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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/65

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Batik ofFoit Grcffff. 57

ist of April, 1865, our brigade (Harris'), composed of the I2th, i6th, i Qth and 48th Mississippi Regiments, was doing service in the trenches on the north side of James river.

About dark we got orders to cook all the rations we had on hand, and to be ready to march at a moment's notice. The orders came at midnight to leave the pickets on duty and to move out quietly to the rear, and to leave everything but canteens and cartridge boxes.

We moved on the road to Richmond, conjecturing that we were going to intercept a raiding party; but after crossing the James the column was headed toward Petersburg, and soon was double-quick- ing.

We crossed the Appomattox on a pontoon bridge about four miles above Petersburg, at a little factory village, Matoaca; and when we lined up on the south bank of the Appomattox, the sun was usher- ing in a beautiful and charming holy day, and little did we reck what would happen to us before it went down. All kinds of rumors were flying, some that our right, composed of Johnson's, Pender's and Picket's Divisions, had the day before turned the enemy's left, and won a great victory; others that we had at first driven the enemy, and then had been driven by them, sustaining a great loss. After waiting an hour or so, we were moved about four miles to the trenches, about one mile west of Fort Gregg. Here we were fronted at right angles to the line of trenches; our left on the trenches, and our right thrown back toward the river. We were the only organ- ized forces in sight.

Then it was evident to all that a great disaster had overtaken Gen- eral Lee's right, for men came running back, singly and in squads, most of them demoralized, and reported that the enemy had, by a daylight attack, succeeded in breaking through our lines, and had captured the whole right wing of the army, and that General A. P. Hill, our corps commander, was among the killed. In the course of a few hours the enemy came in sight, directly in our front, their bat- tle line more than a mile long; the glint and glimmer of their guns shone like a wave of silver.

When they got within the range of our rifles, they halted and be- gan a desultory firing, and ten or twelve pieces of artillery came in a gallop to the front. Then the command was given to fall back to the two forts, and for the I2th and i6th Mississippi Regiments to occupy Gregg, and the igth and 48th to occupy Baldwin.

When we reached Fort Gregg we found there two pieces of field artillery, manned by twelve or fifteen men, and about one hundred