my assistant adjutant-general, Captain de Villarceau, and Lieutenants Jackson and Smith, of my staff, I tried in vain to check the retreating current.
Passing through to the opening of our intrenched camps of the 28th ultimo, I found General Heintzelman and other officers engaged in rallying the men, and in a very short time a large number were induced to face about. These were pushed forward and joined to others better organized in the woods, and a line was formed stretching across the road in a perpendicular direction. General Heintzelman requested me to advance the line on the left of the road, which I did, until it came within some 60 or 70 yards of the opening in which the battle had been confined for more than two hours against a vastly superior force. Some of the Tenth Massachusetts, now under the command of Captain Miller; the Ninety-third Pennsylvania, under Colonel McCarter, of Peck's brigade; the Twenty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel Neill, of Abercrombie's brigade; a portion of the Thirty-sixth New York, Colonel Innes; a portion of the Fifty-fifth New York, and the First Long Island, Colonel Adams, together with fragments of other regiments of Couch's division, still contended on the right of this line, while a number of troops that I did not recognize occupied the space between me and them.
As the ground was miry and encumbered with fallen trees I dismounted and mingled with the troops. The first I questioned belonged to Kearny's division, Berry's brigade, Heintzelman's corps; the next to the Fifty-sixth New York, now under command of its lieutenant-colonel, and the third belonged to the One hundred and fourth Pennsylvania, of Casey's division. I took out my glass to examine a steady, compact line of troops about 65 yards in advance, the extent of which toward our right I could not discover. The line in front was so quiet that I thought they might possibly be our own troops. The vapors from the swamp, the leaves, and the fading light (for it was then after 6 o'clock) rendered it uncertain who they were, so I directed the men to get their aim, but to reserve their fire until I could go up to the left and examine-at the same time that they must hold that line or the battle would be lost. They replied with a firm determination to stand their ground.
I had just time to put up my glass and move ten paces toward the left of the line where my horse stood, but while I was in the act of mounting as fierce a fire of musketry was opened as any I had heard during the day. The fire from our side was so deadly that the heavy masses of the enemy coming in on the right, which before had been held back for nearly two hours (that being about the time consumed in passing over less than a thousand yards) by about a third part of Couch's division, were now arrested. The last line, formed of portions of Couch's and Casey's divisions and a portion of Kearny's division, checked the advance of the enemy and finally repulsed him, and this was the beginning of the victory which on the following day was so gloriously completed.
During the action, and particularly during the two hours immediately preceding the final successful stand made by the infantry, the three Pennsylvania batteries under Major Robert M. West (Flood's, McCarthy's, and Miller's), in Couch's division, performed most efficient service. The conduct of Miller's battery was admirable. Having a central position in the forepart of the action it threw shells over the heads of our own troops, which fell and burst with unusual precision among the enemy's masses, as did also those of the other two batteries; and later in the day, when the enemy were rushing in upon our right,