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9 Series I Volume XVIII- Serial 26 - Suffolk

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Page 9 Chapter XXX. ATTACK ON WASHINGTON, N. C.

mistake of firing upon our own people, and that in order to prevent such fatal mistake the enemy were allowed at times to approach within a few feet of the muzzles of the guns; then when amid the dust, smoke, and fog the gray coast could be seen, the death-dealing contents of the pieces were hurled among them with such precision and effect as told them, plainer than could words have done, that Yankee guns, when manned, asked no quarter, but give unasked a (w)hole.

Our situation now began to assume a more tangible appearance. The river street and most of the cross-streets, for a distance of two or three blocks, had been, by means of rapid and successive cavalry charges, cleared entirely of the midnight assassins. Their cavalry had congregated upon the edge of the town and performed for the attack. Their infantry had concentrated in two columns, one of which, with the assistance of one 6-pounder brass piece and a 3-pounder rifled gun, was endeavoring to turn our left flank, with the evident desire of getting between our forces and the gunboats. They were met at this point, and their object most completely foiled, by our infantry, consisting of two companies of the twenty-fourth Massachusetts, two companies of the First North Carolina, one 12-pounder brass piece (Lieutenant O'Neill), and 20 cavalry, under Lieutenant Gouraud (which had been detailed as a provost guard for the expedition), all commanded in person by Colonel Potter, First North Carolina. At this point the fight was most severe, and continued without cessation for two hours and a half. Two sets of gunner having been shot away from the gun, it became necessary to haul it off; which was done without further loss. Our infantry in the mean time did good service with their rifles. The situation of Lieutenant Gouraud and his handful of mounted men at this point was aggravating in the extreme. Necessarily within supporting distance of the gun, he was greatly exposed to the raking fire of the enemy, and unable, from the inconsiderable numbers of his command and the position and strength of the enemy, to operate upon him. In this trying position the men evinced a most commendable degree of fortitude. One-fourth of their number having fallen victims to the enemy's missiles, the remaining few increased their enthusiasm for the charge, and made several effective dashes.

The enemy's second column of attack had advanced upon our center, and was composed of artillery and infantry, preceded by a squadron of cavalry. Their approach being observed, Company L, Captain Garrard, advanced boldly, and in close column, to the attack. His shout of "Come on," as he placed himself at the head of his men, was responded to by his daring followers with a yell and a rapid gallop that showed no want of confidence in their leader and themselves, and no fear of the solid column opposed to them. He met the enemy with a shock that told upon his columns, received the fire from their pistols, and vigorously responded with his sabers until finding that he was being surrounded by the enemy's infantry and in danger of being cut off he commanded his men to retire, which they did, gallantry cutting their way through the infantry - who were now in the rear of them - having had a brilliant hand-to-hand conflict with vastly-superior numbers, in which the horses of all the officers of the company had been shot and 9 men and 14 horses wounded, promptly retiring behind the gun commanded by Lieutenant Mercer, leaving the street clear for the operation of the piece, which opened a destructive fire upon the enemy, who had brought a 6-pounder to bear upon him. An interesting cannon duel now escaped, but soon terminated by the withdrawal of the


Page 9 Chapter XXX. ATTACK ON WASHINGTON, N. C.

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