The battle of Williamsburg.
Narrative of Colonel Bratton, Sixth South Carolina regiment.[The following paper was originally prepared for General E. P. Alexander,. who kindly turned it over to us along with other-valuable Mss.]
Farmington, April 20, 1868.Dear Sir — At your request, I submit the following account of the operations of my regiment at Williamsburg, May 5th, 1862. The disposition of the brigade on the morning of that day was as follows: Jenkins' regiment (Palmetto sharpshooters) occupied Fort Magruder, and the Fourth and Fifth regiments the smaller works on either flank of the fort. My own regiment was posted on the edge of the pine grove in rear and to the left of the fort. A detachment of it (two companies) were sent to occupy the last redoubt but one on the line of redoubts to the left of Fort Magruder. Feeling some responsibility resting on myself as to this flank, I reported the extreme left redoubt as unoccupied and suggested that I post at least a picket there, but was told that it was in charge of somebody else (cavalry perhaps). I gave myself no more concern about it until it was occupied by Hancock's troops, which occupation was announced to me by a cannon ball from the enemy's gun, which passed through my line and buried itself in the embankment of Fort Magruder. My regiment had been withdrawn by General Anderson from its first position and was lying behind “ the fort. I reported this dispatch from the enemy (cannon ball), and was ordered by Colonel Jenkins to my “original position to repel the attack of the enemy.” ” On arriving at my original position, I saw the line of the enemy (four flags and a battery of six guns) advancing on a redoubt immediately in rear of the one occupied by my two companies. The fort on the extreme left, also, was full of troops huzzaing and waving United States colors. No time was to be lost, for if they occupied the redoubt in rear my two companies were inevitably lost; so without orders I left my position at once and advanced on the redoubt towards which. the enemy were moving. They were nearer to it than we were, but were advancing cautiously; were receiving a minnie occasionally from my companies in the neighboring work, and were evidently a little suspicious and afraid to believe that things were really as: they appeared.