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[292] with orders to sleep on their arms. I gave Colonel Talcott (the then Chief Engineer and Superintendent of the railroad, who, though a non-combatant, was drawn to the spot by his deep interest in the safety of the bridges), a part of my blanket, and we soon fell asleep. Just before dawn a few dropping shots were heard, and the officers and men of the advanced picket came across the bridge, reporting the enemy close behind. The picket shots were all the orders necessary. The men looked to their guns, fixed their eyes upon the opposite bank of the creek, then passed fording, and awaited the appearance of the enemy. They had not long to wait. While a mounted company charged down upon the county road bridge a long line of dismounted men charged up to the end of the railroad bridge with combustible materials to set it on fire. The company at the barricade emptied the saddles of the first line of fours, and their officers could not get them to charge mounted again. The sight of the enemy making a dash for the railroad bridge brought out a well directed fire from the other companies, which drove the enemy from the approach back under cover of the wood. Evidently their reception was a surprise, and after reforming they came up again in gallant style, the officers shouting, ‘drive the d——d conscripts out of the way.’ and we could hear the reply, ‘If you think these are conscripts, come down a little closer yourselves.’ A rattling fire from both sides ended the second attempt and we hoped the affair was over. But not so. After another interval they brought up two or three mountain howitzers with which they shelled us, and under cover of this fire another plucky advance upon the bridge was made; but thanks to our well chosen position and the steadiness of the boys, they had to give ground before our fire, and so after many attempts they had to fall back. Two companies of the regiment crossed close in their rear, capturing thirteen prisoners, five of them badly wounded, besides a large number of (17) seventeen-shooters, pistols, &c. They lost nine killed, most of their wounded being carried off. Our loss was three killed and a few wounded. Result: Bridges saved and Richmond's southern communications kept open.

On May 15th we marched to Powhatan Station, and from there were ordered to Richmond by rail by a despatch from General Beauregard. We reached Richmond at daybreak on the ever memorable 16th May, in a fog that some of my old comrades remember as one that would have done credit to London. We changed trains after some delay, and the old regiment, in good heart and spirits from its late success, soon found itself steaming away for Drewry's Bluff to


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