acting major, and had them stationed at the point mentioned. My next order was to draw in my pickets and place them across the railroad midway of the swamp, and with the remainder of my command to follow the Third Maine Regiment back on the railroad. Having marched back nearly to the bridge crossing the road I was ordered to return to the edge of the woods at the open field and to advance the pickets to their first position, in which situation we remained until daylight.
Soon after daylight I moved my six companies on to the railroad and sent out scouts, who returned with the information that the enemy were filing through the woods on the left. I immediately notified Captain Pitcher of this and started to communicate the intelligence to Colonel Ward, but before reaching his position firing commenced on the right, and I turned and hastened to rejoin my command. On my return I found the enemy had attacked and driven in the
Pennsylvania Regiment, of General Howard's brigade, on the right and in front of Captain Pitcher's command. He, finding the troops between him and the enemy rapidly retiring, quickly formed his four companies in rear of the fence just back of the lane. The enemy soon appeared in large force at the edge of the woods, but were repulsed and held in check by these four companies until the
New York Regiment formed in their rear in the cut of the railroad, and the commanding officer requesting Captain Pitcher to move from his front, he withdrew to the same line, took position on the left of the other regiment, and continued his fire. While the enemy were engaged by them at short range on the left they also suffered severely from the raking fire of the remainder of the regiment at longer distance. They must have sustained great loss too from the cross-fire of the whole while retiring through the slashing before the other regiments of this brigade. Many more of the rebels would have been cut down while retreating through the slashing, but General Hooker ordered our firing stopped, as he feared we were shooting among his troops, which I thought at the time and afterward ascertained to be without foundation.
During the whole affair both officers and men behaved themselves with great coolness and courage. The four left companies fired on an average 45 rounds to a man, the remainder of the regiment 10 rounds each. Captain Pitcher, in forming his command in the face of the enemy while our own men were hastily retreating and by his subsequent bearing during the entire action, showed himself the officer and soldier, and fully competent for the office (major of the regiment), of his appointment to which by the Governor of Maine he has since been notified. During the two days several prisoners were taken and brought in by my scouts from the front, among them the colonel of the Sixth South Carolina Regiment, who was wounded, and who I had placed in the hospital.
My loss (which I have previously reported) was remarkably light. I have 2 men killed, 8 wounded, and 1 missing.
I inclose with this Captain Pitcher's report as commander of the picket who were detached from the regiment until after the close of the action on Sunday.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Fourth Maine Volunteers.
Captain G. W. MINDIL,