replied: “I am posted here by General Cocke
, with express orders not to leave my position without his command.”
I rejoined, “You know whom to obey.”
Returning rapidly to my command, I had scarcely reached it when a squad of fifteen to twenty men crossed my line of march, from the direction of the Lewis house
I halted them for information, when at the instant a heavy outburst of musketry breaking upon the ear, they resumed their previous rapid movement, like frightened deer, amid the derisive laughter of my whole command.
Resuming our march, we had proceeded but a short distance when we encountered a South Carolina company moving in the direction of the stone bridge.
Ascertaining it was lost, I said: “Fall in upon my left and I'll conduct you to the post of duty.”
This was promptly done.
Moving but a short distance I encountered two Mississippi
companies under precisely similar circumstances, to whom I also said: “Fall in, on my left, and I'll conduct you where men can show their mettle;” which was done with alacrity.
So that when I reported to General Beauregard
, some hundred yards from the Robinson house
, I had three companies of my own regiment, one South Carolina company and two Mississippi
companies — not exceeding in all 450 men. Touching my hat, I said: “General Beauregard
, I report for orders.”
Pausing for a moment, he replied: “Colonel
, what can you do?”
This was a hard question to one wholly unacquainted with military duty.
I, however, promptly answered, “Put us in position and I'll show you.”
I then added: “General, Colonel Hunton
, with a fine regiment, is posted at or near the Lewis house
and is burning with impatience to join in the battle.”
Promptly acting on the information, he ordered one of his staff to proceed forthwith to Colonel Hunton
, and to order him to report with his regiment with all possible dispatch.
At this time General Beauregard
was forming his new line of battle, his right in the open field, midway between the Robinson
and Henry houses, and in a line parallel therewith, but considerably to the east thereof and running south in a line that soon gave them the shelter of the pines for a quarter of a mile or so. The enemy was heavily flanking our left, and our reinforcements, as they came up, were ordered to form on the left of our line, and so, by extending it, counteract the movements of the enemy.
Accordingly, I was ordered to form on the left, by passing the rear of our line until I reached my position.
The Washington Artillery, as I was at the time informed, was firing upon the enemy and across my line of march; it was ordered to suspend its fire until I had crossed its range, when General Beauregard
placed himself by my side, at the head of my column, and the order to march was