Tarheels During the Civil War

Friday, December 18, 2009

23rd North Carolina at Seven Pines

Report of Col. Daniel H. Christie, Twenty-third North Carolina Infantry.
Hdqrs. Twenty-third North Carolina Troops,
June 2, 1862.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment (the Twenty-third North Carolina) in the battle of Seven Pines, on the 31st ultimo:
The regiment was formed in line of battle, occupying the center of the brigade, at about 1.30 p.m., and moved at the command by right of battalions to the front, endeavoring to preserve regimental distance on our right for the Thirty-eighth Virginia. Owing to the change of direction of the road to the left, along which the right of the brigade was ordered to move and the thickly wooded ground through which we passed, I soon found that my command and the Twenty-fourth Virginia were moving on converging instead of parallel lines. I notified Major Maury immediately, but a heavy firing in front indicating the skirmishers would soon be overpowered, I was obliged to bring my command rapidly into line of battle before he had time to gain distance for me. This caused some disorder, which embarrassed me no little, but through the energy of Majors Maury and Christian the line was completed. We were now suffering from a heavy skirmishers’ fire, but pressed on through swamp and thicket, officers and men exerting themselves to the utmost to overcome the obstacles in their line of march and obeying strictly the order to reserve their fire. As we neared the edge of the abates a terrific fire from the opposite side opened [on] us, which we returned with effect. The fight here for some minutes was stubborn in the extreme. The felled timber was an almost insuperable obstacle to a successful charge against a firm line, and I waited the auspicious moment when they should waver. At this juncture a regiment on my right was ordered to fall back and reform. The order reaching the ears of my company commanders on the right wing, they mistook it for mine, and commenced putting it into execution. That moment I felt to be pregnant with the most disastrous consequences to my command, but by the quick, intelligent co-operation of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston the movement was stopped, and we again pressed forward, drove the enemy from his strong position, and were entering the abates when General Garland rode up and ordered me to move by the left flank. In the execution of this order the three right companies became detached, but were gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston across the Williamsburg road, and co-operating with the Fourth North Carolina, charged in the direction of the battery in the redoubt, officers and men acting nobly but suffering terribly.
Having passed the opening and the abates with what was left of my command, with a part of the Twenty-fourth Virginia I again pressed forward, the enemy fighting but giving way. The swampy earth and thick undergrowth continued to check the rapid movement. The Second Florida, on my left, was hard pressed. When the Forty-ninth Virginia came up cheering upon our right the enemy began again to give way and our line went forward. About this time my horse was shot, and in falling with him I was so much injured as to be incompetent for further service.
All the field officers and two-thirds of the company officers were now hors de combat, but several officers and many of the men joined other commands and fought on until night closed the engagement.
[Danl. H. Christie,
Colonel Twenty-third North Carolina Regiment.]
Series I. Vol. XI (Part I) Ch. XXIII. Pgs. 967-968

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