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104

33RD SKIRMISHERS BETWEEN TWO FIRES.

the night, were discovered drawn up in the principal street, and in a neighboring grove. The skirmishers immediatedly opened upon them, when taking refuge in buildings and behind walls, they returned the fire.

The whole Brigade now moved up on both sides of the road, and two sections of Wheeler's battery were got into position, and commenced tossing shell into the village. This placed the skirmishers between two fires, and for a time, they were nearly as much exposed to our own as the rebels. One had his canteen perforated by a piece of shell thrown from the Union battery, another had a part of his shoe taken away. The firing of the rebel cannoniers, at first slow, became very rapid and accurate as the battle progressed. One solid shot passed between Major Platner and Captain Guion, as they stood conversing together. A second whizzed close by the head of Colonel Taylor's horse, and a third striking the roll of blankets strapped on behind a horseman, threw them high into the air. Every one held their breath for a moment, supposing that it was the rider himself, but he escaped unharmed.

The guns were afterwards removed to the right of the skirmishers, and a section of flying artillery posted on the left. A heavy fire was now concentrated on the buildings in which the confederates had concealed themselves, soon causing an exodus on their part, and the whole force commenced falling back in the direction of Richmond. Seeing this, Gen. Davidson ordered a charge, when the Thirty

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FRIGHT OF THE CITIZENS.

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third and Seventy-seventh gallantly charged down upon the place, driving everything before them.

Large numbers of knapsacks and blankets which the rebels had thrown away in their flight were picked up in the streets. They were most of them marked “Rome (Ga.) Light Guards.” Guns, equipments, blankets, and other materials of war, were likewise found in large quantities. Nearly all the houses were more or less pockmarked with shot and shell. The Mayor's residence, an elegant mansion, had been struck seventeen different times. Those of the inhabitants who had not fled, were found packed away like sardines, in cellars and other places of refuge. They were very much frightened, and not until repeatedly assured that we would not harm them, could they be prevailed upon to come out.

After taking possession of the village, a line of skirmishers was thrown out half a mile on the Richmond road. Detachments of the Thirty-third, Seventh Maine, and five companies of cavalry were left in charge of the town. They were relieved upon the following day, and rejoined their regiments on the Beaver Dam, to which the Brigade had returned after the engagement. Some members of Company E discovered a grist mill here, and spent most of the night in grinding corn, and making hoecake.

Gen. Stoneman had in the meantime proceeded several miles to the right, and accomplished the object of the expedition by destroying the Richmond

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PROXIMITY TO RICHMOND.

and Fredericksburg railroad bridge over the Chickahominy.

With one exception this was the nearest point attained to Richmond during the entire Peninsular campaign. Gen. Hooker, after the battle of Fair Oaks, followed the fleeing enemy to within less than four miles of their capital.

That it could then have been taken had General Davidson's brigade been reinforced and permitted to proceed, is a truth which admits of no denial. There were no rebel forces between Mechanicsville and the city, with the exception of those driven from the former place, they being concentrated on the left of our lines. There were no fortifications of any extent on that side of the capital, as the attack was expected to be made from the other direction. The approaches were all left open, and the appearance of this single brigade of “Yankees” struck terror to the rebels, who inferred that all was lost.

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