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[17] our enemies took the initiative without waiting our compliments, but intent it seemed on gratifying our inquisitiveness, opened on us quite a severe fire. The ground over which we were advancing was thickly wooded and covered with underbrush, so that we could see but a few paces in our front; and here, too, it sloped both to the front and flanks; from the hollow, at the bottom of the slope, the enemy poured into the regiment a destructive fire. The fire was returned with spirit; but upon attempting to move forward to the charge, as directed by General Gregg, I found our left exposed, and that we were already in danger of capture, as we had marched into the very jaws of our enemy. Instead, therefore, of carrying out the brilliant manoeuvres proposed, I sent a message to General Gregg telling him of the situation. The messenger had scarcely gone when a fire was opened upon us from our right and rear, as well as from the left, and finding both flanks endangered, and the enemy in such force, I sent Captain Shooter, the next in command in the regiment, to explain to General Gregg our critical condition, and to ask for support. The fire increased rapidly, and finding the position becoming more and more untenable, I determined to extricate the regiment, if I could, without waiting for the assistance I had asked, as I feared if I waited much longer that it would be too late. This was accomplished with some difficulty, and we formed on a position in which we could hold our own, until you, my comrades, came up to our help.1

I certainly had not ascertained anything more about the enemy than that they were in considerable force in our immediate front, and were advancing upon us. So, while we are awaiting the coming of the Twelfth, which General Gregg sent us word he would send, let us turn, as we now may do, to the Federal reports, and learn what my reconnoissance had not disclosed, viz: what forces of the enemy

1 The Duke of Wellington, we are told, used to say: ‘All troops ran away—that he never minded—all he cared about was, whether they would come back.’ Croker Papers, volume I, page 352. If the truth must be told in this instance, the regiment, in the confusion from misunderstanding an order, broke, and commenced a precipitate retreat, but the color-sergeant, Dominick Spillman, and others, refusing to leave, the men reformed on the colors, and then, with well-dressed line, at the word of command went through the motions of loading and firing and facing about to retire, and again to deliver their fire as if on parade, and so retreated to the position at which they were joined by the Twelfth. They demonstrated the truth of the Duke's aphorism: ‘Brave men sometimes run. It requires the greatest of all courage to come back into the fight.’

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