were soon hotly engaged, the enemy being behind a railroad embankment, which afforded them an excellent breastwork.
The railroad had to be approached from the cleared ground on our side through a strip of thick timber from 100 to 500 yards in width. I had intended, with the two regiments held in reserve (the Second and Third Virginia Regiments), to charge the rebel battery, which was but a short distance from us over the top of a hill to our left, but while making my arrangements to do this I observed that my two regiments engaged were being driven back out of the woods by the terrible fire of the rebels.
I then say the brave Colonels Cantwell and Zeigler struggling to rally their broken regiments on the rear of the forest out of which they had been driven, and sent two of my aides to assist them and assure them of immediate support. They soon rallied their men and charged again and again up to the railroad, but were driven back each time with great loss. I then sent the Second Virginia to their support, directing it to approach the railroad at the point on the left of my other regiments, where the woods ended, but they were met by such a destructive fire from a large rebel force that they were soon thrown into confusion and fell back in disorder. The enemy now came on in overwhelming numbers. General Carls Schurz had been obliged to retire with his two brigades an hour before, and then the whole rebel force was turned against my brigade, and my brave lads were dashed back before the storm of bullets like chaff before the tempest. I then ordered my reserve battery into position a short distance in the rear, and when five guns had got into position one of the wheel horses was shot dead, but I ordered it to unlimber where they were, and the six guns moved the rebels with grape and canister with fine effect. My reserve regiment, the Third Virginia, now opened with telling effect. Colonel Cantwell, of the Eighty-second Ohio, was shot through the brain and instantly killed while trying to rally his regiment during the thickest of the fight.
While the storm was raging the fiercest General Stahel came to me and reported that he had been sent by General Schenck to support me, and inquired where he should place his brigade. I told him on my left, and help support my battery. He then turned to his brigade, and soon after being attacked from another quarter I did not again see him during the day. I was then left wholly unsupported, except by a portion of a Pennsylvania regiment, which I found on the field, and stood by my bravely during the next hour or two. I then rallied my reserved regiment and broken fragments in the woods near my battery and sent out a strong party of skirmishers to keep the enemy at bay while another party went forward without arms to get off as many of our dead and wounded as possible. I maintained my ground, skirmishing, and occasionally firing by battalion, during the greater part of the afternoon.
Toward evening General Grover came up with his New England brigade. I saw him forming a line to attack the rebel stronghold in the same place I had been all day, and advised him to form line more to the left, and charge bayonets on arriving at the railroad track, which his brigade executed with such telling effect as to drive the rebels in clouds before their bayonets. Meanwhile I had gathered the remnant of my brigade, ready to take advantage of any opportunity to assist him. I soon discovered a large number of rebels fleeing before the left flank of Grover's brigade. They passed over an open space some 500 yards in width in front of my reserved regiment, which I ordered