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[362] its commanding officer applied to General Hill for the force which had entered on the attack — and which then made part of his brigade, and which was near by — to enable him to assault the redoubt; and that same officer earnestly protested against being required to retreat from an enemy who was then retreating from him. But the force was withheld and the order to retreat was given. Neither of these regiments were “quickly defeated,” or defeated at all. The Fifth North Carolina was scarcely harmed at all until the retreat began. The loss was desperate in a few moments after the retreat began; but at the time it was ordered to retreat, it had advanced to within seventy-five yards of the enemy's redoubt and not far from his battery, and it was holding its ground in security when the order to retreat came. It was not strong enough to attempt the assault on the redoubt alone; but as it had advanced under orders from both Generals Hill and Early, and as there was ample power close by to make quick work of the assault, the reinforcements were confidently expected, and the order to retreat most earnestly deplored. I have had reason to suppose that General Early would long since have corrected this error of General Johnston, and I wonder that he has not done so.

But much allowance is to be made for the poor estimate formed of us by General Johnston. He was not on the field, and of course had no view of the transaction, and no report which reached him has ever given a correct account of it. Besides, the disaster suffered occurred after the troops were ordered to retreat, and General Johnston thinks a retreat ought to be conducted without loss — for-getting evidently that scarce any officer is as skilled in retreat as he is, for to be so would be at once to acquire the highest military quality and character. The most the friends of the brave troops who bore part in that action can say in reply to this slur upon them, will be to employ General Johnston's own words with reference to himself in another part of his book: “It is sometimes necessary to go to the enemy for the truth.”

But to Colonel Bratton's narrative. The bad management of which he complains is that when the Fifth North Carolina came within fifty yards of the enemy's line, “it encountered a small fence, partly torn down by the enemy, and unfortunately halted and commenced firing” ; whereas he thinks if it had pushed on against the four regiments of Hancock--one in a redoubt and supported by a battery of six guns ( “four flags and a battery of six guns,” as he says)--the enemy's rout would have been completed. I

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Joseph E. Johnston (4)
D. H. Hill (2)
J. A. Early (2)
W. S. Hancock (1)
Calonel Bratton (1)
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