Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/84

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Southern Historical Society Papers.

On the right of our lines, as they were the afternoon of the 11th, was a brick church. From the upper windows of this the enemy could be seen off to the left and front, over fields and more than two miles distant. They were believed to be moving away, and some thought they were marching for Fredericksburg. This was reported to General Lee, and was the cause, probably, of the order to withdraw the artillery from Johnson's front. It was withdrawn in the early part of the night, and soon after, Johnson's videttes reported the enemy massing in his front. He selected and sent to the front his most reliable scouts; these returned soon and confirmed the report previously made. General Johnson reported at once the condition of affairs in his front, and made a request, both to his corps commander and to a colonel of artillery, to have the artillery returned. It was promised. It was not brought back, however, till near daylight, and was then not the same, but different batteries, whose officers were ignorant of the newly made paths leading through the dense woods to the different positions prepared for them. General Johnson was present on his lines, and had remained there from the time he reported the massing of the enemy and requested the artillery to be returned, and was superintending the posting of the artillery when the attack was made, his lines carried and he himself captured. The enemy crossed the lines without being incommoded by the fire of artillery, and he believed then and subsequently that had his guns been in position his lines would have been held. What has been stated with reference to the withdrawal of the artillery and its return, is General Johnson's own version as given to me by himself on two different occasions.

Page 131. The salient having been taken, "There occurred the most remarkable musketry fire of the war. From the sides of the salient in possession of the Federals and the new line forming the base of the triangle, occupied by the Confederates, poured forth, from continuous lines of hissing fire, an incessant, terrific hail of deadly missiles. No living man or thing could stand in the doomed space enclosed within those angry lines; even large trees were felled, their trunks cut in twain by the bullets of the small arms.[1] The Federal assault, which threatened such serious consequences, was effectually checked, and the advantage to the enemy limited to the possession of the narrow space of the salient and the capture

  1. There were two oak trees, one nineteen and the other twenty-two inches in diameter, cut down just in rear of the Confederate line by the continued striking of musket-balls from Federal infantry. These trees were measured by Major Joe A. Englehard, Acting Adjutant-General of the division, and Lieutenant M. M. Lindsay, one of my aids.