Today in History:

1106 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I

Page 1106 Chapter LIX]OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.

of the participation of that portion of Cheathams corps under my com- mand in the battle of Bentonville on the 19th instant: Cheathams division did not arrive until after the battle. Cleburnes, under Brig. Gen. James A. Smith, and Bates (my) division, under com- mand of Colonel Kenan, of the Florida brigade (neither of them com- plete, however, in strength), constituting that part of the corps present, and nuder my command, left camps near Smithfield Depot on the 18th instant, and after an exhausting march of fifteen or twenty miles went into bivouac, after night, near Bentonville. On the morning of the 19th the corps resumed motion about 9 oclock, and some three miles distant from Bentonville went into position on the extreme right of the army and in prolongation of Lees corps. rWhile forming my line my extreme left, Govans brigade, commanded by Col. P. Y. Green, of the [Fifth] Arkansas Regiment, was suddenly and fiercely assaulted. The enemy, with vigor, pushed up within thirty yards of this part of the line, which, fortunately, had been established, but after a sharp engagement was repulsed and precipitated from the field, leaving his dead and wounded. My lines were soon adjnsted and breast- works constructed. I received orders from Lieutenant-General Hardee in person early in the afternoon to advance and attack the enemy in my front. Having just returned from a close and accurate reconnaissance, in which I ascer- tained that the left of the enemys line, at least his front line, did not extend connectedly at all beyond my right, and there being a division (Taliaferros) lying in reserve in my immediate rear, I urged that it make a detour, passing beyond my extreme right, and be thrown upon the left flank of the enemy. This was adopted and the time of our advance deferred half an hour, that the flanking division might get into position before the front attack was made. At the designated time my command was promptly moved off, Cleburnes division composing the first and my divisiomi the second line of battle. In front of the right of the line there was an open field and fronting the center and left a pine forest. The right brigade (Smiths) of the front line in advancing obliqued too far to the left, in order to get under cover of the timber, and caused a momentary confusion in this line just as it received the first volley from the enemy behind his defenses, which in my immedi- ate front was only a few hundred yards. This line staggered and delayed for a few moments under this fire, whereupon the second line being ordered, approached in such fine spirit and order as to reassure the first and excite an emulation which caused the first line to move rapidly forward directly on the works. His strong defenses were carried with a shout and a bound, and he rapidly driven in confusion. These defenses were continuous and well constructed, located about 800 yards in front of our breast-works, on a slight eminence, with a small creek in rear. Without delay he was steadily pursued. The left-oblique move- ment on the right of the front line at the start exposed that flank to a right-oblique fire (as Taliaferros division had not got around), which necessitated my moving the second line and forming it on the right of the first and in continuation thereof. My whole command, with double line of skirmishers thrown forward, in one line advanced in incompar- able style, driving the enemy from his second line of works and other chosen places. He made an obstinate stand in rear of a road parallel to and more than a mile distant from his original line, repelling and driving us for a short distance. Our line of battle being readjusted the advance was ordered, and, though his resistance was (letermined, he was

Page 1106 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., S. GA., AND E. FLA.