this I received a dispatch from General Fitz Lee stating that a brigade of the enemy's cavalry had crossed at Morton's Ford and moved down in the direction of my left. Supposing this to be the force which was annoying Johnson, I sent the dispatch to him with directions to attack this force and drive it off. He had been skirmishing with the enemy since the attack on his train, and on the reception of my order he immediately advanced and encountered a very heavy force of infantry with artillery.
This force, which proved to be the Third Corps of Meade's army (Major-General French's), and a part of the Sixth Corps (Major-General Sedgwick's), he succeeded in driving back some distance with considerable loss to the enemy. This force had come up on the road from Jacobs' Ford, which leads into the road from Bartlett's Mill to Locust Grove, and its advance had fired into Johnson's train of ambulances as they passed. The road Johnson moved on was through a densely wooded country, and there being no cavalry on his flank, the first notice he received of the enemy's approach was the fire into his ambulances. Johnson had to advance to the attack under great disadvantages-through thick woods and over rough ground. His division having nearly exhausted its ammunition, he sent to General Rodes at the time, I ordered him to send Doles' brigade, which wa sin reserve, to Johnson's assistance.
This affair closed at dark and was a very unexpected fight. Such was the nature of the country that I could not see any portion of the troops engaged. For the particulars I must therefore refer to the reports of the division and other commanders.
This affair reflects great credit both on the division and its commander, and developed the fact that the enemy had the whole or the greater part of his force n my front and on my flanks. I therefore determined to fall back across Mine Run, as the position I then held was very unfavorable either for attack or defense. Shortly after coming to this conclusion I received information from the commanding general that the enemy's whole force had moved up toward us, with directions to retire across the run for the purpose of taking a line farther back.
During the whole afternoon there had been skirmishing along Rodes' and Hays' fronts. I ordered all the ambulances of the other divisions to be placed under the orders of the chief surgeon of Johnson's division, and directed that all the wounded of that division should be carried to the rear. As soon as this was done that division was moved back across Mine Run on the road by Zoar Church, and then Rodes' and my won divisions were crossed over the same run at Rowe's Mill in succession. Before I moved back I gave notice to General Anderson, whose division had been sent to the rear of my right about dark, and requested him to move his division back also, which he did.
In going to the front in the day, I had observed that there was a good position on the west side of Mine Run, and this I determined to occupy until further orders were received from the commanding general. I directed General Rodes to place his troops in line on the hills on Mine run, extending from the turnpike to the Zoar Church road, General Johnston to rest his right on Rodes' left, and throw his own left a little back toward Zoar Church, putting Stafford's brigade at the church to protect the left and rear, and Hays to rest his left on Rodes' right and extend up the run.
53 R R-VOL XXIX, PT I