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‘Cease firing.’

My men continued to fire rapidly for several minutes, but as the enemy did not respond, and all I could see by looking in the thicket was a deep hollow, I ordered ‘Cease firing.’ Seeing a body of Confederates close to my right flank, I rode up to the nearest files and asked what men they were, and who was in command. A sergeant answered that they were Gordon's men, Evans' Brigade, that only two regiments and a few files of a third were on that ground; that Evans was not there, and he did not know who commanded them. I told him that I would take the men of his little squad; that the only command I had to give was to keep in general alignment with my right flank, and not to waste his ammunition on the pine thicket; that if any of the enemy were in there they were in a deep hollow. I rode quickly back to my own regiment which had [206] again commenced firing on pine trees, as I thought, and I again stopped them.

Just then some half a dozen men on both sides of the colors of the 49th Virginia cried out that they had been shot from behind, that Colonel Terrell's men had shot them. I told them it was so, and ordered the color-bearer to lower his flag, rode around an acute angle of the pines and thought I saw through the smoke of battle the heads of two or three men of the 52d bobbing over their parapet, and enquired if any of the 31st had been shot; was told that none had been. I then went back and told the 49th that Terrell's men (13th Virginia) had not shot them, and could not have done so without first shooting through the 31st Regiment and the angle of the pines; that the enemy in the rear had seen our flags, although we could not see them, and fired on it. I ordered the men back to the little ditch and to gather the cartridge boxes of the dead and wounded as they went; and rode over the ridge in rear of the ditch and saw a body of the enemy who seemed to be firing in our direction, then rode back to Gordon's men, and seeing General Evans there with a staff officer, explained to him that I had given an order to some of his men in his absence, for which I hoped he would excuse me, and that I came to suggest that his men fall back as far as mine had done. He answered, all right, that only two of his regiments could squeeze through and that he had been in action with the other regiments on another part of the field. I rode back and thought it was time to look up Colonel Terrell; started to ride from the left flank of the 31st up the ditch, as it ran eastward over the hill; had gone only a few paces when the head of a man lying in the ditch bobbed up and said that Colonel Terrell had sent him there to warn me against coming over that hill, that the enemy swept it with a deadly fire; that he had a strong position which he could hold without my assistance, and that he was using two recaptured guns against the enemy. When I came back to my men I examined the ditch; it was about knee deep, with some six or eight inches of grayish white dirt thrown up on the outside, and was presumably a continuation of the ditch which I saw on my right as I came out of the woods, and connecting this with the fact that the enemy I saw in my rear were within the line of a similar stretch of white earth, running eastward and westward, I concluded from the confused and confusing situation in which I found our men, that we had projected a quadrilateral from our main line of works, silly planned and badly executed. The ditch in which my men tried to [207] stand was scarcely two feet wide, and the rear ranks sat down on the surface of the ground behind. I could well see how Johnson's Division could have been rushed, but could not see how they could have been surprised, nor why they did not finish the quadrilateral extension even if they had to work in the night time, nor could I understand that any of them were placed in the main works of our centre, nor that any of the enemy were in the possession of the last line when we charged them.

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