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[216] This explosion convinced General Ewell that they were not going to attempt to force Bottom's bridge, and we accordingly hurried after the rest of the army. Monday and Tuesday we were rear guard, with orders to put all stragglers in our ranks and carry them into action. By noon we had collected 1,500 men from innumerable brigades and regiments. About that time we halted, in consequence of a movement in front of us which indicated an approaching battle. Troops were lying on the ground awaiting orders, ammunition and ambulance trains turned off, and couriers and aids galloped to and fro. After a while the artillery opened in front, followed by the crash of small arms. Colonel Johnson moved toward it, but his lately well filled ranks in the meantime had become depleted to their usual thinness. The guns and powder had been too much for the stragglers, and they had got off in passing other halting columns. After proceeding up the road some distance we moved into the woods and lay there, our left on the road. The Colonel rode forward with Lieutenant Frank Bond, of the cavalry, A. A. General, and Lieutenant Booth, adjutant of the regiment, until passing General George B. Anderson, of North Carolina, and the remnant of his brigade, they rose a small hill and suddenly turned a corner of the woods. Three hundred yards off in the open ground was a Yankee line, apparently a regiment, supporting skirmishers. Turning quickly, the three officers escaped before the astonished Yankees could fire. This was just in front of the Littleton house, and at that time there was no artillery there. Colonel Johnson rode directly to General Ewell, who ordered him to General Jackson, and he asked if he should take his battery there and drive them off. The General said “No.” Had it been done, in all probability that mass of artillery which was afterwards placed there could never have been collected on our left. Some other movement, however, was being made at the time, and we suppose General Jackson was under orders not to advance his lines. General Ewell directed us to remain where we were until further orders.

And during that whole terrible afternoon we lay under the most infernal fire that has ever been concentrated in America. The heavy mass in front poured over us a continual stream of shot and shell — while on our right the gunboats sent their 100-pound cylinders through the forest, enfilading us. The continual roar and shriek of the shell, the incessant crash of falling trees, the heavy dull report in the distance, and the sharp stunning explosion among us, over our heads, all around, with constant singing of minnie balls, made a scene uninterrupted by an instant cessation, for five hours, which will never be forgotten

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