Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/126

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114 Southern Historical Society Papers.

to lose distance, having greater obstacles to pass, 'tis said, and finally lost their place. But the Twenty-fourth hurried ahead breath- less now, for already we had gone half a mile or more, but still with all the strength we could muster; there was no halting or strug- gling only more excitement and greater speed, though at each step less breath and more fatigue and still no enemy to be seen, and where are the guns ? Over the field from which we started we have run down the hill, through tangled, tripping briars and dense woods, crossed the road and up a slope and into woods again, and still no foe appears. But now, at last, there is light ahead, the trees are fewer, and an open field is seen in front surely the guns are there, and around them will be the enemy. The glorious Virginians renew their strength at the sight, press forward towards it, and in a moment are at the edge of the open, seeing before them, as a picture, the open plateau of Magruder's entrenchments, the contour of the Con- federate redoubts stretching away to the right to Fort Magruder, about three-quarters of a mile distant. The redoubt on the extreme left is directly in face of the left of the Twenty-fourth Virginia and occupied by Hancock, whose five regiments and ten guns are well advanced in its front. Thus the Twenty-fourth Virginia alone di- rectly faces the foe, the rest of the brigade stretching away to the right has no enemy in its front, and as yet has not emerged from the timber. In a word, our line was too far to the right by nearly the entire brigade front.

As yet the Confederates had not been seen, and to this point indeed they could and should have been brought supports and all, formed in line and then set to charge, the point to be assaulted being plainly in view. Had this been done the single brigade, even with- out support, could easily have accomplished the task which, as it was, was nearly done by two of the regiments. Hill says that such was his intention, but the impetuosity of the Twenty-fourth Virginia prevented its being done.

And now the enemy is in sight for the first time, for the first time is seen the battery we are after. "There they are," shouted Early, and in a few moments fell wounded from his horse. Seeing them the men sprung forward with renewed energy, and mindful of Early's words, leave the woods and rushed for the guns. But the wild advance at such a speed over rough and heavy ground, has broken the line the two centre regiments do not appear at all, while the Fifth North Carolina on the right does not get into the open until the Twenty fourth Virginia has been in close action some time and