Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/231

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The First North Carolina Volunteers. 225

for them, and leaping on the embankment, stood and fired at the Yankees, cutting them down as they came up. One company of the New York Seventh Regiment, under Captain Wardrop, or Winthrop, attempted to take the redoubt on the left. The marsh they crossed was strewn with their bodies. Their captain, a fine looking man, reached the fence, and leaping on a log, waved his sword, crying, " Come on, boys; one charge, and the day is ours." The words were his last, for a Carolina rifle ended his life the next moment, and his men fled in terror back. At the redoubt on the right a company of about three hundred New York zouaves charged one of our guns, but could not stand the fire of the infantry, and retreated precipitately.

During these charges the main body of the enemy on the hill were attempting to concentrate for a general assault, but the shells from the Howitzer battery prevented them. As one regiment would give up the effort another would be marched to the position, but with no better success, for a shell would scatter them like chaff. The men did not seem able to stand fire at all.

About i o'clock their guns were silenced, and a few moments after their infantry retreated piecipitately down the road to Hampton.

Our cavalry, numbering three companies, went in pursuit, and harassed them down to the edge of Hampton. As they retreated, many of the wounded fell along the road and died, and the whole road to Hampton was strewn with haversacks, overcoats, canteens, muskets, &c. , which the men had thrown off in their retreat.

After the battle I visited the position they held. The houses behind which they had been hid had been burnt by our troops. Around the yard were the dead bodies of the men who had been killed by our cannon, mangled in the most frightful manner by the shells. The uniforms on the bodies were very different, and many of them are like those of the Virginia soldiery. A little farther on we came to the point to which they had carried some of their wounded, who had since died. The gay looking uniforms of the New York zouaves contrasted greatly with the pale, fixed faces of their dead owners. Going to the swamp through which they attempted to pass to assault our lines, presented another bloody scene. Bodies dotted the black morass from one end to the other. I saw one boyish, deli- cate looking fellow lying on the mud, with a bullet-hole through his breast. His hand was pressed on the wound from which his life blood had poured; and the other was clinched in the grass that grew near him. Lying on the ground was a testament which had fallen from his pocket, dabbled with blood. On opening the cover I 15