the Seventeenth Connecticut will,” and advanced at once to the place indicated, remained a few moments, and again advanced across another lot still nearer the town, and behind a rail fence at the upper end of the town, which position we held till late in the evening, exposed to a galling fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, when the whole regiment was ordered out on picket, and performed that duty until two o'clock of the second instant, when we were relieved and took a position behind the rail fence, and one hundred and fifty paces farther to the right of the place we occupied before going out on picket. We remained in this position, exposed to the enemy's batteries and sharpshooters, until seven o'clock P. M., when we were ordered to the extreme right, behind a stone wall, on each side of a lane below the battery, opposite the cemetery entrance. Two companies were advanced to the grain field near the woods, through which the enemy were rapidly advancing. We covered the wall on each side of the lane by compelling about three hundred stragglers, who had no commander, to fall into our line. We had not more than time to form behind the wall before the enemy were discovered advancing rapidly upon us on our right, and a full brigade obliquely towards our left. When within one hundred and fifty paces of us we poured a destructive fire upon them, which thinned their ranks and checked their advance. We fired several volleys by battalion, after which they charged upon us. We had a hand-to-hand conflict with them, firmly held our ground, and drove them back. Soon after, some of the troops on our left giving way, the rebels succeeded in getting in our rear. We again drove them back, and held our position. It was during this conflict that Major Brady was wounded by a fragment of a shell, which hit him upon his right shoulder. After the enemy had been driven back, the firing ceased, excepting occasional shots from their sharpshooters. We were relieved by the Fourth Ohio volunteers, and were ordered to change front to the left, behind a wall running at right angles with the one we had just occupied, and fronting the town, and where the enemy entered on our left. We remained at this wall all night, and during the whole of the third instant, exposed to a cross-fire of the rebel batteries and their sharpshooters. With the latter our best marksmen exchanged shots and succeeded in dislodging many of them. When the regiment entered the engagement on the first instant, it numbered seventeen officers and three hundred and sixty-nine enlisted men. We report at the present time nine officers and one hundred and twenty enlisted men. Captain Wilson French and Lieutenant Barton are the only officers known to have been taken prisoners. The former was wounded in the first day's engagement. We are not aware that either of them was paroled. The regiment behaved gallantly. No troops in the world could behave better. Both officers and men are deserving of great credit for their coolness and bravery throughout the entire three days battle. There are many deserving of especial mention for bravery on the field, but they are so numerous I will not undertake to give the names. The coolness and bravery displayed by the officers and men of Company B exceeded anything I ever saw. I am, General, Your most obedient servant,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.