Hampton, was ordered to march along the outer edge of the woods in which Colonel Schimmelfenning was engaged and to take position there, in order to protect and facilitate the advance of my right; but the cross-fire of two of the enemy's batteries was so severe that Captain Hampton's battery failed in two successive attempts to establish itself until I sent Captain Roemer's battery to its support, the place of the latter being filled by a battery brought from the reserve by General Steinwehr.
At this juncture you put two pieces of the mountain howitzer battery at my disposal. I ordered Major Koening, of the Sixty-eighth New York (temporarily attached to my staff), to bring them forward, and he succeeded in placing them into line of skirmishers of Colonel Krzyzanowski brigade is so advantageous a position that a few discharges sufficed to cause a backward movement of the enemy in front of my left. Now the whole line advanced with great alacrity, and we succeeded in driving the enemy, away from his strong position behind the embankment, which then fell into our hands on my left also.
While this was going on I heard from time to time very heavy firing on my left, where General Milroy stood. The sound of the musketry was swaying forward and backward, indicating that the fight was carried on with alternate success. The connection of my left with General Milroy's right was lost, and I found my left uncovered. However, we succeeded in holding the position of the railroad embankment along my whole front against the repeated attacks of the enemy until about 2 o'clock p.m., when my troops, who had started at 5 o'clock in the morning, mostly without breakfast, had been under fire for eight hours, had been decimated by enormous losses, and had exhausted nearly all their ammunition, were relieved by a number of regiments kindly sent by General Hooker for that purpose. These re-enforcements arrived in my front between 1 and 2 o'clock. According to your order, I withdrew my regiments, one after another, as their places were filled by those of General Hooker. Thus the possession of that portion of the woods which my division had taken and held was in good order delivered to the troops that relieved me. I rallied my two brigades behind the hill on which the battery of the Second Brigade had been in position. Here the men took a new supply of ammunition, and for the first time on that day they received something to eat. From there your ordered me to take position in the woods on the right of the open ground, where we encamped for the night.
The two mountain howitzer, which had done such excellent service in the contest in the woods, I had left in position to co-operate with the troops who relieved me, and I am sorry to report that one of them was lost when these troops were temporarily driven back from the ground the possession od which we had delivered to them.
Exhausted and worn down as my men were my division was unable to take part in the action after 2 o'clock p.m., nor was I called upon to do so. Heavy re-enforcement were constantly arriving and led to the front. If all these forces, instead of being frittered away in isolated efforts, had co-operated with each other at any one moment after a common plan, the result of the day would have been far greater than the mere retaking and occupation of the ground we had already taken and occupied in the morning, and which in the afternoon was, for a short time at least, lost again.
My men, with very few exceptions, behaved well. The line my weak regiments had to take and to hold was so extensive that double the number of troops would under ordinary circumstances be hardly considered sufficient to perform the task. That they did perform it