Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/124
112 Southern Historical Society Papers.
rous one he had ventured too far to remain there alone, and his sole line of retreat was a narrow road over the dam of Saunder's Pond.
President Davis in his Memoirs says: " Early confidently expresses the opinion that had his attack been supported promptly and vigo- rously, the enemy's forces then engaged must have been captured."
But General Johnston, unfortunately more occupied with the de- fense of his own record than in giving well earned prominence to the glorious deeds of those soldiers who made him great, makes but passing mention of this affair, which his opponents, on the other hand, have treated as the great event of the day. He says: " Gen- eral Early sent an officer to report that there was a battery (redoubt?) in front of him which he could take, and asked authority to do so. The message was delivered to General Longstreet, who referred the messenger to me, we being together. I authorized the attack, but desired the General to look carefully first. Under the circumstances he could not have expected support, for he moved out of the reach of it."
But this is error, for the other three gallant brigades of Hill were close upon the ground, and could have been brought to support Early just as well as he could and did make the attack.
So Hill brings down his division from the college, and Early's Regiment having been selected to make the attack, and eager for the first of a hundred battles, hastily threw their knapsacks and blankets in a yard as they pass, and came hurrying along at the double through the narrow main street of the old historic town, where the cheers and the tears of the women and maidens, whose pallid faces appear at every window and door, waiving adieu to the eager soldiers as they pass so quickly by, and the unaccustomed sight of dead and wounded and prisoners brought in from the field to which we were hastening; the rapid expected motion; the gallop- ing of artillery, couriers and staff, with all the burning excitement of the approach to battle sent the hot, young blood coursing through their veins like fire, which even now, cool with age at the bare mem- ory of it all, flush the cheek and brighten the eye, though we are gray and old, and the third of a whole century has rolled over our heads since that glorious day.
Haifa mile or more down the Yorktown road we hurry, and filing by the left flank through a wide, newly-ploughed field near a wood, which screens from our right all beyond, and breathless, hot and heavy of foot from such a long and rapid run halt! come into line,