142 Southern Historical Society Papers.
we were not informed, and if we had been, were too hard pressed to be able to follow.
Meanwhile our line began to suffer considerably under the enemy's deliberate fire. Almost all the troops were inexperienced in battle, and the shot sometimes plowing the gronnd, sometimes crashing through the trees, and not unfrequently striking in the line, killing two or more at once, might well have demoralized the oldest veterans.
But although surrounded by such trying circumstances and there is no test which tries a soldier's fortitude so severely as to stand ex- posed to fire without the ability to return it yet they acquitted themselves with a steadiness which could not have been more than equalled by the most veteran troops of the Army of Northern Vir- ginia, and as I passed along the rear I found scarcely a single straggler or skulker to order back. After shelling us with impunity as long as they pleased, the Federals engaged us with musketry, their cavalry being armed with the repeating carbine. Thinking to overwhelm us by numbers, they made a charge which resulted in some close fighting, particularly at the road. Here it is said the Chaffin's Bluff and Bassinger's (Georgia) battalions had a desperate hand-to-hand encounter with them, in which the Federals were worsted. The assailants thus met with a much more stubborn resist- ance than they anticipated, and were everywhere driven back in confusion, leaving many dead and wounded on the ground.
Colonel Atkinson's command, and, I believe, the two battalions above-named, even made a spirited counter-charge as far as the creek, driving the enemy sheer across.
It was here that Colonel Crutchfield, commanding the heavy ar- tillery brigade, and formerly chief of artillery to Stonewall Jackson, fell, shot through the head. His inspector, Captain O'Brien, had been previously wounded. This officer, said to be a nephew of Smith O'Brien, had, I believe, lately resigned from the English army in India, to serve our cause.
Our troops came back to their original position, and both artil- lery and musketry opened a deadly fire again. The Naval Brigade, which had been standing firm as a rock, began at one time to fall back under a misconception of orders, but on being informed of this mistake, promptly faced to the front and marched back to their orig- inal position, without a single skulker remaining behind. I have very seldom seen this done as well during the war.
When men are once started towards the rear under a heavy fire, it is difficult to halt and bring them back.