Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 32.djvu/223

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Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. 211

had broken through our lines and had been driven out by a counter charge. It is said to have been done in the fight on the tenth. The front of our line was was well sprinkled with the enemy's dead, and about a score were piled at one point in our trenches.


We were told to expect a charge from the dense pine woods just in front of us, possibly some hundred yards away. It was so thick that nothing in it could be seen, and we simply waited with guns cocked until it should deliver up its contents. Cartridges were torn and caps laid out (we had muzzle-loading Enfield rifles) that no time should be lost in reloading; we could not hope for more than two shots before it came to a question of cold steel, and few of our men had bayonets. Personally, the boy volunteer was better off for such work, for having been wounded in the hand in an earlier ac- tion, so as not to be able to load an Enfield, he had seized a breech- loading Sharp's carbine from the cavalry, and could count on four or five shorts before coming to close quarters.

We lay thus expectant until just dawn, when on our right, per- haps some five or six hundred yards away, we heard the Yankee " Hussa ! hussa ! hussa !" and then a rattling fire of small arms, lasting but a quarter of an hour at most. " Why don't they come on? they gave it up easy," was our thought, when, to our surprise, we saw our men running from the trenches in the salient on our right. The enemy had taken the works ! Our first emotion was surprise and amazement that our troops had lost so easily; there had been no fight.


Our next was alarm at the situation; for veterans as we were we could see the seriousness of the disaster. It seemed that a whole corps, massed on a division front, had broken our line right in the centre, and were now pouring into the position that would enfilade both sides, and with small advance take our forces in the rear and compel the retreat of Lee's army, and that, too, at day break, with all day to complete the disaster and turn the retreat into a rout. The situation produced alarm but not fear. It was a great emer- gency to be promptly and heroically met. Our officers were not wanting. In a few minutes our brigade was thrown almost to right angles to the breastworks we had been set to defend, and marching to the right, made, with Gordon's Georgians, who were on our right,