Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/419

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Williamsburg, 411

Permit me to say that the exact truth of the matter is that the bat- tle of Williamsburg was a Confederate success.

The occasion of the battle was this : The Confederate army was on its march from Yorktown to its chosen field of battle near Richmond. McClellan, at the head of a powerful army, was in hot pursuit. He had one hundred and fifteen regiments of infantry, a strong force of cavalry, and some two hundred and fifty guns. Between the two at Williamsburg, the ancient colonial capital of Virginia, lay Long- street* s division, stretched across the road, with orders to keep back the Federal advance until the Confederate army had made good a day's march. This duty the division fully performed. Hooker's division, Kearney's division, and parts of Smith's, Couch's, and Ca- sey's divisions were in turn hurled against that line of fire, but all alike in vain. Not one single Federal soldier in arms ever crossed that line until after daylight next morning, when Longstreet's di- vision, having performed the duty assigned it, was well on its way to rejoin the main body.


We took eight stands of colors, and every gun except one that the Federal artillery succeeded in bringing into action. So far from being able to advance, the Union troops were steadily driven back, until at the close of the day we were about one mile in the rear of their original line of formation. The next morning after the action Hook- er's division was reported as unfit fof service, and Kearney's as in need of reinforcements before it could move. From the staggering blows dealt his best troops, McClellan was under the impression that Joseph E. Johnston's whole army was in his immediate front, and did not move from Williamsburg until the 8th. Nor did he make any further attempt to harrass or impede our march. From these facts the reader can determine for himself which side achieved the object for which the battle was fought.

On our left there was no fighting until late in the afternoon, when a brief but bloody struggle occurred between Hancock's brigade and a part of Early's brigade. Early failed to drive Hancock from his position, but, on the other hand, the Federal commander did not venture to advance. From this encounter, which lasted less than half an hour, though in that time some five hundred men fell, the impression may have originated that Williamsburg was a drawn battle ; but it was upon our right that the main and real action was