1O0 yards beyond the old line. About two hours afterward the line of battle was again formed in obedience to orders from the brigadier-general commanding the division, and we again advanced over the same ground. The resistance of the enemy,was obstinate, but our line was vigorously and successfully pushed forward.
General Palmer's brigade, of Couch's division, and a section of Captain De Russy's battery then came up to re-enforce the right. General Palmer's line was formed in front, supported by my own. The enemy fell back soon after Captain De Russy opened his well-directed and rapid fire, to which the enemy replied with spirit from a battery of rifled guns.
It was not long before the heavy and continued volleys of musketry on the extreme left indicated that the enemy had encountered General Kearny's forces in that direction. On the right we were still exposed to the fire of the enemy's batteries, especially in the vicinity of the road after Captain De Russy ceased firing. The First [Second] Rhode Island, Tenth Massachusetts and Second New York, on the right, having advanced their skirmishers to the outer edge of the woods, we remained in this position until 7 p.m., when my command, relieved by General Palmer's brigade, returned to camp.
The loss sustained by the enemy was severe. Two of his regiments which were pressed forward on the right and left of the wood and the forces brought to bear on my right flank were repulsed twice under a destructive fire. Captain De Russy's Napoleons were as usual, brilliantly handled, and with great effect upon the enemy's masses. My own loss was not inconsiderable. My aggregate force present did not exceed, 1,500 and of these 8 were killed, 116 wounded, and 111 missing.
I cannot too highly commend the steadiness and ardor which were displayed by my officers and men in this advance, twice executed on the same day against the determined resistance of the enemy. While my acknowledgments are due to the commanding officers of all the regiments, I must especially commend the admirable conduct of
Captain Alfred A. Donalds, commanding Fourth Excelsior. He was not assisted by a single officer above the rank of lieutenant, and of these only four were on duty. Notwithstanding every embarrassment, the fragment of his brave command was most effectively and gallantly led by him throughout the day. Great credit is due to Lieutenant-Colonel Potter, Second Excelsior, for his coolness and courage in holding his wing of the regiment steady under the trying and critical circumstances to which I have before adverted.
Although informed by the brigadier-general commanding that the Second New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Olmsted commanding, was directed to report to me during the engagement, I have not received any official report from that officer of his operations. I am told, however, that his report has been already made to division headquarters direct, which will render any further reference to the movements of the regiment unnecessary in this communication.
I will avail myself of this opportunity to repeat my acknowledgments to Major Hammerstein, of the staff of the general commanding the army, without whose aid I could not have succeeded in rallying the fugitives of the Second Regiment.
Although Captain Hart, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Tremain, aide-de-camp, were barely convalescent from recent illness, they bore up with fortitude through the arduous staff duties which devolved upon them for twelve hours, evincing the same activity,zeal, and gallantry which I have heretofore had occasion to mention.