Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/82
Southern Historical Society Papers.
"The obstacles presented by the woods and swamp made it impracticable to bring up a sufficient force of artillery to oppose successfully the extraordinary force of that arm employed by the enemy, while the field itself afforded us few positions favorable for its use, and none for its proper concentration. Orders were issued for a general advance, at a given signal, but the causes referred to prevented a proper concert of action among the troops. D. H. Hill pressed forward across the open field and engaged the enemy gallantly, breaking and driving back his first line, but a simultaneous advance of the other troops not taking place, he found himself unable to maintain the ground he had gained against the overwhelming numbers and numerous batteries of the enemy. Jackson sent to his support his own division, and that part of Ewell's which was in reserve, but owing to the increasing darkness and intricacy of the forest and swamp, they did not arrive in time to render the desired assistance. Hill was, therefore, compelled to abandon part of the ground he had gained, after suffering severe loss and inflicting heavy damage upon the enemy. On the right, the attack was gallantly made by Huger's and Magruder's commands. Two brigades of the former commenced the action" (Wright's and Armstead's), "and the other two were subsequently sent to the support of Magruder and Hill (D. H.) Several determined efforts were made to storm the hill at Crew's house. The brigades advanced bravely across the open field, raked by the fire of a hundred cannon and the musketry of large bodies of infantry. Some were broken and gave way, others approached close to the guns, driving back the infantry, compelling the advanced batteries to retire to escape capture, and mingling their dead with those of the enemy. For want of concert among the attacking columns their assaults were too weak to break the Federal line, and after struggling gallantly, sustaining and inflicting great loss, they were compelled successively to retire. Night was approaching when the attack began, and it soon became difficult to distinguish friend from foe. The firing continued until after 9 P. M., but no decided result was gained. Part of the troops were withdrawn to their original positions, others remained on the open field, and some rested within a hundred yards of the batteries which had been so bravely, but vainly, assailed. The general conduct of the troops was excellent―in some cases heroic. The lateness of the hour at which the attack necessarily began gave the enemy the full advantage of his superior position, and augmented the natural difficulties of our own."