The Fifth, Thirty-eighth, Forty-third, and Fifty-second regiments, with ten companies of the grenadiers and ten of the light infantry, with a proportion of field artillery, embarked in boats, and, crossing the harbor, landed on the outward side of the peninsula, near the Mystic, with a view of outflanking the American position and surrounding them.
The road was quite crowded with straggling soldiers going or returning to their several homes or regiments.
There is some difficulty in separating men on both sides who have been fighting each other, the more so because, to prevent the enemy from knowing what is going on, and making use of it to fall unexpectedly on our advance-posts, one cannot use drums or trumpets to instruct the infantrymen to cease fire and to form up to rejoin their regiments.
Artillery and arms were collected; the remnants of such regiments, as could be brought through many losses into any show of muster, were put under arms, with that appearance of military discipline which might encourage our own party, and seem most formidable to the disorganized multitude of our enemies.
The sailors had hoped they would be able to shield the Southern point of the Peninsula by interposing their ships but they can't. Their gunnery won't run to it was never meant to run to it and with five going aeroplanes we can't do the spotting. Our Regiments, too, will not be their superb selves again won't be anything like themselves not until they get their terrible losses made good.
This challenge, however, was never answered. A curious duel took place at Beauvais during the occupation of France by our army. A Captain B , of one of our cavalry regiments quartered in that town, was insulted by a French officer, B demanded satisfaction, which was accepted; but the Frenchman would not fight with pistols.
The South only furnished a revolver and carbine. At the first battle of Bull Run they didn't have enough of them even for the regiments Stuart commanded. Whole companies were armed only with the pikes which John Brown had made for the swarming of the Black Bees at Harper's Ferry. They used these pikes as lances.
Just after Walker was killed there was a lull, and Fuller turned two regiments right into Cleburn's main line, and, as Captain Allen of the Signal Corps, says, and my records show, captured that skirmish-line that killed McPherson, and brought it in.
Officers ride up to the field-marshal to tell him that the situation has become desperate, their regiments decimated, their men exhausted. They ask for fresh orders: but he has only one answer for them: "There are no fresh orders, save to hold out to the last man."
The militia, instead of calling forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly opposition, in order to repair our losses, are dismayed, intractable, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them have gone off; in some instances, almost by whole regiments; in many, by half ones and by companies, at a time.