its men to lie down where they could not be hurt. My reasons for doing this were the following: 1st, owing to the depressed nature of the ground they occupied the enemy could do them great damage, while they could do the enemy but little, and 2nd because I wanted them as a reserve in case the Fifty-eighth should give way; but after the battle became very animated, and my attention was otherwise directed, a large number of the Forty-fourth quit their position, and rushing forward joined the Fifty-eighth and engaged in the fight, while the balance of the regiment joined some other brigade.
In firing, the front rank of my right flank, after delivering its fire, would retire some three or four paces to the rear and lie down and load, and, as they were shield from danger while loading, I allowed this system to continue; and I think it was owing to this cause, principally, that my brigade suffered less than Colonel Conner's. But observing that some men retired farther to the rear than necessary, and were lying on their faces and taking no part in the battle, I attempted to rouse them by words, but finding that neither harsh words nor threats were of any avail, I commenced riding over them, which soon made them join the line of battle.
After the battle had continued for some time, and night was approaching, a body of the enemy (the number I do not know) crept up a dark bottom, and their flag was suddenly hoisted within 50 yards of our line of battle. Our men, so soon as they discovered the flag and enemy, received a deadly fire and simultaneously returned it, and then, with the exception of some 15 or 20, broke and ran back. Standing on or near the line of battle, I used all my exertions to rally them, principally by appeals to their State pride, and after they had run back some 20 or 30 yards I succeeded in bringing them to a halt, and after loading they returned to the line of battle with great animation, and poured so deadly a fire, into the enemy that they broke and fled. I then proposed three cheers for Old Virginia, which were given with great spirit.
Major Kasey, of the Fifty-eighth, discovering the enemy's flag on the ground a short distance off, went down the hill and brought it up. The flag-staff had been shot in two and the flag-bearer killed.
I suppose that the enemy broke at the same time that our men did, as they were farther off when our men returned to the line of battle than when they left it, which I presume is the reason why every man who remained on the line of battle was not killed.
The enemy, however, soon resumed their attack, and the battle, continued with great animation until between 8 and 9 o'clock, when it was terminated by the darkness.
After some time had elapsed from the commencement of the battle the enemy sent some regiments to turn my right flank or to ascend the hill on my right and to my rear, but Colonel Conner's brigade was then placed in position to meet them. His line of battle was then at right angles to mine and his left flank united with my right.
In this battle the officers of the brigade commanded by me (with very few exceptions, and they inferior officers) did their duty nobly.
I derived considerable assistance from Major Ross, of the Fifty-second, who acted with great gallantry.
I must also commend for great gallantry my adjutant. Lieutenant Charles Y. Steptoe, and my sergeant-major, William H. Clare. They were with me during the whole action, except when sent off on some errand.
They never attempted to shield themselves from danger by lying