woods in our rear, to watch for the first approach of the enemy; rear guard, posted some 200 yards from the rear of the column in an angle of the Chapel road, each of these being details from the Maine cavalry. The main body of the command, having been halted left in front, gave my squadron a position at the head of the column at the extreme south-west end of the street, alluded to in a preceding paragraph.
I had been scanning the field through my field-glass in the direction of the enemy, when suddenly his artillery was seen to debouch from the woods in our rear, which fact I instantly communicated to Lieutenant-Colonel Douty, who was mounted near me, at the same time handing him my glass. The order to mount was quickly given by him, and the rear guard drawn in. The enemy's guns had in the mean time been brought into action, supported by a strong body of infantry deployed upon the perimeter of the woods, and their right resting on the crest of a gentle slope near the pike, forming a transverse line on our rear. On the left flank of our column was another line of infantry, formed parallel to and in rear of the street occupied by our gallant little band, they being also supported by a light field battery, which I readily recognized as the reel Ashby's, whose proximity to us would have told with fearful havoc were it not for the buildings behind which our troopers were directed to take cover from the vigorous, though yet to us harmless, fire of his musketry and artillery. At this particular juncture, as I was passing down the column, I met General Hatch, engaged in conversation with Lieutenant-Colonel Douty on the corner of a cross street, who, with his characteristic coolness, deliberately surveyed the enemy for a few moments, when, it being evident that our position was no longer tenable, he gave the order to move down into the principal street on the pike.
A desultory fire had ben kept up by his infantry, and Ashby's light battery had taken post near the side of the road, which crossed the street at the point where the head of our column rested. Company G of my squadron, occupying the space at the crossing, and whose gray horses afforded no doubt a splendid mark, had, at the moment the order to move was given, been selected as a special object of attack by him, and so violent were his attempts to shell them from their position that many of the horses, chafing under restraint, had broken their formation, and, in the slight consequent confusion, the order to turn to the right not having been understood, many of them dashed off in the opposite direction. I sent my orderly with an order for them to return, and passed down into the street on the pike, where the column had already halted, right in front, with its head in the direction of Newtown, and found my command re-enforced, Captain Rundlett with his company (E) having joined the column while I was detained in the street above. This change from left to right in front gave our companies the following relative position in column, which was formed by fours: The companies of the First Maine Cavalry occupied the front and center, the First Vermont Cavalry, Companies E, A, and G, the rear, in the order last named.
It was very apparent now that the strength and character of our command was fully known. The enemy closed down upon us, continuing his fire with renewed vigor. Here it was that the mettle and tempore of officers and men were severely tried, but nobly did they bear the test, for although we still had the shelter of the houses, yet his artillery was brought to bear upon us from the front, center, and flank, the shells from which were passing and exploding in every direction around us.