from General Anderson by a courier to bring in my brigade as soon as possible. Hearing quite a sharp firing in the point of woods to which I was being led, and not knowing the nature of the ground to be suitable for the maneuvering of artillery, I ordered Captain Dearing to remain where he then was until I ascertained where I should need him.
Upon my way to the skirt of woods I met with General Stuart, who pointed out the best route to be taken, and in a few moments I reported to Brigadier-General Anderson. Learning from him that the battery in Fort Magruder had suffered very much, I, with his consent, sent back an order to Captain Dearing to take a section of his battery and proceed to their relief, which was promptly executed.
General Anderson ordered me to take my brigade in the woods to the right of the point at which General Wilcox had first entered it, and where General Hill with his brigade had also gone in to his assistance. The object was to extend well to the right, and, if possible, to turn the enemy's left flank. I had scarcely, however, filed in with one regiment (the Eighth Virginia) when I was recalled. I gave the necessary directions to Colonel Berkeley, commanding the Eighth,and upon reaching the edge of the woods was ordered to move on the other three regiment to the front to sustain our forces, already hotly engaged. This separated the Eighth from the rest of the brigade during the action.
Moving rapidly forward at a double-quick, the Eighteenth, followed by the Nineteenth and Twenty-eighth, relieved a portion of Wilcox's brigade, which had suffered severely. We drove the enemy in front back until he took shelter in a very strong position of felled trees, forming a perfect abatis. Here I placed the Eighteenth (Lieutenant-Colonel [Henry A.] Carrington) in line, and the Nineteenth (Colonel [John B.] Strange) on its left. Finding the ground on the left of the Nineteenth occupied by the Nineteenth Mississippi Regiment (Colonel [Christopher H.] Mott) and the Seventeenth Virginia (Colonel Corse), I placed the Twenty-eighth slightly in rear as a reserve for the Eighteenth and Nineteenth, in case either of them should need support. The enemy was evidently about this time strongly re-enforced, as I judged from their cheering, and advancing to within some 30 or 40 yards of our position, and opening a most severe, well-directed, and determined fire along the front of the Eighteenth and right of the Nineteenth Regiments. These regiments sturdily, however, maintained their ground, returning the fire with most telling effect. This furious, close, and deadly work was kept up some half an hour without cessation or giving way on either side. there, I think, the enemy was again re-enforced, from their renewed cheering and clear ringing of their guns.
Fearing lest our men were wasting their ammunition, I consulted with Lieutenant-Colonel Carrington, and finding he had no field officers, told him to use his utmost endeavors on the right of his regiment to prevent his men from throwing away a shot, while I would personally superintended the execution of the order on the left and pass it on to the Nineteenth. While endeavoring to do so, much to my surprise, I found the whole line from right to left falling back through the woods, abandoning our dearly-bought position. Some one, it appears, had passed an order down from the right of the line to fall back. This I let them know at once to be false; that no such order had been given and none should be given by men, and in a few minutes, by the valuable assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Gantt and my aides, Lieutenants Baird and Pickett, they were stopped in time to save a great disaster,