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The War in America.--Field's Texans "Straggling to the Front"

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1271, p. 127.

July 30, 1864


Our Special Artist and Correspondent with the Confederate army in Virginia, having joined the head-quarters of General Longstreet's corps, has sent us a sketch representing the very spirited affair which he witnessed in the outer line of their intrenchments on the south side of the James River, about thirteen miles from Richmond. When General Beauregard, on the 15th ult., was attacked at Petersburg and obliged to collect his forces in that city, a wide interval was left open between his position and that of General Lee at Drury's Bluff. The Federals were thus enabled to take possession of this line of intrenchments, and occupy it in force until the arrival of Longstreet's corps on the 16th. "At first," says our Correspondent, "General Anderson, who, in the absence of General Longstreet from the field, commanded the corps, thought it necessary to storm the position, and gave orders to Pickett's division to go in. Immediately afterwards it was discovered that we could get a better line without sacrificing the men, and the order to assault was countermanded, but too late; for Pickett was already at it. Field's division, however, was pulled up, as it was on its way to support the other; and aides-de-camp were sent to recall Pickett. In the mean time, Field's Texans got impatient. They straggled to the front by twos and threes, despite every effort to keep them hack. At last, the whole body, officers and men, gave a yell, and, with one rush, they were in the works. The Yankees fled pell-mell to a line of intrenchments beyond, leaving heaps of dead and dying." The Richmond correspondent of a contemporary relates the same affair in his most recent letter:--"Yesterday evening General Lee sent Pickett's and Field's divisions to retake a line held by the Federals; but, as it was represented to him by the engineers that a better line could be secured without any loss of life, he gave an order to recall the troops. It reached Field's division in time, but Pickett's men had already 'gone in,' and were at work. The others were at a halt, but when they saw their comrades engaged, the men commenced straggling in, first by twos and threes, then by whole companies, then by regiments, and the officers had no option but to follow. In a few moments the position was won. The Yankees hardly made a show of resistance. Most of them saved themselves by flight, but a few were captured, and proved to be the 'one hundred days' men' who had been caught, to their great disgust. How different the conduct of the Virginia reserves drawn from civil life, and hurried to the field in defence of their families and homes! When this incident was reported to General Lee, he laughed, and said that 'he had often heard of men straggling to the rear in a battle, but he had never before heard of their straggling to the front.'"

A letter from General Lee to General Anderson has been published relating to this affair. The Commander-in-Chief warmly congratulates General Anderson upon the conduct of these men; and remarks, "I believe they will carry anything they are put against. We tried very hard to stop Pickett's men from capturing the breastworks of the enemy, but could not do it,"

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