1131 Series I Volume XLVII-I Serial 98 - Columbia Part I
|Page 1131||Chapter LIX] THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.|
enemy warmly the latter part of the day on account of meeting a stream over which it was impossible to cross. March 20, I was moved over to the left of the army and was immediately met by a large force of infantry moving up the Goldsborough and Bentonville road. After a severe fight we checked their advance and held them in position until evening, when General Bragg replaced my position by ilokes division of infantry. March 21. Before daylight on the morning of the 21st 1 built a line of breast-works 1,200 yards long on the prolongation of the infantry, and fought the enemy warmly with a part of my command, wJlile the bal- ance I kept mounted as a reserve. About 4 p. m. the enemy pressed warmly along our entire line. The troops on my left gave way and an entire corps of the enemy under General Mower immediately rushed in, pushing on in our rear until they gained our hospitals, and were resting directly upon the only line of retreat of our army. The enemy here received a volley in the flank from some dismounted men of my command, and a volley in front from a small body of infantry acciden- tally stationed near the bridge, bnt this hardly checked their advance. Seeing the inevitable loss of our army, should the enemy be able to retain the position he occupied, I immediately charged his left flank with ilagans brigade, under General Allen, feeling certain that the boldness and rapidity of a charge was all that could in any manner check a force so vastly our superior in numbers. My gallant Texas Ran- gers, who were somewhat to our left and rear, galloped across an open field and bore down most beautifully in an oblique direction upon their left and front. The enemy were at this time advancing at a slow run, with their skirmishers about 200 yards in advance of their main line. The resnit of the charge was more than could properly have been expected from troops so snddenly called upon to charge so superior a force. The rangers broke through the line of skirmishers without breaking their impetus and pushed on, striking the main line almost the same moment with Allens gallant Alabamians, which threw the entire force of the enemy in a most rapid and disorderly retreat, Gen- eral Mower, the corps commander, narrowly escaping capture. The mnain body of Shermans army were now pressing all points of our line so warmly as to amount to continuous battle, which caused me to check my troops and prepare to act on the defensive. With the assist- ance of some infantry under General Walthall which General ilardee promptly sent to my assistance, we filled all the space between the left of our intrenched line and Mill Creek, thus securing our communica- tion from further menace from any force, however large, that might be brought against us. The occupying of this position brought on a renewed engagement, which continued until night. About midnight, during a cold rain, our army withdrew from the breastworks and retreated toward Smithfield, while I, pursuant to orders, remained to occupy the intrenched works and gradually fall back, checking the enemy should he follow us. March 22. Before daylight he had evidently discovered the evacua- tion and pushed forward his skirmishers, driving me back toward the passage of Mill Creek. The extreme darkness of the night and heavy woods had caused our army to move very slow, and at sunup the rear of our infantry was still in Bentonville, while the enemy pushed on with great vigor, making it necessary for me to dismount most of my men and fight with considerable warmth to sufficiently check his progress. By 9 oclock we had attained the object desired, having yielded about one mile during the mornings engagement, and at 10 oclock we had taken position at the crossing of Black Creek on the Smithfield road.
|Page 1131||THE CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS.|