turned their left flank, and sent an order to Major Williams, commanding Sixth Cavalry (four large squadrons with him), to take that road and attack the enemy's left flank.
Fuller's section of Gibson's battery was now ordered to open fire at the outlet of the road. The enemy warmly returned the fire from a battery in a redoubt perhaps a thousand yards to the left front. It becoming serious and the enemy showing more forces, I had to advance to ground where both cavalry and artillery could act freely, and ordered the whole battery to be formed in the open space in front, and placed Lieutenant-Colonel Grier, First Cavalry, with three small squadrons in close column in a slight hollow which I observed near its right flank. The enemy, now constantly reoccupying the works more to our right front, opened a new battery from a fort about 400 yards distant. Their cross-fire of shell and shrapnel became destructive, killing and wounding many horses and a number of officers and men, he having the advantage of a well-ascertained range. Having been in his presence thus about three-quarters of an hour, and no perceiving any effect from Williams' column, I sent Captain Merritt, aide-de-camp, to report the state of affairs, and to ask if you had orders to give. He returned with an order to retire. You undertook, at his request, to send an order to Williams to withdraw. The battery then retired by piece, and Colonel Grier was ordered to cover it. From the loss of horses and the boggy ground four caissons had to be left. To one piece Captain Gibson attached ten horses, but so impracticable was the ground that they were unable to move it, and it became imperatively necessary, under the advance of a very superior force of the enemy and information that a force was sent to cut off our retreat, to abandon it.
Colonel Grier then retired with his last squadron at a walk, which also assisted off the wounded, and so it was charged in the narrow road by a superior force of the enemy's cavalry. Captain Davis, its commander, wheeling about by fours, met and with the greatest gallantry repulsed them. The charge was repeated, and this brave squadron, Baker its second captain, again drove them, capturing a regimental standard and taking a captain prisoner. Colonel Grier highly praises these brave men, but omits to report that he was with them in personal combat with two enemies, one of whom he wounded; that he lost his horse, and was slightly wounded himself.
Major Williams' column of four squadrons Sixth Cavalry, taking the road designated, passed the forest and a bad ravine and reached the enemy's works, but by that time he found himself in front of superior forces of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and very properly ordered platoons about and retreated. In passing the ravine the rear squadron suffered severely from the fire of the enemy's cavalry. It followed them over and was handsomely charged and driven back by this squadron, under their gallant commanders, Captain Sanders and Captain Hays, and their brave subalterns, Lieutenants McClellan and Madden, and suffered severely in its turn in passing the ravine. Sergeant [John F.] Durboran, of Company M, is reported by Captain Sanders as having killed two rebels, captured and brought in their horses and arms.
My command having regained the open ground, dispositions were made by you, in connection with Hays' batteries, to receive the further attacks of the enemy, who were reported to you as marching to surround us.
Lieutenant Kerin, of Savage's flankers, also himself took a rebel captain prisoner. Fiver privates were made prisoners during the advance previous to the action.