he, deeming the position an important one to hold, ordered me to make preparations to put the whole division into position; whereupon I directed Brigadier-General Hancock to bring his brigade up in support, replacing his vacated position by Brigadier-General Davidson, throwing the Second Brigade into the woods on the flanks.
A staff officer of Brigadier-General Brooks having in my presence reported to General McClellan that he had forded the brook below the dam and proceeded within 25 yards of the work, I asked and obtained permission to place as many guns as I could on the crest of the opening, about 500 paces from their advanced works, and under the cover of their fire to throw some skirmishers across the creek below the dam at the point forded, while two companies of the Fourth Vermont were to attempt a crossing at the dam, with a view of pushing a reconnaissance to ascertain if the works had been sufficiently denuded to enable a column to effect a lodgment. On carrying this into execution it was found that the enemy and been largely re-enforced subsequent to the time they had been driven out of their batteries and rifle pits, at this time reoccupying their tiers of rifle pits and works,and pouring in from behind them the most destructive and sustained fire. Means had been taken by the rebels to increase the depth of the water below the dam, so that the ammunition of the skirmishers of the Third Vermont was mostly destroyed. They passed through the first rifle pits and gained the crest of the second, holding themselves there against great odds, when from want of ammunition they were forced to retire, which they did in a steady and gallant manner.
Brigadier-General Brooks' report, which I inclose, details so minutely the further operations of his brigade, that I will only add that on seeing the three companies of the Fourth Vermont, which were ordered to attempt the passage of the dam, subjected to such a heavy fire of musketry, I immediately sent an officer down, under the fire of our artillery and the enemy's musketry, with orders direct to Colonel Stoughton to return to his former position in the woods.
Brigadier-General Hancock's inclosed report will detail the orders given to him and the movements of his brigade during this day.
It will be apparent from this report that no attempt to mass the troops of the division was made for an assault upon the works, but only such troops as were absolutely necessary to cover the movements of the companies of the Third and Fourth Vermont, and to be at hand to secure to us the enemy's works if we found them abandoned. The moment I found resistance serious and the numbers opposed great I acted in obedience to the warning instructions of the general-in-chief, and withdrew the small number of troops exposed from under fire. The night was spent in the construction of works for the protection of the batteries still nearer the enemy's works than the artillery had been during the day. The position strengthened we now hold, holding also with strong the two points of woods on this side the creek near the dam.
Soon I hope to have the honor of inclosing a report from Captain Ayres, commanding the artillery, and will then be able to enter still further into particulars.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant
WM. F. SMITH,
Brigadier General R. B. MARCY,
Chief of Staff, &c.