July 3, 1862
During the forenoon of Tuesday [July 1, 1862] there was no regular engagement, but much desultory firing along the whole extent of the retreating and advancing lines. In the afternoon, about 2½ o'clock, a brisk fight was commenced on the right of the left wing of our army, Jackson's corps, then situated convenient to Dr. Poindexter's farm, on the Williamsburg road, and directly opposite Turkey Island creek. The character of the country here is slightly undulating, the intervening ground between the belligerent parties consisting of open, cultivated fields, whilst the extremes are dense woods of heavy timber and thick undergrowth. From the situation occupied by our troops, the enemy was discovered in large force deploying their troops, and placing their artillery in position. Bodies of skirmishers were thrown out from our column with a view to test the disposition of the enemy. This required but a short time to accomplishes as a brisk fire was soon opened upon them. Our artillery then opened fire upon the batteries of the enemy which had the effect to produce another "artillery duel," lasting for one hour and a half, both parties serving their pieces with decided skill and alacrity.
Heavy bodies of infantry were advanced to the support of our artillery, and a general fight ensued, which resulted in the repulse and temporary withdrawal of the enemy; but, ultimately rallying and bringing to their aid a battery on their-right, they opened a fierce oblique fire on the left flank of our forces then in action. This fire, which was excessively severe, was continued without intermission, and responded to with spirit by our own artillery until 6 o'clock P. M.
An intermission of some half hour then occurred, during which time, according to the representation of prisoners subsequently captured, the enemy at this point were heavily reinforced, when the fight was again renewed, our centre and right of line becoming engaged. For three successive hours there was kept up one unbroken roar of artillery and musketry, which, for fierce intensity, exceeded anything that has occurred in the whole series of bloody battles around Richmond. The very earth trembled beneath the deafening and incessant peals. Notwithstanding the fatigue and well night exhausted condition of our men, from their almost superhuman labors of the previous six days, they entered this fight with an ardor and readiness, plainly indicating their unchangeable determination to conquer of die. About 9½ or 10 o'clock, our artillery ceased firing, having effectually silenced the batteries of the enemy. This, however, it is due to say, was the only perceptible advantage gained by this wing of the army in the afternoon's operations. The loss sustained by both contending parties was heavy. Now many on either side it is impossible to state, or even give an approximate estimate.
Whilst these operations were going on the left wing of our army, a scarcely less severe fight was progressing on the right, where the division of Gen. Huger was engaged. The brigades of Mahone and Armistead had been exerting themselves against a largely overwhelming force of the enemy, but being compelled to fall back in order to rest their men. Gen. Ransom's brigade was ordered forward. It consisted of five regiments, viz: 24th, Col. Clark; 25th, Col. Kutledge, 26th, Col. Vance; 35th, Col. Ransom, and 49th, Col. Ramseur, all North Carolina troops. They were ordered to charge two heavy batteries, that were supported by not less than five Federal brigades, and all the while they were marching up to make the charge were under three fires. They did not falter, however, but went forward into the very teeth of the enemy without so much as the slightest indication of hesitation. It was, beyond question, one of the hardest fights, and one of the most desperate charges, that has been made during the whole war. This one brigade engaged the main body of the enemy's army at this point, and when compelled to withdraw did so in the most perfect order, and with the most undaunted spirit. Gen. Ranson fearlessly and intrepidly led his brigade on horseback, and was during the whole continuance of the fight, exposed to the leaden hall of the enemy.
|Col. Matt W. Ransam, 35th N. C., seen in|
a post-war photo. (Library of Congress)
There were, doubtless, other divisions and brigades engaged at different points along the line, who acquitted themselves with the same heroic and determined courage as that of the gallant Ransom; but being unapprised of their particular participation in this grand struggle for the defence of liberty, we are not prepared to notice them specially.