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[557] through the woods, and having no officers with them, were seemingly at a great loss to know what to do. I was fully satisfied that if the drivers were sent back at once the abandoned guns could all be saved; therefore, whenever I came in contact with one of the battalion drivers, I sent him back to the guns, which order was pretty generally obeyed.

After many inquiries we found the cause of the stampede to be this:

It will be remembered that we were marching without support, and were within two miles of Farmville, where we halted to give men and horses a few hours rest, and from that place we moved in great hurry and confusion General Mahone, commanding our rear guard, had sent direct information to Colonel Hardaway that he, General Mahone, could no longer maintain his ground, and unless our battalion moved off in haste, it would certainly be captured. Hence the haste; Hardaway was informed that he would be entirely without support, and was ordered (by Mahone, I think,) that if the enemy appeared upon his flank, he (Hardaway) must immediately spike his guns and abandon them, saving his men and horses, if possible; that the enemy would probably appear on his left flank— no Confederate force being between us and them.

Whilst we were marching through this dense swamp in Cumberland county, our battalion being badly scattered, and we not being able to see but a few yards either to the right or left, Colonel Talcott, a Colonel of Engineers on General R. E. Lee's staff (I think,) rode up to Colonel Hardaway and made this statement:

‘The enemy are upon your left flank, and are but a short distance from you.’

Upon this information, yet without seeing the enemy, Colonel Hardaway, generally cautious and thoroughly brave, gave the order to abandon the guns. Colonel Braxton had four guns in rear of us belonging to his battalion; they were also abandoned. The greater portion of these guns were spiked or cut down by our men, some of whom never left the guns at all. The ‘First,’ ‘Second’ and ‘Third’ guns of the ‘Third Company Howitzers,’ were spiked or disabled; the Second Howitzers has no guns; the First Company has buried theirs, and the ‘Fourth Detachment, Third Company,’ represents the Richmond Howitzers.

Six or seven of the abandoned guns were recovered that night by the men, and one of them was given to Sergeant George D. Thaxton

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