Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/72

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

almost impenetrable wood except about one hundred and fifty yards of old field. The rear was covered by the road, a thick wood and a narrow cultivated field. The position had the inherent defect of being commanded by an immense open field on which the enemy might be readily deployed. Colonel Hill determined to make an enclosed work. The bridge over the river to his right was commanded by the artillery, an eminence beyond the creek was occupied and a battery put into place. The work of fortification was kept up during the 7th and 8th and on the 9th, which was Sunday, the men worked and prayed by turns, They were aroused at three on Monday to advance on the enemy, but finding him too strong fell back on their entrenchments and awaited his approach. A reinforcement of one hundred and eighty men from the Third Virginia regiment was stationed on the hill on the extreme right. Company G, First North Carolina, later Bethel regiment, was thrown over to protect the howitzer, and Company A, First North Carolina, took post in the dense wood beyond and to the left of the road. The Confederates, about fourteen hundred strong, awaited the enemy in their entrenchments. At 9 A. M. his heavy columns approached rapidly and in good order.

These troops had been sent out from Hampton by Major-General Butler, then commanding in the department of Virginia. They were commanded by Brigadier-General' E. W. Pierce, and were about thirty-five hundred strong, consisting of eight hundred and fifty men of the Fifth New York Volunteers, under Colonel Duryea; six hundred and fifty of the Third New York, under Colonel Townsend ; seven hundred and fifty from the Seventh New York, Fourth Massachusetts, and First Vermont, under Colonel Bendix, of the Seventh New York, with others from the Second New York, under Colonel Carr, and from the First New York, under Colonel Allen, with a detachment from the Second United States Artillery with several pieces.

The Federals attacked gallantly, but after a fight of two hours and a half were defeated, having lost eighteen killed, fifty-three wounded and five missing. The Confederates lost one killed and eleven wounded. This death happened towards the close of the action. A strong column of Federals, consisting of Massachusetts troops, under the leadership of Major Theodore Winthrop, crossed over the creek, and appeared at the angle on the Confederate left. Here they were opposed by Companies B, C and G, First North Carolina,