Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/239

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The First North Carolina Volunteers. 233

Back river on our front and encircling our right flank. On our left was a dense and almost impassable wood, except about one hundred and fifty yards of old field. The breadth of the road, a thick wood, and narrow cultivated field covered our rear. The nature of the ground determined me to make an inclosed work, and I had the invaluable aid of Lieutenant-Colonel Lee, of my regiment, in its plan and construction. Our position had the inherent defect of being commanded by an immense field immediately in front of it, upon which the masses of the enemy might be readily deployed. Pre- suming that an attempt would be made to carry the bridge across the stream, a battery was made for its special protection, and Major Randolph placed his guns so as to sweep all the approaches to it. The occupation of two commanding eminences beyond the creek and on our right would have greatly strengthened our position, but our force was too weak to admit of the occupation of more than one of them. A battery was laid out on it for one of Randolph's howitz- ers. We had only twenty-five spades, six axes and three picks; but these were busily plied all day and night of the yth and all day on the 8th. On the afternoon of the 8th I learned that a marauding party of the enemy was within a few miles of us. I called for a party of thirty-four men to drive them back. Lieutenant Roberts, of Company F, of my regiment, promptly responded, and in five minutes his command was en route. I detached Major Randolph, with one howitzer, to join them. Lieutenant-Colonel Lee, First regiment North Carolina volunteers, requested and was granted per- mission to take command of the whole. After a march of five miles they came across the marauders, busy over the spoils of a plundered house. A shell soon put the plunderers to flight, and they were chased over New Market bridge, where our little force was halted, in consequence of the presence of a considerable body situated on the other side. Lieutenant- Colonel Lee brought in one prisoner. How many of the enemy were killed and wounded is not known. None of our command was hurt. Soon after Lieutenant-Colonel Lee left, a citizen came dashing in with the information that seventy- five marauders were on the Back River road. I called for Captain McDowell's company (E) of the First regiment of North Carolina volunteers, and in three minutes it was in hot pursuit. Lieutenant West, of the Howitzer battalion, with one piece, was detached to join them, and Major Lane, of my regiment, volunteered to assume command of the whole. After a weary march they encountered, dis- persed and chased the wretches over the New Market bridge this