|Page 1095||Chapter LIX]THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.|
The enemy had been for some time bringing up fresh troops, and now moved to the attack. Pettus skirmishers held their ground, diiv- ing back the enemys skirmishers whenever they moved forward, until they were forced to retire before the enemys line of battle. When Pettus moved up I placed that part of Palmers brigade which had been separated from Palmer a short distance in rear as a reserve. Soon afterwai~d General Palmer returned and the brigade was united. Here the fire of the enemy was heavy and incessant, both of artillery and small.arms. Pettus noble brigade met each advance of the enemy with even more than its usual steadiness, and repulsed them with apparent ease. In the whole of this fight I did not see one of his men attempt to leave the line, unless wounded or with proper authority. The darkness of night put an end to the battle. After the roar of musketry had subsided we could hear the eiremy fortifying most ener- getically in our front. Toward the close of the evening several brigades of Lieutenant-Gen- eral ilardees troops were sent up to support the troops who were engaged. The brigade which caine to my support (I do not now remember the name of its commander) formed in rear of my line ready to give any assistance which might be necessary. My two brigades, Pettus and Palmers, retained their position until between 10 and 11 oclock that night, when they withdrew under orders to the line from which we had advanced, Pettus, however, being now put in the front line in order to give Palmers brigade, which had been compelled to move much more rapidly in the different charges which it made, and con- sequently was more exhausted, a better opportunity to rest. .One regiment of Palmers, the Fifty-eighth North Carolina, was, however, placed upon the front line to fill up the allotted portion of the works. The 20th instant passed without incident, my skirmishers occupying the first line which we had taken from the enemy. On the morning of the 21st, agreeably to orders, my skirmishers, in conjunction with those of the division on my right and left, advanced and drove those of the enemy. Toward the evening of the 21st I received orders to send the troops in my second line as rapidly as pos- sible in the direction of Bentonville, and to extend the conimand in my front line to the right and left, to fill vacancies caused in the lines of the other divisions by the removal of troops. General Palmer at once put his command in motion, but did not become engaged. 1 forward herewith the report of Col. H. J. Henderson, commanding Cummings brigade, of the action of that brigade in repulsing, in con- junction with a small body of cavalry, a vastly superior force of the enemy in a serious flank movement. The brigade had not then reported to me, having been detached for some time. No encomium that I can pass upon the conduct of the brigade at this important junc- ture will be so expressive a recognition of its gallant behavior as the simple statement that it received upon the field the thanks and conm- pliments of General Johnston. On the night of the 21st I withdrew Pettus brigade, agreeably to orders, across Mill Creek. Here I was joined the next morning by Palmers and Cummings brigades. I have heretofore submitted a list of casualties, but the safe return of Colonel Searcy with a considerable number of the officers and men of Palmers Tennessee regiment and of the Fifty-fourth Virginia, I am happy to say, renders a correction of it necessary, and I append the amended report. The commendation bestowed by General Palmer upon him and the officers and men who accompanied him is richly deserved.
|Page 1095||THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.|