back in front and an ineffectual attempt to recover some portion of the ground having been made by the Fifty-fifth New York, an order was received from General Keyes that the Tenth Massachusetts should advance up the Richmond road through the felled trees and endeavor to hold the ground in front. Colonel Briggs moves accordingly up the road by the flank, and deploying, as soon as the ground permitted, across the road so as to move forward by the front, found himself immediately assailed on the left flank and rear by heavy volleys of musketry, showing the enemy to have outflanked in considerable force the position occupied by him. Colonel Briggs gallantly struggled, by changing fronts with a portion of the left wing of the regiment, to maintain his position. From the nature of the ground, entirely covered with fallen timber, it was not possible for him to effect this, and the left wing was soon thrown into much confusion from the heavy fire of the enemy thus advantageously posted in regard to it.
I had, on finding the situation of affairs, sent word to General Keyes of the position of the enemy on the left of this regiment, but, my aide returning without being able to find that officer and the left wing of the regiment being much broken, I directed Colonel Briggs to fall back and reform the regiment at the rifle pits before occupied by him. So much confusion had been created by the fire on the rear of the regiment that it was not possible for him to effect this in good order, but at a short distance behind the Fair Oaks road Colonel Briggs rallied his regiment successfully and led it forward in good order to the position indicated. Re-enforcements arrived in a short time, and were thrown forward to the left and front of the Thirty-sixth New York and Tenth Massachusetts to be engaged, I moved in that direction, accompanied by my aide, Lieutenant Porter, with the Thirty-sixth New York, where I ;had been during most of the day. Finding the attack very severe upon the brigade at my right, and that the Seventh Massachusetts was not there, after rendering such service there as was in my power, I returned toward my two regiments on ;the Richmond road; but the enemy had now broken through our line between the position occupied by these regiments and Fair Oaks Station and threatened seriously to cut them off.
The Tenth Massachusetts, as I am informed, had during my absence been moved toward the right by an order from General Keyes, and was, after the regiments to its right had been compelled to retreat, forced back in some disorder, Colonel Briggs having fallen by a severe, but not, as I am happy to learn, dangerous wound. The Thirty-sixth New York, Colonel Innes, maintained its position until the regiments on its right and left gave way, when it retreated in good order, moving by the left flank up the Saw-mill road to the rifle pits on Allen's farm, taking 11 prisoners from a body of the enemy who attempted to cut off its retreat.
The Tenth Massachusetts, after falling back through the woods in rear of its original line of encampment to the open space behind, was rallied most spiritedly by Captain Miller, upon whom the command, for reasons not fully explained to me, devolved after Colonel Briggs was compelled to leave the field, and in company with the --- New York, Colonel ---, moved forward again through the woods, by the order of General Heintzelman, and made a vigorous effort to recover the ground of its original encampment. Unfortunately the effort, although