Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/9
Southern Historical Society Papers.
The discussion arose in this way : Pope charged that Porter, who was on the extreme left of the Federal line, and who he (Pope) had directed to attack and turn Jackson's right, had remained idle and inactive all the day, while he (Pope) "fought a terrific battle" on his right (our left.) To this Porter answered that the position Pope had directed him to take was a mile in rear of our line; that Longstreet was in force before him, and that Pope was holding him responsible for not doing on the left what he (Pope) himself, with the bulk of the army, had been unable to do on the right; and that, moreover, he (Porter) had heard no such firing on Pope's right as would inform him that a battle was raging. Singular to say the noise of our engagement does not appear to have been heard at the other end of the line.*
A battle, technically speaking, is defined to be an engagement between two armies, as distinguished from the skirmishes or minor actions fought between their smaller sections. In this sense, it is true that there was no general battle on the 29th; but that there was a battle of great severity between considerable parts of the two armies, we, the survivors of Gregg's Brigade, are here to testify to-day.
It has seemed to me, therefore, my comrades, that it would be interesting to you, and valuable to the history of our State, to recall with you this morning the part taken by our brigade on that memorable day, and with the official reports of the officers, both Federal and Confederate, before us to inquire who were our opponents, the troops of what States and commands we fought, and how many there were that we encountered during those long hours from sunrise to dark. I am the more induced to take this battle for the subject of our recollections to-day as I have the original draft of the report I made of the movements of the First Regiment, written very soon after the battle, which is valuable, because, as you remember, the reports made by the regimental officers were all lost by General
.* Many testified to this for General Porter, and in a history of the Fifth New York Volunteers, of Sykes's division of Porter's corps, the author mentions, not apparently with any regard to the Fitz John Porter case, that they heard heavy firing in the afternoon a few miles to their right, and it was the general impression among the rank and file that an engagement was going on. but the firing was nothing unusual, as they had been accustomed to hear it in various directions for several days.—Davenport's Fifth New York Infantry, page 264.