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[406] behind an old deserted mill, a little to the left of the wood. A few shots were exchanged and then the rebels fled in the direction of their main force. Captain Langdon's battery of regular artillery, was with Henry's cavalry. At the mill, Colonel Henry halted until Hawley's brigade of infantry and Hamilton's regular battery had come up. I will now attempt to give some idea of the order in which our troops came into line, and the character and progress of the battle.

With the view of meeting the enemy's pickets, three miles in advance of the mill, two companies of the Seventh Connecticut regiment were deployed on the left of the railroad, while three companies were left at the mill, for the purpose of supporting the artillery. A small force of cavalry was sent to skirmish on the right of the railroad. Our skirmishers had not advanced a hundred yards when they discovered those of the enemy directly in their front. The result was a brisk fire on both sides, which ended by the enemy's falling back on a second line of skirmishers. Our men continued to drive the rebels back, sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left of the railroad, but principally on the left. While this was going on, two companies of the Fortieth Massachusetts were ordered to the left, with a view of outflanking the enemy's skirmishers. In endeavoring to carry out that order, the Fortieth Massachusetts came upon a heavy line of skirmishers, and were compelled to withdraw to their original position.

Captain Elder, of the First artillery, in order to ascertain the enemy's force and position, brought one of his pieces into battery on the right and fired one shot, but it did not draw a reply. The Seventh New-Hampshire regiment, in connection with the Seventh Connecticut, was then sent forward to the right, and, if possible, to break through the enemy's line. This movement brought on hot firing, and it was evident that an engagement was near at hand. At this time our force on the field consisted of the Seventh New-Hampshire, the Seventh Connecticut, the Independent battalion of Massachusetts cavalry, the Fortieth Massachusetts mounted infantry, the Eighth United States colored, Elder's battery of four, and Hamilton's of six pieces. The remainder of the column was halted on the road. While our men were at work on the right, Colonel Henry in person went over to the left to reconnoitre, and, much to his astonishment, discovered that the enemy's right lapped on our left. This was reported to General Seymour, who immediately gave orders for the advance troops and batteries to come into position. The enemy watched the movement with an eager eye, and the moment Hamilton commenced unlimbering his pieces, his battery was subjected to a galling fire of musketry. A number of men and several horses were shot before he could get ready to fire one round. The fact that the enemy had a force far superior in point of numbers to our own, was now beyond all dispute. The firing became heavier and more destructive as each moment advanced. The railroad as it nears Olustee, takes a bend, and behind this bend the rebels had taken their position. In the woods at the rear were their supporters and reserves. We had not a moment to lose. Our men were within one hundred yards of the enemy, and the only thing that could be done was to fight. To retreat at that time was impossible, for the road was filled with troops coming up, and the woods on either side would not admit of passage on the flank. By dint of effort, Captain Langdon succeeded in getting his four guns in battery on the extreme left, but not until he had lost five or six men and about the same number of horses. It must be borne in mind, our batteries were within one hundred yards of the enemy's front. This short distance rendered it a very easy task for the rebels to pick off a man or horse at every discharge of their rifles. At the commencement of the fight, the Eighth United States colored troops were supporting Hamilton's battery; but when their assistance was really indispensable, by some strange order they filed to the right in rear of the battery, for the purpose of joining their right on the left of the Seventh Connecticut. At that particular time the movement was decidedly an error, for, by carrying it out, it left Hamilton's battery unsupported. In an attempt to enfilade the enemy on his right, Hamilton moved forward four pieces; but before he got into position, the rebels on that portion of their line had concentrated all their fire upon him and the Eighth United States, who had again come up to his support. In twenty minutes time, Hamilton lost forty-four men, killed and wounded, and forty horses. The Eighth also suffered severely. At no one juncture of the engagement has the fire of the enemy been more severe than at the time Hamilton attempted his enfilade movement. Hamilton knew very well his pieces were in great danger of being captured, and he also had sense enough to know that by taking them to the rear, it would instantly cause a panic among the infantry, and so inevitably lose the day for us. The behavior of Captain Hamilton at this critical period of the battle is worthy of special note, and I sincerely believe that it was owing mainly to his persistent efforts that the portion of our line at his battery was not broken and scattered in confusion. He had not only his pieces to command, but his infantry supports to keep from leaving the field. It was in the midst of this destructive fire of the enemy, and while Captain Hamilton was urging the infantry to maintain their line, and at the same time giving orders to his battery, he was struck in the arm by a musket-ball, and shortly after was again hit in the thigh. To add to the misfortune, all of his officers--four in number — were wounded. Colonel Charles W. Fribley, of the Eighth United States, was also mortally wounded on this portion of the field. He did not cease for a moment to encourage and rally his men, and by his gallant behavior proved himself to be an officer of no ordinary merit. Captain Hamilton kept his pieces at work until it was evident it would be sure loss to fire another round, and then gave orders to withdraw them. Horses

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