Today in History:

623 Series I Volume XXIX-I Serial 48 - Bristoe, Mine Run Part I


were fortunate enough to make their escape, I learn that as soon as it became dark enough to conceal his movements, the enemy advanced in very heavy masses along the whole line, his troops being in some two or three lines, preceded by a very heavy line of skirmishers; that the line of skirmishers was repulsed, many of them surrendering themselves prisoners; but this act was immediate followed by a rush to the front of some two or three lines of the enemy, and at the same time a heavy column, which had moved down the east side of the railroad under cover of the embankment, suddenly debouched through the passway which has been mentioned, and made a rush upon the works in which Green's guns were posted and carried them. At the same time an effort made by General Hays to retake the guns was defeated by the attack on the rifle trenches immediately on the left of the guns and in front of the bridge. This attack, though resisted to the last, was successful, the enemy coming in such numbers as actually, by mere brute force, to push our men out of the trenches.

The enemy then poured over the trenches and all further struggle was hopeless, as there was no point for our men to fall back upon, and the bridge was completely commanded by the enemy. Our men, however, continued to struggle until the became completely surrounded. Many of them effected their escape in the confusion, some by swimming the river and others by making their way to the bridge amid the enemy and passing over under a shower of balls. General Hays owes his escape to the fact that after he was completely surrounded and was a prisoner his horse took fright and ran off, and, as the enemy commenced firing on him, he concluded to make the effort to escape across the bridge, where he was exposed to no more danger, as he had to run the gauntlet any way, and he fortunately succeeded without injury. Godwin's position in the trenches was to the left of the bridge, and the Fifth and Seventh Louisiana Regiments were to his left. The location of the trenches here was such as to cut off from Colonel Godwin all view of the columns advancing against General Hays.

An attack of the enemy moving down the river on Godwin's left was repulsed by the Fifty-fourth North Carolina Regiment a few minutes before the attack on hays, and when Colonel Godwin ascertained that Hays had been driven from the trenches, he made an effort to send a portion of his force to the relief of hays; but this was prevented by the advance of the enemy immediately in his front. He then discovering his own situation, and that he was cut off from the bridge, threw a portion of his line across the interval between the trenches and the river, and endeavored to form his men so as to cut his way to the bridge. The enemy, however, after getting possession of the trenches, formed successive lines across the same interval lower down and moved up against Godwin, at the same time moving up their forces against the trenches, which had to be abandoned by our men. Godwin's men, with the Fifth and Seventh Louisiana Regiments, were thus completely surrounded, the enemy making an arc of a circle around the front and flanks, and the river (which is here a deep pond) being in the rear.

Colonel Godwin's efforts to extricate his command proved unavailing, as the enemy completely overwhelmed him with numbers. He continued, however, to struggle, forming successive lines as he was pushed back, and did not for a moment dream of surrendering; but, on the contrary, when his men had dwindled to 60 or 70, the