a general retreat from our position to the hill in rear, overlooking the bridge.
French's and Meagher's brigades now appeared, driving before them the stragglers who were thronging toward the bridge. These brigades advanced boldly to the front, and by their example, as well as by the steadiness of the hearing, reanimated our own troops and warned the enemy that re-enforcements had arrived. It was now dusk. The enemy, already repulsed several times with terrible slaughter, and hearing the shouts of the fresh troops, failed to follow up their advantage.
This gave an opportunity to rally our men behind the brigades of Generals French and Meagher, and they again advanced up the hill ready to repulse another attack.
During the night our thin and exhausted regiments were all withdrawn in safety, and by the following morning all had reached the other side of the stream. The regular infantry formed the rear guard, and about 6 o'clock on the morning of the 28th crossed the river, destroying the bridge behind them.
Our loss in this battle in killed, wounded, and missing was very heavy, especially in officers, many of whom were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners while gallantly leading on their men or rallying them to renewed exertions. It is impossible to arrive at the exact numbers lost in this desperate engagement, owing to the series of battles which followed each other in quick succession and in which the whole army was engaged. No general returns were made until after we had arrived at Harrison's Landing, when the losses during the whole seven days were estimated together.
Although we were finally forced from our first line after the enemy had been repeatedly driven back, yet the objects sought for had been obtained. The enemy was held at bay. Our siege guns and material were saved, and the right wing had now joined the main body of the army.
The number of guns captured by the enemy at this battle was twenty-two, three of which were lost by being run off the bridge during the final withdrawal.
Great credit is due for the efficiency and bravery with which this important arm of the service (the artillery) was fought, and it was not until the last successful charge of the enemy that the cannoneers were driven from their pieces or struck down, and the guns captured. Diederichs', Knieriem's, and Grimm's batteries took position during the engagement in the front of General Smith's line on the right bank of the stream, and with a battery of siege guns, served by the First Connecticut Artillery, helped to drive back the enemy in front of General Porter.
So threatening were the movements of the enemy on both banks of the Chickahominy that it was impossible to decide until the afternoon where the real attack would be made. Large forces of infantry were seen during the day near the Old Tavern, on Franklin's right, and threatening demonstrations were frequently made along the entire line on this side of the river, which rendered it necessary to hold a considerable force in position to meet them.
On the 26th a circular was sent to the corps commanders on the right bank of the river, asking them how many of their troops could be spared to re-enforce General Porter, after retaining sufficient to hold their positions for twenty-four hours.
To this the following replies were received: