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Chapter 13: second battle of Manassas.

Though the force of the enemy, consisting of King's division of McDowell's Corps moving on the left flank of that corps, with which the engagement took place on the afternoon of the 28th, had retreated in the direction of Manassas, other troops had moved up to the vicinity, and early next morning it was discovered that Pope was moving his whole army against us from the direction of Manassas and Centreville, to which point it had gone in search of us.

It now became necessary to change our front to meet the approaching columns, and Ewell's division, under the command of Brigadier General Lawton as senior brigadier, was formed in line facing Groveton, near where it had lain on its arms the night before, on a ridge running nearly at right angles to Warrenton Pike, with its right, my brigade, resting on the pike. The other divisions were retired behind the unfinished railroad on our left, and the whole line faced towards the enemy. At an early hour the enemy's batteries opened on us and were replied to by ours. After this artillery firing had continued for some time, the position of Ewell's division was changed, and General Jackson in person ordered me to move with Hays' brigade and my own, and Johnson's battery of artillery, to a ridge north of the Warrenton Pike and behind the railroad, so as to prevent the enemy from turning our right flank, a movement from Manassas indicating that purpose having been observed. Two of my regiments, the 13th Virginia and 31st Virginia, under Colonel Walker, were detached by General Jackson's order and placed in position south of the pike, for the purpose of watching the movements of the force that was advancing from the direction of Manassas towards our right. [123]

Hays' brigade and my own were formed in line on the ridge indicated, in the edge of a piece of woods, and skirmishers were advanced to the line of the railroad, Johnson's battery being placed in position to command my front. In the meantime our main line had been established on the railroad a mile or more to my left, and Lawton's and Trimble's brigades had been moved so as to conform thereto. The artillery firing had continued all the morning, on my left at our main position, and there had been some infantry fighting. The two regiments under Colonel Walker, by skirmishing, kept the head of the force moving from Manassas on our right in check, until the appearance of the leading division (Hood's) of Longstreet's force on the Warrenton Pike from the direction of Gainesville, which occurred about ten or eleven o'clock A. M.

I remained in position until Longstreet's advance had moved far enough to render it unnecessary for me to remain longer, and, without awaiting orders, I recalled Colonel Walker with his two regiments about one o'clock P. M., and then moved the two brigades to the left, to rejoin the rest of the division. I found General Lawton with his own brigade in line in rear of the railroad, not far from the positions[ had occupied, the previous morning, before the fight, and Trimble's brigade was in line on the railroad between Jackson's division and Hill's, the former being on the right and the latter on the left. Along this railroad Jackson's line was mainly formed, facing to the southeast. The track of the road was through fields and woods, and consisted of deep cuts and heavy embankments, as the country was rolling. The two brigades with me were formed in line in the woods, in rear of Lawton's brigade, with Hays' on the right of mine.

We remained in this position until about half-past 3 P. M., and in the meantime the enemy was making desperate attempts to drive our troops from the line of the railroad, having advanced some heavy columns [124] against Hill's brigades and been repulsed; and the battle was raging fiercely in our front. Just about half-past 3, Colonel Forno, with Hays' brigade, was ordered to advance to the assistance of one of Hill's brigades which had been forced from his position, and he did so, driving the enemy from the railroad and taking position on it with his brigade. He was subsequently wounded very seriously, while holding this position, by a sharpshooter, and had to be removed from the field.

Some time after Forno's advance, a messenger came from A. P. Hill, with the information that one of his brigades, whose ammunition was nearly exhausted, was being very heavily pressed, and with the request that I should advance to its support. I did so at once, without waiting for orders, and moved directly ahead, as I was informed the attack was immediately in my front; the 8th Louisiana Regiment under Major Lewis, which had been sent to the wagons the day before to replenish its ammunition and had just arrived, accompanying my brigade. As I passed Lawton's brigade I found the 13th Georgia Regiment preparing to move forward under the General's orders. I continued to advance until I came to a small field near the railroad, when I discovered that the enemy had possession of a deep cut in the railroad with a part of his force in a strip of woods between the field and the cut. General Gregg's and Colonel Thomas' brigades, having very nearly exhausted their ammunition, had fallen back a short distance, but were presenting a determined front to the enemy.

My brigade, with the 8th Louisiana on its left, advanced at once across the field, and drove the enemy from the woods and the railroad cut, dashing across the railroad, and pursuing the retreating force some two or three hundred yards beyond, before I could arrest its progress. The messenger from General Hill had stated that it was not desired that I should go beyond the railroad, but should content myself with driving the enemy from it, as General Jackson's orders were not to [125] advance but hold the line. I, therefore, drew my men back to the railroad cut and took position behind it. This charge was made with great dash and gallantry by my brigade and the 8th Louisiana Regiment, and very heavy loss was inflicted on the enemy with a comparatively slight one to us, though two valuable officers, Colonel William Smith of the 49th Virginia and Major John C. Higginbotham of the 25th Virginia, were severely wounded. At the time my brigade crossed the railroad, the 13th Georgia advanced further to the right and crossed over in pursuit.

