Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of articles from the Raleigh Confederate. His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.
Great injustice seems to have been done to this brigade in connection with the recent brilliant victory at Ream’s Station. The following account of the battle by the late Junior Editor at the Milton Chronicle, Capt. T.C. Evans, to that paper, will explain the part taken by Scales’ brigade in the affair and may account for the injustice which surely was not intended. The writer was in the battle with the brigade.
Camp Near Petersburg, VA
Aug. 27, 1864
I was in all the fighting at Reams. Charged the enemy’s works there. The last charge was made by us when it was nearly dark. Consequently it has not been reported. Cook and Kirkland drove them and Scales’ Brigade finished the charging by hurling the scoundrels from the Railroad where they were strongly fortified and were annoying our flank with an enfilading fire. The main work, which was twice assailed by two Brigades, was charged by the 13th N.C. with its squad of men. We had flushed the Yankees in the opening of the fight (the 13th opening the ball) – the 13th — in close pursuit of the enemy’s skirmishers, saw them take refuge in their line of works, and, bounding ahead like blood hounds, they made for the works – the rest of the brigade in obedience to orders was in line in the rear of a pine forest, waiting to be formed for the charge, but the 13th rushed ahead, in spite of orders to halt -about forty of them running in all directions towards the works, and yelling and shouting like Comanche Indians; they actually got within a stone’s throw of the works when the whole Yankee line opened a tremendous volley upon them.
They fell back a few yards and fought the whole line picking at them from behind the pines, till Gen. Scales ordered us away. The regiment was ordered as skirmishers on the flank, and the rest of the brigade with Anderson’s Georgia brigade, formed to make the assault. In this charge the brigade behaved splendidly, as was afterwards remarked by Gen. Wilcox. The regiments getting within a few feet of the works, one of the 22nd (Col. Galloway’s) snatched at the enemy’s colors as they floated saucily over the works, but did not succeed in getting them. Mind you, there were only three regiments of Scales’ brigade in the assault; for I should have remarked above that the 16th regiment, (Col. Stone’s) was thrown out with us as skirmishers. The works would surely have been ours, in this charge, had Anderson’s brigade come up in support – but owing to some misunderstanding they were not there; certainly not for lack of courage, for it is of Longstreet’s corps, and that you know is fighting stuff. These three regiments – of Scales Brigade – (and small too) of course were not expected to give themselves up as prisoners to Hancock’s corps so they were — to fall back.
Col. Ashford of the 34th I learn and I have no doubt the others did the same, ordered his men right about face and retreated in good time under a galling fire.
Three brigades (and three decimated regiments)– were now formed and hurled against the enemy’s works and this time with — shouts that made the welkin ring, the works were jumped. The whole line was then carried with the exception of the railroad which the enemy still held and were annoying our men – flank fire. This Scales’ Brigade was ordered to charge and handsomely and gallantly was it done. The 13th and 16th were taken from skirmish and thrown into the charge, and nobly did they stand by each other. It was just twilight as we climbed the railroad and soon our flags were planted on the enemy’s works, waving proudly in a sheet of fire. Darkness now ended the contest, and we crowded together in the works chatting, congratulating and rejoicing. But our wounded had to be carried off and squads of rebels with torches in their hands could be seen moving about over the works following the cries of the suffering. As we stood with arms in hand, the men impatient to move off and the enemy in two hundred yards, waiting for the artillery to be moved and a relief to come and hold the works, the heavens grew blacker than I have known them, and lurid streaks of lightning so vivid, so fierce, that the eyes would blind, played above our heads, while thunder rattled and rolled, peal after peal, that made the very earth shake. O! the majesty of that scene! “God is in His holy temple!” spake the storm. “Hushed be the shouts of victory! silenced every thought of war and bloodshed! Let all the earth keep silent before him.” Poor fool man! his proudest battle yell – his loudest clamor of arms and roar of artillery – is but poor mimicry of that grand voice.
We captured about 2700 prisoners, 11 caissons, nine pieces of artillery, several colors, and small arms, knapsacks, &C in abundance. Our loss was about 700.
Among the casualties in the 13th I regret to announce the death of David Long of Company A, and son of our Senator elect, William Long, Esq. David was a good soldier, brave and gallant, and fell nobly battling for all that is dear to man.
- “Scales’ Brigade,” Raleigh Confederate, September 8, 1864, p. 1 col. 2 ↩