Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/233

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The First North Carolina Volunteers. 22*1

A detachment of our force at Yorktown, consisting of the First North Carolina regiment volunteers and some Virginia troops, num- bering in all about thirteen hundred, proceeded to Bethel church, fifteen miles below Yorktown, entrenched themselves there, and there were attacked on the morning of Monday, the loth instant, by forty- five hundred of the enemy, including three hundred of the famous Seventh New York regiment and a regiment of New York zouaves. After a severe conflict of four or five hours, the enemy were repulsed with great slaughter. They left fifteen or twenty dead near our lines. Others lay dead further off, and no doubt they carried off a large num- ber dead, of dying and wounded. Their last and final retreat was in "double-quick," throwing off their knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, &c. Lieutenant-Colonel Wardrop, of the New York regiment, was killed. Private Buhman, of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, and Private Mclver, of the Charlotte Greys, contest the honor of having killed the abolition leader. The Yankee colonel was standing on a log rallying his men, when one of our gallant boys picked him off.

Only five or six of our companies were really engaged in the fight, the ground not permitting the action of more. North Carolina and Virginia forces were all that were engaged. Three companies of cavalry arrived in time to pursue the flying enemy.

A house being in the way of our guns, four of Captain Bridgers' company, the Edgecombe Guards, volunteered to charge right in front of the enemy to burn the house. They faced a murderous fire, but in the attempt one gallant fellow (Wyatt) was shot in the head and died in a few hours. The other three lay down on their backs and returned the fire, and finally succeeded in getting back into their lines. In the meantime the house was set on fire by our guns.

The Hornets' Nest Riflemen, under command of Lieutenants W. A. Owens and T. D. Gillespie (Captain Williams being sick and absent) behaved with great bravery ; as did also Captain Ross' com- pany, the Charlotte Greys ; these two companies being nearest the point of attack. Indeed, all our men acted nobly, whose praise is in every mouth.

Only one of our whole force was killed and seven wounded. Surely an enemy numbering nearly four to one, raining cannon balls, shell and grape-shot like hail for three mortal hours, and doing such little damage, must have been confounded by that Hand that ever sides with justice and eternal rectitude.