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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/149

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Closing Scenes of the War about Richmond. 141

ing the wagon train more particularly, which was hurried by as fast as possible; but about two hours were so consumed before the last wagon passed. Finally Bushrod Johnson and Pickett moved on, and Custis Lee and Kershaw followed.

Gordon must have taken the righthand road with the wagons, as we heard nothing more of him.

About 3 o'clock we passed over Sailors' Creek and began to as- cend the opposite hill, the upper part of the side of which was cov- ered with a growth of pines. Just then a sharp skirmish fire was heard directly in front, followed by the roar of artillery, and we learned to our dismay, but what we ought to have expected, that Pickett had encountered a heavy force of the enemy drawn up across the road immediately before him.

Custis Lee's and Kershaw' s Divisions were therefore massed on the hillside, waiting anxiously for Pickett to force the front. Shortly afterwards we were startled to observe a body of men emerge di- rectty in our rear and deliberately occupy a position a few hundred yards back across Sailors' Creek, viz: the very road we had just been marching. We had some lingering doubts at first as to the character of this force, but all uncertainty was soon rudely dispelled.

As we gazed through our glasses we saw them coolly put two pieces of artillery in position on the opposite hill, which soon opened on our unprotected masses from the rear. Under this fire the two divisions were faced about and formed in line of battle, with Ker- shaw on the (now) right of the road, Custis Lee on the left.

In Custis Lee's Division, Lieutenant Colonel John Atkinson's two

battalions, loth and Virginia, the Chaffin's Bluff Battalion, and

the 1 8th Georgia, Major Bassinger, all of the heavy artillery brigade, were on the right and a little thrown forward; next on the left was the Naval Brigade, Commodore Tucker, then Barton's and finally Lieutenant-Colonel James Howard's command, i8th and 2oth Vir- ginia. Majors M. D. Hardin and James *E. Robertson, being the remainder of the heavy artillery brigade, held the extreme left.

By the time this disposition was effected the enemy's fire had be- come very rapid and severe, being principally a spherical case.

On our side we were compelled to receive it in silence, not having a single piece of artillery to make reply. The situation was now desperate, as we were entirely surrounded, and re-enforcements were continually pouring in to the enemy before our eyes.

We were fighting back to back with Pickett's Division, and although the latter presently succeeded in forcing its way through,