Company E, 39th Massachusetts Infantry, in the Civil War.—(Iii.)
At an early hour our forces were turned out to strengthen the long line of breastworks.
There was not much firing between the two armies till 8 o'clock. From that time heavy skirmishing and the thunder of artillery continued all day. At 5 p. m. our division went to the rear, about a mile, and had supper.
It must be understood that our division was the advance of the Army of the Potomac from the Battle of the Wilderness
till that of Spottsylvania
, and this was the beginning of the movement which led up to the latter conflict.
Those who took our places kept up the skirmish while we were marched off towards Spottsylvania
We started at 9 p. m., and began one of those famous left-hand flank movements of General Grant
's. We marched all night, and halted at 5 a. m. on May 8.
At 6 o'clock we were near Alsop's Farm.
Moving forward a mile, we found the enemy's cavalry disputing for the road with our cavalry.
Thereupon the regiment (Thirty-ninth Massachusetts), with the rest of the brigade, was ordered to support the cavalry.
A bayonet charge was made which drove their cavalry, then a battery, and finally brought us face to face with the enemy's infantry strongly posted behind breastworks.
It seems that Longstreet
's Corps had started out about the same time we had. He had been wounded and Anderson
was in command.
The enemy had the start of us, and they were also superior in numbers, as they had a whole corps, and we only a division.
After a hard fight, the Union
forces were obliged to fall back over an open field.
In this action the Thirty-ninth Massachusetts came off with ninety-three men killed, wounded, and missing.
Company E lost William D. Palmer
and had five men wounded, viz: Thomas Hyde
, John E. Horton
, George A. Northey
, who was captured by the enemy, William J. Arnold
, and John H. Dusseault
(originally of this company), who was wounded in the breast, but providentially saved by an army