This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 the battle. Toward four o'clock, just as Kearny was coming to Hooker's assistance, the head of the long column which followed the Yorktown turnpike emerges into the clearing where Smith's troops are drawn up. Peck's brigade, which is the first to make its appearance, enters the wood and vigorously attacks the left of the forces opposed to Hooker and Kearny, thus making a valuable diversion in favor of the latter. The first to reach the scene of conflict at this opportune moment are the Lafayette Guards; encouraged by their commander, Colonel de Trobriand, and sustained by their French animation, they have overcome all the obstacles in the road. They penetrate into the wood, reeking with a damp smoke, where the balls whistle through the thick foliage of the forests, and gaily rush forward in search of that baptism of fire the honor of which is reserved to all, but for which many among them will have to pay with their lives. In the mean while, on the extreme right, Hancock with his brigade had crossed Queen's Creek in the morning, and finding a small redoubt unoccupied on the other bank had planted himself in it. This redoubt was a link in the chain of works of which Fort Magruder was the centre. Finding no enemy before him, Hancock fearlessly advanced with his three or four thousand men; a second and a third redoubt, likewise deserted, are passed, when he arrives at last in sight of the left flank of Fort Magruder and the whole Confederate army. If he had been at the head of a division, he might have fallen suddenly upon the enemy, and probably obtained a decided success. But his force was not strong enough to attempt such a bold stroke, being so far from the reach of any reinforcements. The utmost that he could do was to hold the position of which he had so unexpectedly taken possession, and to wait for the arrival of a sufficient force to avail himself of the advantages which it offered. But the reinforcements he asked for were refused, as they had been to Hooker, the only replies to his urgent appeals being repeated orders for him to fall back. Feeling how important it was to hold a position which took all the enemy's defences in the rear, and which would probably cost waves of blood to reconquer, he contented himself by merely evacuating the foremost redoubt, and determined to defend the others at all risk. Fortunately for the Federals, if their general staff was deficient,
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.