Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/159

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McGowan's Report of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania C.H.


We remained at the trenches in the Wilderness until Sunday afternoon, 8th May, when we marched by the right flank towards Spotsylvania, bivouacked that night near Shady Grove church, and reached the Courthouse on Monday morning the 9th. We were put into position by Major-General Wilcox on the right of our line in the suburbs of the village, and immediately threw up a breastwork. There we remained with more or less skirmishing until the 12th. Thursday morning the 12th was dark and rainy, and at a very early hour a tremendous fire of artillery and musketry was heard on the line to our left. We were moved along the breastwork towards the left until we reached a sharp angle in the works near a brick kiln, opposite to which the enemy had established a battery. I threw the sharpshooters into a wood to our front and right to pick off the gunners and horses. There we remained until about 9 o'clock A.M., when I was directed to march with my brigade and report to General Ewell, who directed Major-General Rodes to put me in on the right of his line to support General Harris and assist in filling up the gap which had been made by the capture of Major-General Johnson and a part of his command.

At this place our line of works made a sharp angle, pointing towards the enemy, which angle the enemy held in great force, besides having the woods and ravine in front occupied by multitudes, who seemed to be as thick as they could stand. The right of my brigade extended some distance up the left side of the angle, and rested on nothing but the enemy, who held the point and some portion (I never knew how much) of the right side of the angle. Besides having no support on my right, this part of my line was enfiladed from the point of the angle and the gap held by the enemy. In getting into this trench we had to pass through a terrific fire. I was wounded, and know nothing of what occurred afterwards from personal observation. I am informed that the brigade found in the trenches General Harris and what remained of his gallant brigade, and they (Mississippians and Carolinians mingled together) made one of the most gallant and stubborn defences recorded in history. These two brigades remained there holding our line without reinforcements, food, water or rest, under a storm of balls which did not intermit one instant of time for eighteen hours. The trenches on the right of the bloody angle ran with blood, and had to be cleared of the dead bodies more than once. To give some idea of the intensity of the fire, an oak tree,