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[138] quietly awaited the time when they would be afforded an opportunity for taking revenge. That time came much sooner than they anticipated. About dusk the dark and dense columns were seen moving slowly down the beach. When they had reached the commencement of the open plain in front of and entirely commanded by the Battery, the first brigade, under Gen. Strong, being formed in two columns, made a dashing charge for our works. They reached the Battery, but were repulsed and driven back in confusion. Immediately the second brigade, under Col. Putnam, moved to the assault, and reached and took possession of the main portion of our works, but the ditch in front, filled with dead and dying, and the scattered dead and wounded across the whole plain, told how dearly they had paid for it.

The enemy kept possession of the portion they had taken for three-quarters of an hour, were there in force even after all the rest of their comrades had retreated, and but for a gallant charge of a handful of men from the Charleston Battalion, led by General Taliaferro in person, they would well nigh have taken our works. Our little band charged them at the point of the bayonet, and either killed, wounded, or took possession of the whole party. If the enemy had been supported, I believe the Battery would have fallen.

Thus ended one of the most desperate little battles of this war. It was really fought by about 500 of our men against twelve regiments of the enemy, numbering about 8, 000 in all, in two brigades. I visited the Battery yesterday, and went all over the battle-field. The dead and wounded were piled up in a ditch together, sometimes fifty in a heap, and they were strewn all over the plain for a distance of three-quarters of a mile. They had two negro regiments, and they were slaughtered in every direction. One pile of negroes numbered thirty. Numbers of both whites and blacks were killed on top our breastworks, as well as inside. The negroes fought gallantly, and were headed by as brave a Colonel as ever lived. He mounted the breastworks, waving his sword, and at the head of his regiment, and he and a negro orderly sergeant fell dead over the inner crest of the works. The negroes were as fine looking set as I ever saw—large, strong, muscular fellows. They were splendidly uniformed; but they do not know what they are fighting for. They say they were forced into it. I learned from prisoners that they are held in contempt by the white soldiers, and not only so, but that the white officers who command them are despised also. They are made to do all the drudgery of the army.


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A. G. Taliaferro (1)
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