Thursday, July 21, 2011

10:00 am: Battling on Matthew's Hill

Matthew’s Hill
The 2nd Rhode Island had calmed down a bit and driven the Tigers back down to the bottom of Matthew’s Hill. With six guns now set up at the top of the hill, they were beginning to make progress in answering Evans’ two guns, and the four guns being set up now by Bee on Henry Hill. Burnside had ridden to the front and ordered the 71st New York and the 2nd New Hampshire from his brigade to set up on a ridge to the west of Sudley Road, while he hurried his own 1st Rhode Island and the other brigade from the Second Division forward to flank Evans. He hoped to extend the battle line in such a way that Evans would be forced to put his back to Bull Run, the optimal position for when the First Division of Daniel Tyler charged across Stone Bridge.

But the order proved beyond the capabilities of the inexperienced officers and men of the 2nd New Hampshire, who hadn’t had the nearly three months of experience the 71st New York had. “The movement to our position was a mistake,” Fiske admitted, “Caused by the confusion of staff officers of different generals, whom we were unable to distinguish, and who had not had time to learn to distinguish regiments of different brigades.” He continued:
On our way, two companies, by the mistake of another aide not on the staff of our brigade, were separated from the regiment, and it was only be the active exertions of our own officers that we were brought back again… We passed some caissons [storage lockers for cannons]; just before we reached them a cannon shot off a hind leg of each of the two wheel horses. I had already seen men wounded and killed, but no such pitiful sight to me as that of those poor horses.
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