General Seymour divided this regiment, posting the colonel with six companies in advance and to the left, thus detaching them from the line. Soon afterward the enemy advanced a battery here, and the Third and Tenth Regiments were ordered to charge it. They drove it in, routing the infantry support, and sent in about 100 prisoners. They were ordered to reform, and the Rifles were ordered to support them. But suddenly a heavy column advanced rapidly, and they were compelled to retire, which they did without precipitation, and reformed in rear of their own ground. The six companies of the Twelfth, however, were cut off from the line, and retired to the road in front of which the division was formed. At the same time a section of a Dutch battery belonging to Porter was abandoned by its cannoneers, who fled with their horses, broke through the ranks of my cavalry, and also several detachments of the Third and Tenth Regiments, which were carrying to the rear the prisoners just spoken of.
This melange of horses, men, and prisoners, numbering perhaps 400 in all, were hurried down the road between Sumner and Hooker, and partly on Hooker's right. Colonel Taggart, it will be seen by his report, soon reformed his men on Hooker's right and reported himself to that general, who availed himself of the colonel's services to carry a message to General Sumner.
With the exception of this temporary and very partial confusion, produced as I have endeavored frankly to describe it, and the failure of the Fourth Regiment to support and protect Randol's battery on the extreme right, it will be seen that the division maintained its position throughout the day against thrice its numbers of the best troops of the Confederate generals, whose encomiums were passed upon it the next day, as testified by Surgeon Marsh, of my division, in his report herewith.
The following testimony by officers of high character will, I think, substantiate what I have here stated, for it is apparent, from General Longstreet's remark to Surgeon Marsh, that Lee's object in moving down the New Market road was to break through the Union Army at that point, and taking possession of the Turkey Bridge (or Quaker) road, move on and seize another road a mile or more in my rear, which two roads were the only avenues in that neighborhood leading to James River. Had he succeeded in routing my division he would have accomplished his object, viz, to cut off Heintzelman, Franklin, and Kearny from the main body of the army. And if the Confederate force on the ground was, as stated to me by Longstreet that night at Lee's headquarters, 70,000 strong, the position of those divisions would indeed have been perilous.
I will here remark that the following reports, with the exception of those of Generals Meade and Seymour, are from officers whom I casually met in this city; they all belonged to the Reserves; and were more required, any amount of testimony could be obtained from others of unimpeachable veracity from the same corps.
[Extract from report of Brigadier General George G. Meade, commanding Second Brigade, McCall's division.]
CAMP NEAR WARRENTON, VA., November 7, 1862.
General GEORGE A. McCALL:
DEAR GENERAL: * * * I had seen Hooker's report before you sent a copy, and, as you well remark, was greatly surprised at his account of our doings. * * * It was only the stubborn resistance offered by our division, prolonging the contest till after dark and checking till that time the advance of the enemy, that enabled the