This was the last of seven different assaults on General Hill's line that day, all of which had now been repulsed with great slaughter upon the enemy, and he did not renew the attack, but contented himself with furiously shelling the woods in which we were located. Jackson's division had also repulsed an attack on his front, and General Trimble was severely wounded during the course of the day by an explosive ball from a sharpshooter. General Jackson had accomplished his purpose of resisting the enemy until General Lee with Longstreet's force could effect a junction with him. The latter force was now up and a part of it had been engaged just about night with one of the enemy's columns.

Pope, in his report, claims that General Jackson was retreating through Thoroughfare Gap, when his attack arrested this retreat and compelled Jackson to take position to defend himself, and that he drove our troops several miles, but there was no thought of retreat, and the various movements of our troops had been solely for the purpose of defence against the enemy's threatened attacks as he changed their direction.

Hill's brigades, to whose relief I had gone, went to the rear to replenish their cartridge boxes and did not return to relieve me after the close of the fight on the 29th. I had therefore to remain in position all night with my men lying on their arms.

I had understood that some of Hill's brigades were [126] to my left, but it turned out that they had also gone to the rear to get ammunition and did not return; and very early in the morning of the 30th, the enemy's sharpshooters got on the railroad embankment on my left and opened fire on that flank, killing a very valuable young officer of the 13tlh Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant Leroy. I thus discovered for the first time that my flank was exposed, and the enemy's sharpshooters soon began to cross the railroad on my left and advance through a cornfield. I immediately sent word to General Hill of this state of things, and, after some delay, some brigades were sent to occupy positions on my left, who drove the sharpshooters back. During the morning there was very heavy skirmishing in my front, and the skirmishers of my brigade, under Captain Lilley of the 25th Virginia, drove back a heavy force which was advancing apparently for an attack on our position.

Subsequently our troops were arranged so as to place Ewell's division in the centre, leaving Hill's division on the left and Jackson's on the right, but when Lawton's brigade was moved up, there was left space for only three of my regiments, and leaving the 44th, 49th and 52nd Virginia Regiments on the line under General Smith of the 49th, I retired about 150 yards to the rear with the rest of the brigade. Hays' brigade, now under Colonel Strong, had been sent to the wagons to get ammunition and had not returned.

The fore part of the day was consumed by the main body of the enemy and Longstreet's wing of the army in manoeuvring and cannonading, but about four o'clock P. M. the enemy brought up very heavy columns and hurled them against Jackson's line, when the fighting became very severe, but all of the attempts to force our position were successfully resisted, and a very heavy punishment was inflicted on the enemy. My three regiments under Colonel Smith, participated in the repulse of the enemy, and as he retired they dashed across the railroad cut in pursuit, very unexpectedly to me, as I [127] had given orders to Colonel William Smith not to advance until the order to do so was given. His men, however, had been incapable of restraint, but he soon returned with them. In the meantime, I advanced the other regiments to the front of the line that had been vacated. Trimble's brigade, now under Captain Brown of the 12th Georgia, and Lawton's brigade had participated in this repulse of the enemy likewise.

The attack on the part of the line occupied by Jackson's division had been very persistent, but Longstreet now began to advance against the enemy from the right and was soon sweeping him from our front. Some of Hill's brigades also advanced and the enemy was driven from the field with great slaughter. While this was taking place, the other divisions of Jackson were ordered to advance, and my brigade was soon put in motion in the direction taken by Hill's brigades, advancing through the woods in our front to a large field about a quarter of a mile from the railroad. I halted at the edge of the woods to enable the other brigades to come up, as I was ahead of them, when General Jackson rode up and ordered me to move by my left flank to intercept a body of the enemy reported moving up Bull Run to our left. I did so, moving along with skirmishers ahead of the brigade until I came to the railroad, and then along that until I came to a field.

It was now getting dark, and as my skirmishers moved into the field they were fired upon from their left. This fire came from a very unexpected quarter, and I immediately sent to let General Jackson know the fact, as it would have been folly to have advanced in the direction I was going if it came from the enemy. A message was soon received from General Jackson, stating that the fire very probably came from some of Hill's troops, and directing me to send and see. This had been anticipated by sending a young soldier of the 44th Virginia, who volunteered for the purpose, and he soon returned with the information that the firing was from [128] the skirmishers from Gregg's and Branch's brigades of Hill's division who mistook us for the enemy. Fortunately no damage was done, and I was moving on when I received an order to advance to the front from where I was, and in a few minutes afterwards another to move back by the right flank, as the report of the movement of the enemy around our left flank had proved untrue. I found that the other brigades of the division had bivouacked near where I had left them, and my own did the same.

The enemy had been driven beyond Bull Run, and was in retreat to Centreville, our pursuit having been arrested by the approaching darkness.

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