|Page 1056||Chapter LIX]OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.|
road, and the Left Wing (Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps) by that from Averasborough; and that the Right Wing had crossed Black River, wbile the Left was still near Averasborough. It was probable, there- fore, that in addition to the distance between the two roads, about twelve miles by the State map, there was aii interval of a days march between these wings. I determiiied therefore to attack the Left Wing. General Bragg and Lieutenant-General Stewart, whose troops were near Smith- field, were directed to march through Bentonville and encamp between that point and the Averasborough road, and Lieutenant-General ilar- dee, who was at Elevation, was instructed to join them. His march was so much longeralthorgh by the map it appeared shorterthat he did not arrive until the following morning. The troops then moved by the left flank to the road on which the enemy was approaching. Gen- eral Braggs were formed across it at right angles, and the Army of Tennessee on their right, with its own strongly thrown forward. The ground in our front, north of the road, was open; that on the south of it was covered with thickets. We had but one road through dense black- jack for oui movements, so that they consumed a weary time. While they were in progress a vigorous attack was made on General Braggs left. Lieutenant-General Hardee was instructed to send a division to its support and the other to the extreme right, and with the latter and Stewarts troops to charge as they faced, which would bring them obliquely upon the enemys left and center. General Braggs troops were to join in the movement successively from right to left. In the meantime the attack upon General Bragg was repulsed with heavy loss, and another made upon Stewarts corps, commanded by Major-General Loring, by which the enemy was quickly driven back. These two affairs showed that the Fourteenth Corps was in our immediate front. It was iiear 3 oclock before Hardees troops were in position on the right, lie then made the charge with characteristic skill and vigor, well and gallantly seconded by Stewart, Hill, Loring, and the officers under them. Once, when he apprehended difficulty, Hardee literally led the advance. The Federals were routed in a few minutes, our brave fellows dashing successively over two lines of temporary breast- works, and following the enemy rapidly, but in good order. A mile in rear the Fourteenth rallied on the Twentieth Corps in a dense growth of young pines. In this position the Federal right rested on a swamp and was covered by intrenchments. Our troops continued to press the enemy back, except on the left, where we were held in check by the intrenchments just mentioned. Their progress was very slow, how- ever, from the difficulty of penetrating thickets in line of battle. About 6 oclock the Federal forces were so greatly increased, I believe, by the arrival of the Seventeenth Corps, that they seemed to attempt the offensive, but with little effect. They were able to hold their ground until night only by the help of dense thickets and breastworks. After burying our dead and bringing off our own and many of the Federal wounded, and three pieces of artillery (a fourth was left because we had not horses to draw it away), we returned to our first position. On the morning of the 20th, as the enemy had three of his four corps present and well intrenched, the attack was not renewed. We held our ground, however, in the hope that his greatly superior numbers might eiiconrage him to attack, and to cover the removal of our wounded. The Fifteenth Corps coming up on our left flank, we changed front, parallel to the road, but near enongh to command it. During the day General Braggs line was repeatedly attacked and the enemy repulsed, severely punished. The briskest of these was on Kirklands brigade about sunset.
|Page 1056||OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.|