It would also have appeared that my brigade, instead of being in advance of the division, as stated by General Pope, apparently to account for the fact that it " sustained the brunt of the action, " was really second in the column, and that the reason why it lost so heavily was that it was put into action and the other brigades were not. The facts are these:
The division was marching from Gainesville toward Centreville on the Warrenton turnpike and in the following order: First, Hatch;; second, Gibbon, third, Doubleday; fourth, Patrick.
The leading brigade (Hatch's) was deployed making a reconnaissance. When it moved on, which it did after a short delay, mine was ordered to follow on the pike. Whilst closing up on the leading brigade we were opened upon by a battery some 1,800 yards to the north of the pike, and a second battery farther to the rear commenced firing upon Patrick's brigade, which formed the rear of the column I at once ordered up my own battery to engage the first one, and supposed from the position of the second that it was probably a light battery, hastily thrown forward without infantry supports. I moved back toward it with the Second Wisconsin, Colonel O'Connor. As this regiment approached it, it was fired upon by infantry skirmishers, and the battery immediately limbered up and moved off. As the Second Wisconsin pushed forward it soon became seriously engaged, and the Nineteenth Indiana, Sixth and Seventh Wisconsin, were rapidly brought up to its support and all became heavily engaged with the most of Ewell's division of Jackson's corps.
The battle took place on the very ground where an hour before Hatch's brigade was deployed making a reconnaissance. We appear to have had no cavalry out in that direction and were completely surprised. I sent repeatedly and urgently to Generals King, Doubleday, and Patrick for assistance, but the two regiments of Doubleday's brigade was the only assistance furnished me. General Hatch gallantly moved his command back toward the sound of the firing, but arrived on the ground too late to render any assistance. Patrick's brigade remained immovable and did not fire a shot. We fought with greatly superior numbers under the immediate command of Ewell, who lost his leg, General Jackson himself being upon the field.
After a terrible struggle of an hour and a half night put an end to the contest, and my brigade was withdrawn a short distance, having lost in the unequal contest 7 out of 12 field officers and about 600 officers and men killed and wounded. It will thus be seen that we were completely surprised whilst marching in flank along the Warrenton turnpike, no precautions having apparently been taken to protect that flank and that out of the sixteen or seventeen regiments composing the division but six were put into action, and that nothing but the determined front shown by these regiments, prevented the enemy from forcing his way back to the pike that night, thus opening his communication with Longstreet, approaching through Thoroughfare Gap.
Our position was now a critical one. To oppose the large force of the enemy we had but four small brigades, one of them already much cut up. No superior general officers was in the vicinity with the requisite knowledge and authority to order up troops to our support, and the enemy held the high ground, from which he would no doubt open fire upon us in the morning. It was therefore decided to withdraw toward Manassas Junction that night.
This statement I deem necessary as an act of justice to my command,