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126 A BETBEAT DECIDED UPON.
James, saving most of his men and material. The result of the interview was a determination on the part of the Commanding General to "change his base," and, under cover of night, preparations were made for the retreat, <
CONTINUED FIGHTING. 127
During the following morning, Saturday, June 28th, Col. Taylor, in accordance with orders from Gen. Smith, moved with a portion of his command to relieve and support the picket line, then within two hundred yards of the enemy, leaving the remainder in camp, under command of acting Adjutant Tyler, to strike tents, secure baggage, &c., preparatory to retreating. The men had hardly reached the picket line before the confederates opened a heavy artillery fire from twenty pieces, which was mainly concentrated upon the camp.
Shot and shell flew in every direction, crashing through the trees, ploughing up the ground, completely riddling the tents, firing the baggage and commissary stores, and rendering every foot of the camp enclosure untenable. The camp guard, prisoners, sick, convalescents and, others, seizing their arms, immediately sought refuge behind the earthworks, consisting of ditches and the breastwork in front, which had afforded such good protection on the Thursday previous.
Several of the enemy's missiles struck the breast
128 A GALLANT ACT.
works and rolled over, occasioning not a little confusion. One shell dropped down into the ditch beneath the parapet among the men, but was quickly tossed out by J. W. Hendricks, Co. A, and again taken up by Peter Roach, of the same Company, and thrown down the hill, where it exploded, doing no injury. This heroic deed of these brave fellows undoubtedly saved the lives of several of their comrades at the imminent peril of their own.
Not being replied to by our guns, nearly all of which had been taken to the rear to form in the line of retreat, their artillery firing ceased at the end of an hour, leading our ofiicers to infer that the rebels had withdrawn to some other point. The mistake was soon discovered, however, when the picket line (embracing, in addition to a part of the Thirtythird, two companies of the Forty-ninth Pennsylvania), which had firmly maintained its position, in spite of the artillery fire, was fiercely attacked bytwo full regiments of infantry.
The men stood their ground manfully at first, but were at length forced back to the earthworks, wheeling and firing steadily as they retreated. The defences gained, and the co-operation of the remainder of the Regiment secured, a most gallant stand was made. Colonel Taylor had hardly stationed the men in their places before the rebels, flushed with their first success, and confident of easily storming the defences and capturing the defenders, came charging furiously down upon them.
All became hushed along the line as the men
THE ENEMY PUT TO FLIGHT. 129
nerved themselves for the encounter. The orders to " reserve fire," "fire low," &c., were given in a quiet undertone, and the soldiers, bringing their firelocks to their shoulders and resting them over the top of the parapet, calmly waited the approach of the enemy. On they came, yelling and shouting like demons, till within a few yards of the breastwork when there instantly shot forth from behind it a sheet of flame, followed by another and another, until, staggered by the galling fire, the rebels wavered, broke and fled in great disorder from the field.
When the smoke cleared away the number of killed and wounded that appeared scattered upon the ground testified to the accuracy of our aim. Nearly every one had brought down his man. They continued firing upon the retreating enemy until out of range. Not satisfied with the reception which they had received, the confederates, re-forming, again advanced, though more cautiously than at first. But they were again met by a murderous fire and compelled to fall back, leaving many of their number on the field.
Maddened by the defeat and carnage which had taken place around him, Colonel Lamar, of the Eighth Ga., who commanded the enemy, now sprang forward in front of his men, and, waving his sword and hat in the air, incited them to a renewal of the charge. Over a hundred rifles were instantly levelled at him, and he fell, dangerously wounded, to the ground. At the same time a section of Mott's battery, which had come up, opened an enfilading
130 PRISONERS AND ARMS SECURED.
fire upon them from the left, and the victory was complete, the enemy fleeing in all directions.
Huzza after huzza followed from our men, who could be restrained only with the greatest difficulty from leaping over the parapet and pursuing them. This it would not have been prudent to do, owing to the great disparity in numbers. A small party was, • however, sent forward to secure several prisoners who had voluntarily surrendered, and also our wounded.
This attempt, on the part of the Seventh an d Eighth Ga. Regiments, to capture the Thirty-third, resulted to them in a loss of 91 killed and left upon the field, a large number of wounded, 50 prisoners, including the wounded Col. Lamar of the Eighth and Lieut. Colonel Tower of the Seventh Ga., and two hundred stand of arms. We lost several, in killed and wounded, during the first part of the engagement, when forced back to the entrenchments. A number were also taken prisoners, including Captain Hamilton, of Company G, who was exchanged, and returned to the Regiment at Harrison's Landing. The enemy's balls mostly passed several feet over, or lodged in the earthworks, doing but little injury.
First Lieutenant Moses Church, of Company E, fearless to a fault, seized a musket and, going out from behind the protection of the works, fired repeatedly, with deliberate aim, at the advancing rebels, until he dropped dead, pierced through the head with a minie ball. He was a brave and beloved officer, and was buried close to the spot where he