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“ [371] means to support me, and not to order me to retreat.” At this time the Fifth North Carolina had reached the fence about seventy-five yards from the redoubt; and as the enemy had ceased firing, I ordered a halt under cover of the fence — the Twenty-fourth Virginia being at this time in front of the woods. My Adjutant found General Hill with the two regiments in the woods near the opening, and delivered my message; when General Hill said: “Boys, do you hear that? Let us go to Colonel McRae's relief.” But in a moment after he said: “No; go and tell him to draw off his men as he best can.” My Adjutant returned in a very few moments, but he was delayed a little in delivering to me the order, as his horse took fright and dashed for the enemy's line, and he had to spring off to escape being carried in. It is a singular fact that the horse did run full into the enemy's lines, and then back again into ours. All this occurred within a very short interval, and during it the enemy had wholly ceased firing. I heard the order given in the redoubt to cease firing, and the appearances indicated there might be a feint to draw me on; but this did not stop the advance. I felt satisfied that disabled as the Twenty-fourth Virginia was, and disproportioned in numbers as my whole force was, that it would not do to storm the redoubt, supported, as it was, by the battery and three outside regiments; but at the same time I had advanced into the dilemma under orders, and confidently expecting to be supported by the two regiments (especially as the enemy had constantly given back) which had embarked in the attack, and I was not willing to retreat without completing the effort to capture the battery. If I had known that two companies of Colonel Bratton's had joined the Fifth North Carolina in the charge, and that the remainder of his regiment was in the gap between the Fifth and Twenty-fourth, I don't know but I should have pushed forward to the redoubt; but neither I, nor any officer or soldier of my command, as far as I have ever heard, were aware of any such thing; and I ought to have known it, for I rode over the field while exchanging communications with General Hill unmolested, except by one single discharge of grapeshot from a piece of artillery. As I had foreseen, the retreat was the signal for slaughter. As Colonel Bratton says, the regiment was demolished--“the enemy concentrating their overwhelming volleys upon it, as it came off through the open field” ; and it is poor consolation now to find out that besides it and the Twenty-fourth Virginia, that the Sixth South Carolina was also “used up.”


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D. H. Hill (3)
Calonel Bratton (2)
D. K. McRae (1)
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