In the order of march toward the battle-field on that day my brigade brought up the rear of General Jackson's army, and was therefore the last to engage the enemy.
I had remained at a halt for several hours more than 2 miles from the point where the brigade afterward entered the field and was not ordered forward until nearly 5 p.m.
I then marched rapidly on, retarded much by the artillery and ambulances, which blocked up the narrow road. On reaching the edge of a corn field, about 1 1/2 miles from the nearest point of the battle-ground, I was informed that General Ewell was sorely pressed by the enemy and re-enforcements were promptly needed. I then marched forward at double-quick, and the men reached the wood on the south of the battle-field almost exhausted. Having no knowledge of the local geography, and failing to find any staff officer who could direct me at what point I should enter the fight, two regiments standing in open field were pointed out to me as having just retired from the woods, whence the fire of the enemy had driven them. I at once moved by the flank through the interval between these regiments, promptly formed line of battle, and accepted for my brigade the position which they had abandoned.
A continuous line of 3,500 men, moving forward in perfect order into the woods and at once opening fire along its entire length, chiefly armed with Enfield rifles, made a decided impression and promptly marked the preponderance of musketry sound on our side, as was observed by other commanders on the field. The extreme density of the wood and the sloppy, miry soil, with no knowledge of the conformation of the country beyond me, made it evident that the different regiments of the brigade would soon be separated from each other. I therefore sent different members of my staff to the right and left of the line to press it forward and remained myself as near the center as possible. Onward the line advanced through the wood, firing at every step, and guided only by volleys from the enemy toward the thickest of the fight.
In the midst of the wood I met with Major-General Ewell, then hotly engaged, who, as he saw this long line advancing under fire, waved his sword and cried out, "Hurrah for Georgia!" To this there was a cheering response from my command, which then moved forward more rapidly than ever. From General Ewell I learned something of the condition of the field and the point at which my command would be most useful. To that point I directed such portions of the brigade as could then receive my orders in time. This portion advanced steadily forward, commanded by myself in person, the regiments occasionally disunited by the smoke, dust, and confusion of the battle-field, and then brought together again. They were all the time under a continuous fire of musketry and artillery until they reached the brow of the hill on the field directly in front of the position where they had emerged from the wood. This steady advance was only checked occasionally by the extreme difficulty of distinguishing friend from foe, as the dusk of the evening was added to the other elements of confusion.
In conjunction with fragments of other brigades, having driven the enemy steadily before us, when I reached the brow of the hill already mentioned I found his battery had retired and his infantry taken to flight. I then gathered up the fragments of several other brigades and regiments, and, adding them to mine, retired a few hundred yards to the rear and diagonally to the left, where I could still distinguish a disjoined line of Confederate troops.