when I instantly put my command in line under cover of some timber and moved forward across a field under a most destructive fire of musketry. I reached a stone fence, which extended from the left flank of our forces, already engaged with the enemy, behind which I took position, thus forming the left of our line. On reaching the stone fence I found two regiments of the enemy a short distance in the field beyond, which were evidently trying to get possession of the same fence. My command at once opened a very destructive fire, which in a short time strewed the field with the dead and wounded of the enemy. He withstood the fire but a short time, when he gave way and fled to the woods in his rear and to a stone fence which joined to and ran at a right angle with the fence behind which I was.
I immediately detached a portion of the Thirty-seventh and placed them in position at the junction of the two stone fences for the purpose of dislodging that portion of the enemy which had taken shelter behind one of them. This was soon effected, and the enemy driven entirely from the left flank of our line. He left one stand of colors upon the field.
In a short time the right wing of our line gave way, it being nearly night, and the enemy advancing to the position just left by our right wing, thus placing himself on my right flank, threatening my rear, I ordered my command to fall back to the next piece of woods. Some stone fences and a mill-pond produced some confusion and separated a few of my men from their regiment, and on the opposite side of the pond a few were captured by the enemy's cavalry. I rallied the remainder in the woods, intending to render such assistance as I could to Colonel Burks, who was now engaged with the enemy. But it being dusk and the firing having ceased, and seeing Colonel Burks retiring through and adjoining field, I proceeded to my encampment, near Newtown.
My command had been greatly reduced by furloughs and men on the recruiting service. Many of my officers were also absent on recruiting service or sick. I went into the action with 397 men in the Thirty-seventh and 160 in the Twenty-third, making a total of 557. The artillery was not engaged.
I have to regret the loss of several valuable officers, who were killed or wounded. In the Thirty-seventh Lieutenant J. C. Willis was killed. Captain R. E. Cowan and Lieutenant P. S. Hagy were, I fear, mortally wounded, and the latter taken prisoner. Captain James Vance and Lieuts. George A. Neel and P. S. Hagy were wounded (the latter mortally, I fear) and taken prisoners. Captain Thomas S. Gibson and Lieutenant Charles H. C. Preston wounded. The enemy's cavalry got in the rear and captured some ambulances with some for my wounded.
In the Twenty-third Captain Walton and Lieutenants Crump and Curtis were wounded. Captain Sergeant is missing.
My whole loss is as follows: In the Thirty-seventh, 12 killed, 62 wounded, and 39 missing; total loss in Thirty-seventh, 113. In the Twenty-third, 3 killed, 14 wounded, and 32 missing; total, 49. Aggregate in both, 162.
I cannot speak in suitable terms of the brave conduct of my officers and men, and where all acted so well it would be unjust to discriminate.
To Lieutenant-Colonel Taliaferro, of the Twenty-third, and Lieutenant-Colonel Carson and Major Williams, of the Thirty-seventh, I am especially indebted for their distinguished gallantry throughout the contest.