previous next

[117] yards and show no signs of halting. The fire of the enemy slackens, and as their assailants reach the fence of substantial rails, with a rider, ceases entirely. The order to their artillery to ‘cease firing’ and ‘limber up’ is distinctly heard, and some of the guns are actually run off; the infantry, too, are in great tumult, their bayonets seem tangled and interlocked, some run into the fort, many make off to the rear, and voices calling to others to halt and stand steady are distinctly heard. In a word, General Winfield Scott Hancock's five regiments and ten guns have been attacked and driven in by a single Virginia regiment, and are now on the point of being routed.

As the Twenty-fourth gains the fence just spoken of, the enemy having ceased firing entirely, it pauses a moment to breathe and reform its scattered line, preparatory to a last dash—no man thinks of turning back, for the enemy is retreating before them—and here, too, now, are the gallant comrades, fresh and eager for a share in the struggle. While the men were in the act of climbing this fence, the writer seeking a gap where his horse could pass, Adjutant McRae communicated to him General Hill's order to retire immediately; whereupon, anticipating that the enemy would re-form and open with terrible effect at such short range as soon as the backward movement was perceived, the regiment was obliqued into the woods upon which its left flank rested, and retiring thus under cover, came off without further damage.

Not so its gallant comrades, who, having advanced with but little loss, and just rectified their alignment behind the fence, were now in perfect line right under the enemy's guns. Their retreat was across a broad, open field, and as they faced about, the foe, quickly rallying and reforming, more than five or six times their number, hurled shot and shell through their devoted ranks with awful destruction. The retreat was the signal for slaughter, and as Colonel McRae says, the regiment ‘was scarcely harmed at all till the retreat began’; the loss was desperate in a few moments afterwards. Before they recrossed that fearful field, the best blood of the Old North State fed the fresh young wheat at their feet, and a hundred Carolina homes were cast into direful mourning and distress. And of the officers of the heroic Virginians there had fallen Early and Terry and Hairston, and Captains Jennings and Haden and Bently and Lybrock, and Lieutenants Mansfield and Radford and Shockley. Of the privates who now lay stretched upon that bloody sod so lately pressed by their hastening feet, there were over two hundred—a full half of the regiment—all down in a charge of less than twenty minutes. A

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Duncan McRae (2)
W. R. Terry (1)
Shockley (1)
Radford (1)
Mansfield (1)
Lybrock (1)
Jennings (1)
Yorktown D. H. Hill (1)
Winfield Scott Hancock (1)
Peter Hairston (1)
Haden (1)
Jubal Anderson Early (1)
Bently (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: