Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/16

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12 Sox/lnni Histnrii-dl Nor/V/y I'>t/>trs.

under that perfect tactician, Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Council, of the 36th, led the charge, supported by Martin, who was supported in a third line by the remaining portions of Wise's Brigade. The 600 carried the front before either brigade came up; so rapid and so undaunted was this charge of the 600 it was Balaklava like. This charge was made in open field for one-half a mile, under no guns, against a full line of infantry in parapet. The men, though falling "like leaves of Vallambrosa," moved steadily up under the point blank fire until within ten or twenty paces, when the enemy threw down their guns and cried for quarter. The reply was "too late! " "too late! " and the havoc which followed was appalling. The 600 passed beyond the line taken and had to be recalled. No more could be done but hold that line. After this line was captured and settled firmly, General Wise was sent with but one of his regiments, the 46th, and a Georgia battalion to support the local forces on the lines of Petersburg. His whole force was- 800 men, including 113 militia under the gallant Colonel F. H. Archer, to defend a line of six and a half miles. Alas! when he came to count his brigade, numbering 2,400 men on the i6th May, he found the roster reduced to about 1,350. In the charge at Hewlett's the Ben McCulloch Rangers, the best scouts of the army, were reduced from seventy- four to thirty-eight, and the Accomack Company from seventy-two to thirty-seven. It was Peter Paine of this company who cried ' ' too late! " by the nickname of which words he goes to this day, at his home on Matchatank creek in Accomack.

We were hardly posted on the lines of Petersburg when the 800 men in the defences were attacked by 5,000 mounted infantry, called Kautz's cavalry, with their sixteen shooters. They kept up feints of attack all the forenoon of the Qth of May, and at last swept around to our extreme right where the militia were posted and broke through. A force, two companies formed from the prisons and the hospitals, called the " Penitents and the Patients," were moved out on the Blandford fork of the road entering the city, and three com- panies moved from the left of the lines under Colonel Randolph Harrison of the 46th, to flank the entering enemy on the right, and they seeing the approach of the former in front, and of the latter on their right, retreated as rapidly as they had advanced; and Graham's field battery repulsed the column on the other fork of the road leading into the city. This saved Petersburg on that day.

Though Petersburg barely escaped by a successful defence against all odds, yet this caused a protest to General Beauregard against the