Further on as I reached the cedar lane leading from what was known as the Ragland House
, to the Plank Road
, a few hundred yards in the rear of the works, I saw galloping towards me a youth mounted on a fine-looking mare, and leading by the bridle a large heavy-built, dark horse, with foreign-looking accoutrements.
The contrast between the spirited animal he was riding and the other lumbering, clumsy animal, was quite striking.
This, I understood afterwards, was gallant young Wales Hurt, lieutenant in Captain Jarvis
' Junior Reserves, on his way for reinforcements.
As he passed he shouted that they already had had a brush with the enemy, and the horse he was leading was one which had been captured from them.
This was the last I saw of him. After fulfilling his mission, and no doubt returning to participate in the affray, he fell in with the advancing enemy and was slain, his body being found afterwards in the road, where they had ridden over him. Colonel Archer
states in his
paper that the mare belonged to General Colston
, who afterwards recovered it. It has been stated to me that the Federal
trooper who killed Wales Hurt, possessed himself of the mare, and was himself afterwards killed, and the horse subsequently restored to its lawful owner.
The news considerably excited me, and I pushed on. It was now very near the middle of the day. On turning into the main road and nearing our camp, which was immediately on the Plank Road
, and a short distance in the rear of the breastworks, I saw our attenuated line of about one hundred and twenty-five men spread out along the trenches from the salient, or redoubt, in front of or near Timothy Rives' house on our left, across the Jerusalem Plank Road
, to a short distance on our right, in front of a pine grove.
There was no artillery then in position, and I instinctively felt it was a forlorn hope.
I found a Mr. Grigg
, formerly of Danville
, on guard at the camp, and ascertaining from him the position of my company, which was on the extreme left near the Rives' house
, I joined it.
I found the men considerably elated at the result of the first attack, as they described with what beautiful precision the attacking party of cavalry had advanced in front of our works, wheeled and retreated on being fired into.
However, the fiery ordeal had yet to come.
It was apparent that our commandant, Major Fletcher H. Archer
, had nevertheless, the utmost we could hope to accomplish was to hold our position until reinforcements arrived.
At that moment we were the only barrier, feeble as it was, between the city and destruction.
The enemy, now finding we were not be frightened off by the mere brandishing of the weapons of war, proceeded to invest our position according to the most approved military methods, and now opened upon our centre at the Jerusalem Road
, shelling us vigorously.
At this movement we had no gun in position wherewith to respond to the Rives' salient.
Presently the commandant came over and asked for volunteers to help defend the centre of our position, as he expected a fresh dash of the enemy would be made there, which was cheerfully compiled with.
A dozen or
so sprang up and went with him. This brought me close to the Plank Road
We now observed with feelings of considerable relief one gun of Sturdivant
's battery approaching to our assistance.
It took position to the right of the Plank Road
, and it was with much satisfaction we saw its shells exploding in the midst of the enemy.
In order to barricade the roadway more effectually, a number of rails taken from a fence just outside the lines had been placed in and across a wagon drawn across the road at the opening through the works.
Through the gap thus made by the dismantling of the fence some of the enemy's cavalry had ridden at the first attack.
One man, wounded by our fire, was unable to control his horse, which sprang forward over the ditch into our midst.
Lieutenant George V. Scott
ordered him, with vehement language, several times to stop and surrender, which the poor fellow, who was shot through both arms, was too helpless to (who.
At length lie was brought to. Doubtless this was the dark horse which Wales Hurt was leading when I met him, as before related.
In order to prevent the recurrence of this break, Young Archer
with a few volunteers went out and patched up the dismantled fence as well as they could.
This was done in full view and easy range of the enemy.
The enemy having thrown out a line of sharphooters in our front, where they had ample protection behind the bushes and fences, kept our men busily employed.
With one or more of these, Professor Godfrey Staubley
(who was one of the few who had a rifle), who was stationed a few feet from me beside the wagon barricading the roadway, kept up a kind of duel until he received his death wound.
We very shortly noticed the enemy running out to overlap us on our left.
It is well known, and has been well described, what the results of this movement were; how our men at the Rives' salient had to stand a murderous fire upon them on their flank and rear, while facing the enemy in front.
It proved a ‘bloody angle’ for those devoted men who held that position.
Mr. John E. Friend
was among the first to fall.
He had behaved with great coolness and bravery, he was shot dead by a man stationed behind a tree in Rives
Others showed no less bravery.
I was informed that Mr. W. C. Bannister
, who was very deaf, on being summoned to surrender, either not understanding or showing fight, was shot dead.
Mr. James Kerr
, a staunch and true man who had already clone good and faithful service, determined to give them a parting shot before he retreated.
He got down on one knee and, taking deliberate aim, fired into the Yankees
, who were clustered like bees in Mr. Rives
' front porch.
Fortunately he escaped with only a slight wound.
But the enemy having gotten completely around kept pouring in such a merciless fire that one after another fell until fourteen were killed outright or mortally wounded, and the earth that day was crimsoned with the life blood of some of the noblest and purest of the citizens of Petersburg
The fight had now assumed such a character that Major Archer
ordered us to fall back.
I had scarcely gotten twenty yards from the breastworks when I received a shot in my right wrist.
Being exposed to the fire which was sweeping across the field from our left, I took refuge in a little ditch near by. The tide of the battle swept by.
I caught Major Archer
's eye for a moment as he stood to the last, giving orders.
Events succeeded each other rapidly and in a few minutes all was over and the enemy in full possession.
The firing in a measure having ceased I got up to make my escape, but hearing some one roughly ordering me to halt I looked around and noticed two troopers a short distance off, who covered me with their carbines.
Up to this moment I supposed I was the only man who had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, but was speedily deceived.
I was marched down to the low ground that lay between our camp and the breastworks and there found quite a number of our men, some wounded, Lieutenant G. V. Scott
among the latter, having a dreadful wound in his face, having been shot through both cheeks.
Among the wounded was a Federal trooper shot through the calf of the leg. Including killed, wounded and captured our loss was just about one half of our force engaged.
In the old colonial church in Blandford
, a marble tablet commemorates
the names of those patriot citizens who received their death wounds on the fatal field.
It reads thus: