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Meant certain destruction.

To remain where we were, meant certain destruction or capture. Our only hope was in retreat. General Terry placed himself at the head of our regiment, and led us out into the open fields, towards a point a short distance off, where the woods which we had just left approached nearest to the woods out of which we had driven the cavalry that morning. If I am not mistaken, Steuart's Brigade moved out at the same time from the left of our division, but we could not see for the woods. Hunton and Corse forming the centre of our line, still held the road. It was expected that they would follow us at the right time. As we were marching we had woods to our right and woods to our left. Passing through the opening between them, we emerged into a large field and saw General Pickett and staff moving out of the woods to our right. Off to our left about a thousand yards distant, we saw a lot of cavalry gathered about some burning wagons. Just in front of us, some six or seven hundred yards off, was a large and dense woods, extending we knew not not how far, offering us the safest, if not the only refuge. Towards that inviting forest we hastened at quick step, but in good order. Presently we heard firing and cheering in our rear, and looking back, we saw the Federal cavalry charging down in rear of Hunton and Corse and cutting off their retreat. Our situation was extremely critical. A large body of victorious cavalry was but a short distance behind us, and would soon be after us. To our left [87] the same cavalry were gathering about the burning wagons, evidently preparing for a charge. But so long as we kept in good order and showed no signs of panic or flight, they did nothing but cheer and fire at long range. The question which was uppermost in every man's mind was, ‘Can we reach yonder woods before the cavalry head us off?’ I have always believed that the whole column could have done so, but for one circumstance. When we had gotten a little more than half way across the field, a servant brought General Terry his horse, which he mounted and rode off towards Pickett and staff, leaving our regiment and his own men under the command of their regimental officers. This had a demoralizing effect on Terry's men, who, seeing their general riding off, broke ranks and crowded more and more upon our regiment, which was in front under command of Major William N. Berkeley. This confusion in turn emboldened the cavalry to our left, for soon we heard the bugle sounding the charge, and saw them rushing towards the woods to head us off. Our men broke into a double quick, and then into a run. The head of our column reached the woods first, but before the hindmost could penetrate the forest, the cavalry were upon them.


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V. P. Terry (3)
George E. Pickett (2)
Eppa Hunton (2)
Corse (2)
George H. Steuart (1)
William N. Berkeley (1)
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