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Re: 14th Alabama Infantry Regt.
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Michael --

Robert H. Motley belonged to the "Louina Guards", Co. "K", 14th Alabama Regiment. His command suffered what must have been the highest number of killed and wounded in a single action of any from Alabama during the war. Motley was among those killed on June 30th. . Federal reports usually refer to the battle as Nelson’s Farm, for the man who currently lived there. Confederate officers called it Frayser’s farm, referring to the farm’s former owner. Here's an account of the fighting --

The enemy now began retreating south towards the James River. General Lee planned to cut off their escape by capturing the intersection at Glendale, also called Frazier’s Farm. On the afternoon of June 30, 1862, the Confederate commander sent his divisions forward to seize this crucial intersection. The best opportunity Lee might ever have to destroy the Federal army lay just ahead.

“About 4 o’clock,” wrote Pryor, “I received an order from Major General Longstreet to go into the fight.” Directing most of his troops straight down New Market Road, Longstreet turned Pryor’s hard-hitting brigade to the left so that it would strike the Charles City Road at a right angle. Dense thickets of scrub pine and undergrowth obliged individual regiments to remain in column until they emerged from the woods and entered a field about four hundred yards from their objective. Unhorsed by artillery shot just moments earlier, Pryor asked Lieutenant Colonel Baine if the 14th Alabama could take an enemy battery firing from a slight rise near the road. “The gallant Colonel replied, ‘My boys will take it if I tell them.’” Baine placed the regiment in line and, ordering a charge, “every man rushed forward, yelling.” Hurst, History of the 14th Regiment, Alabama Volunteers, pp. 6-7.

They advanced through a deadly storm of artillery and rifle fire. Union defenders here were led by General Philip Kearny, perhaps the best division commander in the Army of the Potomac. Kearny had carefully deployed his three brigades along the Charles City Road: one in line parallel to the road, another on his right flank, and the third in reserve. He also made certain that the six Napoleons of Thompson’s Battery “G”, 2nd United States Artillery had an unobstructed field of fire. “The fences in front were leveled, the brush cut down, and the field cleared,” reported Captain Thompson. As soon as Confederates appeared,

the battery opened on them with spherical case-shot just in the edge of the woods about 400 yards. They advanced in line, stooping down and firing, and we continued firing spherical case-shot until they reached the torn-down fence, brush, &c., about 150 yards in front, where they appeared to falter. They soon, however, rallied for a charge, and canister was poured upon them, and as they advanced double canister was used….
Official Records, series I, vol. XI, pt. 2, pp. 171, 172.

So determined were Pryor’s Confederates that Captain Thompson ordered his artillerymen to load and fire without sponging their smoking cannon tubes between shots. Federal infantry poured volley after volley into their ranks, which forced survivors to regroup at the fence line. Estimating the range to be 150 yards, Thompson’s gunners switched to spherical case shot, using half-second fuses. Two more Confederate charges followed, each one “hurled back with terrible slaughter.” Clearly amazed by their stubbornness and courage, General Kearny expressed a certain admiration for these Confederate volunteers, who took all the punishment his troops could deliver and still kept coming:

At 4 p.m. the attack commenced on my line with a determination and vigor … [such] as I had never witnessed. Thompson's battery…literally swept the slightly-falling open space with the completest execution, and mowing them down by ranks would cause the survivors to momentarily halt; but almost instantly after increased masses came up and the wave bore on. These masses coming up with a rapid run, covering the entire breadth of the open ground some 200 paces, would alone be checked…by the gaps of the fallen. Still no retreat, and again a fresh mass would carry on the approaching line still nearer….their loss by artillery, although borne with such fortitude, must have been unusual.
Official Records, series I, vol. XI, pt. 2, pp. 163, 171.

They were indeed. Although reinforced by Featherston’s Brigade at 5:00 P.M. and Gregg’s Brigade of A. P. Hill’s Division an hour later, Kearny held his ground until sometime after nightfall. Lieutenant Colonel Baine failed to capture those guns, but died in the effort, along with many of his officers and men. Out of 1400 officers and men who left camp five days earlier, Pryor lost 849 killed and wounded. “The Fourteenth Alabama,” he declared, “bearing the brunt of the struggle, was nearly annihilated.” The regiment reported 71 killed, 253 wounded and 11 missing at Gaines Mill and Frazier’s Farm. Official Records, series I, vol. XI, pt. 2, p. 781.

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