Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/59

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A Remarkable Victory. 53

lawn of Mr. McPhail's house, whence he could view the field of battle and all its approaches, and convinced that he would encounter stout resistance he made his preparations accordingly.

About 4 P. M. he moved two thousand five hundred dismounted riflemen under a brigade commander to make the attack. The line advanced over this plain, which sweeps from the base of the ridge to the river bank. No shot was fired, except from the cannon, as it approached in fine array, until within about fifty yards of the bridge, and every eye of the assailants was fixed upon the field-works and men beyond the river, when at Coleman's command the force under the bank arose, and as one man poured in their unexpected fire. The centre of the Federal line was torn out scarce a man of it escaped wounds or death and the whole force soon fell back to the hills to reorganize its attack, and again advanced to be repulsed as before. By this time night was falling and General Wilson was con- vinced that he had to encounter greater resistance than he could overcome without great loss of time and men. This conviction was strengthened by Mrs. McPhail, who told him that the force before him had been greatly increased since his approach had become known ; that she had heard frequent arrivals of the trains from Dan- ville and the cheers when they reached the bridge with reinforce- ments from Danville and Charlotte, and that he would probably find ten thousand men to beat in the morning.


The first light of the 25th showed Wilson's trains and army re- tiring from the field in retreat upon Grant's lines, but he was inter- cepted by General Rooney Lee, who captured all of his wagon train and two thousand prisoners, Wilson, with his remaining force, barely escaping into his own lines.

He left upon the field in his fight at the bridge over sixty dead, who were buried where they fell ; and his wounded must have been many more than the usual proportion to the dead, for most of them were from buckshot from double-barrelled guns, every discharge of which wounded and disabled many men.

The Confederate loss was two killed and six or seven wounded. The killed were the Rev. Mr. Burke, of the Episcopal Church, and Dr. Sutphin, a prominent physician of Halifax county. Colonel Coleman was severely wounded.