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Friday, July 18, 2014

"A Yell Was Raised Along the Entire Line"

 I now continue  the account of the Samaria Church action, from the history of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, starting from the wounding of Pollard the day before(June 23, 1864) . . .

The next day we met the enemy near an old saw-mill in the vicinity of Nance's Shop, and had a spirited engagement, which was growing very interesting, when we were ordered back. One private was killed and several were wounded - E. F. Cox, of Company C, fatally so. Lieutenant Pollard was wounded in the ankle joint slightly, as was thought at the time, but the injury caused the loss of his leg.
Major Waller had been assigned at Ashland to the temporary command of another regiment, and Captain Swann¹ was now our acting major.
Not far from the field to-day we met the divisions of Hampton and Fitz. Lee returning after the heavy battle at Trevillian's. We bivouacked in the neighborhood of Nance's Shop.
Early next day (June 24th) the movement of troops indicated a fight on hand. The Ninth was sent to the extreme right to watch that flank. About noon we were recalled and ordered to the left to report to General M. C. Butler. General Chambliss, with the Thirteenth Regiment, was absent, and the author commanded the Ninth and Tenth regiments until he arrived. The position assigned us was immediately to the left of Butler's brigade, with directions to advance and assault a line of barricade in the woods held by the enemy, as soon as our line could be formed. After advancing about two hundred yards, driving the enemy's skirmishers before us, we were met by a very severe fire from a log breastwork in the woods, which curved considerably to the left. With a yell our line rushed forward to engage this unseen foe at close quarters. Such was the suddenness of our assault that the enemy seemed taken by surprise, and ran in confusion, not, however, without pouring a volley at us as we approached, and turning and firing as they retreated. The cool and brave Lieutenant Cecil Baker² fell dead at the breastwork from a random bullet, which diverted from its course, as was supposed, by a limb, and, ranging downward, passed through his heart. A number of the enemy retreating from the barricade, fell under our fire. The pursuit was rapid through the woods, until our right emerged from the cover into an open field. Our line of march being oblique to the edge of the woods and the formidable line of the enemy beyond, Company B became the first exposed to this second fire, and began to break and retreat. They were speedily halted and reformed. It was seen that the left and centre of our line would nearly reach the enemy's position before clearing the woods, whereupon the companies on the right were ordered to form in rear of the centre. When this was done the order was given to charge, just as General Chambliss rode up on the left
The men of the Tenth Regiment, supported by Colonel Robins, of the Twenty-fourth, on their left, had reached the barricade in their front, and as young J. Lucius Davis, the son of the chivalrous Colonel of the first-named regiment, leaped upon it, cheering his comrades, he received a bullet through the body and fell back lifeless. The works were carried, and the enemy's right turned. Our own direction was now somewhat changed, and, moving on a line nearly parallel with that of the enemy retreating before the Tenth Regiment, and somewhat in their rear, they found they must change front or be attacked in the rear. We soon found they were massing on their right to check us until their centre could be withdrawn. They had selected the crest of a gentle slope, and along the edge of a body of woods had formed a barricade, made hastily of logs, rails and earth. Our approach was chiefly through an open field, with about three companies of the. Ninth on the right moving through woods on the farther side of the road. Five companies, and the whole force of the Tenth Regiment, had a plain several hundred yards wide to cross. The march of these troops under a murderous fire could not have been excelled. With excellent alignment and orderly movement two hundred yards were passed at a double-quick. The barricade was well filled with the enemy, and their fire grew rapid, but as the first guns of our men on the right were heard, a yell was raised along the entire line, and, dashing at the works, they were speedily abandoned. The enemy's column defiling across the front of our right wing, got volley after volley as they retired, and presently broke and ran. Their rout was complete. With a mounted regiment at hand at this conjuncture, it seemed as if more than half of the whole Federal force might have been captured.
Conspicuous upon this bloody field was Major Clemens³, commanding the Tenth Regiment. At every stage of the fight his manly form might be seen, and his clear, ringing notes heard, now leading, now just in rear of his men, as they needed encouragement or restraint.
Some of the men having fainted from the excessive heat and exhaustion, after running a mile in pursuit, the regiment was halted, and the men; with the led horses, ordered up. We had suffered severely. Comparatively few of the commissioned officers were present. Of these, Lieutenant Love was painfully wounded. Company C lost five valuable men, who had become veterans, having been among the earliest to volunteer. They were Sergeant S. C. Hardwick, Corporal George B. Carroll, and Privates Henry Porter, B. B. Brown, and William Reamy. Other companies suffered as heavily.
The loss of the enemy must have been heavy for the numbers engaged. Two colonels were captured and one killed. At one point, near the last barricade, fifteen of their men were seen dead or nearly so. In general orders full recognition and praise were given the brigade for their part of the days work.



-History Of The Ninth Virginia Cavalry in The War Between The States
 Brig. General R. L. T. Beale
Richmond, VA
F. Johnson Publishing Company 1899.


¹Samuel A. Swann

² From the Catalogue of the Confederate Museum, Richmond, Va., 1898, "Tobacco Bag (leather), two Home-made Envelopes, and Military Orders, taken from the pocket of Lieutenant Cecil Baker after he was shot through the heart, June, 1864."

 ³William B. Clement


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