and ten guns, one and all, who were far in advance of General Sumner
, and who could only retreat by a narrow road over Saunders
From all this want of generalship, skill and care, arose great confusion and greater misfortune.
Not knowing exactly the location of the point of attack, it was scarcely possible that the line of battle would be properly arranged with regard to it, and so it happened; for when at. last it came in sight of the enemy, instead of the centre being opposite the point attacked, as should have been, with the line moving directly upon it, the extreme left (the left of the Twenty-fourth Virginia) was opposite the battery, and the remainder of the brigade away off to the right, and moving in a direction across the enemy's front.
These sturdy old musketeers — some of whom were not inapt military scholars, and by dint of comparing notes, careful observation, and an occasional book or two, had learned as well how a battle should be set in order as many a general officer — understood from the advance being thus commenced without skirmishers, and from General Early
's little address before starting, that they were as close upon the position to be attacked as could be, that the charge commenced then and there, that the battery to be taken was just over the wood, a hundred yards distant perhaps, and that they would fall upon the foe in a moment.
With this impression upon their minds, it was difficult to restrain the impatient valor and restlessness of the men as they moved off; but still they advanced across the field steadily, and, preserving their alignment well, though with more rapid step, they entered the woods.
Here the miry ground, the dense and tangled undergrowth, dripping with wet, and the large fallen timber, somewhat impaired the line, which increasing excitement, running higher every moment, which was thought would bring them under fire, rendered it difficult for the officers to correct.
Still every one pressed forward with all the strength he had left; there was no halting, only greater.
speed, though every moment less breath and more fatigue.
But no enemy is seen yet. They have left the field whence they started, they have traversed the tangled woods down the hill, across a county road, into the forest again and up another slope, but heavy, weary, breathless, and almost broken down, and still no foe is found, although half a mile and more has been passed.
But now light appears ahead, the trees are thinner, and a large open field is seen towards the right and in front.
It is there