Directly after i had gotten my command in position a 6-pounder to the front of my right flank opened upon as with vigor and kept up the fire with an occasional cessation until about 1.30 p. m., where it was either disabled or driven from its position by two or three well-directed shells from Hall's 24-pounder howitzer. Very soon after the enemy's 6-pounder gun had opened its fire a heavy force of his cavalry, soon followed by a piece of artillery, moved down through the timber toward the Mesa del Contadero, with the evident intention of assailing our right flank and resting his left on the river below the ford. Colonel Roberts, who was waiting on the opposite bank of the river to place McRae's battery, which was then approaching, in position, discovered this move of the enemy through an opening, promptly advised me of it, and directed me to throw some skirmishers into the thick timber immediately to my right and below the ford to drive the enemy back. Companies C and D, Third U. S. Cavalry, under the command of Captains Howland and Treacy, were dispatched for this duty.* After a spirited skirmish for several minutes the enemy was driven back, but soon rallied and renewed the assault with vigor, and although several times repulsed, he as often returned.
By this time, which I think was not far from 10 o'clock, McRae's battery opened a deadly fire of short and shell into the bosque, supported by my skirmishers and Captain Brotherton's company of the Fifth U. S. Infantry, which Colonel Roberts had sent across the river to their support. Our fire soon became so galling that the enemy was driven from the woods in great disorder and with heavy loss, abandoning their gun, but soon rallied and carried it off by hand, the animals all being killed or crippled. From this until about noon a fire was kept up by McRae's battery and Hall's howitzer upon every party that showed itself, as well as upon the enemy's battery, which had for some time turned its attention from my cavalry to our guns across the river. Our infantry arrived soon after this, and crossing the river at the upper ford, just above my left flank, deployed through the thick woods up the river. Colonel Roberts followed with the artillery, taking McRae's battery with him up to the left, and at my request sending Hall's 24-pounder howitzer down to the right.
After silencing the gun which had been playing from 9 o'clock in the morning alternately on my command and upon the battery, Lieutenant Hall was sent to the right with his gun to dislodge a large party of the enemy reported by Captain Morris, commanding skirmishers in the bosque, to be directly in his front. As soon as Lieutenant Hall could ascertain the exact position of the enemy he commenced shelling it with such precision as to entirely clear the woods in a few minutes. After this no part of the enemy's force was seen on our right for some time and all remained quiet.
Before the arrival of Colonel Canby on the field I had asked for and received authority from Colonel Roberts to move my whole force through the timber on our right whenever I should discover that a general movement was being made against the enemy's right.*
Being informed soon after 3 o'clock that a concerted movement by our whole left flank was soon to be made against the enemy's right, I sent a request that one more company of infantry might be sent to join Brotherton's, as a support to Hall's howitzer, in order that i might be able to throw the whole of my dismounted cavalry forward as skirmishers. Captain Ingraham was promptly sent to me, and Colonel Carson soon followed with his regiment, deploying on my left. Soon after we
*See inclosure to Duncan to Roberts, March 7, p. 500.