Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 21.djvu/251
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same point in a northwesterly direction would not reach the skirmish line under one thousand yards.
The attack came from the west and northwest. It is necessary to bear all this in mind to understand what followed. The " Bloody Angle" was held by the Second Brigade, Colonel Witcher, of Gen- eral Edward Johnson's division. The Forty-second Virginia Regi- ment, of this brigade, held the skirmish line during the day and night of the nth of May. At daybreak on the morning of the I2th, the Forty-eighth regiment, to which I was attached, was taken out of the salient, marched to the front and deployed to relieve the Forty-second.
It was just at this time, and whilst both regiments were extended in skirmish order, that the cheering of the charging columns of the enemy was heard, and although they were evidently close to us, none could be seen on account of a dense fog which enveloped every- thing. Nearly the whole of the two regiments were forced from their direct line of retreat and compelled to make a detour, or else stand the chance of running into the enemy, whose columns of at- tack to our left when first started were several hundred yards nearer the angle than we were. Many men kept an easterly course to avoid the fire from our own men, who, whilst they could see nothing, could hear the cheering, and were simply firing into the fog, and rejoined their commands later in the day. Many others, myself among the number, after making a detour, reached the lines where they were held by the Third brigade, General Steuart. Only a very small num- ber re entered the angle, where all of us should have been. On crossing the works, I started up the line towards the salient, but before reaching it the enemy could be seen directly in front and about seventy yards off the line where they had halted, and one good volley would have sent the whole, helter-skelter to the rear. But it was not to be. And I can testify from personal observation as to the truth of General Walker's statement.
The fire of Steuart' s men in line of battte did not have the force of a hotly-contested skirmish. The penetrating mist which had been falling all night had wet the powder in the tubes, and the guns could not be fired. A sergeant of my regiment, who was with me, directed my attention to the angle. About forty yards away the enemy could be seen pouring over the works, and the artillery galloping into the salient. I saw the single gun mentioned by Colonel Carter unlim-