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[349] men of Capt. Carruth's company by half dozens, although Capt. Adams' men escaped without loss. Capt. Adams' company, however, rendered the most effective service at this point by covering the retreat of one of our guns. While the skirmish was going on so briskly, Gen. Tyler had sent down two howitzers from Ayres' battery to the assistance of our men. With extreme intrepidity, they ran their pieces rapidly down the hill and into the woods, until they reached the edge of the dry water-course, before spoken of, at the outlet of which a small battery was now discovered. By the time they had fired their second round in the faces and eyes of the rebels, six of their men were disabled, but they held bravely out until their ammunition was exhausted, and then prepared to withdraw. A disposition to capture one of the howitzers was manifested by a small party of the enemy, but the appearance of Capt. Adams' company restrained this unusual demonstration of spirit.

Simultaneously with these events, the New York 12th regiment had marched down to the woods at the extreme left of our line. The cavalry, also, was stationed beside it, although its efficiency would have been paralyzed in any attempt to act among trees. While the New York regiment waited to receive its order to march in, a perfect hail of shot came flying among them, which seemed to throw them into a panic before their start. It was difficult to drive some of them over the rails and into the woods. At length, however, it was done, and the regiment disappeared. For about one minute they were absent, at the end of which came a volley more tremendous than any that had yet been heard, and the men were seen breaking and running back in disorder. Their officers vainly endeavored to rally them, and they flew irregularly up the hill, passing by the General and his staff, and taking refuge in the grove far behind. I suspect they fancied they were pursued, for I saw one fellow turn suddenly about, and hurriedly fire at one of his own party, who fell instantly to the ground. While they were thus flying, the Massachusetts 1st, which had been ordered to the right, held the flank of the woods until the shot among them became so murderous that they were forced to lie down upon their faces. Still they held their dangerous ground, and waited for instructions, which at last came, but only for their retreat.

This, and the indecision of the commanders, decided our failure. I say commanders, because the multiplicity of authority was really bewildering. At times there was an actual chaos of suggestion and command. It is a question, moreover, if the details of the attack were all as regularly ordained as they should be. The Massachusetts 1st was sent to the right, and remained there. The New York 12th was sent to the left, and fled, but against that mishap the commanders could not, of course, have provided. But the 2d and 3d Michigan regiments were stationed far away to the right of the main road, out of the line of battle, and in a deep hollow, where it was next to impossible for them to take part in the contest under any circumstances. The two howitzers were sent down without any support whatever, in consequence of which one of the pieces, and perhaps both, might have been lost if the rebels had ventured from their pits and batteries. When the New York regiment broke away, it did not appear that any attempt was made to supply their place by better men. And from first to last, the two Massachusetts companies, which entered the woods early, were left for half an hour without reinforcement, and were then compelled to retreat before the great superiority, in numbers and position, which confronted them. All these appear to be strange oversights, and yet they did not end there. Without a loss worth considering in any serious way, with the advantage of a partial knowledge of the enemy's defences, and with a full fresh brigade already upon the spot, and drawn up by regiments in line of battle, the day was suffered to pass by to our disfavor, without a second demonstration from us.

Let me resume the order of events. The cavalry, which had dismounted with the intention of taking a turn in the woods on foot, saw the 12th flying, and themselves menaced with rifled cannon balls, which suddenly flew profusely around them. Finding themselves out of their station, or perhaps believing their services would be needed to cut off an attack up — on the fugitives, they remounted in haste, and galloped furiously up the hill, at the brow of which they formed once more. A few minutes later, the two Massachusetts companies, under Lieut.-Col. Wells, withdrew from the wood, and moved to rejoin their regiment. They had fallen back from their perilous position, and waited awhile in a place of comparative shelter, where they would be better prepared to meet an attack; but the rebels did not turn out to pursue them. The commander urged a return, in order to secure the wounded. For an instant, remembering the terrific fire to which they had been exposed, they hesitated, but the officers sprang forward, and the men were not slow to follow. Upon reaching their old post they were again repeatedly assailed by volleys from three directions, and were compelled to retire without effecting their purpose. As they moved away, they distinctly heard the rebel officers giving a command to “bayonet the wounded.”

It must have been at this time that the order to retire was issued. The two Michigan regiments were fresh, and had had no share in the fight; the Massachusetts regiment at the right, under a heavy fire, was ready to advance at the word; three new and strong regiments were just arriving, and yet the action was abandoned when only about two hundred men of our side had at any time been positively engaged, and when our total loss could hardly


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