The charge of the Thirty-Third was Violation of orders.
After giving this brief account of our movements and the position of the brigade previous to our going into action, I will give my recollections, which is quite distinct, of the charge made by the Thirty-third and the reasons which led to its being made before the charge was made by the other regiments of the brigade.
This charge by the Thirty-third was made contrary to the order of General Jackson
, and I will give you the reason why his order was not strictly obeyed—as you will remember, the eight companies that participated in the charge, whilst made up of an exceedingly fine body of gallant men, were, with probably the exception of one or two companies, composed of undrilled and undisciplined men; in other words, they might almost be termed raw recruits.
Whilst the brigade was laying in the edge of the pines the Thirty-third, a little to the left and front of the Henry House
, as we were facing, General Jackson
rode along in line and directed me to look out for the enemy's artillery and to wait until the enemy were within thirty paces, and then to fire and charge bayonets.
The battle was then raging to our front and right and our forces still being driven back.
About this time, or soon thereafter, some men, dressed in red, presumably Federals, appeared in the bushes on the left flank of the regiment, and some of the men of the left company fired at
them, and about the same time some shots from the enemy's artillery raked through the brush just over the regiment and tore up the ground uncomfortably near the men, and the two things together, coming about the same time, caused considerable confusion in a part of the regiment, and realizing that the most trying position that raw men, and even the best disciplined and bravest could be placed in, was to be required to remain still, doing nothing and receiving the enemy's fire without returning it, I feared the consequences, if I strictly obeyed General Jackson
's orders; therefore it was that I gave the orders to charge, contrary to his order to wait until the enemy was within thirty paces, the enemy being much further off at that time.
From this you will readily see how it happened that the Thirty-third made the charge before the other regiments made the charge as a brigade.
A more gallant charge is rarely made than was then made by the Thirty-third (though in not a very good order). The men moved off with the greatest alacity, killed and drove off the gunners, shot down their artlillery heroes and captured the battery of artillery, but the loss was so great, there being about 43 killed and 140 wounded altogether, we were forced to abandon the captured guns and fall back in the face of a deadly fire and overwhelming numbers, and this was the first check the enemy received up to that time.
Very soon thereafter the other regiments of the brigade made a charge and captured another battery.
The pieces taken by the Thirty-third were situated considerably to the left (as we were facing) of the Henry House
, and the pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade were somewhat in the same line, but nearer the Henry House
(the Robinson House
being still further to the right). One of the men of the Thirty-third cut a bridle bit from a bridle of one of the artillery horses and gave me afterwards, which I have used ever since and have flow.
I am inclined to think, from what I have since learned that the battery or pieces taken by the Thirty-third was Griffin
's, and that the one or pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade was Rickett
's or probably, if there was but one battery in front of the brigade it was placed in two sections, the one on the left taken by the Thirty-third, and the other, in the same line, but nearer the Henry House
, and the one taken but abandoned by the Thirty-third was also retaken by the brigade.
I think, however, it is more probable that both Griffin
's were in position near and to the left of the Henry House
With batteries or sections of batteries at two different points near and to the left of the Henry House
, will readily account for the Thirty-third taking one and the other regiments taking the other, and also retaking the one captured by the Thirty-third.