Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/125

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124 Southern Historical Society Papers.

it was with much satisfaction that I saw on our right five columns with five stands of colors double-quicking to the rear in beautiful order. They disappeared across the Williamsburg road in the direc- tion of White Oak Swamp. I could not see for the woods what those on the left were doing, but the regiments on the right, acting evi- dently under the impression that the Confederates were in force on their right flank, suggested the idea that those on the left were under a similar impression as to their left flank.

It was with a great sense of relief that I again gave my entire attention to the brief but explicit and satisfactory order of our Gen- eral, " Press them." . When, however, the gallant foemen in our front gave up all hope, ceased their stubborn futile efforts at resistance, and incontinently fled, the regiment for the first time that day lost its order, and the men broke away in a wild chase after them. Unable to stop the foremost, the only way to keep them at all together was by urging the hindmost forward. We struck the Williamsburg road obliquely, our right touching it near Seven Pines House, when a regiment posted in the edge of a pine thicket on the other side of the road, their line being parallel to the road, opened fire on our right flank. About two companies on our right were stopped by it, and forming in the road engaged this new enemy. The balance of the regiment rushed on in pursuit into the woods, down the road, making a wide interval between them and the companies on their right. I sent Sergeant-Major Beverly Means, who was at hand, to catch our wild boys on the left, and order them to form on the two companies in the road, and urged dispatch, as I feared that the enemy might charge us in that condition. To prevent this, our men who stopped near the house were formed in the road and ordered to keep up as brisk a fire as possible. My brave men, individually, as they got the orders, ran promptly back up the road, into and under fire at less than one hundred yards, formed as it were by file on our men fight- ing there, and thus by their individual pluck and devotion to duty enabled us to meet the emergency and avert the danger in the shortest and of course the best way. If we had taken the usual course under such circumstances, and fallen back to reform, we would have lost ground, lost time, and have effected less at a perhaps greater cost of life.

While this formation in the very front of the battle and in the teeth of the enemy was going on, I was looking with anxiety for the Fifth regiment to come up, still not knowing the cause of its delay the fall of its heroic Colonel when I saw a regiment moving up from