to the right and left, and ordered to lie down and await the approach of the enemy, who by this time were closing up in apparently overwhelming numbers. I now directed the gunners to prepare shrapnel and canister shot, and in case the enemy persisted in his advance not to lose time in sponging the pieces-for minutes were now of more value than arms-but to aim low, and pour in a rapid fire wherever the men were thickest or were seen advancing.
The enemy having by this time completed his preparations and driven in our skirmishers, now rushed forward and opened a heavy musketry fire on the battery, ;but from the shortness of range, or from aiming upwards as they ascended the ravine, their shot mostly passed over us. The command was then given to the battery to commence firing. Under the directions of Lieutenants Platt and Thompson, Second Artillery, and Edwards, Third Artillery, commanding sections, the most rapid, well-sustained, and destructive fire I have ever witnessed was now opened. The men took full advantage of the permission to omit sponging, yet no accident occurred from it. The guns were all of large caliber [two 20-pounder Parrott rifle guns and four light 12-pounders], and they swept the field with a perfect storm of canister. No troops could stand it, and the enemy broke and fled in every direction, taking refuge in the woods and ravines; and in less than fifteen minutes not a living man could be seen on the ground which so recently had swarmed with them. The infantry regiments had not found it necessary to fire a single shot.
Believing now there was no support on our left [original rear], I executed a flank movement, so as to bring the left of the battery close to the wood and in front of the lateral road by which it had reached the ground. This movement threw the regiment on our left into the wood, and thus secured its possession. The fire was now reopened, the rifled guns throwing shell and the others round shot, so as to sweep the woods and search the ravines into which the enemy had been driven. In a few minutes orders were given to retreat, and I sent an officer to Colonel Davies to inquire if such were his directions; that the enemy were defeated, and that they would be unable to reform. The answer returned was "to retire at once on Centreville." The pieces were limbered up, and, Lieutenant Edwards' guns leading, moved off.
Scarcely was the column fairly in the road when a scattering fire was opened on the rear, doubtless by those who, having taken refuge in the woods, observed the withdrawal of our troops. The cry to the battery to "trot" was now clamorously raised from the rear, and confusion was fast spreading, when I directed a deliberate walk should be maintained, and pushed forward myself to the place where the ambulances and wagons were standing in the main road. The teamsters had taken the alarm from the rapid firing and the cries, and a panic was rapidly growing, when my assurance of our having beaten the enemy, and that there was no necessity for hurry, together with the appearance of the head of the battery emerging at a walk from the wood, reassured them and calmed the excitement.
The whole column now retired in good order, and was formed, together with all the disposable field artillery, in front of Centreville, under the immediate direction of General McDowell in person, and in so imposing an attitude as to deter the enemy from any advance in that direction, and to hold him completely in check.
During the night the troops were put in motion for their former camps on the Potomac. Barry's battery, under Lieutenant Tidball, and my own were the last we could perceive on the ground. Just as I was