The Battle of Williamsburg and the Charge of the Twenty-fourth
Virginia of Early's Brigade.
By Colonel R. L. Maury.
The Immortal Twenty-fourth. The Yankee General Hancock said that the Fifth North Carolina and the Twenty-fourth Virginia, for their conduct in battle before Williamsburg, ought to have this word inscribed upon their banners. The Twenty-fourth in the fight of yesterday vindicated its title to this honor. * * * —Richmond Enquirer, June 2, 1862.
The authors of the narratives referred to have failed to give this regiment the exceedingly prominent and conspicuous place in that charge to which accident and its own valor entitle it. The charge of Early's brigade was the charge of the Twenty-fourth Virginia, and the enemy's whole resistance was directed against its attack. This is evidenced by the fact that its whole heavy loss was incurred in its advance, while the Fifth North Carolina, the only other regiment of the brigade in the fight, in its gallant advance
The narratives of Colonel Bratton, of the Sixth South Carolina, and of Colonel McRae, of the Fifth North Carolina, published in the Papers of the Southern Historical Society for June and August last, describing the charge made by a small part of Early 's brigade [the Twenty-fourth Virginia, supported by the Fifth North Carolina] at Williamsburg, upon a redoubt on our extreme left, defended by General Hancock with five regiments and ten guns, affords a proper occasion to record an account of the achievements there of the Twenty-fourth Virginia infantry, which bore the principal part in that action. This regiment opened the attack, drove the enemy before it, although his force was eight or ten times theirs, silenced his fire, and having advanced within twenty yards of the redoubt, was only stopped by orders from the division commander. Its daring and its dash won from the Major-General (D. H. Hill) this hearty commendation: "The courage exhibited by the Fifth North Carolina and the Twenty-fourth Virginia made too a wonderful impression upon the Yankees, and doubtless much of the caution exhibited in their subsequent movements was due to the terror inspired by the heroism of these noble regiments. History has no example of a more daring charge. * * * * * it contributed largely to detain McClellan, to demoralize his troops and to secure our retreat from a vigorous and harassing pursuit." And the commander of the forces attacked, General Hancock, declared that it should bear the word " immortal upon its banner forever.