previous next

[213]

Lees eyes upon them.

With the freedom of the volunteer, I said to those next me: ‘Pass it down the line, boys; General Lee is looking at us.’ ‘Aye, and depending upon us, too,’ and the silent line moved on with long, swift strides. In a few moments we marched down into the bottom, then rising, parted the undergrowth, and were upon them, packed thick as blackbirds in our trenches. A fearful volley wrought havoc and started those in advance to get back to their line. Those behind, seeing these returning, became alarmed. Without pausing to reload, we rushed upon them, so quickly, indeed, that we did not give them time to run. Many surrendered upon demand; some gave us the bayonet. With these we had a short, stern argument, using chifly our clubbed guns. My gun being too short for such use and quite handy to load, I gave my stubborn opponent, who refused to surrender, the leaden contents at short range, and passed on after finding that he was beyond the need of assistance from me. As we rushed on, hundreds threw up their hands and said: ‘I surrender,’ but we could not afford to send men back from the charging line with prisoners, and would say: ‘Throw down your guns and go the rear.’ Many did so; many obliqued to the left and finally escaped and joined their comrades, but we passed on, driving the ruck before us.

Presently I saw before our advancing line, to my left a fresh line of Yankees rise from the ground in perfect array. Our line, pressing through the underbrush and also through a swampy place, was disorganized, every man pressing forward for himself after the fleeing foe, and when it was confronted by this new force, my heart was in my mouth as I looked for their volley. But, strange to say, ours fired first, and it seemed to me that the enemy just laid down again, such tremendous slaughter was wrought. The force made no further fight and surrendered as we ran over them and finally established ourselves in the abattis, about two hundred yards in front of the enemy's trenches. This post we held until about 4 o'clock, being continually under fire, and firing ourselves until our ammunition was exhausted. My little gun became so foul that I could not press the breech lock into place. I had to stop in the midst of the battle and with my gun-screw take it to pieces and clean it. It was here that our loss was the heaviest. Late in the afternoon we could see the enemy forming a heavy line to retake the gap, and we were ordered to retire to the works we had recaptured. [214] This we did without interruption, but found that our charge had left about two hundred yards of the trenches, in the apex of the angle on the left, unassailed, and these were now filled with Yanks. So we held part and they part of the same line of breastworks, a very uncomfortable cotenantcy. Nine times that night, until nearly 10 o'clock, they tried to get the whole, but we would not let them have it. Many times into that half acre of blood did General Lee send regiment after regiment, made up of organized cooks, released men from the guard houses, or even men who had been wounded, but who could still shoot. But this, too, was in vain. The enemy held the angle. The concentrated fire in this inferno cut down two trees, each as large as a man's body. At last Lee gave up the murderous attempt and drew a new line connecting his wings, leaving out the angle. The battle had raged from 4 A. M. to 10 P. M.

William W. Smith, Company C, 49th Virginia Infantry, C. S. 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.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

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.
R. E. Lee (3)
Yanks (1)
William W. Smith (1)
Lees (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: