Report of Colonel James Walkinshaw Allen, Second Virginia Infantry
SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 189-190
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the regiment under my command, on Sunday, July 21. About 1 p.m. I was directed to station my regiment on the edge of a pine thicket to support the battery immediately on my right, with directions to fire when the enemy appeared in sight over the hill, then to charge and drive them back with the bayonet. In this position my men lay somewhat under cover of the hill for more than an hour and a half, during all of which time they were exposed to the effect of shells and shot from the enemy’s batteries, which had advanced under cover of the hill towards my left flank.
Many of my men and officers were wounded by explosions which took place in their immediate midst, yet they stood their ground, awaiting the approach of the infantry. Colonel [Arthur Campbell] Cummings, on my left, met them endeavoring to turn our flank.
After advancing, two of his companies fell back through my left, which was kept in position by the coolness of Captain [William Norborne] Nelson, who gallantly maintained his position, though thus exposed to both a front fire of grape and shell, and a flank fire from the enemy’s musketry.
At this juncture, I was informed by Major [Lawson] Botts (whose coolness, energy and perseverance in ralying the men deserves special commendation) that my left was turned. Not seeing the enemy in front, I directed that the three left companies be drawn back to meet them. This order was partially misunderstood by the center companies for a general direction to fall back, and all the line turned. I at once gave the order to charge, but the thicket was so close and impenetrable only a part of the right wing, under Lieutenant-Colonel [Francis] Lackland, could be formed about thirty yards in rear of their original position; I then gave the order to form in the rear of the thicket, the enemy having advanced to the position originally occupied by the left of the regiment, judging from their fire, for it was utterly impossible to see them.
At the moment Colonel [Robert T.] Preston, who was on my right and in rear of the battery, advanced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, with about 100 of my right, charged on the enemy’s battery, drove them from their pieces, and took position immediately in front of the guns, sheltering themselves as much as possible by them. Wishing to secure one of the rifle cannon, he ordered five or six men to take it to the rear, but did not proceed more than fifty yards when the enemy opened on his right, which, being unsupported, he was compelled to retire with the few men under his command, having lost nine killed and thirty-four wounded in the charge.
The line did not retire until after our battery was withdrawn. The list of killed and wounded having been handed in, it is unnecessary to repeat it. I cannot, however, close this report without again making honorable mention of Captain Nelson, who gallantly fell at his post, supposed to be mortally wounded; to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, who with but a handful of men charged on the enemy’s battery and actually brought one of their rifled guns some distance to the rear with but four men; to Lieutenant Harrison, Company D, who was shot dead whilst most gallantly charging with his men; to Lieutenant Mainer, Company E, who fell whilst advancing on the enemy; to Captain [William Lawrence] Clark, who fell dangerously wounded whilst leading his men, and to Adjutant Hunter who aided materially in rallying to the charge. The coolness of the men under the fire of the enemy’s batteries for more than an hour was most commendable, especially as they had to receive [shots], without being able to return any of the fire.
[James Walkinshaw Allen]
Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson
[Samuel J. C. Moore Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]