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[338] river bank, and for two hours successfully resisted repeated efforts to capture the bridge by direct assault, although assailed by a force outnumbering his own at least thirty-five to one. Failing in a direct attack, Colonel Spear sent 400 men across the river by an old ford, under cover of a violent assault in front from the south, and was about to assail Lieutenant-Colonel Hargrove in his rear, which was entirely unprotected, when Company G, consisting of forty men, having been ordered from Central bridge over the river at Taylorsville, more than three miles distant, arrived and occupied the breastwork north of the river, at its intersection with the railroad, and about 200 yards from the bridge, thus protecting the rear of Company A. Company G had scarcely got into position when the charge of 400 cavalry, intended for the unprotected rear of Company A, was delivered against Company G, protected by the breastwork, and was repulsed, as were two other charges made at intervals of about fifteen minutes, while attacks were made simultaneously on Company A, from across the river with like results.

During a lull in the fighting, the Federal force on the north side, was reinforced by 400 men, and an assault on both Companies A and G was (at the same time) ordered. Colonel Spear crossed the river and ordered the attack made up the river bank against Company G's unprotected right, and Company A's unprotected left flank, at the abutment of the bridge. The enormous odds prevailed, but only after a most desperate and hand to hand conflict, with pistol, sabre and bayonet, in which Confederates and Federals were commingled. In the final assault Company A lost half of its men. The loss of Company G was not heavy. The Federal loss exceeded the entire number of Confederate troops engaged. Colonel Spear retreated after burning one bridge instead of four. He stated in the presence of his own command and that of Lieut. Col. Hargrove, that ‘the resistance made by the Confederates was the most stubborn he had known during the war; that he supposed that he was fighting 400 infantry instead of eighty, and that his expedition had entirely failed of its object, which was to cut General Lee's communications with Richmond.’ No more gallant fight was made during the entire Civil War, than by Lieutenant-Colonel Hargrove's command. He won the admiration of both friend and foe by his personal gallantry, and only surrendered when overpowered and taken by sheer physical force.

General Pettigrew having been mortally wounded on the retreat from Gettysburg, Colonel William W. Kirkland, of the 21st North Carolina

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