He opened fire, which was handsomely returned. In this affair three of the Sixteenth New York Volunteers were wounded. The skirmishers report the force of the enemy greatly damaged by Greene's battery. I made no other no other attempt on this ford, my orders being on no account to get into a general engagement.
As I was again returning to Blenker's position, I received the notice to telegraph to Washington, which I found had been done by Lieutenant Mendell, topographical engineer, on my staff, and who was compelled by Illness to remain at my headquarters. It was at this time the order was received to post two brigades on the Warrenton turnpike at the bridge. I without delay sent a staff officer to order forward Davies' brigade, but whilst this officer was executing my instructions Davies sent word he wanted a reserve regiment forward - that the enemy, some 3,000, was attempting to turn his flank. The staff officer, therefore, properly suspended the giving of my order, and immediately reported the fact to me, and this caused me to advance by the one brigade (Blenker's) to the position on the Warrenton pike. Blenker's advance to that point was soon impeded by fugitives from the battle-field. When these were passing my headquarters I endeavored to rally them, but my efforts were vain.
The attack on Davies' position caused painful apprehension for the safety of the flank of the Army, and deeming if of the first importance that my division should occupy the strongest position, I sent instruction to Davies and Richardson to have their brigades fall back on Centreville. I then followed Blenker's brigade to see if it was in position, when I was informed the commanding general had passed. I then returned to Centreville, and found Davies' and Richardson's brigades arriving, and commenced placing them in position - Richardson's brigade, with Greene's battery, being placed about one-half mile in advance of Centreville heights, his line of battle facing Blackburn's Ford. In rear of Richardson's I posted two regiments behind fances as a support for the first line, and still farther in rear and on the heights I placed Hunt's and Edward's batteries, two of Davies' regiment being in reserve to support these. I then followed Blenker; found Tidball's battery in admirable position, supported by the Garibaldi Guard, Blenker, with three remaining regiments and the Fourth Pennsylvania Battery,* being in advance. Having great confidence in his judgment and troops, I returned to Centreville heights to await events, when I found all my defensive arrangements changed. Not knowing who had done this, and seeing Colonel Richardson giving different positions to my troops, I asked by what authority he was acting, when he told me he had instructions from my superior officer. I soon thereafter met the commanding general, and complained of this change. The generals' arrangements were completed, and left me without further control of the division. At the time the attack was made on Davies' flank the regiment of the brigade engaged performed their duty gallantly. The batteries of Hunt and Edwards, opening fire, did great damage to the advancing troops of the enemy, soon repulsing them. I am grieved that in this engagement a brave and accomplished young officer, Lieutenant Presley O. Craig, of the Second Regiment Artillery, and who was attached to Hunt's battery, was almost instantly killed. Several of the New York volunteers were wounded. I have not the reports relative thereto.
Blenker's brigade, whilst on the Warrenton road, was charged by cavalry, but by a prompt and skillful fire he emptied several saddles, and relieved himself from further annoyance. This summary embraces the operations of my division up to the evening of the 21st.
*See note on p.424.