Berry had been notified to sustain this attack by a movement forward from his lines, if it should strike him as advisable.
The attack was made with consummate gallantry. Sickles states that he drove the enemy back to our original lines, enabling us for the moment to re-occupy the Eleventh Corps rifle-pits, and to re-capture several pieces of artillery, despite the fire of some twenty Confederate guns which had been massed at Dowdall’s.
Thus attacked in flank, though the Confederate right had been refused at the time of Pleasonton’s fight, and still remained so, Hill’s line replied by a front movement of his left on Berry, without being able, however, to break the latter’s line.
Slocum states that he was not aware that this advance was to be made by Sickles across his front. Imagining it to be a movement by the enemy on Williams, he ordered fire to be opened on all troops that appeared, and fears “that our losses must have been severe from our own fire.” Williams, however, does not think so much damage was done, and alleges that he himself understood what the movement was, without, however, quoting the source of his information.
The Confederate reports state that this attack was met and repulsed by the Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth, and Thirty-third North-Carolina regiments, with small difficulty or loss.
It is, however, probable that these as much underrate the vigor and effect of the attack, as Sickles may overstate it. It is not impossible that some portion of the Eleventh Corps position was actually reached by these columns. The road down which the movement was made strikes the plank road but a short distance east of the position of Buschbeck’s line. This ground was not held in force by Jackson’s corps at the moment, and it was not difficult for Sickles to possess himself temporarily of some portion of that position. But it must have been a momentary occupation.
Birney retired to Hazel Grove after this sally, having recovered part of Whipple’s train, and one or two guns.
There can be found in the Confederate and Union reports alike, numerous statements which are not sustained by other testimony. As a sample, Gen. Lane of A. P. Hill’s division states that a Lieut. Emack and four men captured an entire Pennsylvania regiment, under Lieut.-Col. Smith. The nearest approach to this is found in the capture of Col. Mathews and two hundred men of the One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Pennsylvania, while Williams was moving by his left to regain his old ground. But it is highly probable that it required more than five men to effect the capture.
A wise rebuke of careless statements in official reports is found in the following indorsements on a report made of the operations of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Pennsylvania:—
In forwarding this report, which I
do merely as a matter of duty, it is incumbent upon
me to say that it is a complete romance from beginning
to end. Col. Collis has had his attention
called to these errors, but has refused to correct
Chas. K. Graham,