Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/423

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Jtiecollections of Fredericksburg. 417

advance from Deep Run. From a cupola ol the Slaughter house I could see the enemy's line pouring over the pontoon bridges below Deep Run and moving toward our side of the river. I was npw satisfied that the enemy's movement up the opposite side of the river in the morning was a feint ; that an advance would be made on Fred- ericksburg, and that our sojourn in that city would soon be termi- nated. The enemy's pickets soon advanced from Deep Run, drove General Early's pickets back to the railroad and moved up the turn- pike toward Fredericksburg. I immediately threw back the right of my picket line, composed of Company E, under Lieutenant Mc- Neely, of Wilkinson county, and Company G, under Lieutenant Mills, of Leak county, and established it from the gas-house up Hazel Run to the railroad, with videttes along the railroad toward Hamilton station, connecting with General Early's pickets. The enemy's pickets continued to advance and engaged my pickets, but being supported by a line of infantry, failed to drive them from their position. It was now dark. Helpless and alone, the Twenty-first regiment, with four hundred muskets, was facing and resisting thirty thousand veterans. Of course we could not hold the city if the enemy advanced. We were ordered to " hold the city until forced out of it." If the enemy contented himself with amusing us in front there was nothing to prevent him from flanking the city during the night and placing it in his rear, and the Twenty-ffrst regiment in the condition of "rats in a rat-trap" — nothing but the necessity that required him to lay down his pontoons that night in front of the city. This we could prevent unless driven from our rifle-pits ; hence I was momentarily expecting a charge that would drive us from the city or relieve me of my sword and start me on my journey to John- son's Island. I instructed the pickets, if forced, to fall back to the railroad and hold that line until the pickets on the river, between the railroad and the canal, could retire through the city, and all to retire toward Marye's Hill, holding the enemy in check as best they could. Shortly after dark a courier summoned me to report to General Harry Havs, at Marye's Hill, for instructions. He informed me that Havs's brigade was in the trenches on Marye's Hill, and that Barksdale's brigade and the Washington Artillery were returning to Fredericksburg. This news rolled ofi" a mighty load from our watchful and wearied souls, and filled our hearts with joy and glad- ness. Instantly each man felt as big and as brave as " little David " confronting " big Goliath." Not a few compliments were paid to our returning friends and General Lee by our boys as the glad tidings